The Sciences

Appalling Revelations about "Tom Johnson"

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJul 7, 2010 4:47 PM

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It has just been revealed that "Tom Johnson," whose story I elevated from the comments of this blog into a distinct post, and who I praised for coming forward, was also "bilbo," "milton c," and various other commenters here. And now he's going by "William." Needless to say, I no longer consider his story credible. Until these revelations, I had no idea of any of this. Not only had I never checked my commenters' IP addresses or for sock puppets before (although now I see that I should have). But moreover, when it came to "Tom Johnson," I emailed him after his first comment, to check on his identity. The response claimed to be a specific person--a specific Ph.D. candidate at a specific university--and provided a university website and considerable detail about this person's scientific career, publishing record, outreach endeavors, and so on. Now, "William" says, "When Chris contacted me, I made up a story about being a grad. student as an explanation about where the story came from because I didn’t want the Tom character to get exposed as false." No. It wasn't just a story about being a graduate student. A specific name was given, a specific career, a specific website, a specific university, and so on. I am looking into all this, and will get to the bottom of it.

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