My Twitter feed is filled with outrage over a New York Times obituary. Science writer extraordinaire Ed Yong (whose excellent National Geographic blog happens to be called Not Exactly Rocket Science) started it off by tweeting:
Rocket scientist dies. NYT obit leads with her cooking skills, husband and kids. Oh just [f@!*] off.
That tweet has, as of this writing, earned 732 retweets (and an additional 140 favorites). In case Yong’s objection wasn’t clear from his tweet (or from the obit itself), here’s another version, from someone else responding to Yong:
Lesson to women scientists: even when you’re totally badass, you will be remembered for "following your husband from job to job"
Later, co-science writer extraordinaire Steve Silberman (who tipped Yong off to the obit in question) tweeted to Yong:
Notice we’re in the middle of a social science experiment? People enraged about [Yong’s tweet critiquing the obit]: male. People who got it: female.
In an effort to distinguish myself from my soon-to-be-90-year-old father-in-law, I try to spend as little time reading NYT obits as possible. So I hadn’t seen it. But after reading these and many, many similar tweets in my feed, I pointed my browser on over there, prepared to be outraged, too.
But you know what? I’m not.
For the fairest test of your own reaction, I was going to advise reading the obit first. But as I was writing this, the Times edited the lede (without indicating that it did so), presumably in response to the Twitter backlash. I provide the new lede and the link to the obit below. But first, let's focus on what, until a short time ago, the obit used to say and why people are so worked up about it.