Alice Dreger, Ph.D., is a writer of books, articles, and essays, a professional historian, a local news publisher, and a highly regarded public speaker. She is perpetually drawn to open water, literally and figuratively.
Dreger’s bylines include the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, WIRED, Slate, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Aeon Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, New Statesman, Quillette, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Her books have been published by Penguin Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge University Press, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Amazon Kindle Singles. She has given about two hundred invited lectures, including many keynote addresses.
Dreger’s best known book is Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice, which argues that the pursuit of evidence is the most important ethical imperative of our time. Funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship and published by Penguin Press, the book has been praised in reviews in The New Yorker, Nature, Science, Forbes, New York Magazine, Human Nature, and Salon.
Galileo’s Middle Finger was named an “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review and has been recommended by Steve Pinker, Dan Savage, Jared Diamond, and E.O. Wilson, among others (read more). The work received the book-of-the-year award for nonfiction from the Society of Midland Authors. The American Philosophical Association calls her a philosopher of note in the “writing” category, and UTNE Reader named her a visionary.
Dreger was the winner of the inaugural Courage Award from the Heterodox Academy. The Chronicle of Higher Education has called her a “star scholar” and described her writing as “reliably funny and passionate and vulnerable.” Her essay, “Lavish Dwarf Entertainment,” was selected for Norton’s annual Best Creative Non-Fiction volume. John Green has named her book One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal as among his favorites. The same book has been praised by Jeffrey Eugenides and Abraham Verghese and was honored by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.
Dreger earned her Ph.D. in 1995 in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University, where her work was supported by a Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Since then, she has often been called a public intellectual, in part because she has published widely-cited major original work in scholarly journals alongside high-visibility essays in the mainstream press. Some people know her for having live-tweeted her son’s abstinence sex ed class, a viral tweet storm that carried across international borders. She is the recipient of an Outstanding Leadership Award in Comprehensive Sexuality Education from SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth, GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), and the Healthy Teen Network.
Turning what was becoming a local news desert into a garden, in 2014, Dreger founded East Lansing Info (ELi), an innovative hyperlocal citizen news service. That organization is now recognized nationally as a model for how citizens can come together to bring themselves accurate, nonpartisan, meaningful community and watchdog news. The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan featured ELi in her 2020 book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of America Democracy and subsequently discussed it on NPR’s Fresh Air with Dave Davies.
Dreger’s TEDx lecture, Is Anatomy Destiny, has been viewed over a million times, and she has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of media programs over the years, including Oprah, Savage Love, Good Morning America, and NPR, and in many original documentaries, including for A&E, ABC, Discovery, PBS, and HBO.
A native New Yorker, Dreger now divides her time between East Lansing, Michigan, where she delivers hard news, and Hyde Park, Chicago, where she loves to swim off the rocks of Promontory Point in the open waters of Lake Michigan.