Science-Based Medicine unfairly deplatforms a book review

June 22, 2021 • 9:20 am

Ginger K. called my attention to what seems to me a violation of ethical and journalistic standards by a respected website, all in the name of appeasing the woke. Science-Based Medicine, whose editors include David Gorski and Steve Novella, is a site designed to promote the kind of medicine described in its title, as well as to debunk medical woo. I haven’t read it often, but I’m sure a lot of readers have, and I know the site is greatly respected.

So much the worse, then, that the site removed a book review written by another respected physician, Harriet Hall, known for being one of the Air Forces’s first women flight surgeons as well as a notable advocate for science based medicine and a vociferous debunker of quackery.  And—get this—Hall is one of the journal’s five editors.

Hall’s “mistake” was to write a fair and objective review of Abigail Shrier’s new book, Irreversible Damage (see my post here)  about the sudden increase in transgender males drawn from teenaged girls. (The numbers have increased 4,400% from 2008 to 2018!) Shrier and Hall, who admittedly note that there are very few studies about why these transitions have skyrocketed, and involve nearly all girls who want to transition to males rather than the other way round, call for more research and argue that transitions should be done under “a research setting”. From Hall’s review (it’s been removed, but the screenshot below will take you to an archived copy):

This book will undoubtedly be criticized just as Lisa Littman’s study was. Yes, it’s full of anecdotes and horror stories, and we know the plural of anecdote is not data, but Shrier looked diligently for good scientific studies and didn’t find much. And that’s the problem. We desperately need good science, and it’s not likely to happen in the current political climate. Anyone who addresses this subject can expect to be attacked by activists. Is ROGD [rapid onset gender dysphoria, a phenomenon discussed by Shrier] a legitimate category? We don’t know, since the necessary controlled studies have not been done. I fully expect Shrier to be called a transphobe and to be vilified for harming transgender people, and I’m sure I will be labeled a transphobe just for reviewing her book. [JAC: Yep, Hall got it right!]

She brings up some alarming facts that desperately need to be looked into. The incidence of teen gender dysphoria is rising and appears to be linked to internet influences and social peer groups. The number of people identifying as lesbians is dropping. Therapists are accepting patients’ self-diagnoses unquestioningly, and irreversible treatments are being offered without therapist involvement. We know at least some of these patients will desist and detransition, and we have no way to predict which ones. Children are being instructed in how to lie to parents and doctors to coerce them into providing the treatments they want. Families are being destroyed.

For what it’s worth, I will stress again that I am not a transphobe. I support hormones and gender surgeries for adults who will benefit from them. I care about the welfare of these adolescent girls and it bothers me that some of them may be unduly influenced and take irreversible steps they will later regret.

What to do? I think limiting surgeries to a research setting is a good idea. I think the affirmative care model is a mistake and a dereliction of duty and should stop.

Shrier’s hypothesis is that many of these girls who want to transition do so without proper supervision, and are eagerly and uncautiously urged to do so by peers, some parents, and the medical establishment. Some, she says, may be doing so because of social pressure (presumably the status that transitioning confers) rather than gender dysphoria. Many, she thinks, might be lesbians (whose numbers have dropped precipitously), and some have wanted to detransition once the process is begun, though once you start taking puberty-blocking hormones—the first step in becoming a transsexual male—it’s usually too late. Shrier is not a transphobe at all and fully supports the rights of transsexual people, but is calling for careful evaluation, both sociological and medical, before the drastic step of medical intervention is taken. Instead, the standard is invariably “affirmation, which Hall summarizes in seven “matras” used by the affirmationists. (See her review for the list.)

Neither Shrier nor her reviewer Hall are transphobes, but now they are irrevocably typed as that. The ACLU staff attorney for transgender issues, Chase Strangio, has called for the banning of Shrier’s book from bookstores (odd for the ACLU, no?), and an uproar has arisen—all because Shrier is urging caution about a social phenomenon whose sudden increase demands scrutiny and investigation. To even deny the need for instant affirmation of a wish to be a boy if you’re a girl is to label yourself someone dedicated to eliminating transsexual rights or even advocating the genocide of transsexuals. That is hogwash, of course, and Shrier’s book and Hall’s careful review implicitly show that. She was instantly labeled a transphobe for not damning the book, and Science-Based Medicine got hundreds of outraged comments (see below).

At any rate, read the original version of Hall’s book review by clicking the screenshot below:

The reason Hall’s review was archived is because Science-Based Medicine retracted it—a review by one of its own editors! (I don’t expect Hall will be an editor much longer.) When you go to the site where the review formerly reside (click on screenshot below), you see this note:

I don’t fully believe Novella and Gorski’s claim that readers’ objections had nothing to do with the removal. What else would call their attention to opponents of Hall’s review? Since they didn’t vet the review themselves, how would they find out that the article was “below their standards”? Note, too, how they use the euphemism “quality control” for “censorship”.

I ask readers to look at Hall’s original review (and read Shrier’s book) and see where the “quality” falls off. Hall, after all, calls attention to the lack of research on the epidemic of girls becoming transgender boys, but the data on its prevalence, and the ubiquity and unquestioning nature of “affirmation therapy”, are undeniable.

On Bari Weiss’s Substack website Common Sense, Weiss allows Shrier to respond to Hall’s “cancelation” and her own demonization as the book’s author (click on screenshot below). There’s also a brief intro by Weiss herself; I’ll give one quote from that:

You do not need to agree with Shrier about whether or not children should be able to medically transition genders without their parents’ permission (she is opposed), or for that matter with Weinstein and Heying’s bullishness about ivermectin (I had never heard of of the drug before they put it on my radar). That’s not the point. The point is that the questions they ask are not just legitimate, they are of critical importance. Meantime, some of the most powerful forces in our culture are conspiring to silence them.

That is precisely the reason it is so important to stand up and say: no. To say: progress comes only when we have the freedom to disagree. To say: It is outrageous that tech platforms are censoring such debates and that some journalists are cheering them on. To say, in public: enough. In my case, that means making sure to publish those voices who have been shut out of so many other channels that ought to be open to them.

I’ll highlight just three bits of Shrier’s piece on Weiss’s site. First, the circumstances under which Hall’s review was removed from Science-Based Medicine were dubious:

On Tuesday, one of the blog’s long-time contributors, Dr. Harriet Hall — a family physician and flight surgeon in the Air Force with dozens of publications to her name — posted a favorable review of my book. She examined the scientific claims as well as the medical ones and wrote that the book “combines well-researched facts with horrifying stories about botched surgeries, people who later regret their choices and therapists who are not providing therapy but just validating their patient’s self-diagnosis.” Dr. Hall not only shared my criticisms of “affirmative care” — that is, immediately agreeing with a teen’s self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria and proceeding to hormones and surgeries — but also noted that many physicians and therapists feel the same way but are afraid to say so.

Within a day, Dr. Hall’s article was flooded with nearly 1,000 comments, mostly, she says, from activists demanding the article be stripped from the site, but also from some readers expressing their appreciation. Angry emails from activists swamped the blog’s editors. Within two days, those editors had given Dr. Hall an ultimatum: retract, rewrite, or allow them to add a disclaimer.

“What surprised me was that my fellow editors attacked me, too. Basically what they said was that my article was not up to my usual standards as far as medicine, science and critical thinking went. And I didn’t feel that I did anything but what I always do. That surprised me,” she told me. Considering the editors’ ultimatum, she elected to have the editors who disagreed add a disclaimer to the website. “I told them I did not want it retracted. And the next thing I knew, they had retracted it.”

Let that sink in: a book review by a respected physician was bullied out of existence in America.

Second, there are two copies of Shrier’s book in the Halifax Public Library in Canada, and a line of 146 people waiting to read them. Meanwhile Canadian activists are trying to bully the library into getting rid of the book. (So far the library has not relented.)

It’s not only corporations facing this type of activist pressure. Public libraries now do, too.

Halifax Pride, the annual LGBTQ festival, announced late last month that it would cut ties with the city’s library system over its insistence on carrying Irreversible Damage, calling it “transphobic,” and claiming that it “jeopardizes the safety of trans youth” and “debates the existence of trans people.”

So far, the Halifax Public Libraries have resisted. Their position is straightforward and apolitical: libraries exist to expose the public to the widest array of views, “including those which may be regarded as unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.”

The Halifax Public Libraries tried to compromise with the activists by pasting a note inside the book’s cover, directing readers to a list of “trans-affirming” resources. But the activists were unappeased. No ties with the libraries were restored. They want the book gone from the library and scrubbed from existence. Two copies in a library of nearly 1.2 million volumes are two too many. [JAC: I would suggest that readers buy more copies of Shrier’s book and donate them to the library so people won’t have to wait so long to read it.]

Not even the Nova Scotia Library Association or the Canadian Library Association has come to the library’s defense, though their standing orders explicitly require member libraries “to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.”

The lack of support by the Nova Scotia Library Association and the Canadian Library Association are reprehensible. Librarians, famous for promulgating free speech and avoiding censorship or making books unavailable, should spring to the defense of the Halifax Public Library. I find it odious that the HPL has even pasted a note inside the books’s cover “directing readers to trans-affirming resources”. Do they do that with other books to which people object? This shows that there’s something about transsexuality that brooks no questioning of the tenets of its enthusiasts, or of “affirmationists”. The topic is simply taboo. If you don’t toe the line of the enthusiasts, you are a “transphobe.”

And what Shrier writes about is, as Weiss notes, worthy of discussion: it’s not like it’s Mein Kampf or anything (and even that book should be available in libraries).

Finally, Shrier (whose book I’ve publicly defended as something worth reading and considering) is now fed up with people supporting her via emails but not doing so publicly, nor revealing their names. She wants people to publicly affirm her right to write such a book, using their names.  The epidemic of transsexual boys is a phenomenon that needs to be examined, and if some young people are making irreversible medical changes in their bodies and lives without proper consideration, or proper caveats, well, that also needs to be examined.

The reasons for private approbation for Shrier but lack of public support is clear: nobody wants to be seen as a “transphobe”, just as nobody wants to be called a “racist.” Such is the power of demonizing labels. From Shrier’s conclusions:

Whether or not most people admit it, what keeps them from speaking up in the face of what they know is wrong is fear. Fear not primarily of unemployment, though that is a pressing concern, but fear of ostracism. This deep and ancient fear is behind our desperate reach for innocence and safety when we virtue signal. By contrast, we stand exposed when we speak unpopular truth. Within your tribe, there will be people who pull away from you, and if you think well of them — and sadly, even if you don’t — this causes pain.

. . . What can make it bearable? According to Professor Williams, getting yourself accepted by another group. This is also the way to confront most of life’s heartaches — surrounded by those you love. And there is no better way to gain respect from those you don’t already know than by being identified with truthfulness.

Fear of ostracism is rational.  But we are now living in a world in which evolutionary biologists are threatened with losing their platforms for engaging in debate about the source and treatment of a deadly virus; in which prize-winning composers have been professionally ruined for saying arson is bad; in which authors are editing already-published books to placate online mobs. That should scare us far more than losing friends or status.

So look to the Halifax Library. Summon what faith you can in those things you know to be right and true: a person is not defined by her race; biological sex is real; scientific research requires ideologically unencumbered investigation; activists shouldn’t bully libraries; and books should not be banned.

The first hundred or so silent supporter emails meant the most to me. They made me feel less crazy and less alone. But the inescapable reality is that defeating this ideology will take courage. And courage is not something that can happen in private. Courage requires each one of us to speak up, publicly, for what we believe in. Even when — especially when — it carries costs.

You are not a transphobe if you read Shrier’s book. You are not a transphobe if you read her book and see that it highlights a problem that needs to be addressed. You are not a transphobe if you refuse to call for the censorship of Shrier’s book. Those who sling about insults without addressing the problem Shrier discusses are not virtuous, nor are they “transphiles”. They are censors, pure and simple, and the embodiment of the Authoritarian Left. They are opponents of free speech, who think that some topics don’t need discussion because their own views are the right views. They are the Big Brothers of our time.

So, Ms. Shrier, here is my public statement of support for your book. My name is Jerry Coyne, and I think your book deserves to be read widely by anybody interested in the new onset of transsexual conversions. And I deplore the ad hominem arguments used to attack it.

65 thoughts on “Science-Based Medicine unfairly deplatforms a book review

  1. It seems we are living through an episode of The Twilight Zone, with the ACLU advocating the banning of a book. We’re drowning in half-baked, wokeism. Let’s hope the zeitgeist comes up for air in the near future.

  2. Jesus, if there’s a controversial subject that screams out for more speech, not less, it is this. Shame on Science-Based Medicine for pulling the book review.

  3. The treatment of Hall and her review is appalling. Part of the problem around lack of evidence on this issue is that the evidence that could be properly collected isn’t being. As Professor Alice Sullivan told a hearing held by the UK parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee last December,

    Even more disturbing, perhaps, are the attempts to shut down research and stop research from being published, for example Lisa Littman’s research on the surge in girls presenting with gender dysphoria in the current generation. Michelle Moore, as another example, is a disability scholar who has raised questions about the prevalence of gender transitioning among autistic girls and has faced a campaign of harassment.

    The results of this go way beyond academia. Obviously, this is painful for the academics involved but there are serious human consequences to the wider chilling effect. You will, I am sure, be aware of this case of Keira Bell, a young woman who has just brought a successful case against the Tavistock because she regrets the medical treatment she received and feels she was poorly advised. The judges in that case highlighted the lack of data and evidence on youth transition and the fact that the Tavistock failed to collect some really obvious data, including the number of autistic girls they were seeing.

    1. Quillette just finished publishing a series of essays by a journalist that focus on the parents of boys transitioning at a young age. One theme is the large proportion of these boys with ASD, at least in the non-random sample of families who the journalist talked to.

    2. This gets into the question I have, which is what is happening to gender dysphoric young people after their treatment? Do they continue to be happy with their decision, or are some (a few? many?) later finding they had made a mistake? I don’t think we can really answer this question b/c of the lack of formalized inquiry.

      1. From my recollections of the other parliamentary evidence given as part of the consultation on reform of the Gender Reform Act, the proportion of people who regret having had “gender-affirming” surgery is about 3% (so one in thirty – small, but non-trivial) although they don’t all want to reverse the procedure.

        1. I see big lawsuits in the future from regretful girls/woman who can’t reverse/can’t have children to all the actors who facilitated reckless behaviour (I was just a minor, I can’t be responsible…)

      2. My understanding is that studies are mostly positive, but are also mostly short term. There’s also an unusually high drop-out rate, subjects who fail to return or respond.

        1. There’s already been one fairly high-profile such lawsuit in the UK – that involving Keira Bell who is mentioned in the quoted extract in my first comment in this thread.

    3. How ironic . SBM rejects the science. Steve and David should review the Tavistock decision and the change in policy on transgender treatment at the Karolinska Institute.The same forces that caused them to cave is being imposed on innocent children and their parents

  4. It’s pretty likely the impetus for removal came mainly from Gorski.
    He’s never one to take an unpopular position, or pick a fight can’t win.

    All of this narcissistic tribalism and virtue signalling is really destructive to the skeptic community.

  5. Earlier this week, the Royal Academy in London removed items by Jess de Wahls from its gift shop because of her published comments on biological sex and transwomen. (There’s a link to what she wrote in The Guardian‘s report, although I felt that the font colour on her website made it a little hard to read.)

    Naturally, the RA has had no issue with selling products based on the works of Eric Gill (one of its Associates) despite the fact that his diaries reveal that he sexually abused his sisters, daughters, and the family dog. You really couldn’t make it up…!

  6. I’ve argued that Wokism isn’t a religion (because no gods are involved, as a simplistic point). However the Woke use some of the social mechanisms of the Puritans such as social shaming, social shunning and cancellation equivalent to exile.

    We are getting to the point that socially prominent people fear that the Woke cannot be ignored or assimilated. Perhaps a deep dive into the Woke social media could demonstrate their hypocrisies?

    1. I don’t think you need gods to have a religion. I’m told frequently that some Buddhists are atheists. That said, wokeism may not be a religion, but it does share many of the traits that make religions successful.

  7. though once you start taking puberty-blocking hormones—the first step in becoming a transsexual male—it’s usually too late.

    So, I’ve been following this issue with some interest, on both sides. I’ve listened to interviews on NPR, one in which a physician made the claim that the blockers do not cause any issue if the person wishes to end treatment. They just pause puberty, with no harmful side effects, giving the kid time to figure out what they want to do with their body. Any experts afoot to confirm which view is true?

    1. This may be interesting:
      2 articles from The Economist:

      Gender medicine: Little is known about the effects of puberty blockers. Feb 20th, 2021
      That has not stopped clinics prescribing them enthusiastically

      Doubts are growing about therapy for gender-dysphoric children. May 15, 2021
      Drug treatments seem to do little good, and may be harmful

      WHEN SONS BECOME DAUGHTERS, a seven-part Quillette series explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives.
      April – June 2021
      Note that the installments are listed in reverse order of publication (last is first):

      Transgender Kids. BBC2, 2017

      Puberty blockers: Under-16s ‘unlikely’ to be able to give informed consent. BBC News, Dec 2020

      Detransitioning: Reversing a gender transition – BBC Newsnight. 2019, 22 mins

    2. The problem with puberty blockers is that they delay puberty and I don’t think it is possible for child who has not experienced puberty to fully understand what it means to be an adult of a particular gender and sex.

      It’s a bit of a Catch 22 situation. I don’t think you can know if medical intervention is the best option until you’ve passed the best point to intervene.

      Edit: Dean Reimer puts it much better than I did at #10.

  8. There are two competing facts as I see it:
    1) Transition is more complete, and ultimately more fulfilling, when started before puberty.
    2) There is no way kids at that age should be making life-changing decisions.

    The existence of trans people is not up for debate, but the best way to deal with these competing facts certainly is. It seems trans activists conflate these.

    1. I think, given those competing facts, the best approach is to develop a methodology that would allow clinicians to accurately discern which kids claiming gender dysphoria are truly “trans”, as opposed to simply responding to peer pressure. The studies necessary to create such a methodology would be vigorously opposed by the activists, of course…

    2. Some kids clearly have an well defined affinity for behaving – and frequently try to look – like the opposite sex they are. I’ve known a few. I don’t think it’s a problem to treat children at a young age if they have always shown such tendencies. It’s the rapid onset cases that are more problematic. Seems like it would be best to wait for those kids to mature more and see if they continue to identify as the opposite sex or revert to their assigned-at-birth gender.

      1. what behavior or “look” would you consider a sign that a young girl should receive treatment as you mention above. I am genuinely concerned this could be sometimes be dangerous to girls who may just be lesbian. No easy answers I know.

      2. what behavior or “look” would you consider a sign that a young girl should receive treatment as you mention above.

        I am genuinely concerned this could be sometimes be dangerous to girls who may just be lesbian.

        No easy answers I know.

  9. I ask readers to look at Hall’s original review (and read Shrier’s book) and see where the “quality” falls off.

    Haven’t read the book, but I can kinda see it with Dr. Hall’s review. The sections discussing the lack of data and need for more scientific study on the phenomena are strong and directly on point for the journal. The part where she starts giving her own opinion on what treatmens are appropriate and what to do in terms of policy, is less on-point and IMO weaker.

    This is an issue that crops up a lot on the internet but now applies to book reviews too, I suppose: if you give several strong arguments and then opine or give a weak argument as an addendum, you might think that’s a “belt and suspenders” approach that more comprehensively addresses the topic (than just the main argument alone). But in reality, the presence of your opinion or weaker point simply allows your critics to completely ignore you strong arguments and focus all their rhetoric on your weakest one. Its best on such tendentious issues, IMO, just to stick to the strong and avoid the temptation to opine or add additional, weaker arguments.

    I’m not under any illusion that this would’ve prevented the angry emails about Dr. Hall’s review. They would’ve come anyway. But with a tighter focus on the lack of evidence related to this subject, she would’ve given both the other editors and her critics less ammo to claim a “quality” issue.

    1. Eric, this could have been handled differently. Oh wait, it has been handled differently in the past on the same site:

      Just invite another person to review the book. Obviously, Hall is not an expert on medical care for people claiming gender dysphoria.
      But debate on these issues is not welcome. You would have to stick your neck out, take a stand for free speech and for evidenced-based medicine (which certainly is based on free discussion sans ad hominem arguments). It would have been great publicity for the site, but they decided they don’t want it.

      1. In the comments section, someone claiming to be an expert in gender studies gave a very long, seemingly impressive rebuttal to the review. She was then urged or invited (not sure if it was an editor) to write an article for SBM. As I recall, she said she didn’t want to return to the website, though it had long been a favorite.

        Tainted, apparently.

      2. At this point I’d be suspicious if the Journal invited another reviewer. It would be very easy for them to practice ‘both side-ism’ or rig it by picking a reviewer with a predecided conclusion just cherry picking bits about the book to support that conclusion. And we can be pretty sure, based on their response to the feedback, which conclusion that would be.

        Rather, I’d say we ‘mainstream liberals’ should just chalk it up as a lesson learned. Letters like Jerry (et al.’s) response to the Darwin-bashing might lose a bit for being stringently length-limited, but OTOH that forced a focus on key issues that make it quite excellent (IMO). There’s just no weak points that Fuentes could grab onto, which is why his response had to be, well, non-responsive. I think Dr. Hall’s review – and similar reviews in the future – might be improved if it had been similarly focused. Illustrative example: “Your argument is invalid, and I don’t agree with your premise” is not as strong in some cases as “Your argument is invalid.” Because it invites “well you might not agree with my premise, but many others do” as a response, and allows the person to completely ignore the point that their argument is invalid. Sometimes, less is more.

  10. Also Novella & Gorski say they “will leave the comments [on that retraction notice] open for now and encourage full, open, and respectful discussion of the topic by anyone interested.” The comments are anything but open or respectful. Anyone asking questions about social influences on transition or about detransitioners or harmful effects of medical and surgical treatment are labeled transphobic bigots.

    SBM has done a lot of good work so I’m not writing them off as a lost cause. But this is really unfortunate.

    1. I followed Steve Novella’s blog (NueroLogica Blog) for many years and coincidentally searched his blog two weeks ago about a medical condition. Just as coincidentally the article I needed and that answered my question was by Harriet Hall. This gets personal when unknown and probably much less educated mobs can determine what information is available to others.

      1. And given that once branded a thought criminal you’re likely to be hounded out of work and deplatformed from the public space, it may soon be the case that Harriet Hall can’t get future articles exposed to any significant audience, depriving readers of future insights she might have to offer, no matter how useful or well-researched (and regardless of the topic)…

  11. Frightening. In my extended family we have one teen boy who wants to transition to female, females wanting to become males is out of my experience.

    It’s sounding like the Wokivists are stopping progress in human knowledge as thoroughly as the Catholic Church did through the Middle Ages. Let’s hope their reign isn’t as long. Why try to stop research?

  12. From SBM’s retraction: Because we allow trusted authors to publish without prior review for the sake of efficiency and timeliness

    Jerry says: After all, they presumably read the review themselves before they okayed it for publication.

    Or you could just take them at their word.

    1. I missed that part for some reason, so I’ve changed that section. But in some way it makes it worse. How else would they have scrutinized the review without dozens of angry emails from readers?

      1. Just because they didn’t review it pre-publication doesn’t mean they didn’t read it after it went live. Are you really that determined to read ill intent behind this retraction instead of just accepting their perfectly reasonable explanation?

        And does it matter why they “scrutinized the review” if they ultimately found it not up to their usual standards? Surely that is what matters, not the reason why they took a closer look at it?

        1. Are you really that determined to read ill intent behind this retraction instead of just accepting their perfectly reasonable explanation?

          I am.

          Further, any attempts at portraying this retraction as censorship are also false. This has nothing to do with silencing opinions or perspectives, but rather is entirely a matter of quality control. SBM is first and foremost about high quality scientific evidence and reasoning to inform medical issues, and we felt the article in question was below the minimal acceptable standard for SBM.

          They doth protest too much, methinks.

          It’s a book review not a scientific paper.

  13. This is *my* public statement of support: For the record, my name is Matt Young, and I agree with Dr. Coyne that the book deserves to be published and read. And I likewise deplore the ad hominem arguments used to attack it.

    I further think that the review by Harriet Hall should be reinstated. With an apology.

    1. I don’t get your point. There are often reviews that take completely opposite opinions on a book, so we have a good one and a bad one. Why don’t you read Shrier’s book and make your own judgment instead of asking us “what about these other negative comments?” In fact, Turban’s review doesn’t take issue with anything substantive that Shrier says except to say that “other groups recommend wholly affirmative care”. Pardon me if, in this political climate, I don’t automatically go along with what “other groups,” even doctors, say about the right way to treat dysphoric youth, or if the youth are even dysphoric rather than under social pressure. And Shrier is no amateur; she was a respected writer for the Wall Street Journal.

      By the way, this is from the Wikipedia article on the book:

      The book has been controversial. Jack Turban, a psychiatrist with specialization in transgender mental health, criticized the book in a Psychology Today blog post, as did Sarah Fonseca in the Los Angeles Review of Books. It was positively reviewed by journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley in Commentary, by the journalist Madeleine Kearns in the National Review, by The Economist, by Janice Turner in The Times of London, by Christina Patterson in The Sunday Times, by Emily Hourican in the Irish Independent, and by Nick Cater in The Spectator Australia. The book was named an Economist Book of the Year, and a Times Best Book of 2021 for its UK publication.

      What about those reviews? Doesn’t this suggest that the book brings up issues worthy of discussion?

      1. RE Jerry’s comment: “In fact, Turban’s review doesn’t take issue with anything substantive that Shrier says except to say that “other groups recommend wholly affirmative care”.

        This is it. Those who disagree with Shrier or J.K. Rowling don’t have any substantive arguments save one: If people expressing gender dysphoria don’t get “gender-affirming care” they will try suicide.
        Even this argument is questionable because a lot of gender-dysphoric children have other mental issues that could explain higher suicidality. Also the rate of suicidality of gender-dysphoric children and youth is likely to be significantly overstated.

        But apart from this one argument, they got nothing. And that is why they resort to deplatforming and ad hominem arguments. And because they think they can get away it – because so many other people are scared to be called transphobic.

        Two good examples of the lying:

        The Campaign of Lies Against Journalist Jesse Singal—And Why It Matters. March 18, 2021

        Jennifer Finney Boylan: Harry Potter and the Scales of Justice
        A little bit of good news, in a dire month for L.G.B.T.Q. people
        Here the author Finney Boylan just straight-out lies about J.K. Rowling. And the New York Times knew it, and allowed it to stand (while columnist Brett Stephens had at least one of his columns changed after publication, and least in one case was not allowed to publish a column in the NYT in the first place) – about 20% of the comments in the comment section of this article pointed out that Finney Boylan lied about what J.K. Rowling had written. It’s easy to verify (just read what JKR wrote on her website). And Finney Boylan can’t claim that she has reading comprehension problems because she is a professor of English. She knew what JKR had said, but did not want to engage in a substantive discussion – because she herself has no arguments.

  14. A few months ago, or maybe a bit longer, I warned that Gorski was not a worthy a skeptic, and had fallen to wokist nonsense. I remember someone doubted me…. Tsk tsk. He’s very comfortable chumming with PZ Myers and that odious set of anti-science abusers. That tells you all you need to know about him.

    Anyway, Novella used to be highly involved in the skeptic scene, but who can trust him now? Like fellow commentators, I suspect it was Gorski behind this nonsense. However, Novella has always been a bit quiet calling out the anti-science dogma of the SJW-woke set, and he actually had the no-talent that was Rebecca Watson as part of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe. That puts into question his judgement.

    Oh, and just another thing – Harriet Hall was the one who caused an almighty fuss (for the ‘Skepchicks’ and fainting couch FTB feminists) when she wore a T-Shirt at TAM saying “not a skep-chick, just a skeptic”. Those were the days, eh?

  15. Skeptic Magazine published Harriet Halls Review of Irreversible Damage on June 14th

    Discussion, dialogue and disagreement all enrich our knowledge. This sort of “activism” provides no benefit no enrichment, it just requires submission.

    It disgusts me that SBM took down her review. We are drowning in censorious mud and our century will be dis-enlightened because of all this kowtowing to the mob. I just wonder when the book burning bonfires begin.

  16. I really don’t get what it is about this issue that’s causing rational people to abandon rational inquiry and the principles of it. I’d have thought that even if the article was disagreeable, the two things to do would be to correct any error in the article, and to leave it up for people to argue what’s wrong with it. The synonym of activism is not censorship.

    If a group of people who exist for the entire purpose of wanting a more rational society can’t deal with issues in a rational way (to paraphrase Hume, to let the cool passions win over the hot ones), what hope is there for a rational society?? Sad.

  17. Ms. Shrier – if anybody listens to her (I hope they do) gives a compassionate, reasonable and critical opinion of events in “transworld”. To wit:
    (forget Dave Rubin’s interview – he’s kind of a “one hit wonder” and an idiot).

    As for cancelling Harriet Hall….. I am outraged. I’ve been reading Dr. Hall for years now – she’s one of the sanest, smartest, best educated authoritative voices out there.
    Shame on them!

  18. We must rely on the Public Libraries. Bravo, Halifax, Bravo Toronto Public Library – 28 copies in book, e-book and audiobook formats, 219 holds.

  19. Why do these “trans activists” have so many people terrified? What power do they have?

  20. Good post – excellent reading. I’m a queer myself, but I’ve said before and I’ll say again – young people make huge mistakes that they regret later. You need to be 18 yo to get a tattoo. You need to be 21 yo to drink alcohol. And you need a parent’s permission for many medical treatments under the age of consent for good reason. That is that the lack of experience, the lack of time to develop a strong sense of self, may lead young people to seriously regret decisions they made at young ages. I have talked to several trans persons who are ambivalent or who outright regret transitioning after the fact. Prolonging the time to transitioning will serve to give the individual more time to contemplate and be extra sure they are making the right decision. Censorship is a double edged sword that cuts both ways. You can’t pick and choose which voices get to be heard. It’s all or nothing.

  21. Just wanted to say Professor, good on you for taking a public stance on this.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *