The Channels

Michael Shermer to speak despite harassment allegations

Daniel Wallace, News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

City College is continuing to host Michael Shermer at a faculty colloquium in the Garvin Theatre, in spite of new information that multiple women have accused him of sexual harassment.

Chemistry Chair Raeanne Napoleon informed faculty and staff of the allegations about Shermer through a campus-wide email sent early this morning.

Michael Shermer is someone who has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault (rape) by multiple women,” she wrote. “Although the police did not bring formal charges against him, there have been many witnesses that have publicly corroborated the stories of the victims.”

In a follow-up interview with the Channels, Napoleon explained why she thought it was important to inform the campus of the allegations.

“When it’s multiple women coming forward with similar stories, I think that’s something that needs to be paid attention to,” Napoleon said. “If this was one woman saying this, I would be more skeptical and hesitant to share it with others. But because it’s multiple women, I think it’s something to pay attention to.”

Economics Professor Peter Naylor, who late last semester recommended to instructor Mark  McIntire that Shermer be invited to speak, wrote in a reply to Napoleon’s email that posting unproven allegations was defamation.

What happened to the principal [sic] of presumption of innocence? . . . Public figures are often victims of unfounded allegations. They deserve fair treatment, just as anyone else,” Naylor wrote.

The speech is set for 6 p.m. and is sponsored, according to its promotional material, by Phi Theta Kappa and the Associated Student Government. A group of faculty members, as well, are coordinating the event.

In multiple interviews with the Channels, all the co-organizers of the event said they had not been aware of these allegations before Napoleon shared her information.

“I was completely blindsided by Professor Napoleon’s spreading of accusations,” said McIntire, director of City College’s Faculty Colloquiums.

Student senator Jason Barrios, who recommended that the senate endorse the event, also said he had not been aware of the allegations. The senate voted unanimously March 9 to endorse the event, and Barrios still intends to cater at the event.

Political Science Professor Manoutchehr Eskandari-Qajar expressed his discomfort with the information soon after Napoleon sent her email out. Eskandari-Qajar is the adviser for the honors society Phi Theta Kappa, which automatically cosponsors faculty colloquiums without its members voting on each speaker.

I am personally extremely aggrieved and conflicted at the news and the allegations, since I have been assigning Dr. Shermer’s writings to my classes for well over a decade,” he wrote in a campus email.

“I am, frankly, speechless and numbed, as I said, but believe that the invitation to speak should proceed and hope that the lecture would still provide the audience food for thought on the essential questions of science and metaphysics, which we all anticipated with such fervor still only a few hours ago.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

12 Responses to “Michael Shermer to speak despite harassment allegations”

  1. Bob Faulkner on March 21st, 2018 3:20 pm

    I read Michael Shermer’s open letter he sent to Mark McIntire and my comment is about that.

    I have never heard of a more petty, viral man than Mr. Sherman. The accusations against the City College professor he names goes far beyond what the professor mentioned in their initial eMail.

    Mr. Shermen sure isn’t making friends in Santa Barbara, I am afraid.

    I think the allegations mentioned appear in a BuzzFeed article listed in the “accusations” article, linked to above.

    Mr. Shermer seems vengeful and exhibits a certain evil hatefulness. I certainly hope that City College leaves the articles excellently written up on The Channel’s web site. Do not be intimidated. The articles are very well written, I think.

  2. Liz S. on March 22nd, 2018 9:57 am

    Just because something is well written does not make it true. Personally I don’t care for the mans thoughts and the ideas and his ‘religious’ push of atheism to students, but I get tired of reading all the false information about so many things going on in our world, country, state, city and our lives.

    It disturbs me that, obviously, The Channels did NOT do it’s journalistic due diligence but rather relied on an article from Buzzfeed, a site, which in my opinion, is a tabloid site which posts stories made up of more innuendo that facts in it’s stories. Plus all those other lovely stories like “Pick Seven Desserts and We’ll Guess What your Biggest Dream Is” or “Everyone has A Tarot Card That Matches Their Personality” and “Everyone Is A Combo of One Harry Potter And One Disney Character – Who are you?”

    Yep, journalism at its best.

    Seems to me that I didn’t see (in the Channels Article) the lines I usually see in journalism – the ones that say things like:
    “We attempted to contact xxxxxxx for comment, but received no response” You know, showing that the staff actually tried to get BOTH SIDES of the issue!

    Shame on you Channels!! Shame!

    Well, off to Buzzfeed to read “Which Starbucks Drink Fits Your Personality?” and of course “6 Snacks for Binge-Watching TV” – Hmmm… Who’s their audience?

  3. Joel on March 22nd, 2018 11:12 am

    I agree with you. Mr. Shermer needs to understand he is an outsider to our SB and SBCC community. He responded aggressively and in a threatening matter despite the fact that his presentation was not cancelled. Chill out man if you ain’t guilty don’t sound so damn guilty!

  4. Marqu on April 22nd, 2018 9:24 am

    Hypothetical: if someone accused you of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment, and the accusation not only threatened your personal reputation but your livelihood, you’d be “aggressive” for suing the person spreading the story? #SELFDEFENSEISNOTAGGRESSION

  5. Brett on April 3rd, 2018 1:13 am

    BuzzFeed is not a legitimate journalistic enterprise. It is a clickbait site comprised of low-effort, low quality, largely recycled content designed to farm ad-clicks. Here is an example of BuzzFeed’s “journalism,” an article titled: “We Measured Our Employees’ Penises To See If We Were Bigger Than The Rest Of The World.” Or if that’s not to your liking, perhaps you would appreciate “Super Gay Mario,” some kind of appreciation of the safe-for-work gay porn of Mario…?

    In the era of fake news, journalistic outlets carry more responsibility than ever before to dig for the truth, verify facts, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. In this instance, your failure has been utter and complete.

    I am also amused by the OP’s inability to consider that perhaps Dr. Shermer is angry in his response because he has just been libelled and defamed in a most egregious manner to well over ten thousand people in the city he has just settled in to raise his family. I would be absolutely livid if that were to happen to me, and I am impressed by how professional Dr. Shermer was when responding to this. Anger is sometimes a rational and healthy response.

  6. OkayBrett on April 4th, 2018 3:51 pm

    “…in a manner to well over ten thousand people in the city he has just settled in to raise his family….” How many people do you think are on the campus list-serv? Did you actually see how many people have read this article so far? It’s far less than “ten thousand people.” This is something that Mr. Shermer himself said in an email, Brett. Weird how you are both saying similar things with similar numbers that don’t match the facts. Again…weird.

    Mr. Shermer did not respond professionally. Mr. Shermer sent the same email to SBCC that he sent to other people that have spoken out against him. Here’s an example from the internet how he doesn’t respond professionally:

    The Buzzfeed article that is quoted here literally names his accusers. You can attack Buzzfeed all day with examples of silly headlines they have, but it doesn’t stop that actual women named Mr. Shermer and several came forward at different times to do so. Sounds like you have similar logic as LizS. and Mr. Shermer himself. Again…weird.

  7. Mark McIntire on March 24th, 2018 11:55 pm

    Dear Channels Readers:

    It pains me to write this. But I have a professional and moral obligation to write it.

    The very first ethical rule of journalism is that you make every effort to contact the subject of a potentially libelous, slanderous, and/or calumnious article giving that subject the chance to respond to any accusations contained in that article.

    While I was interviewed for this article, professor Peter Naylor was also interviewed for this article, and professor Raeanne Napoleon was given primacy in this interview to recycle debunked, accusations against Dr. Shhermer, Dr. Shermer himself, the target of this colluded hit piece, was conspicuously not interviewed. He was not even contacted to defend himself from this slander. He was not allowed the opportunity to answer these decades old, dismissed accusations against his integrity.

    A 10 second Google search would have unearthed proof beyond reasonable doubt, that these accusations were investigated by a federal Title IX committee that cleared Dr. Shermer of all such accusations as ‘unwarranted’. Dr. Shermer was an invited guest at our SBCC Faculty Colloquium. Dr. Shermer was treated shabbily by Dr. Napoleon’s irresponsible all_campus email attempt to cancel his colloquium, or at very least to suppress audience attendance.

    She succeeded only in fingering herself as a calumniator of the very worst stamp.

    I, hereby, publicaly ask that Dr. Raeanne Napoleon do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. Apologize for your calumny.

    Also, I ask that the Channels both publicly retract this article, publicly apologize to Dr. Shermer for Channels publishing it, and remove it from the Channels server before further harm is done to an innocent person’s good reputation.

    — Respectfully.
    Mark McIntire
    SBCC Faculty Colloquium Coordinator

  8. Ellen Carey on March 25th, 2018 5:32 pm

    As a librarian, I care about the level of information literacy* in our society and I value public discourse about the credibility of information sources. It is important to note that being information literate goes well beyond ascribing credibility to certain publications or types of sources. While it can be valuable to be aware of particular publications that tend to be credible (e.g. The New York Times), and types of sources that may need more scrutiny to determine credibility (e.g. personal blogs), it is also important to examine the overall information “ecosystem” in which information and information sources are created, valued monetarily or otherwise, and shared or suppressed.

    Those who are information literate understand that power influences which voices get airtime and which do not, especially in the mainstream media. Whether or not something has appeared in the mainstream media may say as much about whose voices and concerns are valued as it does about whether or not the information in question is accurate.

    Those who are information literate also understand the limitations of relying on Google to determine the scope of credible information available on a topic. Google search results are unique for each searcher, based on what Google’s algorithm thinks you want to see — something that has contributed to the problem of increasingly homogeneous echo chambers in which alternative voices are invisible.

    For more help navigating the information landscape in an era of filter bubbles, echo chambers, and fake news, ask a librarian. Or check out our Real vs. Fake News research guide (

    *See the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education for a definition of information literacy:

  9. Rich Sanderson on April 19th, 2018 2:37 pm

    One of the main promoters of the accusations against Michael Shermer, is a New Racist blogger known as PZ Myers. Myers himself was accused of raping one of his students.

    Worth listening to the other voices complaining, but we can safely ignore Myers and his ilk.

  10. okayRich on April 24th, 2018 8:43 pm

    “…and his ilk” it’s SO weird that Shermer used that same exact phrase in the all-campus email directed at Dr. Raeanne Napoleon. SO. WEIRD. that this phrase is now used here to discredit PZ Myers, someone not even mentioned in this article. SO. WEIRD. RICH!!!

  11. Wendy on May 10th, 2018 4:59 pm

    I just read SB coverage on this incident and its ensuing controversy. From having been the victim of a non-penetrative sexual assault from early October by SB’s own Arthur Ludwig Jr., who colluded with well-connected SB Dance Tribe members to hide the fact that he had already been banned from the community for a year previously and is more known for his inappropriate behavior toward women (especially young, economically and socially unestablished women) than work in environmental protection, I can second the librarian’s comment on the sway economic and social prowess have on whose voice gets represented in the press or even whose case gets investigated by the police.
    This is especially pertinent since I had contacted SB Independent’s own Nick Welsh, who neglected to inform me that he personally knows the person who assaulted me. The police detective, Jose Latorre, took more than a month to investigate my case, while telling me, repeatedly and insistently, he had rapes and murders to prioritize. Despite making more than $120k a year and all the time he took, he only managed to interview ONE of the more than half-a-dozen witnesses I provided to him. And that one witness, was the very one , whom I already informed him, had testified and lied in court on Art Ludwig’s behalf. Ironically, she is also the widow of a CA highway patrol officer, who had connections with the local police department.
    The head DA, graduated from the same local law school as the perpetrator’s attorney, Rob Croteau. The DA’s office refused to press charges, despite knowing that detective Latorre only interviewed one witness. They refused to release the completed police report to me when I requested it.
    The judge in my restraining order hearing, Von Deroian, who ironically used to be a sexual-assault prosecutor in the DA’s office, never disclosed the fact that she graduated a year after Rob croteau, the perpetrator’s attorney, from the same Law school.
    15 days after she refused to grant me a restraining order, though I was able to prove lies Art Ludwig stated in his defense statement, he showed up for the first time at a social event that I frequently attended. Art knew both the event’s address and my address, which were only two blocks from each other.
    Because his colluders continue to gaslight and slander me, despite the fact that Art Ludwig was starting to openly stalk me, and since I received little protection from the SB legal system, I have since moved to an undisclosed location. But I will never stop speaking out about what happened, in the hopes to stop Art Ludwig and his colluders from victimizing others.
    Given the extent to which and the number of people involved (20+) in the collusion to undermine my pursuit of justice, I am not at all surprised at the support people are still showing someone who has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault.
    Mr Shermer wrote he has never been investigated by the police, as a proof of his innocence. How ironic, because Art Ludwig used the fact that he didn’t have a criminal record as a defense.
    Keep in mind as well, that of all the powerful men who have fallen from their high perches since the #MeToo movement began (and one in the highest office of the land who confessed to sexual assault on TV), very few have been investigated by the police or faced judiciary consequences. That fact highlights more the gaps in our justice system than the absence of guilt.

  12. Alison on August 6th, 2018 12:04 pm

    As the victim of that sexual assault, I can assure you that it was never investigated, never debunked, and boy am I sick of people saying it was. Not a single person approached me except a journalist who figured out who I was after reading an anonymous report. No one gives a damn about anyone’s safety, because I sure wasn’t contacted about this kerfuffle either, and it’s not like I’m hard to find.

    Care more about your students and their safety than some “celebrity” speaker whose books you like. Sheesh.

According to the Student Press Law center, several professional news outlets have recently revamped or removed their online comment sections in an attempt to create more civilized discourse. The Channels encourages readers to use our comment section. We view it as a forum for our students and local community to discuss the news that we publish. In an open forum like this, readers are free to express themselves with certain guidelines. The Channels will refrain from approving the publication of comments that are: promoting private materials, containing personal contact information, personal attacks towards our staff, threatening or disparaging, libelous, an invasion of privacy towards the writer or source, obscene or hateful, or content that does not adhere to The Channels or community standards.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.
Michael Shermer to speak despite harassment allegations