I F*cking Love Science: Witty Facebooker or Art Theif?

I was inspired by a tweet about the facebook page “I Fucking Love Science”.

So which is it?
Well, I’m guessing it’s complicated.

Photo Credit: Eric Hamm

The Background
Elise Andrew is the girl behind “I Fucking Love Science.” A project that she started for her as a way to create an online catalogue of new scientific discoveries.  She said that it was “never supposed to be more than me posting to a few dozen of my friends”. And then overnight – it exploded.

Now with over 10 million likes, Elise has been granted her own TV show hosted by Craig Ferguson. However, not everyone is enamored by “I F*cking Love Science” or Elise’s new TV show.

There have been many complaints posted against the page including copyright infringement and posting inaccurate information. However, due to her popularity, and the large standing it has on Facebook, “I F*cking Love Science” remains a powerful force on the internet that isn’t likely to go anywhere soon.

Maybe It’s The Way She’s Criticized?
Elise runs “I F*cking Love Science” by herself. Managing a Twitter, Facebook, and a science blog seems overwhelming – especially when over 10 million people are constantly scrutinizing every move she makes.

I feel like a lot of the criticism Elise receives regarding these two problems, infringement and accuracy, is often brought to her with hostility. While the claims themselves may be right, she has to wade through so much negativity a day that it might just get brushed off to the side. People often directly attack her with death threats not to mention their surprise and hostility when they found out that she was a girl.  She gets comments like these frequently and posts some of them to her personal Facebook page. Oftentimes, the people who point out her flaws, do so with so much hostility and anger that it hardly seems constructive.
Elise has seemed to take some of the critiscism to heart. She’s started crediting photographs and posted links for where followers can find more information. She’s even requested help maintaining the pages by hiring writers.

So Which Is It?
I’m thinking that at first, she didn’t really understand copyright issues on the internet. She started “I F*cking Love Science” when she just came out of undergrad and I feel that copyright protocol on the internet isn’t well defined. It wasn’t anything I learned about in undergraduate or graduate school. Everything I know about copyright I had to dig through myself. While places like Flickr and Wikipedia try make the copyright easier to understand, it’s still confusing to know what’s okay to use where. And that’s even if you know enough to look.

More to the point, she originally just started posting things for her personal use and it literally grew beyond her wildest expectations overnight. In addition,  she has a general interest in science, but she graduated with a BS in Biology focusing on Evolution and Ecology so she probably didn’t even have the expertise in physics, astronomy, or chemistry to know if things she was posting were incorrect.

I don’t think that these problems were intentional. I don’t think she ever meant to be an “art thief” and I doubt promoting inaccurate scientific literature was ever a goal. However, I do agree that now she’s been in the spotlight for 2 years – she has to step up her game.

I’m hoping with a new team of writers, Elise obtains people from a wide variety of backgrounds to help stem the problems of copyright infringement and the scientific accuracy. Hopefully, scientific artists, researchers, and communicators can all equally benefit from the “I F*cking Love Science” powerhouse.

My Personal Opinion:
I like I F*cking Love Science. Yes, I think it has it’s issues, and yes, I think some things can be handled better. But anything that gets people interested in science and helps promote scientific literacy – I’m all for. Is it perfect right now? No. But new endeavors and frontiers are never perfect.

Also – I think it’s really easy to just see the problems and criticize. As a fellow creator, I know how hard it is to create and how easily someone else can tear it down. I wonder, if the people who criticize Elise so dramatically on the internet would dare to say half those things in that way to her face. Maybe the whole situation could be a bit better if we just tried to understand each other.

TL;DR: Elise gets a lot of negativity thrown her way and I think she’s been trying her best to make up for her past mistakes. Nothing is ever black and white. I don’t think she intentially spread misinformation or meant to be an art thief. I think she was new to the internet, didn’t know a lot about copyright law on the internet nor had expertise outside of evolutionary biology which led to the problems people have with IFLS.
*Note: This was actually a lot harder to write than I anticipated – so sorry if my thoughts seem jumbled. It’s a complicated issue!”
Feel free to hate me forever if you disagree with me.


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