Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Junk science pushes sex-changes studies

original article: Research Claiming Sex-Change Benefits Is Based On Junk Science
April 13, 2017 by Walt Heyer

Caitlyn Jenner has perfected the art of cashing in on each step of gender transition. A few short weeks before the release of his new book, Jenner acknowledges the boys are now gone. Adios to his life-long companions in gender reassignment surgery (known as bottom surgery).

Jenner is wealthy and can cash in on celebrity, but a large portion of the transgender population remains lost and unaccounted for. Did they die, detransition, or commit suicide?  All we know is the attempted suicide rate for transgender people has remained above 40 percent for many years.

Doctors jam trans kids with puberty blockers and trans adults with cross-gender hormones, then recommend irreversible genital surgery, all without having long-term systematic studies of the effectiveness of such invasive treatment. Parents of trans kids don’t have the benefit of trustworthy information on the probable outcomes of up to 90 percent of gender changers.

Research about transgender people is biased toward reporting success. Studies lose track of many participants, often the majority, and there is no mechanism for tracking those who are dissatisfied after gender-change treatment. My transition back to male hasn’t been tallied in the negative column of any study. Ditto for the trans people who reach out to me.

Huge Numbers of Study Subjects Are Lost to Follow-Up

One limitation of long-term transgender research is that many participants who were present at the beginning of the study can’t be located at its end. In medical parlance, they are “lost to follow-up.” A 2007 textbook titled “Principles of Transgender Medicine and Surgery” explains the limitations of the studies: “A large proportion of patients (up to 90%) are lost to follow up… [which]…complicates efforts to systematically study the long-term effects of gender reassignment surgery.”

Another review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals conducted in 2004 by the University of Birmingham’s aggressive research facility, Arif, warned “the results of many gender reassignment studies are unsound because researchers lost track of more than half of the participants. For example, in a five-year study of 727 post-operative transsexuals published last year, 495 people dropped out for unknown reasons.”

Since the scientific community reports up to 90 percent of transsexuals are lost to follow-up and therefore not counted in study results, I’m skeptical when I hear the LGBT soundbite that says only a tiny percentage are dissatisfied after changing gender. The missing 90 percent could have given up on gender change and gone back to their birth gender or even committed suicide. No one knows, because they dropped out of sight. Too many hormones, too much surgery, and too many are lost.

Media reports about transgender outcomes is also biased positive because the research is also. Arif found “most of the medical research on gender reassignment was poorly designed, which skewed the results to suggest that sex change operations are beneficial.” Arif also reported “no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.”

None of the people who have contacted me over the past 11 years about going back to their birth gender will be counted as having undesirable outcomes. That’s because the LGBTQ studies purposefully exclude anything that would reflect badly on their overblown trans agenda.

Sex Changes Have Been Unsound Since Their Inception

From the start, the effectiveness of treating transgender people by affirming their non-biological identity was based on falsified evidence. Dr. Harry Benjamin will be known as the founder of transsexualism, but the real madness we see today reflects the legacy of Dr. John Money, a psychologist. During his time at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in the 1960s and ‘70s, Mooney launched the tragic trajectory of surgical transgenders, suicides, and regrettable outcomes.

Money made a name for himself with research on a set of twin boys, one of whom had his penis ruined in a botched circumcision. When the boy’s distressed parents contacted Money for help, he saw an opportunity to conduct research on the cultural versus biological determinants of gender. Money recommended that doctors remove the remnants of David’s injured genitalia and his parents raise him as a girl. They followed Money’s advice, and at the age of two David Reimer became Brenda.

Over the years, Money met with the Reimer twins and wrote articles touting the success of his gender experiment and how well Brenda was adapting. His results fueled the acceptance of gender reassignment in the medical community.

The problem was, Money fabricated the results. The truth didn’t come out until the twins were in their 30s. David had been suffering for most of his life from severe depression, followed by financial instability and a troubled marriage. Money withheld information the medical community and public needed to know about gender reassignment, and replaced it with lies.

When David Reimer and his twin brother broke their silence, they exposed Money as a fraud and pedophile. They told how Money had taken photos of them together naked in sexual poses when they were only seven years of age. Money did not stop with snapping photos. The twins described sexual abuse, saying Money forced them to engage in incestuous sex play with each other while he watched.

The twins’ outcome was grim. David died of suicide at age 38, and his brother died a few years later of a drug overdose. This foundation of gender reassignment surgery was based on fraudulent, fabricated research, and this form of treatment all too frequently ends in suicide or suicide attempts.

When a High-Profile Trans Person De-Transitions

Once in a while, a high-profile trans person reveals discontent with life after changing genders. Alexis Arquette, of Hollywood’s famous Arquette family, began life as Robert and achieved fame as a transgender actress. In the media tributes that followed his death at age 47 last September, few mentioned that Alexis had detransitioned and stopped living as a woman. However, The Hollywood Reporter did write of Arquette’s view of gender change:

In 2013, amid increasing health complications, Alexis began presenting herself as a man again, telling [close friend] Ibrahim that ‘gender is bullshit.’ That ‘putting on a dress doesn’t biologically change anything. Nor does a sex-change.’ She said that ‘sex-reassignment is physically impossible. All you can do is adopt these superficial characteristics but the biology will never change.’ That realization, Ibrahim suspects, was the likely source of her deep wells of emotional torment.

Clearly, even a well-known and talented transgender individual who is embraced and accepted in his chosen identity can struggle and decide to return to his birth sex. But he is not counted in any study.

As one who transitioned, lived as a woman for eight years, and returned to life as a male, I hope more people will speak publicly about the reality of life after changing gender—the doubts and questioning, the fatigue of living a masquerade, and the desire to go back to one’s birth gender. Transgender people write to me confidentially, yet frankly, about their gender struggles and the desire to de-transition, but they find the idea of once again changing their appearance and identity daunting.

When People Speak Openly About Their Sex Change

People who write to me aren’t counted in any ongoing studies, but they give insight into the minds of those who undergo gender transition. Here are two stories from folks I corresponded with in 2010.

Regret arrived quickly for a male who transitioned to female and wrote to me four months post-op:

I recently had the sex change surgery, and although I thought I was completely sure of what I was doing, I began to regret the decision a mere three weeks after the operation.

Some might say I was experiencing post-op depression, but it was definitely more than that. I also suspect that many of the other patients at the hospital who had the same operation experienced similar feelings based on my discussions with them.

What really drove the point home for me was the realization that it required eight hours on an operating table to make my genitalia appear to be female.

That pretty much tells me that I’m NOT female at all. If I were female, why wasn’t I born with female genitalia? Sure, there are some intersexed people with ambiguous genitals, but I’m not at all intersexed. My chromosomes are the normal male XY, with absolutely no abnormalities.

The reality is that I’m male, and no amount of surgery changes that fact. I’m now four months post-op, and I’ve begun to transition to live as a male again. I feel it’s the only way to be honest with myself and with society.

If you are considering this surgery, think very carefully about the consequences. Make sure that the doctor or counselor that’s approving you for the surgery is qualified to evaluate whether you need the operation or not.

The second email comes from a man who regretted his gender transition a mere year and a half after surgery. It shares a father’s painful revelation of wanting to return to being a man and father again.

I am 46 and 1.5 years post op MTF [male to female]. I struggled with my gender identity most of my life. I am so miserable and every day I struggle to get thru the next minute. I have to pray for the strength not to go to the gun store. Every minute is filled with suicidal thoughts. I can’t live like this anymore. Please help me. Guide me what to do medically, surgically to fix this mess.

I am so glad I came across your website. After 10 months of post-op psychotherapy, I know sadly now my problems were great depression, unresolved issues as you said (I was sexually abused by my grandfather at 3 years old, father was killed in the line of duty when I was 5, grew up thinking I must be gay, had sex with men and was disgusted, and cross dressed most of my life.) My new therapist is calling it a transvestic fetish that went terribly wrong, coupled with GID.

Why couldn’t we get to this pre-op? It’s just a sick money making industry as I see it. I have already removed the breast implants, and will be restarting testosterone soon. I have destroyed my career, my finances and my marriage and alienated my family.

The pain as you know is so great! It feels like a knife in my heart. I can’t sleep. I am so disgusted with myself. How could a smart, successful guy get so lost? I had it all. Now I’m watching it slowly fade away. You and all the people that give me words of encouragement are the only thing keeping me going. I have rope, and I know when and where all the next guns shows are; I don’t want to live like this. My therapist is going to recommend me to gender therapists; to get a surgical solution I can live with. At 46 years of age I just hope I have the strength to get there; my batteries are drained. I have not read your book; but I am willing to listen to your thoughts and ideas.

(Taken from “Gender, Lies and Suicide,” by Walt Heyer. p. 73-76.)

Red flags against gender-change surgery abound. Up to 90 percent of gender changers in studies cannot be located for follow-up, lowering the quality and credibility of the activist trans agenda. Scientific evidence showing that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective is lacking.

A founder of the modern surgical gender change model of treatment, Dr. John Money, falsely reported success to promote himself and advocate for transgender surgery. Performer Alexis Arquette de-transitioned back to Robert, said “Gender is bullshit,” and blew the whistle on the madness and futility of gender change.

Letters in my inbox relate first-person accounts that the LGBTQ lobby will not even acknowledge exist and that poke holes in the often-told myth that regret is rare. Jenner has said adios to his boys, while far too many transgender people have said adios to family and friends and cannot be found.

One can only hope people considering a sex change or who regret their sex change have a “come to Jesus” meeting like I did, or risk becoming one of the 90 percent lost in the wilderness of transgenderism.

culture, science, sex, tragedy

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When anti-science hides behind science

original article: The Left’s New Cure-All: ‘Science’
April 12, 2017 by HEATHER WILHELM

Ah, science. If you’re even loosely engaged in the wild and dark art that is politics these days, you know by now that “science,” as a word, has taken on an almost mystical meaning. “Science,” in many of its modern incantations, now serves as a form of code, as vague and fuzzy as a Wiccan chant. For a growing number of political activists, the meaning is simple: Science, you see, is a lively mix of standard progressive hobbyhorses, tossed wild-eyed and cranky into one cantankerous bag.

Witness the upcoming March for Science, scheduled for Saturday, April 22. This also happens to be Earth Day, which is nice enough — and hey, who could object to a good old-fashioned rah-rah session for science? I, for one, always welcome a refresher on string theory, or the confounding conflict between the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, or that long, troubling episode in our planet’s history when a few impertinent continents apparently traipsed all the way over to the other side of the globe and no one was there to panic about it.

Alas, this March for Science does not appear to be largely about science, or about people who know a great deal about science, or even about people who want to know a great deal about science. (It would be kind of fun, in fact, to quiz earnest potential attendees about the details of the scientific method, or whether Johannes Kepler should finally win that well-deserved Oscar.) Keeping up with today’s hottest trends, the March for Science has wrapped itself in identity politics, cranked up the oven to “scorch,” and potentially set things on track to unceremoniously collapse into one giant intersectional soufflé.

The troubles brewing within the March for Science surfaced in January, marked by a now-deleted official tweet: “Colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, ableism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ justice are scientific issues.” Since then, the addled march has torn through four different diversity statements, shellacked by critics on both sides. (Harvard’s Steven Pinker bashed the march’s “anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric,” while others complained the statement didn’t go far enough.) The march’s latest set of “Diversity and Inclusion Principles,” when paired with its more shame-faced and apologetic sibling, the “Statement on Diversity and Inclusion,” tops out at over 1,000 words.

You might think that this amounts to a protest march protesting too much. But the hits keep coming. When Bill Nye, the children’s TV personality-turned-science-advocate, was announced as an honorary chair of the march last week, critics bemoaned his status as a white male. Oddly, no one seemed particularly riled up about the fact that Nye is not an actual “scientist” at all. “I was born a dorky white guy who became an engineer,” Nye told BuzzFeed, reportedly “baffled” at the brouhaha. “I’m playing the hand I was dealt. We can’t — this march can’t solve every problem at once.”

But “science,” at least according to the new dogma, can. Since the election of Donald Trump, a trendy new sign has popped up in yards across America: “In this house, we believe black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, kindness is everything.” People of various political leanings could talk for hours about some of the tenets of the sign — which specific “women’s rights” are we referring to, for instance? — but the “science is real” line confuses me every time. What, after all, can it mean? Most likely, the line refers to anthropogenic climate change, and a beef with the Trump administration’s approach to that contentious issue. But if that’s the case, why not just have your sign say “Manmade climate change is real”? There’s clearly something else afoot, and it strikes deep into the heart of progressive politics today.

What, after all, can it mean? Most likely, the line refers to anthropogenic climate change, and a beef with the Trump administration’s approach to that contentious issue. But if that’s the case, why not just have your sign say “Manmade climate change is real”? There’s clearly something else afoot, and it strikes deep into the heart of progressive politics today.

Of course science is real. Earnest scientists are busy sciencing it up, right now, all over the world. In some cases, as the BBC recently reported, they’re accidentally growing chickens with actual dinosaur faces, a terrifying activity that I sincerely hope they stop. But science is not a doctrine or a dogma. It’s a method — a method of questioning, gathering facts, developing hypotheses, and testing them to get a better understanding of the world.

But here’s the thing about science: Sometimes, it’s a method that reveals answers you’d rather not know. Science might, for instance, make you think about human life, and certain facts about human life, and specific policies that end human life. It might, in fact, turn a few of the most passionately held dogmas of the supposed “party of science” — and the progressive left — completely upside down.

But never mind. Today’s march for science is apparently for the science that affirms our priors. That, after all, is much more fun.

bias, corruption, culture, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, reform, relativism, science, supply and demand

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The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique

original article: The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique
April 22, 2015 by Carlos D. Flores

By now we are all undoubtedly familiar with the tragic suicide of Joshua Alcorn, the transgender teenage boy who, in late December, walked onto a freeway with the intention of ending his life. In an apparent suicide note, Joshua cites a host of reasons for why he was led to end his life, most prominent of which were his parents’ attempts to discourage his identifying as a girl and his being sent to therapists in an attempt to relieve these feelings. All of the problems that ultimately culminated in his suicide, writes Joshua, stem from the fact that, from the time he was a small child, he felt like a “girl trapped in a boy’s body.”

No sooner had Joshua’s heart stopped beating than the story of his suicide was seized by LGBT activists and pruned to advance a familiar narrative of a sexual minority fighting cultural oppression. Joshua’s parents immediately began to be chided as “repressive” and “bigoted” and even began to receive various threats from LGBT internet crusader-activists.

Transgenderism and Gender Identity

I have not referred to Joshua by using female pronouns or by using his self-invented female name of “Leelah.” The reason I am not doing this is simple: Joshua was not a girl—he was a boy—and to address males with female pronouns or females with male pronouns is to contribute to our culture’s confusion about sexuality and the nature of the human person, which is literally leaving casualties in its wake. No amount of surgical mutilation of body parts, effeminate behaviors, or artificial female appearances can make a man a woman.

LGBT activists will respond in various ways to this. They might first respond by saying: “Okay, true enough: Joshua was biologically a male. But you have misunderstood our claim: we contend that his sex was male, yes, but his gender was female because he ‘identified’ as female.” The idea here is that people have a sex, which is either female or male and which one cannot choose. In addition to this, however, there is “gender,” or what sex one is more comfortable “identifying” as. The response to this is simple: Why think that what one “identifies as” is significant at all, especially to the extent that others should actively recognize or cater to such an identity, and especially when the identity one adopts is contrary to reality?

Consider the following analogies. Suppose that a Caucasian man from Finland—call him Gunther—suddenly decided that he identifies as being of Sub-Saharan African descent. Suppose further that, in light of this, Gunther undergoes unusual procedures to have his skin darkened and his skull’s bone structure re-shaped so as to resemble that of individuals of Sub-Saharan descent. Would we think that such a person has suddenly become of Sub-Saharan descent through such procedures? Of course not, and his identifying as such does nothing to change this. His appearance as someone of Sub-Saharan descent might be very convincing. But, again, this doesn’t change the fact that he is not of Sub-Saharan descent.

Similarly, suppose that a seventy-year-old man—call him Bob—comes to identify as a sixteen-year-old. Wouldn’t we think it absurd if people considered it “rude” or “bigoted” to tell the man: “You are not sixteen years old. Your identifying as such doesn’t change this fact, and we will not indulge you in your strange delusions by not calling attention to your old age and by pretending that you really are sixteen years old”?

The cases of Gunther and Bob and the situations of individuals who believe themselves to be transgender are perfectly analogous. In the case of the transgender individual, he identifies as something he is not—someone of the opposite sex—and seeks to undergo harmful surgeries and hormonal treatments in order to have his physical state match his identity of himself as someone of the opposite sex.

Our mental faculties, like our physical ones, are ordered toward various ends. Among these ends is the attainment of truth. To this extent, it is perfective of our mental faculties to recognize how we truly are (and thus apprehend a truth). It is for this reason that we can make sense of mental disorders such as anorexia nervosa as disorders: they involve persons’ having persistent, false beliefs about their identity or how they really are. In the case of the anorexic, someone who is dangerously underweight believes falsely (but tenaciously) that he is really overweight. It would be a proper procedure of medicine, then, for a therapist to help an anorexic individual to do away with his anorexia, restoring the individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state.

Gender Reassignment Surgery Is Not Medicine

Those in favor of transgenderism also (naturally) support gender-reassignment surgery as a perfectly legitimate medical procedure for individuals (including children) with gender dysphoria. Now, put to one side the fact that 70-80 percent of children who report having transgender feelings come to lose such feelings. Ignore, for the moment, the fact that individuals who undergo gender reassignment surgery are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Instead consider the following question: Can we reasonably categorize gender reassignment surgery as a medical procedure in the first place?

Before we answer this question, we might venture to ask: what is medicine? Here is a plausible answer: medicine is the enterprise of restoring bodily faculties to their proper function. Our bodily faculties are ordered toward certain ends. This seems impossible to deny. Eyes, for example, are ordered toward (i.e., their function is) seeing, the stomach is ordered toward breaking down food, the heart is ordered toward pumping blood, etc. So if, say, someone’s eyes were not able to achieve their end of sight well, it would be rightly considered a medical procedure to seek to restore this individual’s eyes to their proper function. Similarly, it would be a medical endeavor to seek to restore an individual’s defective heart (one that has arrhythmia, say) to its proper function. All well and good.

But what are we to make of this “gender reassignment” surgery? Insofar as such a surgical procedure involves the intentional damaging and mutilating of otherwise perfectly functioning bodily faculties by twisting them to an end toward which they are not ordered, such a thing cannot, in principle, possibly be considered a medical procedure. And because love compels us to seek the good for another, it is thus a grave evil to condone such surgical procedures.

On Gender Identity Disorder Therapy

A similar point can be made about gender identity disorder therapy. Transgenderism activists are seizing Joshua’s tragic death to insist that such therapy ought to be criminalized. A petition is floating around the internet to ban so-called “transgender conversion therapy,” a procedure that involves, presumably, an attempt by a professional to help a person who is experiencing a gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria). If the progress of the homosexual movement is a guide to what will come next, we can expect that laws will soon be passed criminalizing individuals’ receiving therapy to help them do away with transgender identities or desires—even for those who want to relieve themselves of such identities and desires.

Recall our earlier discussion of anorexia. Like the anorexic, the transgendered individual tenaciously holds to false beliefs about his identity or how or what he truly is: he believes that he is a sex that he is not. Dr. Paul McHugh’s words here are particularly incisive:

The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.

It would thus be a perfectly proper procedure of medicine for the transgendered individual to visit a therapist to seek his professional help to relieve himself of his disordered transgender identity insofar as this would amount to a restoring of the transgendered individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state. The suggestion, then, that gender identity disorder therapy should be criminalized is as absurd as the suggestion that therapy to eliminate anorexia should be criminalized.

Some Common Objections

Now, an apologist for transgenderism might retort in the following way: “You’re missing a key point: the brains of, say, men who ‘identify’ as women have been shown to resemble those of women. This shows that there is a biological basis to their identifying as such.” In response, we might begin by asking for empirical evidence that this dubious claim really is true. But even if this were the case, this doesn’t show that men whose brains “resemble that of a woman’s” (whatever that means) are truly women after all. If we are to say that the person simply is the brain, as the one who espouses this objection seems to suggest, then, because presumably even males who identify as women have brains with male DNA, it follows that they are men after all.

But we don’t even need to grant that the presence of such-and-such brain states is relevant at all. For example, we may suppose that, through habitually behaving as a sixteen-year-old, the brain activity of the seventy-year-old mentioned above “resembles” that of a sixteen-year-old’s. Does it follow, then, that the seventy-year-old really is sixteen years old? Or that he is really a sixteen-year-old trapped inside a seventy-year-old’s body? Of course not. The most rational conclusion is that such an individual has some sort of cognitive or psychological defect associated with identity and self-perception. The same can be said for the transgender individual.

Indeed, it should not come as a surprise to find out that our daily activities shape our brain-states or alter the way our brains behave. After all, it is more or less common knowledge that, say, the process of learning to play an instrument has the effect of establishing new neural pathways, thus causing a change in brain-states. Thus Dr. Norman Doidge comments: “Now we know the brain is ‘neuroplastic,’ and not only can it change, but that it works by changing its structure in response to repeated mental experience.”

On the topic of sexuality more specifically, consider the fact that habitual porn use seems to result in (or correlate with) decreased gray matter in the brain, and that habitual porn use changes the sexual tastes of men. If habitually watching pornography can change a man’s brain so significantly, then it should hardly be surprising that through intentionally and habitually behaving like a woman a man’s brain would too change to some extent. But again, this does not thereby show that such a man is a woman after all; all it shows is that through habituated action of some sort, the man’s brain behavior has changed.

Another response might be to ask rhetorically: “Well, what about intersex individuals?” The implication is that the existence of intersex individuals somehow shows that the nature of sex is up for grabs for everyone, intersex or not. But this doesn’t follow at all. In the genuine case of intersex individuals, it may very well be appropriate to express puzzlement or ignorance as to what to make of such an attribute, metaphysically speaking, and perhaps leave it as an open question whether such individuals are either male or female or whether they should be encouraged to undergo surgical procedures in the interest of their health. Cases in which an individual is intersex, however, are exceedingly rare. Indeed, even granting the point, it would not be unfair to say that in 99.99 percent of cases (and even this might be too low a percentage), a person is either male or female. And unsurprisingly, most of the individuals who believe themselves to be transgender have perfectly functioning male or female reproductive systems. This question is both irrelevant and fruitless.

Finally, the LGBT activist might retort by asking: “but how will a man identifying as a woman affect you?” If these were simply private issues, this might be a valid point (though a concern for the physical and mental well-being of individuals struggling with their gender might obligate us to reach out to them in such a case). But, alas, LGBT activists are actively working to make it the case that the state and private businesses cover “gender-reassignment” surgeries, that men who identify as women be able to use women’s restrooms, that girls who identify as boys be able to play on male sports teams, that we consider it immoral to refer to infants as male or female lest we insidiously impose upon them a “gender” they might not identify with, that we ban therapy to treat gender dysphoria, and that we generally co-opt language and social norms to reflect pernicious falsehoods about the human body.

How a man’s identifying as a woman will personally affect me, you, or John Doe is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether we will make public policy and encourage social norms that reflect the truth about the human person and sexuality, or whether we will obfuscate the truth about such matters and sow the seeds of sexual confusion in future generations for years to come.

conservative, crisis, culture, extremism, government, homosexuality, ideology, justice, philosophy, public policy, relativism, right wing, science, sex, tragedy, victimization

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MSNBC: This Thing that Might “Turn Into a Human”

original article: MSNBC’s Sick Anti-Science: “This Thing” that Might “Turn Into a Human”
March 27, 2017 by Peter Heck

There was a time when the left pretended to be people of science. Always a vacuous claim, it still stuck to some degree because of the false dichotomy progressives created between religious faith (a trait attributed to the right) and the scientific method. Unfortunately for them, the façade is collapsing because of their rigid, dogmatic obsession with abortion.

Take for example what occurred on MSNBC with contributor Melissa Harris-Perry. Going on a rant about her love of abortion, Perry actually said this:

Look, I get that that is a particular kind of faith claim. It’s not associated with science. But the reality is that if this turns into a person, right, there are economic consequences, right? The cost to raise a child, $10,000 a year up to $20,000 a year. When you’re talking about what it actually costs to have this thing turn into a human, why not allow women to make the best choices that we can with as many resources and options instead of trying to come in and regulate this process?

Leave aside the incredibly morally repulsive price tag Perry is placing on human life, and concentrate on her reference to unborn life as “this thing.” As though the developing baby in the womb is some grand mystery object that could potentially morph into something other than human.

As much as leftists committed to this death cult want to believe otherwise, this isn’t difficult. The terms adolescent and elderly do not refer to nonhumans, or “potential” humans. They refer to humans at a particular stage of development. In the same way, the terms embryo and fetus do not refer to nonhumans, or “potential” humans. They refer to humans at a particular stage, albeit an early stage, of development.

Just because some human functions have slowed, malfunctioned, or ceased due to old age, that does not make a “fully functional” adult more human than the old lady in the nursing home. Similarly, just because some human functions are underdeveloped, developing, or yet to be fully formed due to young age, that does not make a “fully functional” adult more human that the baby girl in the womb.

Again, this isn’t rocket science. It’s just science. Something Melissa Harris-Perry chooses to ignore for the sake of her political agenda, and that MSNBC gives her free air time to do.

Incidentally, for those who didn’t know (given that it is MSNBC, which boasts a nightly viewership slightly below reruns of the Jetsons on Cartoon Network), Harris-Perry recently lost her own program on the network. Why? She accused the “lean forward” organization of racism:

Harris-Perry refused to appear on her program Saturday morning, telling her co-workers in an email that she felt “worthless” to the NBC-owned network. “I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” wrote Harris-Perry, who is African American. “I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by [NBC executives] or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”

Call me crazy, but given the rest of its regular programming, I think the anti-science ramblings of Harris-Perry that bemoans those “things” in the womb would fit nicely with their apparent organizational standards.

abortion, babies, children, extremism, ideology, indoctrination, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, relativism, science

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Climate scientist leaves academia and government, citing honesty issues

original article: JC in transition
January 3, 2017 by Judith Curry

Effective January 1, I have resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

Before reflecting on a range of things, let me start by answering a question that may have popped into your head: I have no plans to join the Trump administration (ha ha).

Technically, my resignation is a retirement event, since I am on the Georgia State Teachers Retirement System, and I need to retire from Georgia Tech to get my pension (although I am a few years shy of 65). I have requested Emeritus status.

So, I have retired from Georgia Tech, and I have no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. However, I  most certainly am not retiring from professional life.

Why did I resign my tenured faculty position?

I’m ‘cashing out’ with 186 published journal articles and two books. The superficial reason is that I want to do other things, and no longer need my university salary. This opens up an opportunity for Georgia Tech to make a new hire (see advert).

The deeper reasons have to do with my growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.

Wrong trousers

I’ve been in school since I was 5 years old. Until a few years ago, I regarded a tenured faculty position at a major university to be a dream job, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Apart from my own personal career trajectory and the ‘shocks’ that started in 2005 with our hurricanes and global warming paper, and the massive spike in 2009/2010 from  Climategate, I’ve found that universities have changed substantially over the past 5-10 years.

At first, I thought the changes I saw at Georgia Tech were due to a change in the higher administration (President, Provost, etc). The academic nirvana under the prior Georgia Tech administration of Wayne Clough,  Jean-Lou Chameau  and Gary Schuster was a hard act to follow. But then I started to realize that academia and universities nationwide were undergoing substantial changes. I came across a recent article that expresses part of what is wrong: Universities are becoming like mechanical nightingales.

The reward system that is in place for university faculty members is becoming increasingly counterproductive to actually educating students to be able to think and cope in the real world, and in expanding the frontiers of knowledge in a meaningful way (at least in certain fields that are publicly relevant such as climate change). I’ve written on these topics before, I won’t belabor this here.

So why not try to change the system from the inside? Well, this is not the battle I want to fight, apart from any realistic assessment of being able to shift the ponderous beast from within.

Or maybe it’s just a case of ‘wrong trousers’ as far as I’m concerned. Simply, universities no longer feel like the ‘real deal’ to me (note: this criticism is not targeted at Georgia Tech, which is better than most). It’s time for me to leave the ivory tower.

A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).

Let me relate an interaction that I had with a postdoc about a month ago. She wanted to meet me, as an avid reader of my blog. She works in a field that is certainly relevant to climate science, but she doesn’t identify as a climate scientist. She says she gets questioned all the time about global warming issues, and doesn’t know what to say, since topics like attribution, etc. are not topics that she explores as a scientist. WOW, a scientist that knows the difference! I advised her to keep her head down and keep doing the research that she thinks interesting and important, and to stay out of the climate debate UNLESS she decides to dig in and pursue it intellectually. Personal opinions about the science and political opinions about policies that are sort of related to your research expertise are just that – personal and political opinions.  Selling such opinions as contributing to a scientific consensus is very much worse than a joke.

Stepping back from all this, I reminded myself that I was a tenured faculty member – in principle I could do whatever I wanted. The intellectual pursuits that now interest me are:

  • Assessment of climate science in a manner that is relevant for policy, with full account of uncertainty
  • Explore philosophy of science issues as related to epistemology of climate models, reasoning about uncertain complex issues
  • Decision making under deep uncertainty
  • Sociology of science and experimenting with social media

When I first started down this new path in 2010, I published papers that could be categorized as applied philosophy of science (e.g. uncertainty monster, etc). This seemed to be a path towards maintaining academic ‘legitimacy’ in light of my new interests, but frankly I got bored with playing the game. Why go to the extra effort to publish papers, wrestling with reviewers who (usually) know less than you do about your topic (not to mention their biases), having to pay to get an article published some months in the future, so that maybe 100 people will read it?  Not to mention the broader issues related to coping with the university bureaucracy, government funding, etc.

Once you detach from the academic mindset, publishing on the internet makes much more sense, and the peer review you can get on a technical blog is much more extensive. But peer review is not really the point; provoking people to think in new ways about something is really the point. In other words, science as process, rather than a collection of decreed ‘truths.’

At this point, I figure that I can reach more people (including students and young researchers) via social media. Do I pretend to have any answers to all this? No, but I hope I am provoking students and scientists to think outside of their little bubble.

The real world

So my fall from the ivory tower that started in 2005 is now complete [link to my 2006 AGU presentation agu_integrityofscience_curry] .

slide1

What next?

I am interested in figuring out new and better ways to apply weather and climate data, weather forecast information and future regional climate scenarios to supporting real world decision making to manage risks and associated with weather and climate variability.

I became interested in such applications over a decade ago, and Peter Webster and I founded a company Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) to do just that. If you haven’t checked out our website (ever or even recently), check it out – cfanclimate.net – I spent my entire winter break revising the website using some good suggestions from Larry Kummer of Fabius Maximus fame.

CFAN started as a university start-up company in 2006, and didn’t have any full time employees until a few years go. We now employ 7 Ph.D. scientists (in addition to myself and Peter), plus software engineers, etc. With my retirement from Georgia Tech, we are spinning up the company into a new phase to explore new forecast product developments and decision support tools, new markets, new partnerships, new regions.

So far, most of CFAN’s revenue comes from the ‘weather’ side (days to seasons), with a few projects on developing future climate scenarios (I wrote about a current project here Generating regional scenarios of climate change).

I find all this tremendously interesting, challenging and rewarding. Not to mention enormously time consuming (CFAN needs to make more money so that we can hire more people to take some of the load off myself and the other managers, all of whom are wearing too many hats). I am learning a huge amount about decision support, management, marketing and sales, finance, etc.

At this point, the private sector seems like a more ‘honest’ place for a scientist working in a politicized field than universities or government labs — at least when you are your own boss.

Social media

So, where does all this leave my endeavors with social media (including Climate Etc.?) Resigning my faculty position and taking on a full time plus position in running CFAN actually means less time for blogging, rather than more (at least in the near term).

I remain very interested in the interactions afforded by social media. However, over the past year I have devoted considerably less time to writing original material for Climate Etc. Apart from being really busy, I have been spending more time on twitter (which is a much smaller time investment).

I will be starting a new blog for CFAN, more focused on weather and shorter-term climate issues (I will cross post any relevant posts at Climate Etc.)

I will also try to write more frequent but shorter posts at Climate Etc., with short excerpts and brief comments on some of the articles that I am tweeting about. I will be relying on guest bloggers to provide more technical analyses. So I definitely intend to keep the blog going, but in context of managing a very busy schedule.

We’ll see how all this plays out, but I figured I’ve earned the right to explore and do what I want.  This is my definition of academic freedom (and I’m not asking anyone else to pay for it).

climate change, corruption, education, environment, science, scientists

Filed under: climate change, corruption, education, environment, science, scientists

Whistleblower says NOAA scientists manipulated global warming data

original article: Whistleblower: NOAA Scientists Manipulated Temperature Data To Make Global Warming Seem Worse
February 5, 2017 by Michael Bastasch

A whistleblower says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rushed a landmark study claiming the planet was warming much faster than expected in order to influence international climate negotiations.

Dr. John Bates, the former principal scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., told the Daily Mail NOAA’s 2015 study was meant “to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”

Bates said NOAA scientists made a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of global warming to eliminate the “pause” in temperature rise since 1998. The Daily Mail claims Bates showed it “irrefutable” evidence NOAA’s study relied on “unverified” data.

Bates’ objections to the paper were ignored by his superiors, who let scientists make “decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation” in advance of a major United Nations climate summit in Paris, France.

His statement to The Daily Mail comes amid an investigation into the NOAA study by House Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the committee’s chairman, subpoenaed NOAA in late 2015 for records related to the so-called “Karl study” that adjusted global sea surface temperature upwards, eliminating the “pause” in global warming since 1998.

Smith was heavily ridiculed for subpoenaing NOAA scientists, and the agency refused to hand over any internal deliberations of the “Karl study.” The study’s lead author, Tom Karl, has since left NOAA.

“Dr. Bates’ revelations and NOAA’s obstruction certainly lend credence to what I’ve expected all along – that the Karl study used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the president’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study,” Smith said in a statement on The Daily Mail’s story.

“The Committee thanks Dr. Bates, a Department of Commerce Gold Medal winner for creating and implementing a standard to produce and preserve climate data, for exposing the previous administration’s efforts to push their costly climate agenda at the expense of scientific integrity,” Smith said.

Scientists have been debating over the so-called “pause” in global warming since at least 2013, referring to the period from 1998 to 2014 without any significant rise in global average temperature.

The Karl study made changes to historical sea surface temperature records, effectively doubling the warming trend of that period to 0.086 degrees Celsius per decade from 0.039 degrees per decade.

Karl’s study was welcomed by some scientists and environmentalists who see man-made global warming as the biggest threat to humanity; it was criticized by others in the scientific community.

Climate scientist Judith Curry, formerly of Georgia Tech, wrote at the time that NOAA excluded extremely accurate sea buoy data in order to erase the hiatus in warming.

Curry wrote that it “seems rather ironic, since this is the period where there is the greatest coverage of data with the highest quality of measurements — ARGO buoys and satellites don’t show a warming trend.”

But the Karl study may have had deeper problems.

It was based on two “flawed” temperature datasets, Bates told The Daily Mail.

NOAA has now “decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming,” The Daily Mail learned.

NOAA’s revised data will show “lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.”

The “land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable,’” and based on an “alpha” version that was never verified. It still hasn’t been approved.

“None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results,” The Daily Mail reported.

bias, climate change, corruption, environment, ethics, fraud, global warming, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, scandal, science

Filed under: bias, climate change, corruption, environment, ethics, fraud, global warming, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, scandal, science

Science accidentally shows the preborn child is a distinct individual person

original article: Scientists discover cells of aborted babies living in their mothers’ brains
January 3, 2013 by Jill Stanek

Scientific American termed the research findings another way: “Scientists discover children’s cells living in mothers’ brains.”

But I wanted to drive home a touching point: Mothers who terminate their pregnancies apparently don’t completely rid themselves of their babies. The cells of murdered children live on inside their mothers to help – or perhaps – hurt them:

Cells may migrate through the placenta between the mother and the fetus, taking up residence in many organs of the body including the lung, thyroid muscle, liver, heart, kidney and skin. These may have a broad range of impacts, from tissue repair and cancer prevention to sparking immune disorders.

It is remarkable that it is so common for cells from one individual to integrate into the tissues of another distinct person. We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as singular autonomous individuals, and these foreign cells seem to belie that notion, and suggest that most people carry remnants of other individuals.

I need to stop and note that this politically incorrect article correctly defines preborn babies as “distinct person(s),” “people,” and “individuals.”

Moving on….

As remarkable as this may be, stunning results from a new study show that cells from other individuals are also found in the brain. In this study, male cells were found in the brains of women and had been living there, in some cases, for several decades. What impact they may have had is now only a guess, but this study revealed that these cells were less common in the brains of women who had Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting they may be related to the health of the brain.

We all consider our bodies to be our own unique being, so the notion that we may harbor cells from other people in our bodies seems strange. Even stranger is the thought that, although we certainly consider our actions and decisions as originating in the activity of our own individual brains, cells from other individuals are living and functioning in that complex structure….

They examined the brains of deceased women for the presence of cells containing the male “Y” chromosome. They found such cells in more than 60 percent of the brains and in multiple brain regions. Since Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women who have had multiple pregnancies, they suspected that the number of fetal cells would be greater in women with AD compared to those who had no evidence for neurological disease. The results were precisely the opposite: there were fewer fetal-derived cells in women with Alzheimer’s. The reasons are unclear.

A post-abortive mother who gives any of this much thought will reach either distressing or comforting conclusions, depending on whether she has made peace.

 abortion, babies, biology, children, medicine, pro-life, prolife, science, scientists

Filed under: abortion, babies, biology, children, medicine, pro-life, prolife, science, scientists

How to be anti-science while pretending to be pro-science – a look at abortion rights

For years you’ve believed telescopes helped us learn those white fuzzy lights in the night sky are stars and galaxies. You’ve believed math showed us the universe is intelligible. And you thought ultrasounds showed a heartbeat of the child growing in the womb.

Well, surprise, all that might just be anti-science! The Atlantic has a new article written by Moira Weigel telling us ultrasounds in fact don’t show us a heartbeat, that such an idea is just an illusion. Keep in mind she is not a scientist, but she’s a woman so she can comment as if she were a scientific expert. According to Weigel, you shouldn’t believe your eyes when you see an ultrasound of a pregnancy (which is real time imagery of what’s going on inside the womb).

Contrast Weigel’s article with a recent scientific study in Nature showing the autonomous nature of the embryo from its inception. The study reveals new knowledge on the nature of the human condition, with implications on questions of human life and reproductive rights. Another woman, Ana Maria Dumitru, writing for Public Discourse, wrote a piece on this study. If Weigel, a woman getting a doctoral degree in comparative literature is qualified to write on the scientific nature of the subject of abortion, surely Dumitru (a fifth-year MD/PhD candidate at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College) is qualified to do the same.

Weigel’s article appears to be an anti-science diatribe attempting to get you to dismiss what you see with your own eyes, urging you to dismiss the evidence and focus on the politically correct opinion to hold (that a woman’s right to kill her unborn child is sacred). Dumitru has some interesting and far more reasonable insights on abortion, bioethics, and science (such as the interchangeability of concepts like autonomy and personhood) and attempts to show how a Planned Parenthood type ideology actually corrupts one’s view of the evidence and indoctrinates even scientists. Give her article a read.

Science, Embryonic Autonomy, and the Question of When Life Begins, by Ana Maria Dumitru.

abortion, corruption, culture, ethics, ideology, indoctrination, medicine, political correctness, pro-life, relativism, science, scientists

Filed under: abortion, corruption, culture, ethics, ideology, indoctrination, medicine, political correctness, pro-life, relativism, science, scientists

Hiding data is not how to prove something

original article: Why NYT Hid The Numbers For The ‘Hottest Year On Record’
January 18, 2017 Robert Tracinski

When you read a science report claiming that 2016 was the hottest year on record, you might expect that you will get numbers. And you would be wrong.

They say that mathematics is the language of science, which is a way of saying that science is quantitative. It is moved forward by numbers and measurements, not just by qualitative observations. “It seems hot out” is not science. Giving a specific temperature, measured by a specific process at a specific time, compared to other systematically gathered measurements—that is science.

So when you read an article proclaiming that, for the third year in a row, last year was the hottest year on record, you might expect that right up front you will get numbers, measurements, and a statistical margin of error. You know, science stuff. Numbers. Quantities. Mathematics.

And you would be wrong.

I just got done combing through a New York Times report titled, “Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year.” The number of relevant numbers in this article is: zero.

We are not told what the average global temperature was, how much higher this is than last year’s record or any previous records, or what the margin of error is supposed to be on those measurements. Instead, we get stuff like this.

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016—trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

Note to the New York Times: “trouncing” and “blown past” are phrases appropriate to sports reporting, not science reporting. Except that no sports reporter would dare write an article in which he never bothers to give you the score of the big game.

Yet that’s what passes for “science reporting” on the issue of global warming, where asking for numbers and margins of errors apparently makes you an enemy of science. Instead, it’s all qualitative and comparative descriptions. It’s science without numbers.

It wasn’t just the New York Times. Try finding the relevant numbers ready at hand in the NASA/NOAA press release. You get numbers comparing 2016’s temperature with “the mid-20th century mean” or “the late 19th century.” But there’s nothing comparing it to last year or the year before except qualitative descriptions. So the government’s science bureaucracy is setting the trend, making reporters dig for the relevant numbers rather than presenting them up front.

It’s almost like they’re hiding something. And that is indeed what we find. I finally tracked down an exception to this reporting trend: the UK newspaper The Independentgives us the relevant numbers.

They should have been in the first paragraph, but at least they’re in the third paragraph: “This puts 2016 only nominally ahead of 2015 by just 0.01C—within the 0.1C margin of error—but….” There’s stuff after the “but,” but it’s just somebody’s evaluation. Even this report can’t give us a straight fact and leave it alone.

For the benefit of science reporters and other people who are unfamiliar with the scientific method, let me point out that the margin of error for these measurements is plus or minus one tenth of a degree Celsius. The temperature difference that is supposedly being measured is one one-hundredth of a degree—one tenth the size of the margin of error. To go back to sports reporting, that’s like saying that the football is on the 10-yard line—give or take a hundred yards.

I think you can see why they didn’t lead with these numbers in the first paragraph or the headline, because if they did everyone would stop reading and move on to the next article. “This Year’s Temperatures Statistically Identical to Last Year’s” is not a headline that grabs anybody’s attention.

That’s not the worst part. The worst part is that this isn’t the first year they’ve done this. Two years ago, government agencies and gullible reporters repeated the exact same claims about the hottest year on record, along with some other howlers. What was the margin for that year’s record? Two one-hundredths of a degree, also much smaller than the margin of error.

Lest I be accused of not giving you numbers, global temperatures for 2015 were reported to be higher than 2014 by as much as 2.9 degrees Celsius, though you have to read to the 18th paragraph before the New York Times deigns to tell you this. That’s not as impressive as it may seem, because both 2015 and 2016 were El Nino years, when there is a normal, natural increase in temperatures.

This highlights a bigger problem with the global warming theory. For all the excitement over records set over the past 137 years—precise global thermometer measurements date only to 1880—current temperatures still are not clearly out of the range of normal variation in the 10,000 years or so since the planet bounced back from the last ice age, despite all of the furious attempts to hype them up.

Yet here is Arizona State University “theoretical physicist”—and, of course, media personality—Lawrence M. Krauss taking to Twitter to ask: “When will the evidence of the need to act be enough?” This is above a link to, you guessed it, the number-free New York Times report.

Yes, I really do wonder how anyone could possibly be skeptical of claims about the climate made by science “advocates” and by the media. It’s a total mystery.

bias, climate change, corruption, cover up, environment, global warming, ideology, indoctrination, news media, pandering, science

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Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong

original article: Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong
August 22, 2016 by Ryan T. Anderson

A major new report, published today in the journal The New Atlantis, challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Co-authored by two of the nation’s leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, the 143-page report discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, painstakingly documenting what scientific research shows and does not show about sexuality and gender.

The major takeaway, as the editor of the journal explains, is that “some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.”

Here are four of the report’s most important conclusions:

The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property—that people are ‘born that way’—is not supported by scientific evidence.

Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex—so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’—is not supported by scientific evidence.

Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.

Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.

The report, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” is co-authored by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh. Mayer is a scholar-in-residence in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.

McHugh, whom the editor of The New Atlantis describes as “arguably the most important American psychiatrist of the last half-century,” is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was for 25 years the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was during his tenure as psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins that he put an end to sex reassignment surgery there, after a study launched at Hopkins revealed that it didn’t have the benefits for which doctors and patients had long hoped.

Implications for Policy

The report focuses exclusively on what scientific research shows and does not show. But this science can have implications for public policy.

The report reviews rigorous research showing that ‘only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.’

Take, for example, our nation’s recent debates over transgender policies in schools. One of the consistent themes of the report is that science does not support the claim that “gender identity” is a fixed property independent of biological sex, but rather that a combination of biological, environmental, and experiential factors likely shape how individuals experience and express themselves when it comes to sex and gender.

The report also discusses the reality of neuroplasticity: that all of our brains can and do change throughout our lives (especially, but not only, in childhood) in response to our behavior and experiences. These changes in the brain can, in turn, influence future behavior.

This provides more reason for concern over the Obama administration’s recent transgender school policies. Beyond the privacy and safety concerns, there is thus also the potential that such policies will result in prolonged identification as transgender for students who otherwise would have naturally grown out of it.

The report reviews rigorous research showing that “only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.” Policymakers should be concerned with how misguided school policies might encourage students to identify as girls when they are boys, and vice versa, and might result in prolonged difficulties. As the report notes, “There is no evidence that all children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior should be encouraged to become transgender.”

Beyond school policies, the report raises concerns about proposed medical intervention in children. Mayer and McHugh write: “We are disturbed and alarmed by the severity and irreversibility of some interventions being publicly discussed and employed for children.”

They continue: “We are concerned by the increasing tendency toward encouraging children with gender identity issues to transition to their preferred gender through medical and then surgical procedures.” But as they note, “There is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents.”

Findings on Transgender Issues

The same goes for social or surgical gender transitions in general. Mayer and McHugh note that the “scientific evidence summarized suggests we take a skeptical view toward the claim that sex reassignment procedures provide the hoped for benefits or resolve the underlying issues that contribute to elevated mental health risks among the transgender population.” Even after sex reassignment surgery, patients with gender dysphoria still experience poor outcomes:

Compared to the general population, adults who have undergone sex reassignment surgery continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes. One study found that, compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about five times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.

Mayer and McHugh urge researchers and physicians to work to better “understand whatever factors may contribute to the high rates of suicide and other psychological and behavioral health problems among the transgender population, and to think more clearly about the treatment options that are available.” They continue:

In reviewing the scientific literature, we find that almost nothing is well understood when we seek biological explanations for what causes some individuals to state that their gender does not match their biological sex. … Better research is needed, both to identify ways by which we can help to lower the rates of poor mental health outcomes and to make possible more informed discussion about some of the nuances present in this field.

Policymakers should take these findings very seriously. For example, the Obama administration recently finalized a new Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires all health insurance plans under Obamacare to cover sex reassignment treatments and all relevant physicians to perform them. The regulations will force many physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers to participate in sex reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if doing so violates their moral and religious beliefs or their best medical judgment.

Rather than respect the diversity of opinions on sensitive and controversial health care issues, the regulations endorse and enforce one highly contested and scientifically unsupported view. As Mayer and McHugh urge, more research is needed, and physicians need to be free to practice the best medicine.

Stigma, Prejudice Don’t Explain Tragic Outcomes

The report also highlights that people who identify as LGBT face higher risks of adverse physical and mental health outcomes, such as “depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and most alarmingly, suicide.” The report summarizes some of those findings:

Members of the non-heterosexual population are estimated to have about 1.5 times higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders than members of the heterosexual population, as well as roughly double the risk of depression, 1.5 times the risk of substance abuse, and nearly 2.5 times the risk of suicide.

Members of the transgender population are also at higher risk of a variety of mental health problems compared to members of the non-transgender population. Especially alarmingly, the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41 percent, compared to under 5 percent in the overall U.S. population.

What accounts for these tragic outcomes? Mayer and McHugh investigate the leading theory—the “social stress model”—which proposes that “stressors like stigma and prejudice account for much of the additional suffering observed in these subpopulations.”

But they argue that the evidence suggests that this theory “does not seem to offer a complete explanation for the disparities in the outcomes.” It appears that social stigma and stress alone cannot account for the poor physical and mental health outcomes that LGBT-identified people face.

As a result, they conclude that “More research is needed to uncover the causes of the increased rates of mental health problems in the LGBT subpopulations.” And they call on all of us work to “alleviate suffering and promote human health and flourishing.”

Findings Contradict Claims in Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling

Finally, the report notes that scientific evidence does not support the claim that people are “born that way” with respect to sexual orientation. The narrative pushed by Lady Gaga and others is not supported by the science. A combination of biological, environmental, and experiential factors likely account for an individual’s sexual attractions, desires, and identity, and “there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”

Furthermore, the scientific research shows that sexual orientation is more fluid than the media suggests. The report notes that “Longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80 percent of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults.”

These findings—that scientific research does not support the claim that sexual orientation is innate and immutable—directly contradict claims made by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in last year’s Obergefell ruling. Kennedy wrote, “their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment” and “in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.”

But the science does not show this.

While the marriage debate was about the nature of what marriage is, incorrect scientific claims about sexual orientation were consistently used in the campaign to redefine marriage.

In the end, Mayer and McHugh observe that much about sexuality and gender remains unknown. They call for honest, rigorous, and dispassionate research to help better inform public discourse and, more importantly, sound medical practice.

As this research continues, it’s important that public policy not declare scientific debates over, or rush to legally enforce and impose contested scientific theories. As Mayer and McHugh note, “Everyone—scientists and physicians, parents and teachers, lawmakers and activists—deserves access to accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity.”

We all must work to foster a culture where such information can be rigorously pursued and everyone—whatever their convictions, and whatever their personal situation—is treated with the civility, respect, and generosity that each of us deserves.

biology, civil rights, culture, government, homosexuality, ideology, judiciary, justice, politics, science, sex, study

Filed under: biology, civil rights, culture, government, homosexuality, ideology, judiciary, justice, politics, science, sex, study

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