Amy Bishop update: still more details emerge

Having an unexpected bit of idle time, we continue our coverage of the Amy Bishop./U. of Alabama “tenure killer” case. [See here, herehere , and especially here and here for our earlier coverage.]

Today the New York Times has a long in-depth story on the incident — if you can’t deal with the NYT’s registration wall, there is an apparently identical version online here, for instance. (In addition, a slightly different version at the Seattle Times incorporates some additional details — notably that Amy Bishop is a second cousin of writer — and whackjob — John Irving.)

While both versions are of course silent about Bishop’s far-left politics and obsession with 0bama, they are overall a pretty good recap of what we already know, plus add some new information:

  • she had aspirations as a writer, and collaborated with somebody named Lenny Cavallero on an unpublished novel named “Amazon Fever”, “in which a herpes-like virus spreads throughout the world, causing pregnant women to miscarry”. Her co-author: “When I worked with her, I found she was always within striking distance of the edge”
  • “Over the years, Dr. Bishop had shown evidence that the smallest of slights could set off a disproportionate and occasionally violent reaction, according to numerous interviews with colleagues and others who know her. Her life seemed to veer wildly between moments of cold fury and scientific brilliance, between rage at perceived slights and empathy for her students.”
  • Somebody who collaborated with her on a paper in 1996 remembers her flying into a white-hot rage when she wasn’t given the coveted first author slot. “She broke down. She was extremely angry with all of us. She exploded into something emotional that we never saw before in our careers.”
  • “She rejected criticism and fudged her résumé. Her scientific work was not as impressive as she made it seem, according to independent neurobiologists, some of whom said she would have been unlikely to even get the opportunity to try for tenure at major universities. [See also here — NCT.] She was known to have cyclical “flip-outs,” as one former student described them, that pushed one graduate student after another out of her laboratory.”
  • Following the shooting of her brother, “as Officer Solimini and a partner drove Amy Bishop to the police station, she made a remark that surprised him, according to the report. “She stated that she had an argument with her father earlier,” Officer Solimini wrote. “(Prior to the shooting, she stated!)””
  • “Dr. Bishop also arrived in Huntsville with a padded résumé, giving the impression that she had worked at Harvard two years longer than the university’s records indicate.” [This AP story also mentions that she claimed an IQ of 180 — which would be in the 99.99997th percentile!]
  • “Graduate students did not last long in her laboratory, and those familiar with the department said that most transferred to a different one before completing their degree. In May 2006, she dismissed a graduate student from her lab. The student promised to return some notebooks and a set of keys the next day, a person familiar with the incident said, but Dr. Bishop called the campus police that night, according to a campus police report. The student filed a grievance against her.”
  • when denied tenure, “Her attitude was not, ‘I’m going to have to go find another job,’ ” said Eric Seemann, an assistant professor of psychology. “It was more like, ‘When are these idiots going to clear this up?’ ”
  • contrary to what has been claimed on some antisemitic conspiracy sites [which I refuse to link to], her father was not a Jewish business mogul but a professor of film at Northeastern University [this web page refers to Sam Bishop as Northeastern’s “one man film program” in the 1970s — there even appears to be a school award named after him at Northeastern], while her mother was involved in local politics in Braintree, MA, a middle-class suburb of Boston.
  • the fatal shooting of her brother happened following an argument with her father, who was out on an Xmas shopping trip while it happened

If I’d have to venture an amateur psychological diagnosis, it would be an extreme form of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD — note all the incidents of “narcissistic rage”), possibly with borderline personality disorder (BPD) thrown in. (Both are “Cluster B personality disorders“.)

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