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September 3, 2007
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September 9, 2007

Three Card Monte, Bailey Style

I’m getting rather tired of posting about this, but J. Michael Bailey is at it again. He posted “Transsexual Smokescreen: Ignoring Science In “The Man Who Would Be Queen” at Scientific Blogging.com.

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The post is a microcosm of the disingenuous nature of this man. He’s said in multiple forums:

(from the KQED Forum interview)

I wrote what is commonly understood to be a popular science book, in which I reviewed serious academic work by myself and other scholars.”

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So the book is science?

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He later said:

“All I did was notice some things. Is this controversial that gay men are more likely than straight men to be florists? That’s what I said. I didn’t say they were suited, although—you know, I don’t know what that means. And I also said that in my observations, that Latina women are more likely than —or I’m sorry, Latina transgendered people—are more likely than white transgender people to be a certain type of transsexual, that is the other type that we haven’t talked about yet. I just talked about what I noticed with my eyes. I didn’t talk about them having genes. “

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So…it’s NOT science?

(from the above mentioned blog article)

“If attention is focused on an endless stream of (false and outrageous) allegations made against me as a person, then no one will pay attention to the scientific ideas, presented in my book, that many of my critics wish to keep hidden.”

See the trick? He blames others for “attacking him” and his ideas, yet what he tend to focus on the personal, and not the work itself.

In the comments it gets worse:

Ben Barres lies again. Ben–All of your deceptive claims about Bailey’s ideas and statements make one thing perfectly clear to me.”

“Ben Barres is a self-righteous liar.”

“This man wants to be taken seriously? To make Michael Bailey look bad took a coordinated team of scheming liars working for months. To make Ben Barres look bad, all you have to do is tell the truth.”

“Please, Ben! That was ‘inadvertent’? That is possible if you have Alzheimer disease or some other kind of brain disease or mental disorder, but it is hard to believe given your position as Professor at Stanford University.”

“you were disingenuous because you merely introduced yourself by name and job title and without telling the listeners that you had been harassing Bailey for years.”
– Michael B. Miller, PhD, MS, MPE University of Minnesota

What was Ben’s crime? What was this harassment of Bailey? Writing the following words to the Northwestern Daily and forwarding them on to the Northwestern administration :

To the Editor of the Daily Northwestern:

Dear Sir,

In Jennifer Leopoldt’s column of July 31, she reports on the continued controversy about Northwestern Prof. J. Michael Bailey’s new book, ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen’, published by the National Academies Press.

Although Ms. Leopoldt focuses on the alleged ethical infractions in the conduct of this research and the ‘junk science’ quality of Prof. Bailey’s research, in addition many homosexuals and transsexuals–myself included–perceive Prof. Bailey’s writing to be intolerant, hate speech.

The Professor is eager to convict a highly stigmatized minority group of inborn or genetic inferiority in the name of hard science and free speech. Prof. Bailey’s ‘science’ wrongly promotes hateful stereotypes about LGBT folks. On the basis of a limited number of highly selected, anecdotal accounts, he writes that homosexuals have a large degree of femininity, and reports that transsexuals are primarily low socioeconomic, sex-focused losers, prostitutes, fetishists, and liars.

Hate speech involves portraying a group of people as less than human. It contributes to a climate where homosexuals and transsexuals are abandoned by their families, forsaken by their coworkers, abused, shunned, and beaten. In his defense Bailey states that ‘he will not be a slave to sensitivity’ and ‘is more concerned with science and truth than the feelings of groups’.

I wonder how the chairman of a psychology department can be so insensitive, and why a respectable university is willing to harbor such dubious research and promote such egregious bigotry?

George Bernard Shaw once said that the worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity. LGBT folks need the support of the Northwestern community. I hope you will let Prof. Bailey know that his brand of junk science and intolerance is not welcome on your campus.”

To Proffessor Miller THIS IS HARASSMENT? Bailey and Miller tag team personal attacks and then cry Bailey’s been attacked?

Bailey’s last comment is the clincher, in my book.

“Ben Barres is rather persistent in his obsessive haranguing regarding my views on transsexual prostitution. I do in fact write the following sentence in my book: “In this sense, homosexual transsexuals might be especially well suited to prostitution.” (page 185). The paragraph that this comes from is pretty clear, and I stand by it. I will explain my reasoning at some point IF someone besides Barres cares. But I won’t do it now, because I prefer that people focus on the important material in my blog and not on Barres’ wild, varied, and inaccurate accusations.”

It started with Andrea James, then Lynn Conway, Joan Roughgarden, and now Ben Barres. Anyone that questions Bailey or his book is considered the enemy and not worthy of debating.

This kind of attack on the critics of Bailey is similar to the theory of autogynophelia itself. As Élise Hendrick so aptly pointed out on a previous post:

“Ultimately, Bailey’s account (and the underlying BBL model) is abysmal from a scientific standpoint. It does not meet one of the basic – and most easily met – requirements for a scientific theory, falsifiability, because it pervasively paints trans women as liars who will misrepresent themselves to avoid being placed in one of the two categories.”

You either believe what Bailey has written, or you’re a liar.

  • What’s really striking about Bailey’s ScientificBlogging post (by the way, how the hell did he become eligible for “scientific blogging”?) is that there is literally nothing new. He attacks his critics without engaging them on the substance, remotely diagnoses them where possible (which, had he bothered to get his clinical endorsement, he would know is an ethical violation), slings patently false accusations, and hopes that no one will look beyond his own self-serving nonsense. Those with a sense of irony will enjoy the fact that he accuses his critics of “libel”, which is in itself the worse tort of defamation, since it’s a knowingly false accusation.

    Another interesting thing to note is the demographics of Bailey’s increasingly fanatical defenders: his defenders include no one from amongst the respected researchers and clinicians specialised in gender issues. No Walter Bockting, no Randi Ettner, no Milton Diamond — not a single person who has made studying and helping trans people their life’s work. Instead, we get the likes of Drs. Miller and Roberts, who are an asset to Bailey due to their complete ignorance of the real scientific research on transsexuality and their willingness to go further in their defamation of Bailey’s critics than Bailey himself is willing to go.

  • What’s really striking about Bailey’s ScientificBlogging post (by the way, how the hell did he become eligible for “scientific blogging”?) is that there is literally nothing new. He attacks his critics without engaging them on the substance, remotely diagnoses them where possible (which, had he bothered to get his clinical endorsement, he would know is an ethical violation), slings patently false accusations, and hopes that no one will look beyond his own self-serving nonsense. Those with a sense of irony will enjoy the fact that he accuses his critics of “libel”, which is in itself the worse tort of defamation, since it’s a knowingly false accusation.

    Another interesting thing to note is the demographics of Bailey’s increasingly fanatical defenders: his defenders include no one from amongst the respected researchers and clinicians specialised in gender issues. No Walter Bockting, no Randi Ettner, no Milton Diamond — not a single person who has made studying and helping trans people their life’s work. Instead, we get the likes of Drs. Miller and Roberts, who are an asset to Bailey due to their complete ignorance of the real scientific research on transsexuality and their willingness to go further in their defamation of Bailey’s critics than Bailey himself is willing to go.

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  • Felix

    The claim, “I just talked about what I noticed with my eyes” (Bailey, above) would not be acceptable in a first year undergraduate essay, never mind a supposedly rigorously researched academic paper.

  • Felix

    The claim, “I just talked about what I noticed with my eyes” (Bailey, above) would not be acceptable in a first year undergraduate essay, never mind a supposedly rigorously researched academic paper.

  • this whole mess is based on so many flawed assumptions and uninformed opinions, it’s virtually impossible for anyone outside the controversy to untangle.

    i believe that any attempt to categorize humans into two distinct, mutually exclusive groups is doomed to failure. the diversity of life – that is, the biological reality of life, simply will not permit it. the very assumption that there are only two sexes, male and female, and two genders, masculine and feminine, and that males = masculine and females = feminine is disproved by virtually every human being on earth. there are no lines, and no opposites. and while it’s clear that most of us humans fall into two “bell curves” of “m” and “f”, the millions of people between and outside those curves show this to be a false dichotomy.

    and it just goes downhill from there.

  • this whole mess is based on so many flawed assumptions and uninformed opinions, it’s virtually impossible for anyone outside the controversy to untangle.

    i believe that any attempt to categorize humans into two distinct, mutually exclusive groups is doomed to failure. the diversity of life – that is, the biological reality of life, simply will not permit it. the very assumption that there are only two sexes, male and female, and two genders, masculine and feminine, and that males = masculine and females = feminine is disproved by virtually every human being on earth. there are no lines, and no opposites. and while it’s clear that most of us humans fall into two “bell curves” of “m” and “f”, the millions of people between and outside those curves show this to be a false dichotomy.

    and it just goes downhill from there.

  • this whole mess is based on so many flawed assumptions and uninformed opinions, it’s virtually impossible for anyone outside the controversy to untangle.

    i believe that any attempt to categorize humans into two distinct, mutually exclusive groups is doomed to failure. the diversity of life – that is, the biological reality of life, simply will not permit it. the very assumption that there are only two sexes, male and female, and two genders, masculine and feminine, and that males = masculine and females = feminine is disproved by virtually every human being on earth. there are no lines, and no opposites. and while it’s clear that most of us humans fall into two “bell curves” of “m” and “f”, the millions of people between and outside those curves show this to be a false dichotomy.

    and it just goes downhill from there.

  • Samantha Davis

    Actually, Bailey used perfectly valid psychological and sociological research methods. Too bad he misrepresented his findings!

    Could have been a great report on transsexual prostitutes though…

  • Samantha Davis

    Actually, Bailey used perfectly valid psychological and sociological research methods. Too bad he misrepresented his findings!

    Could have been a great report on transsexual prostitutes though…

  • Maybe it is “scienceish-ness.” like Colbert’s “truthiness.”

    In all seriousness, though, he’s not using the scientific method in his “inquiries” so it’s not science, and he and his book deserve to be demolished.

  • Maybe it is “scienceish-ness.” like Colbert’s “truthiness.”

    In all seriousness, though, he’s not using the scientific method in his “inquiries” so it’s not science, and he and his book deserve to be demolished.

  • eastsidekate

    For the record, there is a fairly succinct response to Bailey’s post (and the controversy in general) by Joan Roughgarden:

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/joanroughgarden/the_bailey_affair_end_in_sight

  • eastsidekate

    For the record, there is a fairly succinct response to Bailey’s post (and the controversy in general) by Joan Roughgarden:

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/joanroughgarden/the_bailey_affair_end_in_sight

  • Kathy

    “So…it’s NOT science?”

    It’s not even Mystery Science Theater……..who would say it so much better than I when looking at Bailey’s “science”:

    “That’s a pretty complex insult, for a drunk.” -Crow.

    -or-
    “Thanks for comforting me with a gun.” -Crow

    Great post!

  • Kathy

    “So…it’s NOT science?”

    It’s not even Mystery Science Theater……..who would say it so much better than I when looking at Bailey’s “science”:

    “That’s a pretty complex insult, for a drunk.” -Crow.

    -or-
    “Thanks for comforting me with a gun.” -Crow

    Great post!