I’m kinda maybe possibly sorta running out of ideas of things to write about.
Or at least things I can write about with a highly limited time-frame and a brain that is rapidly losing its ability to function.
What is it with superpowers and the colour green, anyway? Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Green Hornet, Green Goblin, Jade, The Hulk, She-Hulk, The Riddler, Beast Boy, Martian Manhunter, The Scorpion, The Lizard, etc.
Like, I know is green is like, a totally sweet colour and all, but this is a little weird.
It’s sort of like the weird tendency for mutants to be blue.
There’s one interesting connection between the whole trans thing and the skeptic thing that I don’t think I ever quite took a chance to talk about, and that’s how being trans can teach a lot about intellectual humility.
An hour or something (I have no idea anymore) ago I followed a pingback to a webboard called rationalskepticism. There, out of curiosity, I clicked through to the sociology page, where I saw a thread titled “Five year old boy wants to become a girl!”
I suppose from the way it was framed, and the overall attitude evident in how the board was structured, I already knew what I was likely to find there. But still, it was depressing. The OP was a link back to some horrible fear-mongering Telegraph article (that consistently gendered the trans girl in question as male), and seemed completely geared around trying to provoke outrage rather than any actual compassionate attempts at understanding the situation. For instance, it included an obviously “SHOCKING” reference to how the kid had allegedly indicated the desire to perform a self-penectomy.
Albeit with less formal, polite language.
The couple people who’d commented in the thread at “rationalskepticism” took the bait and ran with it. The OP suggested “Isn’t this just ‘dress-up’ with the parents, like, horribly overreacting?” (yeah, because I’m sure it’s the parents promoting the idea of transition, and the child who needs convincing…right.)
Another commenter said “If this kid is trying to cut his penis off, he obviously has much deeper issues than ‘gender identity disorder’ [yes, commenter put it in scare quotes]. What he needs is extensive therapy, not a sex change”
I get so immensely disappointed, so terribly frequently, by what a huge percentage of self-professed skeptics turn out to be nothing but stubborn, arrogant, close-minded, loudly opinionated assholes who can’t be bothered to put the bare minimum effort into actually learning about the subjects on which they wish to profess their “rational” opinions.
Being trans, you end up seeing on a painfully consistent basis the degree to which people can be so incredibly over-confident, so stubbornly opinionated, so convinced of the rightness of their perspective, and yet so ridiculously ignorant… so unwilling to bother learning about what they assume themselves to already know everything pertinent about… so capable of believing that the tiny scraps of information they happen to have accidentally absorbed from the culture as a whole represent an even remotely capable understanding of an issue.
We’re constantly exposed to how much a person can think they understand something without even understanding how incredibly little they understand.
I think there’s a valuable lesson in there that goes well beyond trans issues.
If other people can be so opinionated and over-confident in their interpretations of trans issues at the same time as having absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, surely this is how people can act about all kinds of things.
What subjects do we think we understand when we don’t even know enough to realize our ignorance? How many of the opinions we so confidently express are actually completely misguided?
There’s also the issue of the media, of course.
Every single time I read a mainstream news story about something pertaining to transgenderism, they make AT LEAST one glaring inaccuracy, or glaringly misleading remark, or glaringly offensive misrepresentation. Every time. Really.
So if jouranlists are that sloppy about trans issues… and trans issues just happens to be one of the subjects we know enough about to spot the inaccuracies…
Why the hell are we willing to trust them on anything else?
As if transgenderism is the ONLY subject on which journalists are that lazy and ignorant?
There’s a lot to learn from this about approaching things critically. About remembering how flawed human perspectives can be, and remembering to maintain a constant doubt and hesitation. Not only in doubting what we hear from media and others, but also doubting ourselves, and our own confidence in our perspectives.
Transgenderism isn’t something that humans are exceptionally silly about. It just happens to be one of the few things I know enough about to actually notice when people are being silly about it.
It makes sense to assume people are just as poorly informed, but just as eager to confidently express opinions, about pretty much everything else too.
Be careful, yeah?
Remember my motto:
“Skepticism. It helps.”