New York Times, Please Do Not Threaten The Safety of Scott Alexander By Revealing His True Name

In reaction to (Now the entirety of SlateStarCodex): NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog

I have sent the following to New York Times technology editor Pui-Wing Tam, whose email is pui-wing.tam@nytimes.com:

My name is Zvi Mowshowitz. I am a friend of Scott Alexander. I grew up with The New York Times as my central source of news and greatly value that tradition.

Your paper has declared that you intend to publish, in The New York Times, the true name of Scott Alexander. Please reconsider this deeply harmful and unnecessary action. If Scott’s name were well-known, it would likely make it more difficult or even impossible for him to make a living as a psychiatrist, which he has devoted many years of his life to being able to do. He has received death threats, and would likely not feel safe enough to continue living with other people he cares about. This may well ruin his life.

At a minimum, and most importantly for the world, it has already taken down his blog. In addition to this massive direct loss, those who know what happened will know that this happened as a direct result of the irresponsible actions of The New York Times. The bulk of the best bloggers and content creators on the internet read Scott’s blog, and this will create large-scale permanent hostility to reporters in general and the Times in particular across the board.

I do not understand what purpose this revelation is intended to serve. What benefit does the public get from this information?

This is not news that is fit to print.

If, as your reporter who has this intention claims, you believe that Scott provides a valuable resource that enhances the quality of our discourse, scientific understanding and lives, please reverse this decision before it is too late.

If you don’t believe this, I still urge you to reconsider your decision in light of its other likely consequences.

We should hope it is not too late to fix this.

I will be publishing this email as an open letter.

Regards,
Zvi Mowshowitz

PS for internet: If you wish to help, here is Scott’s word on how to help:

There is no comments section for this post. The appropriate comments section is the feedback page of the New York Times. You may also want to email the New York Times technology editor Pui-Wing Tam at pui-wing.tam@nytimes.com, contact her on Twitter at @puiwingtam, or phone the New York Times at 844-NYTNEWS.

(please be polite – I don’t know if Ms. Tam was personally involved in this decision, and whoever is stuck answering feedback forms definitely wasn’t. Remember that you are representing me and the SSC community, and I will be very sad if you are a jerk to anybody. Please just explain the situation and ask them to stop doxxing random bloggers for clicks. If you are some sort of important tech person who the New York Times technology section might want to maintain good relations with, mention that.)

If you are a journalist who is willing to respect my desire for pseudonymity, I’m interested in talking to you about this situation (though I prefer communicating through text, not phone). My email is scott@slatestarcodex.com.

This entry was posted in Politics, Rationality. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to New York Times, Please Do Not Threaten The Safety of Scott Alexander By Revealing His True Name

  1. Radek says:

    It seems to me that Scott’s position here is unsustainable regardless of what the NYT is doing. If he is this uncomfortable with his real name being out there and the implications that would have on his job and his personal life, then he probably should quit blogging immediately. I definitely think it’s a great shame if he quits blogging, a real loss to our culture, but I just don’t see how his position is sustainable in the long run? Eventually something would have to give.

    • TheZvi says:

      Basically everything is unsustainable given current situation, and in the long run we are all dead. Regardless, it doesn’t excuse this behavior.

      • Radek says:

        I definitely think the NYT should respect Scott’s desire to remain anonymous. It’s just what this situation has revealed to me – besides the NYT having some shitty policies – is that Scott is probably going to have to quit blogging sooner than later even if this situation ends in the ideal way. That saddens me.

    • Kenny says:

      His real name is already “out there” but it being ‘out there’ in a NYT article (and the corresponding web page) is much more ‘out’.

      Scott could start a new blog, but it would probably be too hard for him to develop (and maintain) an ‘unlinkable’ writing style.

      But even if his position is not long-term sustainable, it seems worth defending now anyways.

    • I unfortunately agree. Perhaps the best thing that the community can do now is to offer him an independent source of income, and I know he would hate to leave his job, but I don’t know how else to make blogging sustainable for him with his legal name being public as an eventuality. As for his personal life – that is harder. I think that is an issue that most celebrities face, as most celebrities use their legal names or are otherwise traceable. At least we can try to offer him that much security.

      • TheZvi says:

        I am 99%+ confident that if Scott wanted to maintain his former income and write the blog full time, he would have to lift at most one finger to make this happen. There are more than enough people ready to write that check.

  2. sniffnoy says:

    Possibly also worth contacting the standards editor, Philip B. Corbett. Unfortunately I can’t at the moment find an email address for him (without resorting to sites that sell these sorts of things for money, anyway). Still, he’s on Twitter at @CorbettNYT.

    (Thanks to whoever it was I saw pointing this out on Twitter, but unfortunately I can’t seem to find who that was at the moment.)

  3. Pingback: New York Time, Please do not Doxx Scott Alexander | Living Within Reason

  4. Pingback: Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks | Don't Worry About the Vase

  5. Pingback: Covid 7/2: It Could Be Worse | Don't Worry About the Vase

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s