Thursday, August 23, 2007

Well, we can't have that now, can we?

Dr. Ben Barres, a neurobiologist at Stanford, said in reference to Dr. Bailey’s thesis in the book, “Bailey seems to make a living by claiming that the things people hold most deeply true are not true.”

- Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege (HT: Macht)

Because we all know that "the things people hold most deeply true" must never be questioned.


  1. That article left me scratching my head: why does everyone subject to psychoanalysis react with hostility towards the examiner?

  2. I don't think that the quote is meant to say that deeply held beliefs should not be questioned. Rather, it's that Bailey gets off on unnerving people, on being polemical (and that he finds this profitable), the fact of which may suggest that his findings are motivated by something other than good science.

    It's interesting to me that, whereas many feminists would dispute vociferously the contention that gender differences are grounded in biology (i.e., are "natural", are not the product of patriarchal socialization), Bailey's opponents are incredulous that the feelings of transgendered persons are not strictly biological in origin.

  3. sounds like a complimnt to Bailey - it is good to queston.

  4. Ace -- Yes, he does sound like a bit of a contrarian, but as GNZ suggests, that's arguably an academic virtue. (As a general rule, our most "cherished" assumptions will stand most in need of critical examination.) In any case, his motivations might influence whether you'd want to be friends with the guy, but they're not relevant to the academic merit of his work. (Unless the criticism is meant as an allegation of outright bias or intellectual dishonesty, but such a charge would require evidential support!)


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