Galileo's Middle Finger

  • by Alice Dreger
  • Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
  • 10 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A powerful defense of intellectual freedom told through the ordeals of contemporary scientists attacked for exploring controversial ideas, by a noted science historian and medical activist.
An investigation of some of the most contentious debates of our time, Galileo's Middle Finger describes Alice Dreger's experiences on the front lines of scientific controversy, where for two decades she has worked as an advocate for victims of unethical research while also defending the right of scientists to pursue challenging research into human identities. Dreger's own attempts to reconcile academic freedom with the pursuit of justice grew out of her research into the treatment of people born intersex (formerly called hermaphrodites). The shocking history of surgical mutilation and ethical abuses conducted in the name of "normalizing" intersex children moved her to become a patient rights' activist. By bringing evidence to physicians and the public, she helped change the medical system.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Clarion call for separating science and ideology

First, the title refers to the fact that Galileo's mummified middle finger is in an Italian museum.

The author, a science historian, demonstrates with case after case that failure to separate the scientific investigation from personal/group religious, social, and political ideology leads to bad science. Her examples are all from the political left, where she resides and is comfortable. Many of the political and social beliefs of leftist social justice warriors are so strong that to investigate them scientifically is treated as heresy.

One in 2000 births results in a child of uncertain gender assignment, a condition now called "intersex" but formally called "hermaphroditism". Most of the book is about gender assignment issues either intersex or through preference after childhood.

Even for those who have not faced intersex issues this non-fiction book is worthwhile as a study of how ideology and government money perverts honest scientific investigation.
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- Wayne

Couldn't stop listening to this book

I wanted to read this book at my sister's insistance, because I love reading stories of this type as a scientist myself. But I didn't have time to read anything, so I downloaded the audio version instead. I finished it that same day, I couldn't stand to put it on pause. I listened all through work and on my comute to and fro, and loved it.

This book is so interesting, thoughtful, and so meticulously researched. I very much enjoyed it.
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- Martinotti

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-03-2015
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC