Remember Geoffrey Miller? He’s the guy who tweeted this a few weeks ago:
Turns out that he is speaking this week at the AHS13 conference in Atlanta. I’m not surprised that he is speaking there … after last year’s event, it became clear that it’s very, very hard to get uninvited as a speaker (and I presume he was invited long before his fat-shaming tweet).
That said, I must admit to being surprised — and more than a bit disappointed — that he’s actually speaking in one of only 5 or so plenary sessions (a plenary has no competing sessions; contrast this with the other time slots where there are two to four concurrent sessions).
Really? Of all the speakers there, Miller is the one to get one of these (presumably) coveted spots?
I have no real intel on their decision-making, but AHS apparently did comment on the incident (without naming Miller) and suggested that nothing needed to be done because Miller apologized and because it was “an isolated incident.” So it’s not like they were unaware that there were some who might find him a controversial speaker.
I’m perhaps a bit (over?) sensitive about this, but I find this tone-deaf on the AHS13 program committee’s part. Would Miller have a plenary if he’d suggested it was people of color who shouldn’t attempt PhD programs? I wonder. It was just a year ago that some people were worried that they weren’t hot enough to attend AHS12 and that at least one person suggested that paleo’s female “figureheads” weren’t “quite so lean.” Are these connected?
After the hurrah
When Miller returns to the University of New Mexico for their fall term, he faces formal censure — “a severe penalty as it places restrictions on the regular activities of the faculty member” — for both the tweet and for lying about it being part of his research.
Per UNM, this censure means that Miller will be required to:
- Not serve on any committee involving the admission of graduate students to the Psychology Department for the duration of his time as a faculty member at UNM.
- Work with the faculty co-advisors of the Psychology Department’s Diversity Organization to develop a plan for sensitivity training as it pertains to obesity. The plan must be approved by a co-advisor or by the chair of the department.
- Be assigned a faculty mentor for three years with whom he will meet on a regular basis to discuss potential problems.
- Have his work monitored by the chair of the Psychology Department.
- Apologize to the department and his colleagues for his behavior
I presume some of this could be PR, but it certainly seems like it will at least be initially uncomfortable for Miller when he returns!
So, as the title suggests, I hope that Miller enjoys this last hurrah among the mostly lean-bodied in Atlanta. But I am glad that at least one organization determined that his behavior is deserving of strong consequence.