Jared Diamond, author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and "The World until Yesterday""Alice Dreger would win a prize for this year's most gripping novel, except for one thing: her stories are true, and this isn't a novel. Instead, it's an exciting account of complicated good guys and bad guys, and the pursuit of justice." An impassioned defense of intellectual freedom and a clarion call to intellectual responsibility, "Galileo's Middle Finger" is one American's eye-opening story of life in the trenches of scientific controversy. For two decades, historian Alice Dreger has led a life of extraordinary engagement, combining activist service to victims of unethical medical research with defense of scientists whose work has outraged identity politics activists. With spirit and wit, Dreger offers in" Galileo's Middle Finger "an unforgettable vision of the importance of rigorous truth seeking in today's America, where both the free press and free scholarly inquiry struggle under dire economic and political threats. This illuminating chronicle begins with Dreger's own research into the treatment of people born intersex (once called hermaphrodites). Realization of the shocking surgical and ethical abuses conducted in the name of "normalizing" intersex children's gender identities moved Dreger to become an internationally recognized patient rights' activist. But even as the intersex rights movement succeeded, Dreger began to realize how some fellow progressive activists were employing lies and personal attacks to silence scientists whose data revealed uncomfortable truths about humans. In researching one such case, Dreger suddenly became the target of just these kinds of attacks. Troubled, she decided to try to understand more--to travel the country to ferret out the truth behind various controversies, to obtain a global view of the nature and costs of these battles. "Galileo's Middle Finger" describes Dreger's long and harrowing journeys between the two camps for which she felt equal empathy: social justice activists determined to win and researchers determined to put hard truths before comfort. Ultimately what emerges is a lesson about the intertwining of justice and of truth--and a lesson of the importance of responsible scholars and journalists to our fragile democracy. "Booklist "(starred review)"A crusader in the mold of muckrackers from a century ago, Dreger doesn't try to hide her politics or her agenda. Instead she advocates for change intelligently and passionately. Highly recommended." "Kirkus "(starred review) "Let us be grateful that there are writers like Dreger who have the wits and the guts to fight for truth." Dan Savage, founder of "It Gets Better" Project; author of "American Savage: ""If there ever there were a book that showed how democracy requires smart activism and solid data--and how that kind of work can be defeated by moneyed interests, conservative agendas, inept governments, and duplicitous "activists"--this is it. "Galileo's Middle Finger" reads like a thriller. The clichE applies: I literally couldn't put it down. Alice Dreger leaves you wondering what's going to happen to America if our universities continue to turn into corporate brands afraid of daring research and unpopular ideas about who we are."
ALICE DREGER is a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and the author of "Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex" and "One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal." Her work has been discussed in "The New York Times," "The New Yorker," and "Science "and on CNN, and her op-eds have appeared in "The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, " and "The Wall Street Journal." She has appeared as a guest expert on "Oprah, Savage Love, Good Morning America," and NPR. Her TED talk, "Is Anatomy Destiny?," has been viewed more than 850,000 times.