Tuesday, November 8, 2022

When the Gender Continuum Replaced the Gender Binary

Luana Maroja is a distinguished scientist, a professor of biology at Williams College. As you must know, Williams is a distinguished small college located in Williamstown, MA.

We care about it all because yesterday Maroya wrote a fascinating essay of how biology is taught at Williams, and not just at Williams. It appeared on Bari Weiss’s Substack, Common Sense.

If you had been dismayed to discover that medical schools have been admitting candidate physicians in order to achieve diversity and that scientific journals have been selecting and rejecting submitted articles on the basis of the author’s skin color, now you have one more sign that American medical science is circling the drain.

In the past, diversity programs were largely limited to the Humanities and Social Sciences. Having wrecked those two noble disciplines, it has now trained its sights on science.

It has discovered that science is racist and sexist. It proposes as a solution-- gas lighting. Since reality does not fulfill their ideologically driven predicates, scientists create an alternative reality, and insist that everyone act as though it were the real thing.

To be more precise, gender, the division of the sexes into a binary, has now been rejected. In its place we have the concept of a “continuum” between different versions of maleness and different versions of femaleness. In principle, this concept of a continuum allows children greater latitude in choosing their sex.

Presumably, the goal of scientific research involves therapy. It is also very useful if you want to groom young children in the ways of polymorphous perversity.

Maroja explains the reality of biological sex difference. Nothing about this changes if you change your mind:

One of the most fundamental rules of biology from plants to humans is that the sexes are defined by the size of their gametes—that is, their reproductive cells. Large gametes occur in females; small gametes in males. In humans, an egg is 10 million times bigger than a sperm. There is zero overlap. It is a full binary. 

But in some biology 101 classes, teachers are telling students that sexes—not gender, sex—are on a continuum. At least one college I know teaches with the “gender unicorn” and informs students that it is bigoted to think that humans come in two distinct and discrete sexes. 

Apparently, continuum theory is all the rage. You must believe it. If believing it compromises your research, too bad:

Even medical schools and the Society for the Study of Evolution have issued statements suggesting that sexes are on a “continuum.” If this were true, the entire field of sexual selection would be baseless, as its bedrock insight lies in the much larger female investment in reproduction, explaining the demonstrated choosiness in females (who have more to lose) and competitiveness in males (the “abundant” sex in most species, one male can fertilize multiple females). Published papers (see here, for example) ask us to be “inclusive” by limiting the sex discussion to the few species of algae and protists (such as amoebas) that have equal size gametes—even when that has no relevance to any animal or vascular plant. 

It does not stop there. Enforcing the new reality, ensuring that everyone accepts the alternate reality, becomes a consuming project:

I had a colleague who, during a conference, was criticized for studying female sexual selection in insects because he was a male. Another was discouraged from teaching the important concept of “sexual conflict”—the idea that male and female interests differ and mates will often act selfishly; think of a female praying mantis decapitating the head of the male after mating—because it might “traumatize students.” I was criticized for teaching “kin selection”—the the idea that animals tend to help their relatives. Apparently this was somehow an endorsement of Donald Trump hiring his daughter Ivanka.

So, people live in a world where their speech is policed all the time, and when they often do not know what will or will not trigger a traumatic reaction.

The language purity that this ideology requires is also distressing. It gets in the way of spontaneity and good teaching. At Williams, for example, our teaching assistants were told at a DEI training session that the word “guys” is a microaggression. So students learn that inoffensive words are harmful. This leads to a snowball effect, where ever more insignificant words or gestures can be taken as proof of bigotry. Many professors I know will freeze in class when realizing they were praising the work of a “colonialist” such as Darwin or Newton. Others will avoid mentioning historical figures if they are white and male. 

Thus does education in the sciences die at Williams College.

The prestigious journal Nature Human Behavior just announced in a recent editorial: “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” They are not referring to the importance of protecting individuals participating in research. They are saying that the study of human variation is itself suspect. So they advocate avoiding research that could “stigmatize individuals or human groups” or “promotes privileged, exclusionary perspectives.”

The censors and gatekeepers simply assume—without evidence—that human population research is malign and must be shut down. The costs of this kind of censorship, both self-imposed and ideologically based, are profound. Student learning is impaired and important research is never done. The dangers of closing off so many avenues of inquiry is that science itself becomes an extension of ideology and is no longer an endeavor predicated on pursuing knowledge and truth.

Students who are force-fed the ideology never really learn to think. They do not learn how to test ideas against experience or experiment. They are apparently not smart enough to evaluate different hypotheses and to test them before choosing to believe one and not the other. They learn how to memorize an ideologically driven script and to apply it indiscriminately to all things, great and small, living and dead.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah that pesky "Y" chromosome. You either have it or you don't. Genotype is clearly binary. Phenotype on the other hand is a bit messy but that is NOT sex or gender.