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141 thoughts on “A Final Word: On T-Shirts and Teapot Tempests

  1. lilady says:

    @ windriven:

    “*Is there such a thing as a cisgression?”

    You’d have to ask Will about cisgression versus “heteronormative” and “cisnormative”

    “Well, I intend to flip this fucking boat over and expose its underbelly. I’m not going to sit idly by while people spout of untruths and heteronormative, cisnormative, sexist, racist, ableist bullshit in the name of science because a few people might get their feelings hurt when they’re called out on it.” (Will’s last rant)

  2. Kov says:

    I think Her Holiness Pope Colonel Doctor Harriet Hall the Skeptical has a nice ring to it. Putting the “cis” in “Catholicism” and taking the Church out of uteruses everywhere! Or something.

  3. The ‘I am not the Pope’ t-shirt will, of course, have to be in Latin. So, everyone’s familiarity with Latin, whether from Catholic school or from science, will come in just as handy as the cis- discussion.

  4. BillyJoe says:

    I’m not really going to weigh in here and dissect in minute detail the meanings and nuances of words, but I have to admit that, when I saw the pic of Harriet Hall in that t shirt, I reluctantly put a little cross at the end of a long line of big ticks. But that’s probably because I HATE FRIGGIN’ SLOGANS ON T SHIRTS!
    And it seems nybgrus has earned s little cross as well :(

  5. Skeptic says:

    “The ‘I am not the Pope’ t-shirt will, of course, have to be in Latin. So, everyone’s familiarity with Latin, whether from Catholic school or from science, will come in just as handy as the cis- discussion.”

    I dunno. We all have access to Google translate now…so some people would be even *more* insulted by the “coded” insult.

    Non sum Papa

    What?? You hate fathers?? Offensive CisSexist Pig!!!

    Oh, wait…”Pope…” Hmm…hold on while I find something to find offensive…got it…What?? You hate the Pope?? Anti-Free Thinking Religious Biggotttttt!!!!!

    :D

    There’s just no winning when everyone thinks their right to be free from being offended must take precedent.

  6. Newcoaster says:

    I can’t believe so many spleens have been vented over such petty and superficial squabbles over who offended who, what is the current politically correct terminology for what various sub-group, and basically what an incredibly humourless bunch skeptics seem to be. Or at least the ones commenting on this site.

    I’ve not always agreed with Dr Halls points of view (her circumcision article comes to mind) and I don’t understand why ANYone would go into the military in ANY capacity…but I support her right to have her point of view, and state it without the petty attacks she has been subjected to, supposedly by members of her own community, the skeptics.

    Lets get back to the purpose of this blog…Science Based Medicine.

  7. weing says:

    Regarding the terminologies being bandied about, there is a medical approach to sex that is clinically useful that I learned in the 1970s. One needs to specify genetic sex, gonadal sex, hormonal sex, sex of internal and external genitalia, sex of rearing, and sex of orientation. There may be discordance among any of these and the physician needs to keep them in mind in order to recommend therapy for the individual patient.

  8. julian says:

    but I support her right to have her point of view, and state it without the petty attacks she has been subjected to, supposedly by members of her own community, the skeptics.

    Because she’s been so above this all, right? No talk of witch hunts or professional victims looking to be offended, right? None of that ever happened, I assume.

    This whole thing is ridiculous. Those offended on Amy Roth’s behalf have behaved incredibly childishly towards Dr. Hall and Dr. Hall’s defenders have gone out of their way to be cruel and purposefully hurt.

    Of the two I find Roth’s party less distasteful and judging from the complete disregard for others (Once again, thank you, Hitch, for giving jerks an excuse to be callous human beings) I’m glad to not be part of the skeptical community. You people are outright cruel and hurtful just to win a web argument.

  9. BillyJoe says:

    Newcoaster,

    Well, yes, an evolutionary dead-end in the sceptical movement you might say. But if threads like these serve to drive it into extinction, perhaps something will be achieved.

    Here’s hoping…

  10. Narad says:

    One needs to specify genetic sex, gonadal sex, hormonal sex, sex of internal and external genitalia, sex of rearing, and sex of orientation. There may be discordance among any of these and the physician needs to keep them in mind in order to recommend therapy for the individual patient.

    Certainly an improvement over a 2×2 matrix if one thinks that language is actually for making distinctions.

  11. hero says:

    As I was saying, “feminists” Hensley & Watson are lost causes.

  12. Draal says:

    There is a saying that ‘any bad publicity is good publicity’. Is there any consideration for financial motivation on Ms. Watson part? Her blog Skepchick makes money from advertisements and selling items like calendars. (Do those on her blog even receive any of that revenue?) Manufactured and exaggerated controversies serve her purpose to remain relevant and bring traffic to her blog. It is both in her social justice and financial interest to kick up a stink regularly.

    Ms. Watson’s boycott of TAM was just that, a boycott to undercut support and finances from TAM. Pissing on someone else’s endeavors will result in pushback.

  13. nybgrus says:

    @draal:

    That seems also maximally uncharitable and not something I would even entertain as a possibility without significant evidence leading me there. I certainly wouldn’t consider it and then search out confirming evidence, and I have no evidence coming my way to make me think it in the first place.

  14. nybgrus says:

    And with that I am off the comment grid ladies, gents, and whatever other term most comfortably describes you.

    The next time anyone hears from me will be from the opposite quadrant of the world.

  15. Draal says:

    @nybgrus
    Yes, it is uncharitable and I have no proof. But it is what I hear at the local skeptic meetups.

  16. tigzy says:

    Julian wrote: ‘Of the two I find Roth’s party less distasteful and judging from the complete disregard for others (Once again, thank you, Hitch, for giving jerks an excuse to be callous human beings) I’m glad to not be part of the skeptical community. You people are outright cruel and hurtful just to win a web argument.’

    Really? Would this be the same Julian who wrote at Freethought Blogs:

    ‘She sponsored 22 other women to attend. Repeat that to yourself. She said outright she would not have done that if she thought the event dangerous. Repeat that to yourself.

    And then go fuck yourself. Off a bridge or something.’

    ‘Mind if I tear [your backbone] out and give it to her?’

    ‘Call me a spic and I’ll snap your damn neck.’

    ‘btw, I’m going to break your neck wasn’t a threat. We were discussing racial slurs and what’s acceptable and I mentioned I have no qualms snapping the neck of someone who calls me a spic.’

    If you aren’t the same Julian, then please accept my apologies for inadvertantly making you look so cruel, callous and hurtful.

    Comment 1: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/07/in-your-face/#comment-223569
    Comment 2: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/18/tams-harassment-policy-was-secret-why/#comment-72037
    Comment 3: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/07/in-your-face/#comment-223743
    Comment 4: http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/01/30/i-get-mail-apparently-i-am-officially-a-ftbully/comment-page-1/#comment-45020

  17. julian says:

    @tigzy

    Oh please. If you’re going to attack me with racial slurs I don’t see why I shouldn’t respond in kind. That isn’t callous or cruel.

    That Hall’s defenders are so comfortable with racist language and other bigoted speech is another reason why I can’t stand them. Hell, you all make me sick to my stomach.

  18. tigzy says:

    @julian

    Ah, right – so breaking the neck of someone who calls you a spic is, by your definition, responding in kind. Gotcha. Bearing in mind that the person – racist asshole though they may be – may have family, be a parent, or have loved ones, murdering or paralysing said asshole is not a bit callous or cruel because it’s entirely on a par with insulting you with a racist epithet…right?

    By the way – the people who you resonded to with ‘fuck yourself…off a bridge’ and ‘mind if I tear out your backbone’ – were they being racist towards you as well?

  19. julian says:

    Yes, it is uncharitable and I have no proof. But it is what I hear at the local skeptic meetups.

    This is what I’m talking about. You have no way of verifying this or of confirming it and yet here you are repeating it and treating it as a valid interpretation. You’re literally accusing people of making up harassment and outrage just to make a few dollars.

    And yet no one is chastising you about it. At least not in the same way Watson, Benson or Myers are being chastised. Do you see how ridiculous this double standard is starting to get?

  20. Draal says:

    You’re literally accusing people of making up harassment and outrage just to make a few dollars.

    You put it so much better than I did.

    Do you see how ridiculous this double standard is starting to get?

    Oh, I am fully aware. Any why would I still make the comment?
    Because this whole pissing match is ridiculous and I’m rationalizing to understand it to my satisfaction. As far as I can tell, this type of BS has been going on since ElevatorGate. Whatever issue she had with DJ Grothe should have been resolved through a phone call or email. But instead she stooped to his dickish level and replied publicly with a boycott. Egocentric and childish. It continued to the point that it was mentioned briefly on the SGU. I commend Dr. Novella for resisting so long not bringing up. But alas.
    And now this pissing match between Dr. Hall and Skepchick.org. Ms. Watson explicitly stated she was incapable of resolving her issues privately and again responded publicly. Ms. Watson has a track record of not being a problem solver. Rather, she fans the flames. So I asked what is her motivation? Generating traffic and monies I reasoned. Uncharitable? yes. double standard? Yes! Do I care if I’m being unfair or I’m wrong? Not really.
    I like the SBM blog and bloggers better than Ms.Watson and her blog. So, when it comes to double standards, I picked a side. So, now what? Feed the troll to make yourself feel better? Please do so. I’m hungry.

  21. BillyJoe says:

    Maybe we need to close this thread now,

  22. Chris says:

    I think they should all be shut down. It is time to move on.

  23. windriven says:

    @Julian and tigzy

    That’s quite enough. The racial stuff and borderline threats are way beyond the pale.

  24. tigzy says:

    @windriven

    Please point out where I have been racist (assuming that’s what you mean by ‘racial stuff’) and where I have made borderline threats.

  25. BillyJoe says:

    Well, I dunno, when you see a driverless car with kids in the back rolling down a hill, you jump in and pull on the brakes….

  26. CNC says:

    @BillyJoe

    Yes, let back to Science Based Medicine.

    Looking forward to Dr. Hall’s next post and hope she is not distracted by this nonsense any more. She deserves a lot more respect than some of posters have shown here.

  27. windriven says:

    @tizgy

    I won’t dignify some of the terms and tone used in your exchange with Julian by repeating them. If you don’t understand where some of that exchange was well beyond the boundaries of civilized discourse then you are beyond hope. I don’t know or care what your beef is with Julian but don’t drag it into SBM.

    This is supposed to be a forum about science in general and science-based medicine in particular. It is not a forum for crude epithets and personal attacks – though one might be forgiven for missing that given the tone of the threads associated with a t-shirt.

  28. ildi says:

    Re “queer:” It has a generational and cultural evolution, with its roots in activism and inclusivity, starting with ACT-UP becoming known as Queer Nation in the 90s. Abigail Garner says in Families like mine: Children of gay parents tell it like it is (2005) “While some people find the word “queer” to be helpful and affirming, other people are offended by it. I used the word freely in this book in ways that I would not have just a few years ago. It was a shameful and forbidden word in my home growing up, so hearing it used to trigger a physical reaction for me, like getting kicked in the gut. More recently, I have grown comfortable saying “queer” as I hear it used by activists whom I respect. For my parents’ generation, however, the word still evokes its history as a hurtful slur. So while I frequently say “queer,” I understand that not everyone cares to reclaim it.” (p. 11)

    Mary Gray (who grew up in California’s Central Valley) echoes this in her preface to Out in the country: Youth, media, and queer visibility in rural America (2009): “I laid claim to a “queer” identity just as Queer Nation’s nearby San Francisco chapter dissolved in 1991. Perhaps, like those before me who chose to identify as “gay” rather than “homosexual” or “lesbian” rather than “gay woman,” coming out as queer seemed to verbalize the politics of my desire. It also gave voice to my desire for political change. No word other than “queer” described my sense of self and no other has felt quite right since (p. xiii).

    In addition to self-identification for political reasons, “queer” has been embraced for reasons of convenience. According to Sheffield and Barriault: “Institutionalized heterosexism affects a wide range of people from many different backgrounds, including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered, transsexual, intersexed, two-spirited, and questioning individuals. In referring to this diverse group of people, we could use the popular acronym LGBT (or GLBT), knowing that it excludes some members of the group; or, we could use the more inclusive acronym LGBTTITSQ, which is admittedly cumbersome. Using the word “queer” as an umbrella word to designate all people whose sexuality is generally considered non-heteronormative is both a more inclusive and a more practical choice.” (Sheffield, R., Barriault, M.. Note from the Guest Editors. Archivaria, North America, 68, jan. 2010).

    Levy and Johnson found that “Inclusion of queer identified individuals and use of the term had several implications for the outcome [of their research]. First, like the first author, many adults (colleagues, school personnel, etc.) were surprised about the inclusion of the word queer in the recruitment materials; however, the young participants were not surprised at all. ‘I think it’s just a generational thing’, said Nicholas. In fact, all of the participants knew at least one Queer identified person in their social circle. The Queer identified youth also indicated an appreciation for inclusion, noting, ‘I avoid campus programming and social events that only focus on lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, so I likely would have avoided your project too’.” (What does the Q mean? Including queer voices in qualitative research. Denise L. Levy and Corey W. Johnson
    Qualitative Social Work 2012 11: 130)

    Levy and Johnson go on to say: “Finally, it is worth noting that the term queer continues to be viewed as offensive to some GLBT individuals and heterosexual people (Browne, 2008; Eaklor, 2008). Because historically GLBT individuals have fought to legitimate their sexual identities, some (mostly older generations) believe that queer theory actually diminishes the efficacy of their sexual identity categories (Jagose, 1996). Thus, queer research might exclude some GLBT subjects who would otherwise be interested in participating. In addition, many older heterosexual individuals still cling to the conventional wisdom that queer is derogatory and can and should never be used to describe people, and thus are unwilling to name the identities of Queer people.”

    While I found no data to indicate what actual percent of the LGBT community finds the term offensive, it is instructive to note that in surveys of self-identification, “queer” is commonly listed, or added to the survey to refine classification based on responses to “Other.” For example in a study conducted to establish the prevalence of smoking in the LGBT community, “Queer Women” (5.1 percent), “Queer Men” (1.2 percent) and “Gender Queer” (1.6 percent) were added based the responses to “other.” ((Clarke, M. P., & Coughlin, J. R. (2011). Prevalence of Smoking Among the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTTQ) Subpopulations in Toronto–The Toronto Rainbow Tobacco Survey (TRTS). Canadian Journal of Public Health, 103(2), 132-36)).

    Self-identification as queer seems to be more common in the transgender community. In their survey of transgender people, Riggle et al. found that when participants were asked to choose the label that came closest to describing their sexual orientation or identity, 23 percent chose ‘bisexual’, 21 percent ‘queer’, 16 percent ‘no label or other’, 15 percent ‘straight/heterosexual’, 10 percent ‘gay’, 10 percent ‘lesbian’ and 5 percent ‘questioning’. (Average age 40, range 18-74.) (Riggle, E. D., Rostosky, S. S., McCants, L. E., & Pascale-Hague, D. (2011). The positive aspects of a transgender self-identification. Psychology & Sexuality, 2(2), 147-158.)

    Another indicator of how offensive the term is in general can be evaluated by how often it is used as a descriptor in research publications. For example, in discussing how self-disclosure affects women who are consumers and providers of mental health services, Daley as a matter of course uses the term lesbian/queer and LQ. (Daley, A. (2010). Being recognized, accepted, and affirmed: self-disclosure of lesbian/queer sexuality within psychiatric and mental health service settings. Social Work in Mental Health, 8(4), 336-355.)

    In summary, the use and meaning of the word “queer” is evolving in the LBGT community from a word of denigration to a word of activism and inclusivity, in particular of the transgender community, and a reflection of the fluidity of sexual and gender identity.

  29. santiago says:

    superdave: in particular about the importance of using the accurate and up-to-date terminology you can. You would expect a post on SBM to contain accurate and up to date information if it was about cancer treatments and gender studies deserves the same treatment.

    Well, there is one problem with this approach – you can define new terms in your field of study, but you cannot redefine already existing words from the common language and then force everyone to comply with your new definitions. This is just a pseudoscience from the linguistic point of view.

    Modern linguistic theory is AFAIK mainly descriptive, so ‘proper’ meaning of a word is not based on some complex and abstract ideas of how language should be formed, but based an empirical, statistical evidence how it is used in the real world (see corpus linguistics).

    Therefore, such ‘language police’ has nothing to do with scientific approach and such arguments (like nitpicking about differences between social and biological meanings of words ‘man’ or ‘woman’) are irrelevant and fallacious.

    Note that the post does not object to term ‘cissexual’ and other neologisms (they are OK to define arbitrarily as terms).

  30. tigzy says:

    @Windriven

    Ah. So you couldn’t point out where I had said anything racist or borderline threatening – unless I was paraphrasing Julian, of course.

    So if you do have a point to make to me, please offer something more substantial than a lavender-scented vacuity.

  31. ebohlman says:

    Michael K:

    Who are these people and do you have a link to that discussion on the “other blog”? I tried to google, but there is a remarkable amount of David Gorskis out there.

    Hint: I believe Dr. Gorski coined the term “quackademic medicine”; that should help your Googling quite a bit.

  32. David Gorski says:

    Actually, I didn’t coin that term, although I really, really wish I had. I do think, however, that I’ve done more than pretty much anyone else to popularize it.

    Some terms I’m quite sure I did coin are:

    1. Pharma shill gambit
    2. Galileo gambit
    3. The “toxins” gambit (with respect to vaccines)

    Another thing that might help is if he’s at all familiar with a certain British SF show from 30 years ago featuring a bunch of rebels fighting an evil galactic empire known as the Federation who were assisted by a certain rather amazing computer.

  33. daijiyobu says:

    Hey, I know I coined the terms “naturopathillogical” and “licensed falsehood.”

    FWIW.

    -r.c.

  34. Chris says:

    We are sorry, Michael K, but discussion of the “other blog” is only by inference. First rule of speaking about one of the worst kept secrets on teh internets is that we never refer to the “other blog” by name on either blog.

  35. Chris says:

    Oh, and I want to take credit for “mercury militia” and/or “mercury moms”, but I can’t. I believe I did come up with “aluminati” using a previous poisonous ‘nym on the other blog.

  36. David Gorski says:

    We are sorry, Michael K, but discussion of the “other blog” is only by inference. First rule of speaking about one of the worst kept secrets on teh internets is that we never refer to the “other blog” by name on either blog.

    First rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. :-)

  37. David Gorski says:

    Finally, a spot of light, thanks to Steve’s mediation:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/moving-forward/

    Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new trend.

  38. CaptainJaneway says:

    Amphigorey posts over at BandW. “I’d be interested in hearing Hall’s explanation for the front of the shirt (“I feel safe and welcome at TAM”), which I’m having trouble reading as anything but a dig at Rebecca Watson.”

    Just to clear things up for some of the little flowers over there, yes, that message was a dig at Rebecca Watson, plus some of the other Skepchicks who were harassing DJ and generally making TAM out to be a cesspit of misogyny and danger.

    Problem?

    Believe it or not, there are plenty in the community who have good reasons to have a “dig” at Rebecca Watson. Contrary to what some might believe, she is not above suspicion, and certainly not above criticism.

    Get used to it.

  39. superdave says:

    @Santiago, modern science appropriates words all the time and vice versa. Think of all the problems that have come in the last 10 years because of the difference between the scientific usage of the word theory and everyday usage.

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