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Victor Joecks: Science is under attack, but President Trump isn’t the biggest threat

Imagine if the mainstream media applied their current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy to gender.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump tweeted that five states, including Alabama, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” A couple days before Trump’s tweet, Hurricane Dorian had been projected to crash into Florida and graze Alabama. By the time he tweeted that, however, the storm had turned north, moving up the East Coast.

This shouldn’t have been a big deal. Forecasts change. Presidents are busy. Trump could — and should — have acknowledged he inadvertently released dated information. No biggie.

But Trump refused to admit his error. The lowlight came last week. Trump held up a dated map of Dorian’s projected landfall. Using a black sharpie, someone had extended the storm’s potential path into Alabama.

The Washington Post deemed the episode “Trump’s war on reality.” Then the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put out a release Sept. 6 defending Trump’s claim. The statement asserted “tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.” Meteorologists were appalled that NOAA used its influence to help Trump politically.

Even if you think this incident didn’t warrant so much coverage, preserving the integrity of science is an important principle. But it’s also important when findings contradict liberal orthodoxy. The media are less interested in those stories.

In August 2018, Lisa Littman, a researcher from Brown University, published a peer-reviewed study on rapid onset gender dysphoria. Many teenage girls experiencing rapid onset gender dysphoria had mental health challenges, friends who came out as transgender around the same time or both. Her findings suggest that environmental factors can influence someone’s decision to come out as transgender. Littman was careful to note her study was exploratory and called for more research. But transgender activists won’t tolerate any findings that don’t promote their agenda.

Brown University caved, pulling its news piece on the study. In a letter, the dean of its School of Public Health relayed worries that “the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.” Finding evidence that a certain perspective isn’t valid used to be considered one of the benefits of scientific research. No more. The media gave this story only passing coverage.

If it were about science, the whole transgender movement might disappear. Biology shows that there are two genders. A man isn’t a woman, no matter what he believes. Yet, the AP Stylebook, which guides many news publications, instructs journalists to refer to transgender individuals by their preferred pronouns. Reporters are told to refer to a biological man as “she” or “her” if that’s what he wants.

Trump wishes he could make reporters write what he wants to be true, even when it conflicts with biological facts. Those promoting politically correct causes already have such power.

Victor Joecks is a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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