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Bill Maher: Antivax transphobe or transphobic antivaxxer? You be the judge!

Last Friday, Bill Maher went full transphobe, repurposing old antivax trope commonly used to deny a predominantly genetic component to autism and claim vaccine causation in order to mock the idea that there is a biological basis to being transgender and claim its prevalence is increasing now because it’s “trendy.”

It’s never a good thing when I log onto Twitter and see Bill Maher trending as a topic, as I know that he must have said something offensive or pseudoscientific, given his long history of bad takes on vaccines and “Western medicine.” (Indeed, out of curiosity, I looked up the first time I ever took note of Maher’s antivax stylings. It was March 2005, when Maher falsely claimed that vaccines don’t prevent disease and that Louis Pasteur “recanted” on his deathbed.) Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened over the weekend. It didn’t take me long to find the source of the problem, which was a Tweet that appeared to indicate that he’d gone full transphobe:

Does anyone else find it disturbing that there are, as I write this, over 137K likes and 35K retweets for this Tweet?

Which led to the usual suspects amplifying and praising this part of his New Rules segment:

When a conspiracy theorist, transphobe, and bigot like Marjorie Taylor-Greene amplifies your message, you really do need to rethink your life.
Is there anyone more despicable than Ted Cruz?
I’m so embarrassed to admit that there was once a time when I considered Andrew Sullivan a “reasonable conservative.” It was a long time ago, but it’s still embarrassing.
James Lindsay? When Lindsay agrees with you, you should just give up any pretense of being scientific or a skeptic right there.

It didn’t take long for the “Bill was only joking” and “Can’t you take a joke?” contingent to come out and defend him, claiming that Maher was trying to make a “legitimate point” with humor. There’s no doubt, too, that Maher was making a point with humor, but his point was far from benign. Indeed, the point he was trying to make was a transphobic one, namely that regional differences in the prevalence of transgenderism call into question whether there is a biological basis to being trans. Interestingly, at more than one point he claimed that being transgender is “innate.” It wasn’t clear to me, though, what he meant by that. Did he mean genetic? Biological? And if being trans is “innate,” then how could being trans by “trendy,” as he used these regional differences in prevalence?

As it turns out, Maher’s shtick was an argument that immediately sounded very, very familiar to me—disturbingly so—and it didn’t take me long to realize why it sounded so familiar, albeit in a very different context than I had been used to hearing it. In fact, Maher was recycling an argument that antivaxxers used to like to make back in the day to call into doubt the science concluding that autism is mainly (but not exclusively) genetic in nature. Basically, antivaxxers would ask, in essence, the same two bogus arguments:

  • If autism is primarily genetic in etiology, then why has its prevalence been increasing so markedly since the early 1990s? (The subtext or direct claim was that, obviously, the expansion of the childhood vaccine schedule in the early 1990s must have caused this “autism tsunami.”)
  • If autism is genetic in etiology, then why are there such large regional variations in its diagnosis? (The subtext or direct claim was that, obviously, these differences must have to do with differences in vaccine uptake, GMOs, pollution, etc., because obviously it’s the vaccines, sometimes plus other things.)

As much as I hate to do it and was tempted to reference just his Tweet above, here’s the YouTube video of Maher’s nine-minute bit. Watch it if you can stomach it—or not:

Maher’s first line about how “if something about the human race is changing at an unprecedented rate, we have to at least discuss it” will likely remind longtime readers of the way antivaxxers used to reference the “autism tsunami” to refer to the large increase in autism prevalence since the 1990s. It’s basically an argument from incredulity. See text for details.

Let’s compare and contrast what Maher did when he repurposed bogus antivax talking points from a couple of decades ago to mock what is known about the science and medicine behind treating trans teens. As much as Maher said a couple of times during his bit that he believed that being gay or transgender is “innate” (whatever he meant by “innate”), he contradicted that claimed belief by citing changing prevalence and regional differences in the number of people identifying as trans to support jokes about how coming out as trans is now “trendy” and that “influencers” and peers are out there seducing teens to come out.

Indeed, Maher went on to mock the idea of gender-affirming care of transgender adolescents in a manner that left me with no doubt that he is indeed a transphobe. His routine was replete with references to cutting dicks off, pumping kids full of puberty blockers and hormones for the opposite gender, and tired variations on the only two old and hack jokes that transphobic comedians—I’m talking to you, Ricky Gervais—seem to have:

  • “I identify as X,” with X being something like Black (or any other race besides the comedian’s own), a dog or other animal (even a dolphin!), or something else that the comedian thinks to be ridiculous to identify as. It’s the one joke all transphobes regurgitate in seemingly endless variations of the same boring punchline. The idea is to mock trans people for identifying as a gender to which they weren’t assigned at birth. Amazingly, Maher actually managed to refrain from making a variation of this hack joke, but he did make this next hack joke.
  • “Kids often say they want to be X at that age, but we don’t indulge them because we know go through phases and if you wait long enough it’ll be something different.” (Maher cited a dinosaur phase, a Hello Kitty phase, and others.) For Maher, his X was apparently his wanting to be a pirate when he was a kid, which led him to quip that he was glad that no one scheduled him for eye removal, amputation, and a peg leg, the idea being to attack medications and any gender reassignment surgery. This allowed him to “jokingly” compare gender reassignment surgery to mutilation and denigrate gender dysphoria (designated in the DSM-5 as clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of another gender experienced by many trans youth, symptoms that can be treated with puberty blockers, hormones, and, if it comes to that and the patient wants it, gender reassignment surgery) by likening it to childish fantasies of wanting to be a pirate or a cowboy. So very droll, Mr. Maher, particularly with your bits about how stupid kids are.

Regarding that last part, I found this to be a good response:

Let’s take a look at Maher’s bit. If you are trans, I warn you. It’s bad, although trans people have nearly all heard worse at one time or another. Actually, if you are LGBTQIA, it’s bad, because the conspiracy theory—and yes, that’s what it is, a conspiracy theory—that more people are identifying as trans now due to the malign influence of others is very similar to conspiracy theories from last century that more boys were coming out as gay because gay men were “grooming” them.

Maher goes beyond antivax to be a transphobe

Let’s start with Maher’s opening statement from the last part of his Friday “New Rules” segment and see if it sounds familiar:

New Rule: When something about the human race is changing at a previously unprecedented rate, we have to at least discuss it. Broken down over time roughly, the LGBTQ community seems to be roughly doubling every generation according to a recent Gallup Poll.

Then, less than a minute in:

I’m just saying that, when things change this much this fast, people are allowed to ask, “What’s up with that?” All the babies are in the wrong bodies? Was there a mixup at the plant, like Cap’n Crunch’s “Oops! All Berries”?

He likened being trans to a mixup at a cereal plant and even managed to add a bit about berries! So hilarious…not.

Then, there was this;

And it’s OK to ask questions about something that’s very new and involves children.

Let me just change Maher’s statement to something that I heard in a lot of variations 10-20 years ago: “When something about the human race is changing at a previously unprecedented rate, we have to at least discuss it. Broken down roughly, autism prevalence seems to be increasing very rapidly.” I don’t even have to change the second two quotes, “I’m just saying that, when things change this much this fast, people are allowed to ask, ‘What’s up with that?'” and, “And it’s OK to ask questions about something that’s very new and involves children.” I can totally envision antivaxxers saying exactly these things about increasing autism prevalence and vaccines back around 2005, when I first really got involved refuting vaccine-autism pseudoscience.

Indeed, what Maher is doing with statistics about trans people is exactly the same sort of JAQing off that antivaxxers used to like to do back in the day about rising autism prevalence and whether vaccines were the cause (which shouldn’t be surprising given Maher’s long history of antivax utterances). In the case of antivaxxers, the “cause” of increasing autism prevalence just had to be vaccines (because it’s always the vaccines). It couldn’t possibly be due to other causes, such as more screening, more awareness, more acceptance, and better case ascertainment, because it had to be the vaccines. In Maher’s jokes, the “cause” of rapidly increasing numbers of people coming out as LGBTQ just had to be…something else. If you’re familiar with the narrative transphobes have built up around trans teens, you’ll know what that “something else” must be.

After noting that 0.8% of the Silent Generation, 2.6% of Baby Boomers, 4.2% of Generation X, 10.5% of Millennials, and 20.8% of Generation Z self-identify as LGBTQ, Maher then “joked”:

…which means if we follow this trajectory, we will all be gay in 2054.

Maher even extrapolated his graph to drive home his joke:

Maher goes transphobe
Look at Maher’s shit-eating grin! And isn’t he funny to make the last bar on the graph full of colors, just like the Pride flag! Oh, Bill, you’re so clever.

I was immediately reminded of an antivax narrative from days gone by.

The autism “tsunami” vs. the trans “epidemic”

Back in the day (10-20 years ago), the primary belief driving antivaxxers was that childhood vaccines caused autism. (It still is, but the growth and metastasis of antivaccine beliefs during the pandemic have distracted from that previous core antivax belief.) There were two ways that antivaxxers thought that vaccines could cause autism. The first, pioneered by Andrew Wakefield through his long ago retracted paper published in The Lancet in 1998, was that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine somehow caused autism, while the second was that the mercury that was part of the thimerosal used as a preservative in a number of childhood vaccines before ~2001 was the cause of autism; the first “causation theory” was primarily a UK phenomenon, while the second tended to predominate in the US, although both could be found employed on both sides of the pond to varying degrees.

The idea that vaccines caused autism was, besides mistakenly correlating correlation with causation (a lot of vaccines are given around the age that children first manifesting symptoms and signs of autism) an explanation for the large increase in autism prevalence reported over the last 30 years, an increase that antivaxxers sometimes called an autism “epidemic” or “tsunami,” the latter of which derogatorily describing the impending flooding of schools and the healthcare system with autistic people. How, antivaxxers would ask, can autism be primarily genetic when its prevalence has been increasing so much? (Also, it must be vaccines causing the “epidemic” or “tsunami.”)

Maher’s joke and graph reminded some Twitter denizens of another graph, specifically a graph of left-handedness from the early 1900s to the late 1900s that showed a rapid increase in the prevalence of left-handedness:

There are those who pointed out that left-handedness is a trait that is primarily genetic and whose prevalence has been rising and varies geographically; I myself, given my background dealing with the antivaccine movement, chose to point out that autism is a condition that is primarily genetic and whose prevalence has been increasing and varies geographically. (More on autism in a moment.) Whether it’s autism or left-handedness, we do it to demonstrate that it is quite possible for the prevalence of a primarily genetic condition to vary geographically and to change fairly rapidly with time. In the case of left-handedness, reasons for the increase were clearly less stigmatization and more acceptance, leading to fewer efforts to “fix” lefties. For autism, it’s a combination of broadening of the diagnostic criteria, combined with increased awareness and screening. As I like to say, if you don’t look for a condition, you won’t find it, and if you do start looking for it a lot more aggressively, you will find more of it, often a lot more. Basically, it’s a matter of case ascertainment, not a “true” change in prevalence in the population.

In fact, though, Maher’s “joke” reminded me very much of something that an antivax quack once predicted about autism. Does anyone remember Stephanie Seneff? Longtime readers will remember that she’s a computer scientist at MIT who’s antivax and anti-GMO and, as such cranks often do, fancies herself an epidemiologist. In 2014, she made herself “famous” by extrapolating based on then-current trends to predict that by 2025 half of all children would be autistic. In fairness, she didn’t blame vaccines, but rather GMOs and glyphosate, but she did feature a slide like this:

Stephanie Seneff and Autism
Just as Maher predicts we’ll all be LGBTQ by 2054, Seneff predicted half of all children would be autistic by 2025. Oh, wait. That’s less than three years away.

To be clear, Seneff was serious in her prediction. Because she didn’t believe that autism was primarily genetic, she couldn’t conceive of another reason why autism prevalence rates would be rising other than external factors, her favorite at the time being GMOs. Maher might have made a throwaway joke about everyone being gay by 2054, but his underlying point was clear. His protestations that he accepts that being LGBTQ is “innate” notwithstanding, he really believes that something else other than genetics is behind the increase in prevalence. In that he reminds of me quacks who are under the delusion that vaccines can turn children gay.

In the case of autism, for instance, screening, acceptance, and more financial support for families with autism mattered. However, let’s ignore acceptance or the oft-mischaracterized “better diagnosis” for the moment and consider an example I like to bring up whenever discussing the argument from incredulity that autism can’t be genetic because its prevalence is rising, something antivaxxers used to refer to as the “autism tsunami.”

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a form of breast cancer. Well, actually, whether it’s really cancer or not is debatable, but it can clearly often be a precursor to cancer, although the percentage of DCIS lesions that progress to cancer isn’t precisely known. Be that as it may, before 1975 DCIS was a very uncommon diagnosis. Now it is very common. Indeed, back in the early 1900s, DCIS was rare because by the time it grew large enough to be a palpable mass, it almost always had become invasive cancer. Now, nearly forty years after mass mammographic screening programs became prevalent, DCIS is a common diagnosis. Indeed, approximately 40% of breast cancer diagnoses are DCIS, and a recent study found that DCIS incidence rose from 1.87 per 100,000 in the mid-1970s to 32.5 in 2004. That’s a more than 16-fold increase over a 30 year period, and it’s pretty much all due to the introduction of mammographic screening. This sort of thing should not be surprising to doctors, but apparently sometimes it is.

Unlike the case for autism, the diagnostic criteria for DCIS remained pretty stable over that 30 year period. Pathologists in the 1970s and pathologists in the 2000s would likely agree on what constitutes DCIS, which makes it particularly striking how, if you look for a disease or medical condition more intensely, you will always find more of it—often a lot more. Always. If this principle works for something that is diagnosed by an objective test, namely a biopsy, how much more so is it likely to be for a condition that has no unequivocal biochemical or tissue test to nail down the diagnosis, like autism, particularly for a condition whose diagnostic criteria has changed considerably over the last 25 years to be more inclusive? This brings up diagnostic substitution, in which diseases or conditions are classified differently now than they were 30 years ago, such that, for example, some children who might have been classified as mentally retarded 30 years ago receive an ASD diagnosis now. There is actually a fair amount of evidence for such a phenomenon, in which the decrease in diagnoses of intellectual disability are nearly completely offset by the increase in diagnoses of ASDs.

To boil it down, if there was no “autism epidemic,” there was no way that vaccines cause autism. Over the years, there has been quite a bit of evidence that the “true” prevalence of autism has been fairly stable for quite some time. For instance, one study examined autism prevalence using stable diagnostic criteria between 1990 and 2010 and found “no clear evidence of a change in prevalence for autistic disorder or other ASDs between 1990 and 2010. Worldwide, there was little regional variation in the prevalence of ASDs.” Steve Novella has summarized several of these studies. If I were to use Maher’s “reasoning” (if you can call it that), then autism and DCIS must be “trendy.”

This brings us back to Maher, who said more than once that being LGBTQ (he also specifies trans) is “innate.” Again, it’s not clear whether by that he meant genetic or exactly what, and in his case it doesn’t matter. I don’t think he believes it, because everything about his routine was designed to mock the idea that being trans is “innate” or genetic or biological or whatever you want to call it. Of course, Bill Maher being Bill Maher (an antivaxxer and quackery supporter going back at least to 2005, supporter of quackery, and generally a bad skeptic), he didn’t exactly represent that poll correctly, as was rapidly pointed out to him, along with some rather obvious reasons why more Americans identify as LGBTQ:

Also, if you look at the actual results of the poll, the numbers are far less “alarming” and harder to make fun of.

For example:

Transphobe misinterpreation
As you can see, the numbers are mainly driven by those who identify themselves as bisexual. It’s also not nearly as scary to cite a number of under 2% of Generation Z identifying as transgender.

As is obvious from the graph above, the vast majority of the increase in the percentage of people who identify as LBGTQ among Generation Z and Millennials is driven by those identifying as bisexual, not those identifying as trans or even gay or lesbian.

And then there were the caveats in the poll:

Surveying sexual orientation and gender identity is inherently imprecise, Jones admitted, given shifting definitions and varying levels of outness.

“People may think of it differently, in the same way they may have different ideas of what a liberal or a moderate or conservative is,” he said. “Basically, we try and use terms that are familiar to most people, that are fairly well understood. But we recognize that people may understand the terms differently.”

When one takes the caveats into account and the fact that the overall percentage of people who identify as transgender remains under 2% even among Generation Z. Basically, Maher gets it half right in pointing out how lack of acceptance or options for support and treatment, coupled with outright hostility from society and government “shame” LGBTQ people, particularly trans teens, from coming out in many parts of the country. If he had stopped there, he would have been making a valid point. Unfortunately, he did not stop there. He went on to make his silly joke about how more LGBTQ-accepting states like California are “making them” and we’ll all be gay by 2054. In doing so, he echoed a common conspiracy theory about trans teens that being trans is “trendy” and “influencers” are “seducing” our kids to come out as “trans” because being gay isn’t “trendy” enough anymore, coupled with lies about how doctors just can’t wait to get these kids in their clutches to pump them full of puberty blockers and hormones to start transitioning and then to “cut off their dicks.” Again, does any of this sound familiar?

Given a diagnosis as complex as gender dysphoria and transgenderism, is it surprising that its diagnosis could be affected, even dramatically, by acceptance, screening, changes in diagnostic criteria, and even possibly diagnostic substitution? If there’s no “trans epidemic,” there’s no way that “influencers” are the cause of the increase in percentage of adolescents coming out as trans, which is exactly the answer to the questions Maher asked while JAQing off.

Quoth the transphobe: “We’re literally experimenting on children”

Let’s now look at regional variation in the number of people who identify as transgender. In fairness, there is one point where Maher basically came so very, very close to offering a plausible explanation for regional differences in the number of transgender people; unfortunately, although he should have stopped there, he did not. Let’s go back to his Tweet:

Bill even tried to claim the mantle of science for himself:

If we can’t admit that, in certain enclaves there is some level of trendiness to the idea of being anything other than straight, this is not a serious science-based discussion. It’s a blow being struck in the culture wars using children as cannon fodder.

Again, notice the similarity between Maher’s rhetoric about trans children and antivax rhetoric about children. Antivaxxers used to say that children were “cannon fodder” in our war against childhood disease, thanks to the supposedly horrific effects of vaccines. Maher has simply updated that trope to claim that children are “cannon fodder” because of the supposed “trendiness” of being trans.

It is, in fact, very plausible that the reason that there are far fewer children coming out as trans in Ohio because of the stigma associated with being trans. It is very plausible that more people will feel safe coming out as trans in places where they are less stigmatized, where there is psychological and medical support, and where they don’t have to worry as much about being attacked or even killed, or, as Maher put, it, they are not shamed.

As one person put it:

Throughout his bit, Maher kept arguing that being trans is “trendy,” joking how it’s no longer “trendy enough” to be gay or bi, which is why there is so much societal “influence” working on kids to come out as trans, rather than gay, leading to this response:

Maher seems to think that society glorifies being trans, even “joking” that compared to trans “gay is practically cis and cis is practically Mormon” and how with teens, doing something for the likes is more important than their own genitals.” Any trans person can tell you that such a concept is a fantasy world.

Meanwhile, a trans woman responded with a far more blunt and disturbing personal anecdote:

It’s not just trans people either, but LGBTQIA people:

At this point, I also can’t help but note here that antivaxxers used to do a similar thing. They’d look at regional differences in autism prevalence and then try to correlate them with vaccination rates, all to try to demonstrate that (1) the cause of autism is not primarily genetic and (2) their preferred cause (vaccines) is plausible. For example, antivaccine activist J.B. Handley once published a report that used a cherry picked group of nations to try to argue not only that nations that require more vaccines have higher rates of infant mortality but higher prevalence of autism in children under five. He was far from alone; the father-son duo of antivaccine quack activists Mark and David Geier also tried to use a similar technique to “show” (incorrectly) that increased vaccine uptake was associated with and increased prevalence of autism. The similarity? Antivaxxers were trying to use regional variations in prevalence of autism to claim that autism was primarily caused, not by genetics, but by something else; unsurprisingly, that “something else” was vaccines.

He even mocked parents of trans teens in these “enclaves”:

“Talk about a nut allergy.” Isn’t Bill so, very, very edgy?

The way Maher phrased his explanation for regional differences in the number of trans people made it clear to me that he was doing something similar. Again, note how phrased his joke; he said, “Either Ohio is shaming them or California is creating them,” the implication being that an accepting environment is leading kids to come out as trans when they are not trans because it’s “trendy.” I think the best response to this is to note the false balance of his criticism (which gives away the game), as P. Z. Myers did:

I see that “science-based” Bill Maher takes genetic determinism for granted. What do you mean, “all biological”? Culture also shapes biology (and vice versa). The reason it is regional is that there are cultural differences as well as biological biases. The most likely explanation is that the Midwest is more conservative and is shaming kids. Surprise, Bill: more open societies aren’t pressuring kids to become trans — I think you’d be hard pressed to find a single instance of parents forcing their kids to be gay or trans, but you’ll find plenty of conservatives threatening to disown or even kill children who don’t conform to their cis and heterosexual pattern. But Maher isn’t calling them out — that’s his audience of yahoos.

The science-based position is that your sexual preferences and identity is the result of an interplay between genetics and environment. No one claims it is all biological, but that you can’t separate biology from culture and experience.

After that, Maher went on to say that we shouldn’t listen to marginalized people (e.g., LGBTQ and especially trans) in this case because we are “literally experimenting on children.” I can’t help but note here the similarity with the antivax movement, which often falsely portrays the childhood vaccination program as “experimental” and has long claimed that the vaccination program is unethical experimentation on children, to the point that there’s long been a theme among antivaxxers that doctors, pharma, and public health officials should be tried by Nuremberg-like tribunals, a theme that has been amplified more than ever before by COVID-19 deniers. Maher justified his charge by JAQing off again, saying that we “just don’t know” the long term effects of puberty blockers, apparently failing to note that puberty blockers (like Lupron) have been used to treat precocious puberty for a long time.

Bill Maher lies about gender-affirming care of trans teens

I’m not going to go into detail about gender-affirming care of trans teens, although I might well have to go into the evidence base for it in more detail at some point. I will, however, concede that it is not nearly as settled as the science behind vaccines and is evolving with new evidence. Of course, the higher level of uncertainty in the evidence base supporting gender-affirming care is exactly what transphobes like Maher weaponize against it to imply that it’s all arbitrary, not based on evidence, and ideology-driven, not unlike the way that antivaxxers do with vaccines. I will also point out that throughout his bit Maher grossly mischaracterizes what gender-affirming care entails. His mischaracterization is a common one that every transphobe likes to cite and included:

  • The idea that doctors are putting trans teens willy-nilly on hormone blockers like Lupron and on hormones of the opposite gender without consideration of whether each teen being treated really has gender dysphoria or is really transgender.
  • Fear mongering about the dangers of puberty blockers.
  • Lots of jokes about cutting off penises (e.g., “hand me the dick saw”). It got so bad by the end of the bit that it made me wonder why Maher seems to have such an obsession with cutting off penises. Ew.

A longer post on these issues might well be in the future of this blog, but for purposes of refuting Maher, I’ll just point out that there is a long and complex evaluation of teens with gender dysphoria to determine what treatments are most appropriate, as documented in evidence-based treatment guidelines by organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). First of all, Maher carelessly—or not-so-carelessly—conflated children with adolescents. As Steve Novella has noted, though, the standard of care for children is that they receive no medical intervention other than psychological assessment and psychosocial interventions, with medical interventions reserved for once puberty arrives. Maher makes it sound as though doctors are rushing children to hormone blockers and “cutting dicks” off of young boys. They’re not.

In fact, as Steve described, in order for adolescents to receive puberty-suppressing hormones, the following minimum criteria must be met:

  1. The adolescent has demonstrated a long-lasting and intense pattern of gender nonconformity or gender dysphoria (whether suppressed or expressed);
  2. Gender dysphoria emerged or worsened with the onset of puberty;
  3. Any coexisting psychological, medical, or social problems that could interfere with treatment (e.g., that may compromise treatment adherence) have been addressed, such that the adolescent’s situation and functioning are stable enough to start treatment;
  4. The adolescent has given informed consent and, particularly when the adolescent has not reached the age of medical consent, the parents or other caretakers or guardians have consented to the treatment and are involved in supporting the adolescent throughout the treatment process.

Moreover:

Genital surgery should not be carried out until (i) patients reach the legal age of majority to give consent for medical procedures in a given country, and (ii) patients have lived continuously for at least 12 months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity. The age threshold should be seen as a minimum criterion and not an indication in and of itself for active intervention.

The Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines provide similar recommendations, with hormone therapy for gender dysphoria only for those who, “have undergone psychiatric assessment, and have maintained a persistent transgender identity.” Moreover, gender-affirming care for trans youth is supported by every major medical association in the US, even the stodgy and conservative AMA. When used correctly, puberty blockers are safe and effective and recognized as the standard of care by medical experts.

Again, the claim that kids are being pumped full of puberty blockers willy-nilly tends to be based on anecdotes of a teen not adequately worked up and too rapidly placed on puberty blockers, these outliers being deceptively represented as the norm. Basically, as so many transphobes do, Maher made it sound that thousands of confused kids are having their “dicks cut off,” when in fact gender reassignment surgery is incredibly rare before the trans individual is of legal age and can provide informed consent.

At one point, Maher even approvingly referenced Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Readers of my other blog might remember a certain…incident…nearly a year ago regarding that book that forced me to actually read it. Shrier is basically a conspiracy theorist, positing that “influencers” are “seducing our daughters” to mistakenly think they are trans and to come out, along with a medical cabal eager to start them on puberty blockers and testosterone and even do “top surgery” (bilateral mastectomy). While Maher seemed obsessed with trans teens assigned male at birth transitioning to female (and getting their dicks cut off), Shrier was, above all, obsessed with trans teens assigned female at birth transitioning to male. I’ve been meaning to write about Shrier’s book ever since last June, and I probably will at some point this summer.

I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that Bill Maher is broadening his antiscience conspiracy mongering to include trans adolescents and gender-affirming care. After all, he has a long history of antivax science denial. In fact, his anti-“Western medicine” bent goes beyond that, to include HIV/AIDS and cancer quackery. More recently, he’s expanded his antivax repertoire to include COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 minimization.

So, to return to the question in the title of this post: Is Bill Maher an antivax transphobe or a transphobic antivaxxer? Quite simply, he’s both.

This was mainly about Ricky Gervais, but it can be applied to Bill Maher and David Chappelle too.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

89 replies on “Bill Maher: Antivax transphobe or transphobic antivaxxer? You be the judge!”

I’m pretty sure he got the covid-19 vaccine. Has the definition of anti-vax changed to mean anytime anyone questions the medical establishment at all?

That proved synchronistic.

“This is, you know, it’s like when you go to the Jiffy Lube and they show you the air filter 10w30, and you go, ‘OK, you’re the expert stylist.'”

Greg Abbott: “There are more people who are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,”

Dan Patrick: “Evil will always walk among us, This is not a partisan issue, This is not a political issue.”

Mike Lee said that “the left” was using the Uvalde massacre to push its gun control agenda. He suggested that mass shootings were a result of “the glorification of violence” and the “breakdown of families,”

Ted Cruz: “We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus. Inevitably after a murder of this kind you see politicians try to politicize it. You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. That doesn’t work.”

Ken Paxton called for arming teachers: “We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things. We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.”

“Is there anyone more despicable than Ted Cruz?”

Probably not, but you can’t say other GOP politicians aren’t trying.

“Is there anyone more despicable than Ted Cruz?”

Probably not, but you can’t say other GOP politicians aren’t trying.

It also seems that cruz and other “thoughts and prayers” low-lifes have been posting essentially identical tweets about their thoughts and prayers, with only the names and locations of the different shootings different across them. It’s almost as though they have a script to follow.

Ken Paxton called for arming teachers: “We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things. We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.”

a) Those right wing bastards won’t even pay for sufficient classroom supplies for teachers: who really thinks they’d pony up money for Glocks?

b) The Texas shooter was confronted by police outside the school. Their service weapons weren’t enough to get through the body armor he apparently had. But Miss Harris, the 3rd grade teacher, is gonna be able to stop a shooter?

c) Shooters don’t care who they hit. There’s no way a week of training, comprising of no more than “Here’s the trigger, here’s where the bullet comes out” for teachers will allow them to overcome all the shock and fear they’ll have when a shooter bursts in.

I’m typically not much for anything ministers/priests/rabbis or others have to say, but a good friend’s husband, a Christian Reformed minister, tossed this out today: “These assholes [his language] take the Lord’s name in vain every time they toss out thoughts and prayers as a substitute for doing anything.”

They are all vehemently anti abortion. I believe it is because they do not want to run out of targets for mass murderers. That is my opinion, and I doubt I will change my mind about it. Sorry for being OT.

I have said for a long time that if you make guns available to teachers, most of the use of them will be for one leg of a love triangle shooting the other two.

As typical for such events, a fair amount of the early reports turn out to be inaccurate. The shooter was not wearing body armor, and the armed security officer outside the school did not fire at him. More details will no doubt emerge, but maybe a rent-a-cop decided against starting a shoot-out with a guy armed to the teeth. Besides, in Texas, carrying a long gun isn’t illegal.

The point is still the same, adding a few handguns with security guards or (just insanity) teachers is not going to stop these shootings.

Anyone who has ever been in combat knows what a stupid, dangerous idea arming teachers is.

Remember, teachers are “groomers” who cannot be trusted with kids or they might indoctrinate them with Woke Left CRT!!1!

But we can definitely trust them with automatic assault rifles because they wouldn’t misuse the Sacred Gun.

There’s also no way that would lead to a would-be mass shooter just starting by stealing the classroom gun instead of going down to the corner gun fair to get their complimentary body armor, nope. None at all.

/s

Yes. I nominate Paul Gosar. Why people affiliate with such (hateful) representation is odd to me. The exact opposite of progressive. The exact opposite of helping.

I have a theory about Maher:
he observes that podcasters/ new stars like Rogan and Dore find ever increasing audiences with their brash views and wants a piece of the action. He always maintains that he has many fans in conservative areas . Yes, I hate watch him regularly. A few weeks ago, he ranted about science having been wrong before with misquotes and bending of facts about Covid vaccines. Just what you’d expect. Recently he carped about governmental assistance to a play about Harry Potter that received money when Broadway was shuttered: “Like Rowling is now living in a car!” he quipped to loud applause. Well, that money would be paid to performers and stage workers not the wealthy, foreign author. Also rants about teaching kids about CRT and LGBTQIA+ topics.

I notice that Maher is being replayed by Tucker Carlson and alties Null and Adams to perhaps prove their edginess. He sounds as if he advocates various more conservative talking points such as the government always “wasting” money which I imagine is very close to his heart when his net worth is 100M USD and he pays higher taxes. He’s sounds more like the conservatives than he presents himself as.
Except for weed. ( although that may be changing too as more red states go “green”)

Maher always brings to mind the jokes about libertarians who like weed and how they’re really just conservatives pretending to be progressive. As for Maher, he’s someone just pretending to be science-based in order to justify all the woo that he wants to believe.

Agreed.
How could I forget: he despises people who “cancel” others as he calls forthose people to be cancelled ( shut out of the conversation or merely not paid attention to).
PLUS, plus….
he gripes about younger people’s issues, forgetting what it felt like when he started out 40+ years ago. Too hip to actually say ,” Get off my lawn!” though. He thinks. Young liberals’ concerns are not equal to his concerns, It’s a different world out there, Bill. Also, as I’ve mentioned previously, ranting about how university study doesn’t help you because “everyone”
gets “meaningless degrees” without job prospects and with huge debt. Stereotyping. Not average. He doesn’t want to “pay” ( taxes?) to relieve student debt.
Libertarian is correct.

A little off topic, but is handedness really comparable? I taught myself to write with my left/off hand, and people who lose arm function eventually change handedness.

Do all those lefties who were terrorized by nuns with rulers eventually go back to left writing?

Well, I’m lefthanded myself. Forced to write with my right hand at school and still write with my right hand. Don’t ask about my handwriting, because that can be sometimes unreadable, especially if I wrote something in a hurry.
Everything else, I do with my left hand, including drawing. I’m also leftfooted (if that’s the right expression). It made me fall from a flight of stairs, because I started with the wrong foot. It was a flight of stairs with half steps, so if you started with the wrong foot, there wasn’t a step.

Well, I’m lefthanded myself. Forced to write with my right hand at school and still write with my right hand.

My father was naturally left-handed too, but was forced to eat and write with his right hand by his father and mother (apparently they did the same to some of his siblings). Even so, he played baseball left-handed, used an axe left-handed (so he claimed), even played a little golf as a lefty after he retired.

Well, my mother was lefthanded as well. She trained as a nurse and has troubles with putting on bandages. If she did it lefthanded, it wasn’t accepted, because it was done the wrong way, if she did it righthanded, it wasn’t accepted, because it was messy. In the end she did it lefthanded and worked away the end of the bandage, so it wasn’t clear she did it lefthanded.

Interesting Renate. My father was born in 1908, near the middle of 12 children. I always wondered if that era played into the action of his parents.

If she did it lefthanded, it wasn’t accepted, because it was done the wrong way, if she did it righthanded, it wasn’t accepted, because it was messy.

Sounds like someone just had it in for her. I’m glad to hear she persevered.

@ldw56old:

My paternal grandfather was born the same year as your father. He was right-handed but lost fine motor control in his right hand after a serious accident in 1944. As a consequence he lost his wartime job as a volunteer coal miner, had to teach himself to write left-handed, and also had to re-learn his pre-war craft.

If some ignoramus had called him out as a sinister spawn of Satan for writing with his left hand, I think they would have learned that he could still punch with sufficient force and accuracy with his right hand.

Maher is a flaming a-hole. A Limousine Libertarian who thinks being contrarian is the same as being witty.

I know. I’ve been dragging him periodically dating back to March 2005, which was the first time I noticed his antivax stylings on his show. I’m sure he was doing it before that, but 2005 was just when I first noticed it.

I had to read the whole linked poll before I found, at the bottom, in a “click here to read” hidden box the following
“Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted in 2020 with a random sample of 15,349 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the total sample of 692 LGBT adults, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.”

So the LGBT numbers are plus or minus 5%, based on 692 people. That plus such things as more people declined to answer than declared themselves LGBT makes the whole thing seem ridiculous. Do baby boomers even admit sexuality on polls? I wouldn’t. I’d just lie..

I suggest you consider this article by Shrier as a subject for a follow-up.

https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/top-trans-doctors-blow-the-whistle?s=r

Apparently Dr Marci Bowers has been chosen to take over as president of WPATH some time this year. It seems at the least a bit clueless of her to give an interview to Abigail Shrier.

There may be legitimate concerns about the effect of receiving blockers on the eventual success of GCS, but IANAD so perhaps you can discuss that.

That one came up last year when we were dealing with the fallout from Dr. Hall’s positive review of Abigail Shrier’s book. I’m not sure I’m qualified to deal with it, but I know people who might be.

Uganda has a law which apparently makes a same-sex sexual act liable for a 10 year prison term. I bet there are few homosexuals there. I wonder if the number has gone dow n since the law was passed?

Also as a side note, I recall that when Dave Chappelle invited people to discuss whether his comedy routine was transphobic (or something to that effect), a requirement to participate was that they admit that Hannah Gadsby (an autistic comedian) was not funny.

Very high minded of him.

It is almost as if they find punching down to be essential for their self-esteem.

Maher also appears to have no concept of the nuances of claiming a trans identity. There are a bunch of gender options besides male and female, and many of the in-between people may call themselves trans (though it should be noted that not all non-binary folks do). I know of several people who have identities such as enby or demigirl and are not planning on any surgeries/hormones, others who just want the characteristics of their assigned gender suppressed somewhat without bringing in those of the “opposite” gender, etc. Complete MTF/FTM with surgeries and hormones (or wanting that once of age) may actually be in the minority among young people who would answer a survey with “yes, I am trans.”

Although I am somewhat aware of a good the gradations of trans identity I don’t know that I know enough to be comfortable writing about it other than very superficially and deferring to those who do know.

I don’t know that I know enough to be comfortable writing about it

That’s got to be one of the obvious reasons people discriminate against them in the first place. Foreign becomes alien and weird, while discomforting becomes frightening. Mainly people don’t know enough and it’s in such an aspect of our lives that it’s hard for there not to be a knee-jerk reaction to it even though there really shouldn’t be. But then there’s a feedback loop there: if they’re out and visible, people become more familiar with them and knowledgeable of them and comfortable with them, but they’ll be discriminated against until they’re out enough that people become comfortable with them, helping to prevent them from coming out and preventing people from knowing them enough to allow them to come out.

I keep asking myself how I would react if one of my daughters came out to me.

No, it’s me recognizing the limitations of what I know and that, until I know more, I would likely just embarrass myself and possibly offend my trans readers.

foolish physicist: “I keep asking myself how I would react if one of my daughters came out to me.”

First realize what you do not know. And that sentence shows that you acknowledge what you do not know.

Now relax. Take a breath, and if one of your children “came out” to you — accept, and hug your child. They are still your kid. Support them. Remember, the most important thing is that your child becomes an independent adult. Only care about their well being, which means accepting them as they are.

I have three children. The youngest is non-binary and doing a fellowship required to get a job in their health care profession. The middle kid is married and working as a computer nerd. The oldest is autistic with other medical issues who lives with us, and we have spent the evening dealing with their complex migraine.

There are many stories from many families. Choose your battles.

@ Chris,
Well, my mother shouted at my dad, she would never accept it. I mostly talked with him about me being transgendered. In a way this is funny, because I’ve always been something like a mothers child.
But well, one has to remember this was more than 40 years ago.and there wasn’t much information on genderdysphoria and no supportgroups for parents. We had all to discover a lot by ourselves (and the whole non-binary thing was really unknown, you had to go all the way and was supposed to live as a heterosexual woman, or man).
When a friend of mine jumped from the window oof her house, on the second floor, because she didn’t get permission for the operation, my mother changed her mind and in the end she was very supportive, making a lot of clothes for me and when I was affraid to get operated, my mother said I should go on, because I was a girl now, as my breasts were showing. Mine were even a bit bigger than hers, without surgical help.

I would likely just embarrass myself and possibly offend my trans readers.

That’s fair. Until you know more is a prudent qualifier, but how do you reach that point? My only thought was that its hard for everyone to reach that point if the conversations aren’t happening because people are too embarrassed to open their mouths. It can never be considered normalized if people tread around it like walking among landmines.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m not that hard on people who have good intentions, even if they might get something wrong.

Yeah, I think I know enough to not completely make a fool of myself every time but little enough that I still do on occasion. My best friend and I have 15 year olds so we get a glimpse of “what the kids are doing these days” but viscerally understanding it? Nope.

Very much yes to this.
I’ve had to explain really basic stuff about trans people to my mother in law several times and while she’s trying she really doesn’t get it sometimes. She had this big thing about how she wouldn’t use a person’s correct pronouns until they’d had top and bottom surgery and how that was the only way it “counted”. I finally got through to her when I asked if that meant she wasn’t a woman because she’d had a hysterectomy.

We haven’t really made much progress explaining non-binary yet. (Heck, it took half an hour to explain why I have my pronouns in my email signature.)

But oh my goodness, it’s none of anyone’s business what surgery someone’s had!

“…people who have identities such as enby or demigirl …”

Okay, that was an interesting bit of Google. My youngest would be the former… and I would be the latter. Though this over sixty year old engineer would prefer to not be called a “girl”… I am not a child.

@ Chris, also Renate and JustaTech:

Thanks for your salient information and personal stories.

I might present a slight contrast to the average because I grew up in a family where a gay man ( and later other people) were accepted as they were. My father’s brother was out to his family since a young age and my grandmother accepted him, informing my mother when she first met her LONG AGO. He later worked in a large corporation ( that was eventually taken over by the government: my father worked for them first and got him the job). When office mates had parties/ events, Alex always had a “date”, usually tall, blond and female, to accompany him. He had a long term serious relationship with George- my father often said he liked George more than Alex. A much older cousin was lesbian and spent decades in the armed forces, dressing quite masculinely even in the 1960s-70s. No big deal.

When I encountered school / university students/ profs who were LGBTQIA, it was therefore no problem for me and I made many great friends whom perhaps I wouldn’t have known well if not for my family. I consider myself lucky for both experiences Propaganda about LGBTQIA education as ‘grooming’ is BS and unfair because it stigmatises many people and labels them as being somehow inferior/ untrustworthy compared to so-called “normal” people.

Maher had a decent show on Covid at the start of the pandemic with Dr. Anne Rimoin. It didn’t age well, since that was at the point where fomites were considered the threat (no discussion of masks, just washing hands and Maher said we should not eat sugar to ensure our immune system works well).

My guess is like a lot of people who expected this to be over quickly, he got compassion fatigue and couldn’t cope with the fact it wasn’t over in two weeks. Denial and bargaining, not acceptance.

I’ve never been a big fan of his, a few shows were good, and I liked his film “Religuous” but haven’t bothered with his drivel lately.

I love the comment about “Limousine Libertarian.” Perfect description.

So there is a comedian who is pointing out some inconsistency and errors in thinking and a ‘science blog” devotes time and energy to dissect the 10 minutes of his show, while ignoring the real issue facing medical science.

“Are medical journals reliable sources of objective information, or do they, at times, act as shills for the pharmaceutical industry and other interests? We believe the latter after reading a Perspective article on drug pricing in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that presented the perspective of the pharmaceutical industry on what drugs should cost without explicitly revealing the industry ties of its authors.”

statnews.com/2022/05/19/nejm-other-journals-make-conflicts-of-interest-more-transparent-or-dont-publish/

nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2113323

So yes complain about a TV comic

Your off topic links are adorable.

Unfortunately too many people believe the idiocy of that TV comic. In reality he is actually blogging his ignorant views on a video platform that people actually watch, and bizarrely, believe.

And yet, here you are reading a blog… and actually have the temerity to tell the blogger what to blog about. So where is your blog? We would “love” to see your opinions on your special topics.

Chris P, just imagine a person making “air quotes” with their hands while uttering the word in a sarcastic manner.

More to the point, drug prices are not a question of medical science. It’s hardly news that pharmas sometimes engage in price gouging, and hardly a surprise that a bit of shilling appears in med journals “at times”. But that’s not relevant to Maher’s spread of disinformation, and jumping on the transphobic bandwagon.

Speaking of which, one of the main conspiracy theories about Uvalde being floated on the dark web is that the shooter was transgender, which somehow turned him murderous. Yeah, Maher, hop on with those riders.

one of the main conspiracy theories

I don’t know how main it was: it apparently started on fourchan and got attention because of an a-hole republican.

Paul Gosar (r – Arizona) tweeted that the shooter was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien”

It seems to have been designed to tick all of the correct boxes for the clowns on the right: transsexual, leftist, illegal alien — all the imaginary threats to the US they keep pushing.

To be clear about that conspiracy theory, it started with pictures of a specific trans person.

That person has been posting pretty actively to deny that they’re the shooter, which is easy enough because, you know.

The shooter’s dead. They’re not. They have no connection whatsoever,

“The shooter’s dead.”

It’s just so convenient that the alleged shooter is pining for the fjords. Obviously this is a set up by Big Woke.

@ sadmar
I think I saw something like that on some Dutch twitter as well.

b.t.w. Wasnt there a movie, I think something like 40 years ago, with a transgendered serial killer?

@Renate: Perhaps The Silence of the Lambs? Buffalo Bill wanted to be a woman. Today, I don’t think a film with that plotline could be made. And that’s a good thing.

@ Julian Frost
It was Dressed to kill. I think it caused some uproar in the transgender world.

@Renate

b.t.w. Wasnt there a movie, I think something like 40 years ago, with a transgendered serial killer?

(OT)

You may be interested in this TV tropes page about fictional character being androgenous, transgender or gender-flipped during translation.
Or a mix of some of the above.

Poison from the Capcom/Streetfighter franchise is an interesting case. You can read a webcomic and a (mostly reasonable) discussion about this character here.

OT but it’s late in the evening…

via NN today:
Wakefield is about to release his latest film venture in early June. No title or topic given but it’ll be viewed for free at Brighteon. Mikey was so pleased to be notified by Andy. IIRC, it was by Crystal Clear Cinema.

That is hilarious and probably true.
I was wondering what happened to Andy as there were no news for a long time but he turned up at the Bollingers’ event recently and now this announcement about a film.
I know he divorced Carmel and wound up with Elle in Florida but that is old news her rep said. I suppose he has been working feverishly on his new film which Adams says will be ” ground breaking” – funny, but other woo-meisters use that term for their work, does it mean that their ideas will result in people’s deaths as ground is broken for graves? Just a thought.

Thanks for the Acaster video. I’ve long been kind of a fan, after seeing him on several panel/quiz shows from the UK. And he was very good here.
Maher is a racist, bigoted, misogynistic, science denialist – why on earth wouldn’t he also be a transphobe? I’ve been told that he was funny once upon a time – well, I’ve been on earth for three quarters of a century, and don’t EVER remember when he was funny – or wise – or worth listening to at all.

@ Orac:

Don’t be ashamed: he was different. My late father watched his earlier show religiously. My SO later got HBO so I watched nearly every week especially during the Bush era. Maher was much less of a scold and know-it-all. He didn’t parade his outre, woo-fraught views very much and I would have known since I’ve been monitoring developments in New Age crap since the 1990s and true woo since around 2000. I didn’t know about his anti-vax until the Superman incident with that sportscaster.

Of late, he is too self-assured about topics he only has a glancing knowledge of and often, he defaults to altie clap trap: people eat a crappy diet and that explains most illnesses yet he smoked a hell of a lot of weed for 40+ years and exhibits no fear about its effects. He punches down a lot. He fails to recognise that younger liberals have different ideals and concerns than he had/ has. The issues of the 1970s-1990s are not the same as those today. Gender issues and racial conversations are evolving beyond what he experienced long ago. He looks down from his
tony perch and complains about hipsters and university students- especially when they don’t want him to play their school venues. He is also quite possibly too rich for his own good and blissfully unaware of that fact.

Actually, Maher’s been spewing antivax and anti-Western medicine bullshit since at least 2005, though. I’ve been documenting it since 2005, which was the first time I noticed.

I read every item you post, a fan, but you’re becoming (already are) tiresome in pointing out how prescient you have been. We get it, but a heavy dose of humility in that respect would make you more readable.

I also mention periodically what I didn’t get right. For instance, although I’ve long been pointing out the increasing alliance between the far right and the antivax movement since at least 2015, I vastly underestimated how tight it would become and how fast it would happen with a push from the pandemic. I also didn’t foresee how much the pandemic would lead to the widespread mainstreaming of antivax views or how fast antivaxxers would make common cause with anti-“lockdowners.” Actually, sadmar, for instance, drags me all the time for things that he thinks I either didn’t get right, didn’t understand, or underestimated. Sometimes he’s right, and sometimes he doesn’t convince me, but I am far from infallible and my prescience has been fairly limited.

My purpose in citing the refrain that “there is nothing new under the sun” or “we’ve seen this all before” is to combat the apparent belief among so many that there’s something radically new about all the conspiracy theories and pseudoscience about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccines in general. There isn’t. It’s not really gloating on my part. Rather, it’s more a sad resignation. Similarly with Bill Maher. There are a lot of people who self-identify as “skeptics” who think that his turn to conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and quackery is fairly new. I keep mentioning that I’ve been criticizing Maher since 2005 because it’s important to emphasize that, even if he hasn’t always been like that (although I suspect that he has), he’s been like that for a long time.

The Fact that ORAC is now spending his time picking apart what a comedian says is even more hilarious than the comedy the comedian presents.

Yes we need an American version of the Reich Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda to monitor Bill’s comedic act!

Or a Soviet style Gosteleradio to monitor television broadcasting?

How about sending in an American version of Ceausceau’s Securitate to haul Maher away to a secret prison?

Oh wait, a Ministry of Truth has been proposed by the Biden administration and now there are rumors it is not dead and Michael Chertoff may run it.

He’s a great guy for this job isn’t he?

I wonder if he will be assigned to overlooking other duties in relation to this appointment?

We can only expect the very best from this the proud Patriot Act drafting, unlawful detention torture advocate!

Maybe the Ministry of Disinformation debunkers will consult with ORAC on what the real truth is!

[…] No, gender-affirming care is not having your reproductive organs removed. Gender reassignment surgery (which also involves more than having reproductive organs removed—or might not even involve that at all) can be a part of gender-affirming care, but it’s not gender-affirming care. Gender-affirming care is the standard of care for gender dysphoria (the persistent feeling that one is a different gender than the one assigned at birth) and involves everything from an approach to care, to lifestyle changes, to pharmaceutical, and, in some cases, surgery. Transphobes like to portray all gender-affirming care as “cutting off dicks and breasts” (as Bill Maher—also an antivaxxer!—did not too long ago). […]

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