I spent the early to mid 90s working for a multinational corporation. At around the same time the Daily Telegraph, the newspaper my parents read, started to syndicate Scott Adams’ Dilbert strip, a cartoon about a techie working for a large corporation.
I became a big Dilbert fan. I cut out the cartoons and pinned them to the wall of my cubicle, I bought the collections of strips that were released, I bought the hardback books written by Adams. Then I read The Dilbert Future, and never bought another thing of his.
This was the best part of two decades before Adams became a supporter of, or at least an apologist for, President Trump, so what did he do to upset me?
He proposed a new theory of gravity. Or, rather, he postulated that there was no gravity and that, rather, everything in the universe was constantly doubling in size, creating an illusion of gravity. The example he used was a person jumping into the air. This creates a gap between them and the planet, but then both the jumper and the planet double in size, which brings them back together again.
Adams seemed be seriously proposing this as a theory. In the introduction to it he said that he’d mentioned it on his emailing list, and nobody had raised any serious objections. Remember, this was back before the world was full of people who would happily spend their days arguing with what, they must have assumed, was a joke.
What annoyed me about this theory was that it has so many obvious little thought-experiments that would invalidate it immediately. The very first one that came to mind for me was asking why, under this theory of gravity, a child’s helium-filled balloon would float, but a melon with a piece of string taped to its bum wouldn’t. If you think for a few minutes beyond that, even with no specialist scientific knowledge, then you can come up with hundreds more. How would planets orbit a star? What is happening to the speed of light? Why wouldn’t big objects fall faster than small ones? How do clouds work?
As much as I hate Adams for putting this stupid, quarter-baked, idea into a book, which I paid actual money for, it is at least a scientific theory. It can be tested. It can be falsified.
Falsification isn’t a particularly high bar to clear. Even the pre-Newton theory of gravity – that objects fell to Earth because Earth was at the centre of the universe, and everything naturally fell towards the centre – is testable. If we’d still been wondering if this was true by the late 1960s then Neil Armstrong stepping onto the lunar surface, rather than beginning a quarter-million mile plummet towards Earth, would have shown us the error. This is one small arrrrrrrrrrrrrg!
This is why I was so delighted to see a thread and blog post from Jordan Levi, which introduced falsification into the trans debate…
This, for me, is one of the key questions that I have yet to see asked in the constant to and fro. If the statement Trans women are women is supported by the science, as its advocates claim, and is not a religious belief, then what evidence would they accept to falsify it?
I’ve no intention of answering on behalf of the trans ideology supporters and, as we already see them willing to peer over mountains of evidence, to throw pebbles of pseudoscience at non-believers, I don’t think they’ll be prepared to answer on their own behalf either. Plus, of course, we already know that there is no testable definition or quantifiable metric of trans that will produce groupings that place women and transwomen together, but exclude men, while also identifying a group which is men and transmen, but not women.
So, don’t hold your breath weighting (see what I did there) for an answer, but however much you see claims that trans ideology is based on science, just remember that without a claim that is falsifiable…well, everything falls down.