There is no known record of John Money's immediate response to the rank effrontery. Some unknown college teacher in Kentucky—some punk kid, still in his twenties—had, so to speak, calmly knelt down...found his smooth stone by the brook...nestled the stone inside his sling...twirled it faster and faster...and then, at just the right moment, let the stone fly. For anyone with eyes to see, the stone had hit the Goliath-like Emperor of All Human Sex Research On Earth square in the forehead and felled him like an oak (lots of mixed metaphors in here, but whatever...).
The unknown punk kid was one Milton Diamond, recently hired as a teacher by the University of Louisville. The Bronx-raised child of struggling Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants, Diamond had studied his way out of a hardscrabble, Depression-era childhood, earned a BSc in biophysics at City College of New York, then spent three years in the US Army as an engineering officer in Japan. After returning home, Diamond earned a PhD in anatomy and psychology at the University of Kansas. The teaching gig down in Kentucky was his first academic job.
The poor kid from the Bronx didn't have the illustrious Ivy League credentials of the Harvard-educated Money. Nor did he have the backing of a top tier university like Money. But what he did have was facts, guts, and intelligence. He'd also had enough of John Money's (expletive deleted)—or, let's say, of Money's insidious Reign of Error.
And so it was that in the June 1965 edition of The Quarterly Review of Biology, the young Diamond ran down the mountain toward the great giant, so to speak, and slung his stone with lethal accuracy. Diamond titled his article "A Critical Evaluation of the Ontogeny of Human Sexual Behavior". It was a 28 page obliteration of everything Money had propounded for the previous thirteen years.
As you might remember from last time, Money's big claim was that it was nurture—not nature—which shaped someone's sexual identity and behavior. Male and female human beings came into the world, according to Money, psychosexually neutral. Yes, they had male or female genitalia. But sex organs were just appendages for the purpose of reproduction. They didn't indicate any deeper inclinations, instincts, or directives toward typically masculine or feminine feelings or behavior. Environment, conditioning, experience, even imprinting—those things mattered to an individual's sexual sense of identity and behavior (or as Money put it, an individual's "gender identity"). But biology? Nature itself? No. That was all irrelevant.
Producing corroborating quotes, Diamond summarized Money's position like this: "Gender role—all those things that a person says or does to disclose himself or herself as having the status of boy or man, girl or woman, respectively, and sexual orientation as a male or female—is independent of chromosomal sex, gonadal sex, genital morphology, hormonal balance, or other commonly used indicators of sex".
In response to this outlandish, but by then canonical claim, Diamond went on to present an Everest of evidence from endocrinology, psychology, biology, psychiatry, anthropology, zoology, obstetrics, physiology, gynecology, urology, neurology, and pediatrics (amounting to nearly two hundred citations) to show that Money's claim was nonsense. Sex was much deeper than reproductive appendages. Sex was in fact "stamped on every cell". Sex-specific instincts and predispositions were sewn into the deepest parts of human beings via a number of crucial biological processes throughout fetal development (and beyond).
This was why, wrote Diamond, study after study on human infants and young children showed different emotional responses, different perceptions, different feelings, different forms of cognition, different instincts, different behaviors. The patterns held across a wide variety of child-rearing environments and cultures. "Conspicuous sex differences occurred at all ages tested", Diamond noted. He even uncovered a case in which parents had raised a boy strictly as a girl. The doctor who wrote up that case, in personal communication to Diamond, wrote:
"Despite attempts by the parents to make this child a girl, almost from birth on, the child refused to be comfortable in the assigned sex or sex of rearing, continuously fighting all attempts from her feminine mother to be a feminine daughter. At the age of fourteen, we found her to be a genetically and endocrinologically normal male. The patient shifted overnight to a completely normal boy—a most remarkable and successful change".
As Diamond drily put it, "individual rearing seemed to have very little effect".
Diamond then went further. In a not-so-veiled indictment of the entire autopilot psychological community which had been parroting Money since the early '50s, Diamond pointed out that not only was Money's big claim "erroneous", the Great Man had never even bothered to present any evidence his claim was true. Here is Diamond again:
"The neutrality theory is supported by no normative data...To support the theory of psychosexual neutrality at birth we have been presented with no instance of a normal individual appearing as an unequivocal male and being reared successfully as a female, or vice versa".
In case any of those academic sheep had missed the point, Diamond mentioned his "surprise" at "the relative ease with which (Money's) view has been accepted", noting that it had "gone without serious challenge".
It was surprising, Diamond went on to say, because all Money had really done for the past decade-plus was propound a "philosophy" which relied on an "unsubstantiated" extrapolation from hermaphrodites (who did evince signs of extreme psychosexual malleability) to non-hermaphrodites—that is, to sexually normal children. That is, Money's claim of sexual neutrality-at-birth really boiled down to this argument: because hermaphrodites are psychosexually extremely malleable, everyone else must be, too. This, Diamond pointed out, was a non sequitur: the conclusion did not follow from the premise. Hermaphrodites were unlike sexually normal individuals in all sorts of important ways. There was simply no reason to suppose that what was true for them would be true for everyone else. In fact, as Diamond showed, there was every reason to suppose otherwise.
"The evidence and arguments presented", Diamond wrote in conclusion, "show that, primarily owing to prenatal genic and hormonal influences (that is, biology), human beings are definitely predisposed at birth to a male or female gender orientation. Sexual behavior of an individual, and thus gender role, are not neutral and without initial direction at birth."
As investigative journalist John Colapinto would write many years later, "even a scientist less thin-skinned than John Money might have been stung by the calm, relentless logic of Diamond's attack—which, near the end, raised the most rudimentary, Science 101 objections to the widespread acceptance of Money's theory of psychosexual malleability in normal children". Diamond had exposed the emperor for the buck-naked fraud he was. He'd also exposed the entire academic psychology community as no better than sheep.
You might be wondering how the now-exposed emperor publicly responded. The answer is, he didn't. He made no rebuttal because no rebuttal was possible. Diamond had obliterated his claims. Any attempt to rebut them would only advertise the obliteration. And since no convincing rebuttal could be made anyway, any attempt would only further reveal just how buck-naked Emperor Money was. Silence, in the short term, was the only option.
Yes, it all must have stung—especially Diamond's point that Money had never presented any proof to support his outlandish denialism. There were 3.5 billion people on earth in 1965. Surely, if Money's claims were true, there should be a few documented instances out there of boys raised as girls, who exhibited zero typically masculine traits or behaviors ever only for reasons of upbringing, and who then lived their lives as women, again, only because of their upbringing. Or vice versa.
But there weren't, that anyone could find. Diamond himself had reviewed everything there was on the topic, and hadn't found a single case. Money didn't know of one either.
That was a problem. If Money couldn't find such an instance, Diamond's case against him would stand. But if he could find such an instance...the Bronx Bomber's 28 page fusillade of facts, citations, and logic would, in effect, evaporate. Money would recover face. Diamond would look like a fool. Money would win.
And not only would Money win, his credibility would only grow and help him complete his real mission: the destruction of all traditional conceptions, mores, and codes of human sexuality, and their replacement by Money-approved substitutes.
Diamond's piece had turned the screws on Money: Where was the proof? Money needed something fast. But what would such proof even look like?
As it happened, it would look like a small boy, born – and circumcised – three years almost to the day before I was, in the very same city (Winnipeg, Manitoba).
My circumcision went fine. The small boy three years my senior wasn't so lucky. His doctor had decided to use a brand new instrument to perform what should have been just another routine circumcision. The results were tragic.
Tragic, that is, for the small boy. For John Money, the results were a spectacular stroke of good fortune. Only a year and a half after Diamond's article appeared, John Money suddenly discovered, in the small boy's tragedy, an opportunity to exact revenge on the upstart academic who had humiliated him, recover face, back up his denial of biological fact, secure his reign as the Unchallengeable Grand Emperor of Human Sex Research, and most important of all, complete his mission of destruction. Using—misusing—the small boy, John Money would prove that anyone could become anything, just like he had always said. And he would stop at nothing to make his case.
More next week.
Tal will be back here next week to continue the conversation. Mark Steyn Club members can weigh in on this column in the comment section below, one of many perks of club membership, which you can check out here.