Jesse Singal fact-checks Science-Based Medicine again

July 18, 2021 • 9:30 am

The battle between Jesse Singal and the site Science-Based Medicine (SBM) continues. SBM originally hosted a positive review of Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage written by one of their editors, Harriet Hall, and then two other editors, David Gorski and Steven Novella (G&N), removed Hall’s review and replaced it with three pieces critical of Shrier’s thesis about the possible social origins of rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) and the possible dangers of treating the syndrome with hormones and surgery when it starts in adolescence. (See the whole story in these posts.)

Although G&N claimed that they removed Hall’s review because it contained scientific errors and also glossed over Shrier’s own errors, I suspect it was also pushback from those who deemed Shrier’s book “transphobic” (it’s not).  Jesse Singal, who’s read a lot about gender dysphoria has published a critique of G&N’s stated reasons for the censorship, arguing that G&N played fast and loose with the literature themselves, mis-citing papers, engaging in confirmation bias, and so on.

Now, in four further tweets, Singal has accused A. J. Eckert (AJE), one of the people whose posts replaced Hall’s on SBM (Eckert wrote two of them), of fabricating quotes from Shrier’s book that don’t appear in it. Here are the four tweets. While these made-up quotes aren’t as potentially damaging to SBM’s reputation as is Singal’s long critique, it still shows a lack of care in SBM’s methods—something one doesn’t expect on the site, which has been careful and a valuable asset. Now, however, it may well be slanted by wokeness.

The first one deals with a phrase that, says Eckert, is used repeatedly by Shrier to characterize the social environment that, she says, pushes adolescent girls towards ROGD. Eckert says, among other things, “These [factors] are characterized as a ‘woke gender ideology,’ an oft-recited phrase that is never really defined.” In fact, Singal found that Shrier doesn’t use the phrase even once.

Singal’s second tweet notes that it was supposedly only one quote that was fabricated, but that AJE said it was “oft-recited.”

Then Singal discovers two things. First, Eckert attributes to Shrier the phrase “radical trans ideology” as characterizing what the Internet instills in some adolescent girls that get ROGD (third tweet). That phrase doesn’t appear in Shrier’s book, though AJE puts it in quotes.

Second, AJE apparently grossly mischaracterized the treatment of Lisa Littman’s study of the etiology and manifestation of ROGD published in PLoS ONe (underlined bit below).

No, Littman’s study wasn’t pulled; in fact, it’s still up at the PLoS ONE website. What happened was that the editors required some tweaks in the original version, which were made. What was pulled was a Brown University press release promoting Littman’s study. (Littman works at Brown.) And that retraction, as well as perhaps some of the changes suggested by PLoS’s editors, may have come from social-media pressure.

This last claim about pulling the study, combined with the fabricated quotations, show a lack of care of AJE and SBM, and perhaps the editors, in describing the work. I won’t call these lies or deliberate fabrications, but they do show a disturbing lack of care from a site that has spent much of its time debunking others for carelessness and duplicity.  And I’m not sure if it’s “potentially libelous”, though Eckert/G&N really should issue a couple of corrections for the site.

Judge it as you will; your mileage may vary. There will, of course, be more to come. In the meantime, Shrier’s book, now a year old, is still selling rapidly on Amazon because of all the attention that the ACLU and people like G&N give it. It’s the Streisand Effect.

h/t: cesar

12 thoughts on “Jesse Singal fact-checks Science-Based Medicine again

  1. Shrier’s book, now a year old, is still selling rapidly on Amazon because of all the attention that the ACLU and people like G&N give it.

    Relatedly, after having tried to read it, I strongly suspect that the Ayatolla et ux sold far more copies of The Satanic Verses than would otherwise have been sold.

    I don’t mean that as a slight to Irreversible Damage, tho, and so perhaps the big kerfluffle in this case is a good thing.

    1. Definitely Hempenstein, it is but anecdotal, but without the brouhaha I’d never have read Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’. I mean, a book that is being publicly burned, that must have touched a nerve.
      It also lead me to read some more of his books.

  2. Singal’s article, your comments PCC, and my experiences with middle school girls in 2016 and 2017, led me me to buy and read Schreier’s book. I had a couple of girls in my last years of teaching who transited into boys, changing their names etc. (I taught choir). So far, as I’m reading the book, I’ve not come anything she’s written that strikes me as even vaguely transphobic. I know that one of the girls I mentioned transited back to girl within two years.

  3. I transited into becoming a Himalayan Snow Leopard by simply saying that I am one. Is more than that required? [Anyone who doubts me is trans-species-phobic, and therefore ought to be canceled.]

    The notion that one can just transit into becoming something else seems part of the great awokening. I wonder whether it comes from the woke association with postmodernism, and hence the conception that
    there is no physical reality independent of us, but just WORDS. Interestingly, this postmodern worship of words is also ascribed to Arab rhetorical culture. Another writer reports: ” E. Shouby, a native Arabic-speaker and psychologist, reported in 1951 that Arabic speakers “overemphasize the significance of words as such, paying less regard to their meaning” than is usual in Western languages, leading to a “confusion between words and the things they represent.”[45] Walter Laqueur noted in 1968, the Arabs’ “almost unlimited capacity for believing what they want to believe.” “

    1. The notion that one can just transit into becoming something else seems part of the great awokening.

      Sex? Yes. Race? That’s heresy.

  4. I have the pleasure to report that -in view of indexes (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) and Streisand effects I mentioned in the previous Singal post-, I did order Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage”, as I said I would.

  5. Singal-ing out Novella and Gorski for further criticism of their Wokoharam-pandering justifications for pulling Dr. Harriet Hall’s careful and accurate review of the book “Irreversible Damage”. Seems Science Base Medicine is only science based if it doesn’t ruffle any Woke feathers. SBM has been and hopefully will continue to be an excellent reference to find out what the latest trends in quack medicine are. It is disheartening to see them go off the rails on this issue thanks to the Trans-bullies network within the Wokoharam cult.

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