by Ian C.
REVIEW: Galileo’s Middle Finger by Alice Dreger
Galileo’s Middle Finger is essentially about the way science is politicized and how activists pillory scientists. Upon review, one can see how LRH never stood a chance with a number of forces working against him.
The main subject investigated in the book is a psychologist named Bailey whose work deals with transgender people. In his work, he used the label of autogyniphilia to apply to some, which is seen by some as insulting, divisive and homophobic when he was trying to be accurate. This is actually an evaluation, though well intentioned and to categorize behavior, and could be the real why behind the fights that ensue. In any case, despite these labels, Bailey is quite comfortable with all kinds of men and women, and actually argues for LGBT rights and to let people be. His main observations concluded that trans people fall into 2 categories: homosexuals who transfer for identity (i.e. gay men become “straight” women to get men) while the others are autogyniphilic meaning hey do so for erotic reasons (i.e. a man becomes a woman because of the fantasy and arousal of being a woman). Or, paraphrased on p. 63 as: “Those who love men become women to attract them [and] those who love women become the women they love.” Bailey’s research concludes that our sexual identity really comes from genes AND society (acceptance, gender norms, etc.). It seems fairly straightforward and progressive, and actually argues for granting freedom and beingness to all so long as they harm no others.
Despite this, a woman named James (who is trans herself), seems to make it a personal mission to hunt him down and destroy his reputation and career. She is offended and infuriated by his term autogyniphilia, which to her seems regressive and pathologizing as if trans people suffer from some sexual and mental sickness. (Some history of the LGBT movement is given in the book and how they were and still are treated by mental health practitioners). It’s also pretty obvious that she falls exactly in this camp per her own personal descriptions and admittance. It would also seem that she is an SP as well who got overwhelmed and attacks, attacks, attacks when at best his statement was politically incorrect (even if probably true). A more insightful reason why some trans people like her bring it up is because it hit a nerve. Yet one can also see the cause for the upset and the anger. “It’s narcissistic injury followed by narcissistic rage” (100) as said by a physician-researcher, which could be true but more likely is plain old suppression. It appears that James not only attacks Bailey, but his family, his team and other openly autogynephilic people in personal ways. She even comes after the book’s author Alice Dreger as she learned of her investigation, and “mental health professionals” are recruited to attack her credentials to boot. Seem familiar?
As a result of the dispute, there is a lot of fallout and PTS-ness as former colleagues, supporters, and subjects of the study are recruited by James and turn against Bailey, only to later be dumped and then feel jaded about everyone. The news media coverage in the meantime ignores the facts and reports only partial truths or forwards only one side, as it seems to make a better narrative of the bigoted straight white male vs. underdog trans minority community, despite this being far from true. It’s actually sad because to some extent, both parties are right and wrong to varying degrees. Though the book (and I) side with the scientist here, it’s worth a read, aside from its attention getting title and cover. Other controversial subjects like rape are also discussed but the theme and pattern are always the same – discredit, malign and smear the person as well as misrepresent the truth and the to suit an agenda when it questions socially accepted norms and rules. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
The reason I mention this book is because it relates to merchants of chaos in news reporting, as well as how the group bank fills in the blanks when manipulated by an SP. Those who knew Bailey quite intimately knew his work, they saw all drafts, his beliefs, his personality, and knew he was not bigoted, yet they got manipulated for an agenda which sought to suppress truth, one which actually would have helped more people understand and accept trans people. As mentioned, LRH never stood a chance despite his intentions. And he held up well considering the media, psych, and intel attacks on him and the orgs. True, he was imperfect, he made mistakes in handling the press, his enemies, and even the public and though he should be held accountable, he and the subject are not the monster they are made out to be in the public mind. Furthermore, no matter what time and what subject, this book shows how difficult it is to speak the truth as it is by nature politically incorrect (and I use it in the true sense, not the kind which is offensive for its own sake, which is the opposite side of the same coin as political correctness, and both based in untruth). It’s inspiring to ask questions without a fear of asking in the future one day, despite political correctness stifling.
The book also gives one a lot more understanding and empathy for different minority groups (like us!), as well as how one can become both PTS and SP in this very lifetime. It also provides excellent examples of why finding and data stripping, such as noting altered sequence, dropped time, etc. in the midst of knee jerk reactions (and plain jerk reactions). The book is definitely left leaning and somewhat condescending to those who don’t share the author’s views at times, but the author also lambastes liberal politicians and associations like the APA who kowtow to identity politics as opposed to supporting research and science. And it effectively damns news sources like The New Yorker and a number of others whose fact checkers fail to do their work – just like they failed to do in Going Clear – which unfortunately gives credence to bias and false information as people put their trust in authority and news sources.
Definitely a book worth a look at how the media uses misinformation and bias to turn groups against each other and misrepresent science, as well as how scientists and activists with an agenda mislead the public. Particularly relevant in this social media and internet dominated world today.