Dr. James Holsinger, man of science or religious ideologue?

So here we have yet another offering from the Big Top. Dr. James Holsinger. His credentials certainly are impressive. He’s a Mud-Phud (MD/PhD), lecturer, bla, bla, snoooozzze. But is that what’s really important here? Given the environment under which the previous tenant left, I think not. In my humble opinion, the surgeon general may be appointed by the the prez., but he works for the American people. It is his job to identify a public health issue, collect AAALLL the mainstream science on the matter, chew it into a palatable form for the public, then educate and promote well thought programs to address the issue. I realize there’s more to the job than that. However, I feel that this is one of, it not the most, important of those jobs. He is the face of what the federal government thinks is the best answer to wide spread medical concerns. In other words, he maybe a political appointee, but he is not a politician.

So as you may have guessed, I am building my case for why I don’t think he has any bin’ess being our medical spokesperson. Basically, I have three reasons, all of which are from his testimony before the Senate.

  1. Ah yes, that little religiously motivated, highly slanted article masquerading around as science that he wrote for the United Methodist Church.
  2. His non-answer to the stem cell question.
  3. The exercise in political speak (technobabble for gobbly-gook) over the question of birth control.

The common thread, to me, that runs through all three of these answers is one of religious overtone and not of objective, this is what the science is telling us, reasoning.

More specifically,

For point one: What?! There is a very specific reason why the Methodist Church asked him, or someone like him, as oppose to, say, Apu from the Kwik-E-Mart, to write that so-called summary of the medical literature. They were looking for someone with credentials in the science world to give credence to their viewpoint, and apparently they found their man. (Of course, I find the irony a bit humorous given the whole creationism flap.) He had a very clear understanding of why they wanted this paper written and what they were going to do with it and he had no problem having his name attached to it. Also, I do not believe for one second his answer of, “… the paper does not represent where I am today…”. This tells me two things. 1) He did agree with their opinion and 2) He still does. Why still agrees? I’m glad you asked young grasshopper. Dude! The guy is 68 now, 52 when he wrote the article. What life changing event occurred that has caused such a supposed continental shift in his personal opinion on a topic like homosexuality? Did he start hanging around Ted Haggard?

Point two: I’ll admit that this is a tough personal choice, but the science is clear. Stem cells should be looked at. His non-answer is a clear demonstration that not only is he willingly allowing his personal opinion to get in the way, but that he is going to cherry pick which public health issues he is going to promote. This issue does need to be discussed, the surgeon general does have a seat at the debate, and it is not going to go away by simply using the Rumsfeld strategy of, “If I don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.”. Oh, and this position makes him ideologically aligned with ole Georgy, which I think is one of the seven deadly sins.

Point three: First his answer, “That is one of a number of appropriate means of birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, I would also talk about others.” Uhh, allow me to translate that for you. “I don’t like gays, I’m opposed to stem cells, and while I won’t not talk about condoms, I won’t talk about them either.” I’m sure he’ll have a single pamphlet on the subject crammed in a drawer somewhere just to cover himself, but again we have yet another example of his personal opinion trumping what the science is saying.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure he is perfectly competent in his various endeavors, I just don’t think he should be allowed within 100 miles of the offices of the sturgeon general (ya, I just threw that one in there). He says he would resign before he would let politics get in the way. But that is the problem, I don’t think that he views his personal opinions as political, and as it so happens, his opinions are the same as Bushy’s. Therefore, no conflict will arise. And if an issue did arise where he differs from Captain Koo-Koo Bananas, I believe he would simply avoid any potential foibles by simply not addressing it. I mean come on, childhood obesity is not exactly the most divisive issue confronting us.

Someone who is so willing to trade on his credentials has no business being the Dr. Phil for the federal government.

-the hopper

p.s. By the way, having to mention the president by name at least three times per page in a speech? Oh, I’m sorry, I thought our country was being run by adults. How about if Bush is so concerned about his image of being involved, he actually does something to deserve it? Ever hear the saying, “You get all the respect you deserve.”?



2 Responses to “Dr. James Holsinger, man of science or religious ideologue?”

  1. Cynthia Astle Says:

    Re: “There is a very specific reason why the Methodist Church asked him, or someone like him, as oppose to, say, Apu from the Kwik-E-Mart, to write that so-called summary of the medical literature. They were looking for someone with credentials in the science world to give credence to their viewpoint, and apparently they found their man.”

    This statement is inaccurate. I was associate editor of the United Methodist Reporter, a national newspaper for the church, assigned to cover the 1989-92 Committee to Study Homosexuality. Dr. Holsinger was not assigned to write the paper by the committee; he insisted that he write on the “pathophysiology” of homosexual behavior. When he read his paper during a committee meeting, most of the committee looked like it wanted to vomit. Holsinger’s paper was included with the corpus of study materials, but was NOT attached to the final committee report, which recommended that the church change its policy regarding homosexual behavior. Holsinger resigned from the committee before it submitted its report rather than sign on to a minority opinion. The committee’s recommendation was voted down by the conservative majority of General Conference.

    The ratio of voting on the UMC’s stance regarding homosexual behavior at General Conference consistently runs 60-40 against changing the existing language. The next round comes in April 2008 in Fort Worth.

  2. deadgrasshopper Says:

    Hey Cynthia! First, let me say Thaaank Youuu for being the very first person ever to post a comment. For that selfless act, I present to you (drum roll please)… the dancing banana. Now before I get into the meat of my response, let me also say, the committee looked like they were turning green from a pathophys paper? What a bunch of glass-jawed lightweights! May I suggest curling up with a good parasitology book? (Word to the wise, don’t eat anything at least 30 minutes beforehand.) I mean geez, worms swimming around the inside of your eyeball? (And if you were wondering, yes, you can actually see the worms swimming around the inside of your eyeball. Well, until you go blind that is. Worms gotta eat too ya know.)

    Now to my official and certified response: I did not say that he was “assigned” to write the paper. Although your comment does tell me a few things I was not aware of, and reinforce others. 1) Not only was he actively associated with this church, but that he was associated at the highest levels. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but it does fill in the picture of his character. 2) He staunchly believes that homosexuality is amoral. 3) He is willing to use his credentials to promote his personal views. 4) He is a staunch, good-ole-time religion, traditionalist. (I wonder what his views are on the role of women?) 5) He is willing to go before a Senate hearing and lie about his personal views. 6) I wouldn’t put it past him to use his position as SG to either indirectly promote anti-gay policies/rhetoric or ignore public health issues that, on the surface, seem relevant only to said community. At least now I understand why Bush nominated him. And allow me to reiterate, I do not believe that his position has changed one iota since he wrote that rubbish, as evidenced by his willingness to resign from the committee rather than be in the minority position.

    I do thank you for correcting me on that one point, I was under the impression that the church wanted him to do it. If I read you correctly, he wanted to do it because he felt so strongly on the subject. And so my position stands. He intentionally wrote a slanderous paper that never would have passed peer-review muster, and he was willing to prop it up using his credentials. Is he competent in his profession? I believe so. Is he SG material? Not hardly.

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