Coogan Lecture: Galileo's Middle Finger


Location: Hesburgh Library, Carey Auditorium

The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values and the Coogan Endowment for Excellence in the History of Medicine present Alice Dreger and her talk “Galileo’s Middle Finger: Why Social Progress Depends on the Protection of Academic Freedom”.

Alice Dreger’s talk draws from her book, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, and explores the ways in which freedom of research is under assault from multiple fronts, including identity politics activism, the corporatization and branding of universities, and social media shaming campaigns. She has twenty years’ experience both as an intersex patient rights activist and as an academic historian, and will use case studies to talk about the dangers researchers face today. She will also speak to how researchers can work individually and collectively to try to protect themselves. She argues they must do so not for their own sake, but for the sake of social progress in our fragile democracy.

Alice earned her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University. In August, 2015, she resigned a part-time full professorship at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine following her dean’s censorship of her published work out of a hospital-related “branding” concern. Funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship and published by Penguin Press in 2015, her recent book has been praised in reviews, including in The New Yorker, Nature, and Salon. It was named an “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review, where Dreger was labeled “a sharp, disruptive scholar.”

Dreger’s TED lecture, “Is Anatomy Destiny,” has been viewed over 960,000 times, and she has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of media programs, including on Oprah, Savage Love, Good Morning America, and NPR, and in many original documentaries, including for A&E, ABC, Discovery, PBS, and HBO.