May 18, 2020

Was This Professor Dangerous?

Michael Jay Shively was rigorous — on that much, everyone agrees.
Over his 26-year career at Utah Valley University, the biology professor took pride in the anatomy courses he built and the hard work they required.
Students who made it through often credited Shively with their successful medical careers. He prepared them for the demands of urgent care or of the emergency room. Other students were less charmed by his deadly multiple-choice exams. The workload, they felt, was beyond reasonable.
He also butted heads with colleagues, including a junior faculty member in the department, who saw him as an imposing micromanager.
For a while, frustrations with Shively stayed dormant. Last year, they erupted. On March 25, 2019, Shively received a single-page letter from the president that listed six types of misconduct. The letter accused him of arbitrary and capricious course requirements and grading, and of violating the academic freedom of colleagues. The letter also accused him of  intimidating and threatening students and employees.
That day, he was suspended and escorted from campus.
An investigation ensued. According to his family, Shively grew anxious and depressed. He felt investigators were withholding details that would enable him to defend himself.
Nearly five months after he was suspended, before a decision was announced, Shively died by suicide. He was 73. This February, his widow sued Utah Valley, claiming the investigation had caused Shively to suffer “a spiraling decline.” Utah Valley denies any responsibility for Shively’s death.
...In early 2019, a group of students who’d been privately swapping concerns about Shively decided to speak up. A couple began collecting stories and eventually sent complaints through EthicsPoint, the university’s anonymous reporting portal, as well as emailing administrators directly.
On January 4, a visually impaired student filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that Shively had failed to accommodate him in a timely manner. (The case was closed in July after the office found insufficient evidence to support the discrimination claim.)
The next day, Steve Baker, a recent Utah Valley graduate and former department assistant, filed a complaint through EthicsPoint.
...That the university grossly mismanaged the investigation, and that the complainants raised legitimate and serious concerns. 
That someone can be a good friend to some, the faculty member wrote, while quietly abusing others.
What looks like guidance to a senior colleague can feel like control to the more junior. A professor’s high expectations can feel like impossible ones to students.
And what looks like discretion during an investigation can feel like isolation to the person under the microscope. Allegations can feel like an avalanche.
You might not see the damage. You might not have meant to do it. But it’s done.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for people in distress, and for those who need to help someone else. To reach the hotline, call 1-800-273-8255. More information can be found at

May 15, 2020

Ten rules for succeeding in academia through upward toxicity

  • Cultivate powerful friends. Gain power over as many publication organs and scholarly bodies as possible and use them to promote your clique.
  • Do nothing for anyone unimportant.
  • Find a less successful scholar who will fear and admire you. Flatter them into becoming your sidekick and count on them to denigrate your colleagues and defend your reputation.
  • Crush the confidence of students with the potential to surpass you. Or sleep with them. Or both.
  • Manipulate students and employees into feeling they owe you, long after you no longer have power over them. Make outrageous, unethical promises they will feel bad about accepting or refusing.
  • Promote a zero-sum model of success. Anyone else’s gain is your loss. Claim your students’ work as your own and reassign their best ideas to your favourites. Collaboration is for losers.
  • Systematically badmouth your colleagues so you can improve your own standing. Shut out the students of rival scholars. Mock those rivals for having less successful students.
  • Gaslight and spread misinformation about anyone who stands up to you. Complain about the “rumour mill” and “witch-hunts”. Accuse your critics of jealousy. 
  • Ask loudly why no one is willing to come forward officially to substantiate the rumours of abuse against you. If someone overcomes their terror, call them crazy.
  • Lie brazenly. Accuse others of lying.

  • From:

    May 09, 2020

    What kind of people allow themselves to become a narcissist's 'flying monkeys'?

    The narcissist is akin to the drug pusher. The flying monkey is akin to someone who hooks up with the drug pusher to score.

    • Flying monkeys think like narcissists (splitting black and white, exaggerations, never letting the truth get in the way of a good story, painting twisted stories and interpretations, word salad for thoughts)

    • Flying monkeys are addicted to the same emotional states as narcissists (the epic mindset, drama, crazymaking, chaos for emotions, excruciating boredom, black dog, love-bombing highs, sadism, schadenfreude, malicious envy, they’re haters) 

    • Flying monkeys suffer the same character deficits as narcissists (low compassion, low truthfulness, low conscientiousness, callousness for character) 

    • Flying monkeys are as twisted as narcissists (compassion for the narcissist, rapist, murderer, thug, and conveniently forget about the victim or their family, dark empathy, dark triad type personality characteristics for moral values. 

    But there is one difference between flying monkeys and narcissists. Narcissists know how to obtain what they both seek, flying monkeys don’t. Narcissists are in direct communion with the realm that flying monkeys only fleetingly receive but crave.

    So narcissists have better imaginations than flying monkeys to invent clever stories that paint a delightfully twisted morality, more chutzpah to violate boundaries that flying monkeys wished they had, and more violently high and low emotional states that drive them to action.

    Flying monkeys admire and envy narcissists because they look up to them. They don’t see narcissism as a bad thing. In fact they don’t see narcissism the way we see it at all, they see it as a package with good traits they wished they themselves had. The drama that narcissists create are works of art to the flying monkeys, highly entertaining distractions that offset their own sordid and dull lives. Narcissists are often the centerpiece in their gossip and tales. Of course, they don’t call them narcissists, more like heroes.

    Narcissists are like the novelist, director, artist. Flying monkeys are like their eager fans hungering for the next book, movie, or artwork. They can’t get enough of it because the work speaks to them like nothing else does, but they cannot produce any of it themselves. Actually flying monkeys produce abuse and twisted gaslighting in their daily lives, they just do not produce works of art of the caliber of their adored narcissist. Narcissists create the smut that flying monkeys consume. In return, flying monkeys pay obeisance.

    Narcissists are like the powerfully delusional cult leader. Flying monkeys are like their delusional followers. Only someone capable of a sufficient degree of the right kind of delusion would find that cult’s doctrines enticing, otherwise, they would simply find it disturbing, twisted, or repulsive.

    Only people who don’t find the things narcissists say or do disturbing, crooked, or repellant can stand them.

    Being fooled by a narcissist and getting roped into their schemes to support their agendas and campaigns to ruin others for a season or two doesn’t count, it doesn’t make you a flying monkey. Narcissists are good at fooling others, and so all naive people will initially believe the narcissist is the hero, the good person, the injured party. We all have to go through the same thing to eventually learn about narcissists and their ways.

    What makes someone a flying monkey is someone who sticks with the narcissist’s story despite evidence to the contrary, and manages to do so for a protracted period of time. The flying monkey agrees with the narcissist on a fundamental level, their core is similar to the narcissist. They agree with the tendencies of the narcissist, the compulsions, and most importantly the justification philosophies of the narcissist. 

    They agree with the ruin they see the narcissist wreak, they agree with the narcissist’s justifications for bringing ruin to others, and they agree with the narcissist that despite all that, the narcissist is still the hero and the victim, not the villain.

    If someone can keep that up for years, through watching the narcissist keep ruining and ruining, they really have to be a flying monkey, because only someone with no heart can keep that up for so long.

    Veronica Welles

    Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths—And How We Can Stop!

    Whether in dating, hiring, or electing people, narcissists and sociopaths are the two most seductive personalities on the planet. For those narcissists and sociopaths who also want to be politicians, they learn how to seduce whole populations and can be temporarily highly effective—long enough to get elected—but then are usually very harmful in the long run. Yet most people miss the simple early warning signs of these high-conflict politicians (HCPs): 1) Preoccupied with blaming others; 2) Lots of all-or-nothing thinking; 3) Unmanaged or intense emotions; 4) Extreme behavior or threats.
    Narcissists greatly exaggerate their accomplishments, then they charm people with their grandiose ideas. “I will build you a house/franchise/wall/whatever. It’ll be the best ever. Believe me.” They often convince themselves its true. On the other hand, sociopaths flat-out lie and make serious threats. “I have a secret plan, but I can’t tell you until after I’m elected. You’ll be amazed. But I have a lot of secrets and don’t expect me to ever tell you, or I may have to hurt you.” don’t need any leadership skills or governing skills to get elected now. You just need a personality that is dramatically-preoccupied with telling stories of conflict, crisis, chaos, and fear. Just as the game of basketball attracts the tallest players, the game of high-emotion media attracts the most high-conflict personalities. They are the best at the game.  

    ...So, the eligible voters tended to split into four groups:

    LOVING LOYALISTS: These are the followers of the high-conflict politician who have an emotional relationship with their leader and will defend him even when his policies change and he attacks those loyalists who worked for him the day before. In most cases, 30-40% of people are automatically comfortable with the authoritarian leader from the start.
    RILED-UP RESISTERS: These are those who intuitively feel that the authoritarian leader is a threat to the community or nation’s existence. They are automatically angry and protest and sound the alarm. These maybe 10-20% of people. They are particularly angry at the Moderates for not getting more involved.
    MILD MODERATES: These are the people generally in the middle who actually decide elections. They tend to include liberals and conservatives. They dislike the high-conflict politician, but they absorb the intense negativity the HCP teaches against the fantasy villain; so they equally dislike the alleged villain. They get irritated with both the loyalists and the Resisters: Why do you have to argue, protest, and complain so much? It’s just normal politics. They become particularly angry with the Resisters and start to see them as the fantasy villains, sometimes using the same language as the HCP about them. They may be 30-40% as well.
    DISENCHANTED DROPOUTS: These are the potential voters who don’t vote. They want to avoid politics and just withdraw altogether. Many are also convinced that there’s a crisis, but that the villain and the hero are equally bad. This group can be the largest group, such as approximately half the voters in some elections...

    Professor Dr Hassan Abdalla - Provost - University of East London

    "This means that Hassan feels untouchable at the moment. In the last five years, he has progressed up the ranks at the University of East London (UEL). He treats this place like he owns it. He has abused the system and HR are none the wiser. Here is what has done in the last five years and let's see anyone provide evidence otherwise:

    - First, he used redundancy process to fire some 11 faculty claiming that the school is not attracting enough students and the school has massive deficit, only to re-advertised these same positions the following year. Only cunning as he his, the jobs were advertised in trickles.
    - Next, he fired a whole set of top manager, claiming their positions are not needed and none sustainable, only to re-advertise these same positions the following year under new titles.
    - Only last year, he made the argument for a new set of managerial positions, and then made them redundant six months later!
    -He has now pushed for the same tactic for another School under his control. Despite the data suggesting it is financially sound. But as they say, you can make statistics say anything and he is top at that.

    But one may rightly say, this does not make sense. What is he gaining? Well, he has an agenda that partly based on his personality of dictatorship and others on his fundamentalist thinking. He would always start these 'redundancy' stance with the intention to:

    - Get anyone who opposes him out.
    - He has particular distaste to Shia Muslims because he is Suni Muslim. There is evidence that HR can investigate that shows he has fired some 5 Shia Muslims. In fact, of all the new recruitment taken place under his control of the school, not one single Shia Muslim was recruited. All of them are Suni.
    - He is also a sexist. Only after big pressure from HR that he has back off. If you observe him in School meetings, you will see that when male colleagues ask a question, he will keep eye contact and answer them in full detail. Female Colleagues asking questions, Hassan will almost never look them in the face and tries to dismiss whatever they have to say with a quick answer.
    - He is homophobic, this again comes from his religious background and has would target gay individuals who are open or camp.
    - If you want to get into UEL now, you should join him on his Friday prayers. We heard that he once led the Friday prayer in the School. The man is said to be leaning on being Wahabi, the fundamental type of Islam.

    Hassan, has learned from his previous experience when he was fired for bullying and has applied cunning new tactics at UEL to hide his tracks. Almost everyone in our department knows this but HR will not address anything of these because they see these as 'circumstantial' evidence. Now that he is in power, he can control who stays, who joins, and everyone is afraid of him. My advice to HR is get on it because a lawsuit gets on you! Question his decisions, and question them more when he reverses them (re-advertise position) and what the hell are you doing with all the formal and informal complaints you have about him! Yes, individually each may look weak but if you collate them, you must have a big picture. 

    For there is no smoke without fire!"

    JUSTICE4MAXCASU - Bullying and abusing at the University of Leicester

    "My name is Max; I was a mature Ph.D. student at the UoL. I made a Ph.D. application in the department of neurogenetics at the above University in December 2007. I was invited for an interview in February 2008. I was classified second among 20 candidates; therefore, I was successful for the 2 vacant Ph.D.’s positions. I began my Ph.D. in September 2008. I was a home Student. My Ph.D. course was based on a 4 years academic course; it was structured in three years lab work and the fourth and last year in the writing of my Thesis. My Ph.D. course was entirely sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The BBSRC covered the cost of the academic post-graduate course for the first 3 years...

    After having successfully performed the Viva Voce, I was notified that I passed my Viva Voce but also I was notified that I failed my Thesis. The UoL failed to substantiate what potentially caused the failure of my Thesis. The UoL provided an academic report being very vague and elusive and did not inform me about the potential errors involved on my Thesis. The UoL sustained during my appealing procedure that; “it was not fundamental to know the exact errors involved in my Thesis”. Most of the specific errors listed in the academic report could not be found in my Thesis. The academic report deferred completely from the corrections provided by Dr Kevin Moffat (External ExaminerUniversity of Warwick) that actually showed a list of minor corrections that were amended in less than two weeks. The UoL failed to inform me about my rights of appeal. There is a large number of internal e-mails from Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.) and other senior members of the UoL, which showed how the UoL premeditated the failure of my Ph.D..."

    Complete story here: 

    May 08, 2020

    "My PhD broke me"—bullying in academia and a call to action

    Workplace bullying—repetitive abusive, threatening, humiliating and intimidating behaviour—is on the rise globally. And matters are worse in academia. In the UK, for example, up to 42% of academics report being bullied in the workplace while the national average across all professions ranges from just 10-20%.

    Why do bullies bully? According to researchers from Brock University in Canada the goals of bullying come from internal motivations and desires, which can be conscious or not. Bullying takes many forms: the malicious mistreatment of someone including persistent criticism, inaccurate accusations, exclusion and ostracism, public humiliation, the spreading of rumors, setting people up to fail, or overloading someone with work. Bullying is different from accidental or reactive aggression, since it is goal-directed meaning that the purpose is to harm someone when there is a power imbalance.

    While anyone is at risk of being bullied in academia, research has found that some of us are more vulnerable compared to others. For example, early career researchers (ECRs), including trainees (e.g. graduate students, postdocs), minority groups, adjunct professors, research associates, and untenured professors are at a higher risk to experience bullying. Employees with more years in a job report feeling less bullied than others subordinate to them, meaning that junior members of a research group or Faculty may be at greater risk of bullying.
    ...A study of whistleblowers found that 71% of employees tend not to directly report wrongdoing as the perceived personal cost is higher than the perceived reward. People tend to feel that personal costs may be higher if reporting happens through face-to-face meetings with authorities. Hence, anonymous reporting channels are needed.

    May 02, 2020

    The LL game: The curious preference for low quality and its norms

    "We investigate a phenomenon that we have experienced as common when dealing with an assortment of Italian public and private institutions: people promise to exchange high-quality goods and services (H), but then something goes wrong and the quality delivered is lower than promised (L). While this is perceived as ‘cheating’ by outsiders, insiders seem not only to adapt but to rely on this outcome. They do not resent low quality exchanges, in fact, they seem to resent high-quality ones, and are inclined to ostracise and avoid dealing with agents who deliver high quality...

    ...Assume for simplicity that goods can be produced at two levels of quality, High (H) and Low (L)...

    Problems arise if the two individuals agree on H but one of them delivers L. This is, of course, a risk of many exchanges: rational, unprincipled and self-interested agents prefer to dish out L rather than H, while at the same time, one would think, they also prefer to receive H rather than L. Dishonest second-hand car dealers prefer to sell a lemon while charging an H-price. This happens often enough...

    ...Usually, if one promises to deliver H and delivers L instead, one would think of this as a breach of trust. But in our case, it looks as if they rely on each other not to be entirely trustworthy, they trust their untrustworthiness. Not only do they live with each other’s laxness, but expect it: I trust you not to keep your promises in full because I want to be free not to keep mine and not to feel bad about it. There seems to be a double deal: an official pact in which both declare their intention to exchange H-goods, and a tacit accord whereby discounts are not only allowed but expected. It becomes a form of tacit mutual connivance on L-ness...

    L-doers may want to keep up a credible façade with their surrounding H communities because they gain from this: Marseglia had an interest to pretend to comply with EU community standards because he was receiving EU olive oil subsidies. Also, L-doers manoeuvre to prop up their reputation for H-ness with their naïve local audiences by being seen standing shoulders to shoulders – briefly but as noisily as possible to be heard far and wide – with H-doers, as in the case of L-universities liberally dishing out honoris causa degrees.

    ...the maintenance of an H-façade may simply satisfy the need to reduce the cognitive dissonance between what one practices and what one preaches. The gap between the H-standards and the L-standards creates uneasiness among L-doers. Even if they cultivate specious legitimising reasons to practice L-ness (as we shall see below), many still seem aware that there is another set of reasons, which enjoin one to do H. The dissonance is reduced by interacting always with the same people, whom one can trust for not challenging one’s standards. L-doers segregate themselves in mutual admiration societies..."

    The LL game: The curious preference for low quality and its norms in Politics Philosophy Economics 12(1), February 2013