Bi Any Means Podcast #90: Debunking Woo with Kavin Senapathy

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My guest for today is Kavin Senapathy. She’s a skeptic blogger who writes about pseudoscience and woo for Forbes and Grounded Parents, and is the co-author of the book “The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House.” Today we’re going to hear about her backstory, her work, and why you shouldn’t get nutrition advice from the Food Babe.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #90: Debunking Woo with Kavin Senapathy” on Spreaker.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #20: Vagina Woo

Today we discuss all the weird and wacky pseudoscientific woo surrounding vaginal hygiene. We talk about vagina lipstick, jade eggs, steaming, and everything else designed to awake your inner goddess. Plus I read a Dr. Seuss parody written by friend of the show Revan Reborn. Enjoy!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #20: Vagina Woo” on Spreaker.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #18: Trump’s War on Science

Today Matthew Facciani joins us to talk about Trump’s War on Science. We look into Cheeto Hitler’s executive order, and the nerd uprising that followed it. Also, I comes clean about a controversial opinion.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #18: Trump’s War on Science” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #83: Women, Ecology, and Slender Loris with Kaberi Kar Gupta

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My guest for today is Kaberi Kar Gupta. She’s an ecologist who is the principal scientist for the Urban Slender Loris Project, which is a citizen-science based collaborative project among various academic institutions, environmental educators, non profit-organizations, city governments, and the forest department of Karnataka to develop a conservation program for the slender loris (a nocturnal primate distributed in southern India and Sri Lanka) in urban Bangalore. So today we’re going to talk about her life and her work.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #83: Women, Ecology, and Slender Loris with Kaberi Kar Gupta” on Spreaker.

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Genderqueer Literature Review #1: Alternating Gender Incongruity

As you know, I’ll be speaking at this year’s American Humanist Association conference about what it means to be genderqueer/nonbinary. I’m currently doing research for my talk, and since most of the scientific papers I’m using aren’t available for the general public (or at least not for free), I’ve decided to do a literature review series for my blog summarizing these articles.

The first is a 2012 paper by Laura K. Case and Vilayanur S. Ramachandran published in Medical Hypotheses called “Alternative gender incongruity: A new neuropsychiatric syndrome providing insight into the dynamic plasticity of brain-sex.” In the study, Case and Ramachandran created an online survey posted in a group for people who identify as bigender. The study had a total of 39 participants, although they had to eliminate one participant for having Multiple Personality Disorder, and three for having Dissociative Identity Disorder. This was done, I assume, in order to rule out the possibility of confusing gender fluidity with something completely different.

According to the survey, 14 participants reporting involuntarily “switching” their gender identities daily, 9 said weekly, 6 said monthly, and 4 said several times a year. The study also reveals “21/32 bigender respondents reported experiencing phantom body parts and rated them as moderate in strength (mean = 2.9 on a scale of 1 = weak and 5 = very strong)” (627). Case and Ramachandran reiterate that these cases of gender fluidity and phantom body parts happen involuntarily, so it’s not just “wishful thinking” (628).

In conclusion, Case and Ramachandran theorize that being bigender–or as they refer to it in the report, “alternating gender incongruity (AIG)”–“to be a neuropsychiatric condition; we reject false dichotomies between so-called ‘‘neurological’’ and ‘‘psychological’’ conditions” (629). They also believe that studying bigender people can help us better understand the complexities of gender.

I should point out that, according to Gary Stix of Scientific America points out, Medical Hypotheses is a “controversial journal” that “only adopted a peer-review system in 2010.” Nevertheless, the article sheds a little bit of light on the Big Question that drive skeptics bananas: Is there a scientific cause for non-binary gender identities? We know there’s plenty of evidence suggesting one for binary transgender people, but so far (that I know of) none for non-binaries, hence the reason why so many skeptics scream, “There are only two genders, you special snowflake!” While this particular article doesn’t say either way, it speculates that there might be a scientific basis for non-binary gender identities.

What do you think?

The Biskeptical Podcast #11: Mental Health Woo

On today’s episode, Morgan and I take a break from the train wreck that is the presidential election and talk about mental health woo. Are psychiatric meds poison? Will a walk through the woods cure everything that ails you? Where did all this mental health denial bullshit come from? Take a listen to find out.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #11: Mental Health Woo” on Spreaker.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #10: Grab ‘em by the Rape Culture

TW: Rape

Today on the show, Morgan and I discuss the Trump tape fiasco, how this will affect his chance of being president, and how this is another example of rape culture. We also discuss an old article that claims flu shots are harmful, and why this article is a crock of shit. As an added bonus, Donald Trump himself stops by the podcast to personally apologize for his comments.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #10: Grab ‘em by the Rape Culture” on Spreaker.

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Is Genderqueer Made Up?: A Response to Shoe0nHead

CN: Transphobia, Dysphoria

To be a good skeptic, you have to listen to what the other side has to say just in case they know something you don’t. So I decided to put on my big kid britches and watch Shoe0nHead‘s “How Many Genders??” video.

While she brought up some good points, overall the video was your typical “Goddamn SJWs” crap.

Most of the video cuts back and forth between a video of three nonbinary people talking about their experiences and Shoe basically saying, “You’re stupid! You’re all just trans-trenders! You think being trans is a fad!” Half-way through the video, anti-feminist anti-Black Lives Matter libertarian Blaire White shows up to explain that trans women’s brain patterns are different than cis men’s, and that nonbinary gender identities were “made up” by academics. The video ends with Shoe creating a false future scenario where kids who come out as straight and cis will go to electroshock therapy like gay kids did in the ’40s. Yes, you read that right!

So now that I’ve summarized the video so you don’t have to watch it, here the points I want to make:

It’s true that, according to various studies, there is a link between different brain patterns and gender identity. It’s true that gender dysphoria is a medical condition recognized by the DSM. It’s true that there are no scientific studies about the origins of nonbinary gender identities. (Believe me, I looked.) However, that’s because there haven’t been any studies on nonbinary people. The subjects of the previously mentioned studies have been binary trans people and cis people. So what we have so far isn’t proof that nonbinary genders don’t exist; scientists just haven’t studied them yet.

Now I know some of you may say, “How is that any different from people who say you can’t disprove God?” Well, unlike God, I can prove I exist, first of all. On a serious note, though, there’s enough scientific data that, if one uses deductive reasoning, can lead one to conclude that there are no gods. We don’t have enough scientific data yet to deduct that nonbinary genders don’t exist.

When it comes to White’s claim that academia “made up” nonbinary genders, that’s not entirely true. Cultural anthropologists have studied various examples of “cogender” in many cultures for years. According to Wikipedia:

In Chile, among the Mapuche in La Araucanía, in addition to heterosexual female “machi” shamanesses, there are homosexual male “machi weye” shamans, who wear female clothing.[2] These machi weye were first described in Spanish in a chronicle of 1673 A.D.[3] Among the Mapuche, “the spirits are interested in machi’s gendered discourses and performances, not in the sex under the machi’s clothes.”[4] In attracting the filew (possessing-spirit), “Both male and female machi become spiritual brides who seduce and call their filew — at once husband and master — to possess their heads … . … The ritual transvestism of male machi … draws attention to the relational gender categories of spirit husband and machi wife as a couple (kurewen).”[5] (In ISKCON—the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness—male premin-devotees are likewise regarded as quasi-female “wives” of the god Kṛṣṇa.) As concerning “co-gendered identities”[6] of “machi as co-gender specialists”,[7] it has been speculated that “female berdaches” may have formerly existed among the Mapuche.[8]

One of the most well-known examples of cogender is the Native American concept of Two-Spirit. Here’s how Sandra Laframboise and Michael Anhorn describe it:

Our Elders tell us of people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits, that of male and female. It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the care givers (Roscoe 1988). They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies. This is our guiding force as well as our source of strength. This is the heart of Two-Spirited People of the 1st Nations (2 Spirit Nation of Ontario) This paper explores what we know of the past of two-spirit people, compares that to the present experience and looks forward to the role that two-spirit people could play in the future of First Nation’s people in Canada and across North America.

 

So contrary to popular belief, Tumblr did not “invent” nonbinary genders.

The third point I want to make is the idea that some nonbinary people do undergo medical transition. According to gender therapist Dara Hoffman-Fox, the 2011 edition of the Standards of Care for the Health of Transexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People states that genderqueer, gender-fluid, and other nonbinary identified people are allowed to medically transition if they need to. Many doctors and surgeons still need a letter from a gender therapist before undergoing medical transition, of course, but medical transition is still an option for nonbinary people.

In fact, if I may get personal for a moment, I’m currently thinking about seeing a gender therapist. I’ve been having a lot of intense emotions lately involving my gender. The other day at work I had this overwhelming feeling that I’m really a girl. It wasn’t the first time I had that feeling, although I don’t feel like that all the time. All I know that the more I express myself femininely, the more comfortable I feel in my own skin. But like I said, this is something I’ll have to discuss with a gender therapist.

As for now, though, let’s use some inductive reasoning to draw some sort of conclusion. First, even though there are no scientific studies on nonbinary gender identities, there are studies that prove there is a neurological basis for gender identity. Second, the concept of gender fluidity has been a part of many cultures throughout history. Third, trans health organizations do say nonbinary people can and should seek medical transitioning if they need it. So my conclusion at this point is that nonbinary gender identity is, in fact, a thing. Of course I could be biased since I’m nonbinary, and there’s always a possibility that I’m wrong. But until new evidence shows up, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

(BTW, if  you’re wondering why I’m not blogging about the Trump tape, that’ll be for this week’s episode of The Biskeptical Podcast. The saltiness shall flow!)

Bi Any Means Podcast #51: Finding Your Purpose Using Science with Gleb Tsipursky

My guest for today is Gleb Tsipursky. He is the author of the book “Finding Your Purpose Using Science,” and the president of the organization Intentional Insights. He is also a tenure-track professor at Ohio State University, and a historian of science researching the intersection of history, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience, focusing on meaning and purpose, decision-making, emotions, and agency. So today we’re gonna talk about his backstory and whether or not science can really give us meaning in our lives.

I also announce a brand new sister podcast I’m doing with Morgan Stringer called The Biskeptical Podcast. Enjoy!

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