It's too bad that Laurie Essig's knee-jerk reaction to a newspaper article about lesbian finger length discouraged her from giving the issue further inquiry, because there is really some fascinating science behind it. It is appalling that you published her breezy rejection of the issue as "mean-spirited science" without also giving your readers the opportunity to read what the science actually is.
Essig is incorrect when she states that the finger length study "uses the existence of a statistical correlation to argue causation." I am sure that, if asked, the University of California at Berkeley psychologist who put this study together, Marc Breedlove, would be glad to explain why. For heaven's sake, Salon, he is in your own backyard! Breedlove was recently interviewed at length about his research for an article in East Bay Express, a publication that anyone on your staff could pick up on the corner a short walk from your office!
Reading the Express article, it's quite clear that Breedlove is no mean-spirited scientist at all. His work is worthy of serious consideration, and should not be demeaned by someone who, I'm afraid, does not seem to know what she's talking about.
-- Damion Matthews
Laurie Essig's article made me cringe, and then look at my fingers (which indicate that I'm either wrong about my sexual preferences, or the study's findings are not entirely correct). While there are clearly some questions of accuracy in the study Essig refers to, the findings themselves do not infer any sort of morality. They are simply results of a study. So what if lesbian fingers really are different? How is that discriminatory? African-Americans have nappy hair. Asian folks have different eyes. Men have an abundance of facial hair. These aren't discriminatory statements, they are factual observations. And that's what science is about: making note of the way that the universe works. Morality isn't involved at all.
Sure, it's possible that some people may choose to use scientific findings to discriminate. But that goes back to the old saying about not shooting the messenger. Suppressing the truth just isn't a good thing. Even if the truth screws up your own ideas about the way things work.
-- Turil Cronburg
As scientific results get further and further from the source, they cease to be science and begin to be rumor. Essig's essay is a classic example of why scientists are reluctant to discuss their findings with the press; once science turns into rumor, strict standards for evaluating and interpreting data go out the window.
-- Ashish Ranpura
science editor, BrainConnection.com