The Nobel Prize winning scientist who was skewered on the Internets last week gave an exclusive interview to the Guardian about the controversy’s aftermath.
“I’ve been hung out to dry,” Tim Hunt told the Guardian. “They haven’t even bothered to ask for my side of affairs.”
Hunt’s original comments went viral last week on Twitter after he addressed a roomful of science journalists at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, where he reportedly said, “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”
The viral reaction was swift, resulting in Hunt resigning from his position at University College London.
In this candid piece, the Guardian talks with Hunt and his wife, Mary Collins, also a professor and senior immunologist at UCL. While Hunt told the Guardian that “what he said was wrong,” he also said that the results have been “extreme and unfair.”
“I stood up and went mad,” he told the Guardian. “I was very nervous and a bit confused but, yes, I made those remarks – which were inexcusable – but I made them in a totally jocular, ironic way. There was some polite applause and that was it, I thought. I thought everything was OK. No one accused me of being a sexist pig.”
Collins said the following on her husband’s comments: “It was an unbelievably stupid thing to say,” she said in the piece. “You can see why it could be taken as offensive if you didn’t know Tim. But really it was just part of his upbringing. He went to a single-sex school in the 1960s. Nevertheless he is not sexist. I am a feminist, and I would not have put up with him if he were sexist.”
The Guardian does point out how the “innate cruelty of social media,” particularly the “savage power of Twitter,” can virtually destroy a person’s entire career in a short period of time. Hunt, himself, acknowledges that his career is over from the controversy.
What do you think? Was the incident blown out of proportion?