One of the reasons why "science" no longer holds the same weight now in this postmodern age as it did 50 years ago is the influence politics play on scientific discussions. From global warming to intelligent design, any science theory that dares to challenge the prevailing view is attacked as dangerous and "not science." One Northwestern University professor learned that lesson the hard way.
The bastion of conservative press, The New York Times, reports that J. Michael Bailey almost lost his job, was attacked online, denied federal funding, accused of sexual impropriety and had photos of his children posted online with sexually explicit captions all because he wrote a book that challenged the traditional understanding of transgender women.
His book argued that men who want to cross genders are primarily driven by an erotic fascination with themselves as a women, instead of the accepted explanation that the men are victims of a biological mix-up. They believe they are women trapped in men’s bodies.
Because Bailey’s book said differently, he was vilified. Even though several independent investigations revealed that Bailey had done nothing wrong – personally or in the writing of his book, he was still attacked. The most egregious example being the actions taken by Andrea James, a Los Angeles-based transgender advocate and consultant.
James downloaded images of Bailey’s children from his website. She then posted the photos, taken when they were in middle and elementary school, on her own site, with sexually explicit captions that she wrote. She explained away her despicable actions by claiming that Dr. Bailey’s work exploited vulnerable people, especially children, and that her response echoed his disrespect.
Is it any wonder that deviations from the accepted theories of sexual orientation, global warming and evolution are rarely pursued and even more rarely published. Research lives off of federal grant money which does not live off of controversy. This doesn’t mean that all science is bad or wrong, but it does mean that science, just like any other field, is influenced by popular culture and can be wrong on key issues – especially if those issues are highly politicized.