D.J. Grothe is No Longer Running James Randi Educational Foundation. Let Me Tell You Why This is a Good Thing.
D.J Grothe is no longer with JREF. For many of us who have some insight from behind the scenes, this is a good, even great thing.
Last year D.J, who was booked as a speaker at the European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm, simply didn’t show up. The group that organized the congress were quite surprised, since he hadn’t contacted us for a cancellation. They managed, at the last minute, to throw in another speaker to take his place.
When I got in contact with him, he sounded quite surprised and claimed that he absolutely had cancelled recently. I then asked him to let us know who he had communicated with, and he promised to do so. He didn’t, however, and when I kept asking him for it he kept telling me that he would get back to me about this when he was by his computer. He never did. He also promised the Swedish Skeptics to pay us the money for the hotel room, but never did. Both of these facts I double checked a while ago with the current board.
This could of course be just misunderstandings and innocent mistakes, but that seemed less likely when I started to hear a bunch of similar stories from other people and organizations – D.J. not showing up, not keeping promises and not paying people money. The biggest problem was not him being a no-show and not paying for a hotel room, the biggest problem was that the boss of JREF seemed to be lying to us and that this appeared to be a pattern.
The scary part is that two other people, independent of each other, were in contact with me with the intent to write a story about the pattern of all his bad behavior, but couldn’t because people didn’t dare to go on the record with the crappy thing he’s done. People were scared to ruin their careers or get into legal problems.
And then there’s the criticism from former employees about a bad working environment, especially for women, and his response to people raising concerns about social issues and the situation for women and other groups in the skeptics movement has been to ignore it and write post after post in social media about how overly sensitive women, transgender and other groups in minority in the movement are. When people are expressing that they aren’t feeling safe and aren’t treated well, that’s not a professional and ethical way to deal with those issues.
My suggestion to other skeptic organizations are – don’t hire him. He’s not good for your business/cause and he’s not good for the movement.
Former vice president for Vetenskap och folkbildning (Swedish Skeptics)