Pagophagia and the Umami Hypothesis

Pagophagia is an eating disorder where you chew a lot of ice. A friend of mine had it. After she...

Not The Same Study Section: How The Truth Comes Out

In the latest Vanity Fair is a brilliant piece of journalism, Goodbye to All That: An Oral History...

The Power Law of Scientific Dismissiveness

In my experience, scientists are much too dismissive; most of them have a hard time fully appreciating...

How Dangerous is LDL Cholesterol?

We all know the term bogeyman — a fictional monster that empowers its inventor. According to...

User picture.
Seth RobertsRSS Feed of this column.

I am a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and author of Read More »


Joan Roughgarden has responded to my comment about her recent KQED radio appearance. Her response includes this:

Today, in 2007 only a few, like Roberts, still take Bailey’s work seriously.

In 2006, Bailey’s work was featured on 60 Minutes in a piece titled “The Science of Sexual Orientation.” After the piece aired, a blogger criticized Bailey. Shari Finkelstein,the producer, responded:

Two days ago, the KQED radio program Forum with Michael Krasny discussed the attacks on Northwestern psychology professor Michael Bailey and his book The Man Who Would Be Queen. Here is their webpage.

Joan Roughgarden, a professor of biology at Stanford, was one of the guests. After Bailey gave a talk at Stanford in 2003, Roughgarden wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper that contained the following sentence:

I did this experiment yesterday. It took the whole day but the results were clear by noon.

At about 7 am I took 4 tablespoons of flaxseed oil (Spectrum Organic). I measured my mental function with a letter-counting test. Here is what happened.

effect of flaxseed oil on reaction time

Few people have used the theory behind the Shangri-La Diet more successfully than Tim Beneke, an Oakland journalist. I put before and after photos of him — before and after he lost about 100 pounds — on the front page of the proposal for The Shangri-La Diet. He writes:

Kaiping Peng, a friend of mine who is a professor at Berkeley, recently said to me that professors have an unusual place in our society: They are expected to tell the truth. Hardly anyone else is, he said. But what happens when they do?

The most impressive professorial truth-telling in my lifetime has been The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism (2003) by Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern. It’s mainly about male homosexuals but it also discusses male-to-female transsexuals, not all of whom are homosexual.

Quinn Norton, a San Francisco journalist, had a tiny magnet implanted in her finger, which enabled her to detect electrical fields.

Bits of my laptop became familiar as tingles and buzzes. Every so often I would pass near something and get an unexpected vibration. Live phone pairs on the sides of houses sometimes startled me.

You might think of self-experimentation as a modern version of “know thyself” but this is “know the rest of the world”.