Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin is a former assistant professor of neurology, a researcher, and one of the founders of MeTooSTEM, a group working to highlight gender discrimination in the field of science. In February 2020, McLaughlin was accused of “sidelining” people of color as well as “[bullying] volunteers, activists, and fellow leaders,” according to a report in Science Magazine. But on Monday morning McLaughlin was also accused of running a years-long Twitter identity scam, wherein she allegedly pretended to be a bisexual, Native American anthropology professor at Arizona State University.
According to the International Business Times, McLaughlin, who is white, “has been accused by academics and Twitter users for masquerading as a non-existent bi-sexual Native American professor” using the handle @Sciencing_Bi. On Saturday, McLaughlin tweeted from her account, @McLNeuro, that her dear friend @Sciencing_Bi had died due to issues related to having contracted covid-19. And in tweets that are no longer available because both accounts have been suspended, McLaughlin wrote about her friendship with the deceased professor, per IBT.
According to screenshots of McLaughlin’s tweets, @Sciencing_Bi “made million first nations indigenous contacts for metoostem [sic]” and was in the process of sending “Hopi bandanas” to McLaughlin’s students from her hospital bed as she battled covid-19.
The eulogy garnered quite a few responses.
@Sciencing_Bi wrote in great detail about their struggle with covid-19, and in a thread that is no longer available on Thread Reader, mentioned that they had run a fever of 101 for two days. A portion of that thread is still viewable here. They also blamed their workplace, Arizona State University, for forcing them to show up to work resulting in contracting the virus.
However, Arizona State University has no such record of any staff members dying recently, according to Rachel Leingang, a reporter with the Arizona Republic who was working on a story about the deceased professor.
Leingang tweeted that she reached out to McLaughlin to try and verify the existence of the professor.
Leingang noted that McLaughlin’s claim that the two had never met in person went against previous claims by McLaughlin that they had. But according to the
International Business Times, “McLaughlin claimed to have personally known the professor,” and one Twitter user pointed out that McLaughlin was the only person to have communicated with @Sciencing_Bi outside of Twitter. The same user captured screenshots of the eulogy thread on McLaughlin’s account before it was suspended and the tweets disappeared into the ether. The user also found @Sciencing_Bi’s first tweet from 2016 which reads, “@McLNeuro Loved your posts today. Got me to get back on Twitter. Now what?”
Arizona news outlets and Arizona State University have yet to confirm the identity of @Sciencing_Bi or of any staff member at ASU that has died due to covid-19 in the last few days, but I think the one thing that the general public can confirm themselves is that @Sciencing_Bi is a poorly thought-out handle for an allegedly fictitious, bisexual college professor.