On “Following the Science”

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This week Tucker Carlson weighed in on Arkansas legislation, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, which prohibits minors from receiving hormones, puberty blockers, and surgeries related to a gender transition.  In response, Ross Pomeroy claimed in a Real Science article, Tucker Carlson Misrepresents the Science on Transgender Youth.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Carlson’s first misleading assertion was that using hormonal treatments to halt puberty constitutes “chemical castration”. It’s true, some of the same drugs used to help dysphoric youth transition were used in the past to reduce libido and sexual activity in criminals convicted of sex crimes, and this was termed “chemical castration”. When used in adolescents, however, studies have suggested that the drugs are safe, and their effects both well-tolerated and reversible.

Puberty-blocking hormones have actually been used safely for decades to treat precocious puberty, where a child’s body begins changing to that of an adult too soon, before age 8 for girls and age 9 for boys.

Carlson terming the use of these drugs for gender dysphoric youth “chemical castration” was really an attempt to poison the well of the debate.

Tucker’s next question for Hutchinson was prefaced with outright misinformation.

“This is an emerging field. There’s not a lot of research, but the research that exists suggests that depression and the urge to self-harm and commit suicide is a side-effect of taking these hormones. A study in the U.K. showed the overwhelming majority of children on puberty-blocking hormones had the urge to hurt themselves. Why is that responsible medicine to do that to children?” he asked.

To directly resolve Tucker’s ignorance, here are two systematic reviews published late last year which document improved mental health outcomes for gender dysphoric youth given puberty-blockers.

Youth gender dysphoria and transgender medicine are complex issues. That’s why, when discussing them, it’s important to be intellectually humble, deferential to patients, doctors, and parents, and informed and honest about available scientific evidence. Tucker Carlson failed in all of these respects on Tuesday night.

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The is a classic example of social ideology mixed with science.  Pomeroy is right about the complexity of the science, but fails to recognize the ideological bias driving the transgender phenomenon and the corruption of science in the process.  Note he makes no distinction between hormone treatments to delay puberty consistent with birth gender, and use of those agents to reverse the birth gender.  All of this is driven by a “social justice” agenda claiming that equality between men and women depends on making genders all the same, two optional identity choices among dozens of others.  The ramifications of overturning these biological and social realities goes far beyond the destruction of female sports and locker room privacy (serious as those issues are.)  The Arkansas legislation is asserting a traditional set of values and social mores, which science cannot and should not attempt to dictate.  For some clarity on why, see the video below.

For more on science on males and females see On Sexual Brains: Vive La Difference!

Richard Lindzen pointed out the abuse of scientific knowledge at the hands of social elites in his recent talk The Imaginary Climate Crisis: How can we Change the Message?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

If this weren’t silly enough, we are bombarded with claims that the impacts of this climate change include such things as obesity and the Syrian civil war. The claims of impacts are then circularly claimed to be overwhelming evidence of dangerous climate change. It doesn’t matter that most of these claims are wrong and/or irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that none of these claims can be related to CO2 except via model projections. In almost all cases, even the model projections are non-existent. Somehow, the sheer volume of misinformation seems to overwhelm us. In case, you retain any skepticism, there is John Kerry’s claim that climate (unlike physics and chemistry) is simple enough for any child to understand. Presumably, if you can’t see the existential danger of CO2, you’re a stupid denier.

And, in case this situation isn’t sufficiently bizarre, there is the governmental response. It is entirely analogous to a situation that a colleague, Bruce Everett, described. After your physical, your physician tells you that you may have a fatal disease. He’s not really sure, but he proposes a treatment that will be expensive and painful while offering no prospect of preventing the disease. When you ask why you would ever agree to such a thing, he says he just feels obligated to “do something”. That is precisely what the Paris Accord amounts to. However, the ‘something’ also gives governments the power to control the energy sector and this is something many governments cannot resist. Information is unlikely to change this despite the fact that even the UN’s IPCC acknowledges that their warming claims would only reduce the immensely expanded GDP by about 2-3% by the end of the century – something that is trivially manageable and hardly ‘existential.’

In trying to understand the success of this claim that climate change due to CO2 is an existential threat, I propose to look at an analogous scare: the widespread fear in the US in the early 20th Century of an epidemic of feeblemindedness. I will also return to C.P. Snow’s two-culture description in order to see why the alarmist scenario appeals primarily to the so-called educated elite rather than to the common people.

Details of this situation are in my paper which you can request by email. The major takeaway points are the following:

  1. Elites are always searching for ways to advertise their virtue and assert the authority they believe they are entitled to.
  2. They view science as source of authority rather than a process, and they try to appropriate science, suitably and incorrectly simplified, as the basis for their movement.
  3. Movements need goals, and these goals are generally embedded in legislation.
  4. The effect of legislation long outlasts the alleged science. The Immigration Reduction Act of 1924 remained until 1964.
  5. As long as scientists are rewarded for doing so, they are unlikely to oppose the exploitation of science.

For how this played out with coronavirus contagion see On Following the Science

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Footnote: 

Religious creeds are a great obstacle to any full sympathy between the outlook of the scientist and the outlook which religion is so often supposed to require … The spirit of seeking which animates us refuses to regard any kind of creed as its goal. It would be a shock to come across a university where it was the practice of the students to recite adherence to Newton’s laws of motion, to Maxwell’s equations and to the electromagnetic theory of light. We should not deplore it the less if our own pet theory happened to be included, or if the list were brought up to date every few years. We should say that the students cannot possibly realise the intention of scientific training if they are taught to look on these results as things to be recited and subscribed to. Science may fall short of its ideal, and although the peril scarcely takes this extreme form, it is not always easy, particularly in popular science, to maintain our stand against creed and dogma.
― Arthur Stanley Eddington

See Also: 

Data, Facts and Information

Three Wise Men Talking Climate

Head, Heart and Science

Post-Truth Climatism

How Science Is Losing Its Humanity

 

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