Published by Penguin on March 10th 2015
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What It’s NOT
A book about Galileo.
What It IS
A book about the intersection of activism and research. Can they live hand in hand or are they doomed to conflict? As a researcher and activist for intersex patient rights, Dreger shocked the medical community by supporting a doctor she felt was wrongly attacked for publishing an unpopular peer reviewed study on the psychology of male-to-female transgender women.
“We scholars had to put the search for evidence before anything else, even when the evidence pointed to facts we did not want to see. The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word.”
Challenging. Not in the sense that it is difficult to read, but it will challenge your sense of right and wrong. Should activists be able to silence research they find politically incorrect? What if they know the research was gathered without following proper protocol? Dreger examines specific examples of scientists who were ostracized for their research as well as her own attempt to fairly stop what she believed to be an unethical study.
A starting point. I can’t think of the last time a nonfiction book left me so fascinated, morally conflicted and curious. I spent most of my reading experience with a Wikipedia tab permanently open to the rabbit hole Dreger sent me down, looking up scientists, studies and terms. Because of her personal connection to some of the studies, I feel like I still have research of my own to do before forming solid opinions on the ethics involved. But based on Alice Dreger’s experience, I’d imagine she’d mark Galileo’s Middle Finger a roaring success if readers checked every one of her sources.