Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Madmen in science

I meant to do this a few days ago.

Cass made a post a long while back called Lying to us, lying to them. This addressed the New York Times article Gay, Straight, or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited. To jog your memories, I'll paste a bit of that article:

Some people are attracted to women; some are attracted to men. And some, if Sigmund Freud, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and millions of self-described bisexuals are to be believed, are drawn to both sexes.

But a new study casts doubt on whether true bisexuality exists, at least in men.

The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation.

Want to know something interesting? This below bit is from a July 20th entry on AMERICAblog, which is like my CNN.

Recently, the New York Times Science section -- which I read religiously -- trumpeted a study claiming bisexuality in men really doesn't exist. All those guys who say they're bi? Liars. What the story didn't tell you was that the study's senior author had lost his prestigious university position as head of department on ethics charges, been investigated for a year and a half and was identified by the esteemed Southern Poverty Law Center as being linked to hate groups. He also saw no ethical dilemma if parents aborted babies they believed were going to be gay. In other words, eugenics. Gee, think that might have colored our opinion of his study? No letters objecting to this article on that basis were run and no clarification about his suspect past ever appeared, to my knowledge. (link)

(For the record, his post goes on about the New York Times making two major errors lately; I highly recommend reading it).

From there, I found this post on AMERICAblog that I someone managed to miss entirely: Bisexuality Study: NYT Gives Prominence To Disgraced Researcher. You can find here a lot of information about Baily, one of the major contributors to the New York Times article, and his very shaky "science."

It seems that J. Michael Bailey has a reputation of conducting disreputable studies. By googling his name and the word "eugenics," I found a site that provides some information from a transexual he worked with for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen:

Kieltyka likens Bailey's "science" to the infamous syphilis experiments performed on unwitting black men at the Tuskegee Institute. "At the beginning of the last century, blacks were expendable human beings to be experimented on without their knowledge," she says. (link)

This all relates to something that's been scaring me lately. For a very long time, it seemed to me that there were two sides debating science in this world. One side was pushed for creationsim, the other for evolution. One side was fundamentalist, the other not. One side thought the world was thousands of years old, the other said billions. And it was easy to see the difference to these two sides.

Now, it seems like nutjobs are everywhere. I'm not trying to be insensitive by using the term "nutjob," but really - why in the world would the New York times allow a man who didn't think there was an ethical dilemma in aborting gay babies to provide information for a so-called scientific study? That seems mad to me!

And here's another example:

George Stephanopoulos:…Now, you’re a doctor. Do you believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

Senate Minority Leader Dr. Bill Frist: I don’t know. I can tell you…

Stephanopoulos: You don’t know?

Frist: I can tell you things like, like …

Stephanopoulos: Well, wait, let me stop you, you don’t know that, you believe that tears and sweat might be able to transmit AIDS?

Frist: Yeah, no, I can tell you that HIV is not very transmissible as an element like, compared to smallpox, compared to the flu. It is not, but the first slide, because I think it’s dangerous to show that and then sort of walk away.

Stephanopoulos: Let me just, I wanted to move to another subject, let me just clear this up, though. Do you or do you not believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

Frist: It would be very hard. It would be very hard for tears and sweat, I mean, you can get virus in tears and sweat but in terms of the degree of infecting somebody, it would be very hard. (link)

This is the Senate Minority Leader, a doctor, and it takes Stephanopoulos one, two, three, four questions to finally get the man to admit that maybe tears and sweat don't transfer AIDS.

How are these people reaching positions of power? How are these people working within the mainstream? It's scary to me. While I understand the need to understand differences in opinion, I also feel it's important to understand that some things aren't opinion - they are only wrong.

If you wanted to read the science of a madman, you once had to look for, say, Chick Tracts. Then you can read Jack Chick explain that dinosaurs and man are both 6000 years old or Lucy was a chimp. Now you can find the madmen in the Senate.

And this scares me.


Anonymous Johnicholas said...

A guy I think is pretty smart (Steven Pinker) seems to think that Bailey's work is interesting.

Pinker also explains in his book (The Blank Slate) why lots of people (with good political credentials, if not necessarily good scientific arguments) would attack Bailey's studies.

Claiming that Bailey is anti-gay (which is possible, to be sure) is an ad hominem attack. If it is true, he would have a motive to falsify data. However, it hasn't been shown that he did falsify data.

4:51 PM

Blogger Harper said...

Here's information on an investigation into Bailey's writings/ studies/ etc. And here (it's a PDF) is some information about his feelings around homosexual eugenics.

9:25 PM

Anonymous vt_slayer said...

Out of curiosity, I looked up the HBI and stubled from there to the website of the the group's founder, Steve Sailer. It appears he blogs on, a site which cloaks its white supremacy in pseudo-academic and pseudo-psychological language. I then surfed some of the links in his articles. The whole exercise left me with a terrible knot in my stomach caused in equal parts by fear and by disgust.

8:05 AM


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