A white neuroscientist has been revealed to have spent “years” pretending to be an Indigenous professor on social media, the hoax only coming to light after she killed off her creation via coronavirus.
Multiple news outlets reported on the strange case BethAnn McLaughlin, a professor who previously worked for Vanderbilt University and who had an influential role in the organisation #MeTooSTEM, although she was dogged by claims of bullying and racism.
But scientists on Twitter and laypeople were shocked this week when it was alleged McLaughlin had spent years posing as a “queer, Indigenous scientist” who worked at Arizona State University.
If I'm getting this right, a White woman who started a failed MeToo org for people in STEM only to be accused of ra… https://t.co/IIaEWHaJlh
Under the handle ‘@Sciencing_Bi’, McLaughlin would tweet about supposed ‘experiences’ from the perspective of her alternate persona, eventually culminating in accusations that she had been made to work by her university during the pandemic, resulting in @Sciencing_Bi contracting coronavirus.
The account then ‘detailed’ @Sciencing_Bi’s supposed experience of the virus.
But on 31 July the story took an abrupt turn when McLaughlin announced @Sciencing_Bi’s death.
“Sad to report @Sciencing_Bi died from COVID this evening,” McLaughlin wrote.
“She was a fierce protector of people. She let me take my shoulders away from my ears knowing she was meaner and more loving than everyone else. No one has ever had my back like that. I don’t know what I’m going to do”.
However, suspicions were quickly raised by the lack of a similar announcement from ASU and the dearth of mourners who could be found that had known @Sciencing_Bi in real life.