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Old 31st July 2022, 07:03 PM   #201
Steersman
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
No, we don't get to make up our own definitions. And that includes making up definitions of words which are quite obviously at variance with how they are used by the vast majority of speakers of the language. Even if they're "standard". (I still think there is a misunderstanding there and I think Emma Hilton addressed it, but I don't want to second-guess.)
As I've said before, definitions and usages change to reflect new knowledge. At one point "sex" and "gender" were seen as synonymous - which many still insist on doing. Are you going to argue that should still be the case?

Maybe you could tweet the question to Hilton - as one female, erstwhile or not , PhD to another?

Surely would like to see her defend that definition to a "jury of her peers". Surely would like to see your citations of it in various reputable journals and by reputable biologists. You might consider the citations that Wikipedia provides in their articles which endorse those same biological definitions:

Quote:
Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism that produces the large non-motile ova (egg cells), the type of gamete (sex cell) that fuses with the male gamete during sexual reproduction.[2][3][4]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female

I had attempted to get one of Hilton's partners in crime, Colin Wright, to defend that definition but, as they say, the silence was deafening:

https://www.realityslaststand.com/p/...omment/6213355

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I didn't mind digging out an old letter from the uni to prove I had been awarded a PhD in order to have the title Dr on my passport, but I'm damned if I'm going to go looking for evidence that I once ovulated in order to be recorded as female on the bloody thing.
Yeah, I'm kind of "offended" that I'm not still seen as a teenager ...

But, hearkening back to another of your recent comments on M & F on passports and the like, maybe we need to be replacing those terms with karyotypes and genitalia? Maybe specify that there is one set of toilets & change rooms for the vagina-havers, and another set for the penis-havers - and reasonable facsimiles thereof? That we should specify that for women's sports, no XY need apply?

Kind of the crux of Griffiths argument: the biological definitions for the sexes are the RONG tools for the social gatekeeping jobs it's being pressed into doing.

You might consider an old Guardian article - before it got captured by the Woke:

Quote:
The [monkey] trap “consists of a hollowed-out coconut, chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed through a small hole”. The monkey’s hand fits through the hole, but his clenched fist can’t fit back out. “The monkey is suddenly trapped.” But not by anything physical. He’s trapped by an idea, unable to see that a principle that served him well – “when you see rice, hold on tight!” – has become lethal. I’m not the first to note what a great metaphor this is for our paralysis in the face of climate change: we’re so rigidly attached to a certain notion of progress that we can’t let go when it turns against us. “The difficulty,” as Keynes put it, “lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.”
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...liver-burkeman


Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Also, have you seen the tables of descriptions of DSD conditions that classify them according to which sex they affect? Since many of these people are probably infertile, how does that square with your pet definition?
No, I'm sorry I must have missed them ...

Certainly don't know the details, but, offhand, maybe they should be classified according to the karyotype they affect?

Think trying to shoehorn them into either male or female is part of the problem .

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Most journals and research I'm familiar with are entirely comfortable with the usage of male and female that is essentially based on presence or absence of an SRY gene. We talk about infertile males and infertile females all the time. We don't suddenly stop calling them male and female. Like freemartins. A female twin of a male calf. (My God, I'm glad that one doesn't occur in human medicine, given the frequency of mixed-sex twinning in our own species.) I simply have no other language to describe the condition.
Then I think you're going to have to convince Wikipedia, Lexico, Google/OED, the Journals of Theoretical Biology and Molecular Human Reproduction and many others to retract their definitions. Because, by those definitions, "infertile females" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. 
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Old 31st July 2022, 08:35 PM   #202
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It took me very little effort to find an example of "infertile females" on Wikipedia.

ETA: Plenty of references in this textbook as well.
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Old 31st July 2022, 09:11 PM   #203
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
It took me very little effort to find an example of "infertile females" on Wikipedia.

ETA: Plenty of references in this textbook as well.
I expect you could also find many examples of people talking about the sun rising and setting. And here's a classic case of incorrect use of "gender" in fisheries-related scientific publications:

Quote:
We searched for gender in the main text (i.e., excluding references) of all issues of all American Fisheries Society journals (except Fisheries), the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, and Fisheries Research (FR) published before 2011 to assess the use of the word gender in fisheries-related scientific publications. Gender was used incorrectly in 308 of the 311 (99%) articles reviewed and was used correctly only once in a nongrammatical usage;
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/...15.2012.687265

Bit of an effen joke; misuse of scientific terminology is rife - much of it due to gender ideology.

But if you want to do some serious searching then you might try finding those structure-absent-function definitions of Rolfe and of Hilton and Company in the same sort of credible journals, dictionaries, and encyclopedias that I've linked to and quoted.
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Old 1st August 2022, 03:09 AM   #204
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Honestly, after a lifetime spent in the biological sciences, this is literally the first time I have encountered anyone even attempting to defend the notion that infertile (as in non-gamete-producing) individuals are neither male nor female. It's simply not the way the words are used, either in normal lay discourse, or in scientific language. If you think that the definition you keep quoting actually means that, then either the definition is up a gum tree, or you are misunderstanding it. (Yes, there are a few examples in veterinary medicine of people using "gender" instead of "sex" for an animal. We laugh at them.)

I could convince Wikipedia of anything at all, including that water is dry, simply by editing the words in. How long that lasted for would of course depend on how long it took someone else to decide they disagreed and change it again. How long do you think that usually is in an area where there are pressure groups trying to get their own pet definitions in there?

Wikipedia is fine for non-contentious topics, particularly those where a number of knowledgeable individuals have worked conscientiously and honestly to create a good resource. It's worse than useless for anything where people are passionately arguing. I'm fairly sure the awful history of the page dealing with the murder of Meredith Kercher has been discussed on the forum somewhere.

What usually happens is that an edit war breaks out, until either one side decides that life is too short, Wikipedia is a bin fire anyway, and leaves their opponents to it, or a Wikipedia administrator steps in, decides who's right, and bans everybody else. If the "house ethos" among Wikipedia editors is not terminally woke, I will be astonished.
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Old 1st August 2022, 12:32 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Honestly, after a lifetime spent in the biological sciences, this is literally the first time I have encountered anyone even attempting to defend the notion that infertile (as in non-gamete-producing) individuals are neither male nor female.
Paul Griffiths - philosopher of biology - has clearly done so in his Aeon article:

Quote:
Nothing in the biological definition of sex requires that every organism be a member of one sex or the other. That might seem surprising, but it follows naturally from DEFINING each sex by the ability to do one thing: make eggs or make sperm. Some organisms can do both, while some can't do either [ergo, sexless].
https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity

And it is a logical consequence of the biological definitions more or less endorsed by Lexico and Google/OED.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
It's simply not the way the words are used, either in normal lay discourse, or in scientific language. If you think that the definition you keep quoting actually means that, then either the definition is up a gum tree, or you are misunderstanding it.
Again, the way that words are used is no guarantee at all that they're at all consistent with fundamental principles - a point you've more or less conceded in your later comment about gender. I'm working on another Substack post on the corruption of various governmental statistics departments by gender ideology including, I'm sad to say, Canada's own. I had submitted a paper to them objecting to that state of affairs in which I had quoted from a book by Melanie Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour (highly recommended):

Quote:
Any perusal of the history of science will show that the lack of a universally accepted definition of a central term is more common than not. .... Science often makes progress by inventing new terms to describe incompletely understood phenomena; these terms are gradually refined as the science matures and the phenomena become more completely understood. [pg. 95]
The definitions for both "sex" and "gender" have been heavily politicized of late - as Professor Alice Sullivan of UCL put it recently. Seems to me that the only way off the horns of that dilemma is to defend and promote the most logically, biologically, and scientifically coherent ones for both that are on the table:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/...467-923X.13029

But don't see how it's possible to misunderstand it. The biological definitions as expressed by Lexico, Google/OED & other dictionaries are clearly "intensional definitions" that indicate the necessary and sufficient conditions for category membership - i.e., functional gonads of either of two types.

You might also be interested in knowing that that article by Parker and Lehtonen which had "promulgated" those biological definitions is "In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric":

https://oxfordjournals.altmetric.com...802153/twitter

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
(Yes, there are a few examples in veterinary medicine of people using "gender" instead of "sex" for an animal. We laugh at them.)
Good - that's a start. As Thomas Jefferson once put it, "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of [gender identity]" - though the last word he used is a bit smudged in the original document ...

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I could convince Wikipedia of anything at all, including that water is dry, simply by editing the words in. ....

Wikipedia is fine for non-contentious topics .... I'm fairly sure the awful history of the page dealing with the murder of Meredith Kercher has been discussed on the forum somewhere.
Not much if any argument there. Some 43 million editors there, more than of few of whom are quite knowledgeable and who do a commendable job, but far too many with an axe to grind. Not entirely sure that "crowd-sourcing" knowledge and its dissemination is the optimal solution.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
What usually happens is that an edit war breaks out, until either one side decides that life is too short, Wikipedia is a bin fire anyway, and leaves their opponents to it, or a Wikipedia administrator steps in, decides who's right, and bans everybody else. If the "house ethos" among Wikipedia editors is not terminally woke, I will be astonished.
"bin fire" and "terminally woke", indeed. Somewhat apropos of which you might "enjoy" my Medium article on Wikipedia's Lysenkoism:

https://medium.com/@steersmann/wikip...m-410901a22da2

Largely precipitated by me being "deplatformed" there for objecting to their article on transwoman and Olympian Laurel Hubbard which claimed that "she" had "transitioned to female".
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Old 1st August 2022, 12:40 PM   #206
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I would very much like to talk to whoever it was actually codified the "biological definition of sex" you're quoting. What was he trying to do? Was the exclusion of individuals lacking the ability to produce gametes intentional? If so, what was the purpose of this exclusion?

And yes, getting deplatformed for objecting to the assertion that Laurel Hubbard (or indeed anyone) has "transitioned to female" must have been quite a lot of fun.
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Old 1st August 2022, 12:57 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I would very much like to talk to whoever it was actually codified the "biological definition of sex" you're quoting. What was he trying to do? Was the exclusion of individuals lacking the ability to produce gametes intentional? If so, what was the purpose of this exclusion?
Good question. But presumably you have more ready access to various journals so you might contact the author of a 1972 paper which apparently started the ball rolling:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...22519372900070

Now behind a paywall, but from my copy of the article:

Quote:
... these two genotypes are JJ (sperm producers, i.e. males) and AJ (ovum producers, i.e. females). ...
The philosophical, logical, and epistemological principles behind that "exclusion" seem rather murky. But they also seem rather solid.

Wikipedia's bio; the guy is hardly chopped liver:

Quote:
Professor Geoffrey Alan Parker FRS (born 24 May 1944) is an emeritus professor of biology at the University of Liverpool[1] and the 2008 recipient of the Darwin Medal. Parker has been called “the professional’s professional”.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoff_Parker

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
And yes, getting deplatformed for objecting to the assertion that Laurel Hubbard (or indeed anyone) has "transitioned to female" must have been quite a lot of fun.
LoL. Though not really. Sort of like how they say that while love is blind, marriage can be a real eye-opener ...
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Old 1st August 2022, 01:15 PM   #208
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The question there is, did he intend to exclude all non-gamete-producing individuals from the classes of male and female? I have more than a slight suspicion that he did not. (I'm retired. I don't have any online journal access now.)

I was at university studying (among other things) mammalian anatomy in 1972. I can assure you that nobody had the slightest inkling that individuals with an abnormality that prevented them from producing gametes were suddenly no longer either male or female. I can assure you that no other words existed or were coined to categorise such individuals.

We carried right on using the words male and female as we always had, for the two classes of sexed bodies, the class that either produces sperm or would produce sperm but for some abnormality, and the class that either produces ove or would produce ova but for some abnormality.

We went right on referring to freemartins as female (and indeed as "she"), and why would we not, because their condition is dependent on them being genetically female. It is an abnormality that only occurs in female calves.

Why would a professor deliberately coin a definition of these words that was so much at variance from the way the words are used, not only in normal lay conversation but in biology and medicine? Why, if he did that and this new rule was so important and so useful, did everyone go right on using the words as they always did?

I think Paul Griffiths is putting an interpretation on these definitions that was not intended by the author of the definitions. Philosophers, right?
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Old 1st August 2022, 01:53 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
The question there is, did he intend to exclude all non-gamete-producing individuals from the classes of male and female? I have more than a slight suspicion that he did not. (I'm retired. I don't have any online journal access now.)
I think he probably did. If one is trying to analyze and model the development of anisogamy it seems crucial to differentiate between those individuals which actually produce gametes and those which don't.

I think that's kind of the kicker - exemplified by the principle behind taxonomy:

Quote:
In biology, taxonomy (from Ancient Greek τάξις (taxis) 'arrangement', and -νομία (-nomia) 'method') is the scientific study of naming, defining (circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared characteristics.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_(biology)

We can attach a great many different names to categories - to the groups which share particular characteristics. But in general, we most certainly can not change the brute facts that many organisms in fact share many characteristics, some more relevant and useful than others.

Likewise retired. As Francis Bacon put it, "I hold every man to be a debtor to his profession."

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
<snip>
Why would a professor deliberately coin a definition of these words that was so much at variance from the way the words are used, not only in normal lay conversation but in biology and medicine? Why, if he did that and this new rule was so important and so useful, did everyone go right on using the words as they always did?
Good questions - the answers to which are to be found, in part, in understanding the whole process of categorization:

Quote:
For humans, both concrete objects and abstract ideas are recognized, differentiated, and understood through categorization. Objects are usually categorized for some adaptive or pragmatic purposes.

Categorization is grounded in the features that distinguish the category's members from nonmembers. Categorization is important in learning, prediction, inference, decision making, language, and many forms of organisms' interaction with their environments.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorization

Probably moot why "everyone [went] right on using the words as they always did". But probably because the older model was sufficient for the purposes at hand. Newtonian mechanics is, more or less, superseded by quantum mechanics and by relativity. But, as a first approximation the first is "good enough" for most applications.

However, when push comes to shove then the more precise definitions and conceptualizations have to qualify as trump. Bit part of the whole transgender "contretemps" is over the efforts to redefine sex as a spectrum, or "Lysenkoist" effort to mash psychological and sociological traits into the biological definitions for the sexes. Don't think that tide can be turned without calling a spade an effen shovel, to draw the line at the more precise definition.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I think Paul Griffiths is putting an interpretation on these definitions that was not intended by the author of the definitions. Philosophers, right?
"Muddy the waters to make them seem deep":

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/119...e-it-seem-deep

Job security. Being retired has the benefit - even if a rapidly diminishing one - that one that doesn't have that particular devil on one's tail.
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Old 1st August 2022, 02:26 PM   #210
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I still don't agree with you, but I'll think about it.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:12 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But as I think I've mentioned here or elsewhere, we could hypothetically, as a tentative hypothesis, assert that each different human karyotype was a separate sex. And then we might get a "joint probability distribution" of sex and heights like the 3D graph below:

And if you were to mentally rotate the image so that you were looking directly at the "box" from the karyotype side then you would see - mirabile dictu - several peaks, several "modes". But there are several smaller or lower peaks off to the side so technically we have "sex" being multimodal.

It's really not the modes and their number that determine whether sex is a binary or a spectrum, but how we define the categories.

Though it's a bit of a murky topic that I'm still trying to get a good handle on - lies, damned lies and statistics.
Akshooallie...

You wouldn't see a spectrum, nor would you see any normal distributions along each karyotype combination. Karyotype, as with sex, is a categorical variable, not an ordered variable. You can get a bar graph out of it... and depending on how you decide to arrange the karyotypes, you can make it superficially look like a bimodal distribution - or even a trimodal if you rearrange them enough times! But at the end of the day, there is no innate order to karyotypes, so the entire concept of a bimodal distribution doesn't even compute. Same thing with sex - it's a strictly binary categorical variable... associated with several correlated characteristics which can be measured in an orderly fashion.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:17 PM   #212
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But her point, even if she doesn't quite realize it or want to realize it, is that "produces large gametes" is what is called the "necessary and sufficient condition" for sex category membership. That is, no ova, or no sperm in the case of that poor "azoospermic" fellow, then not members of the female and male sex categories. Fairly succinct and useful summary of that principle in Wikipedia's article on "Extensional and intensional definitions":
Well... no, not really. Producing large gametes is a sufficient condition for being female. The necessary element is held within the anatomical formation that is required to produce those gametes - even if the gametes are not actually produced. You can tell it is a necessary condition, because the other sufficient condition cannot occur without it. If a person doesn't have the anatomical formation necessary to produce ova, they cannot actually produce ova - should be obvious, yes?.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:18 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Ach, I can't really be bothered. Two types of gametes, there isn't a third one. There isn't a third sex.
There's also not a no-sex.

No-sex produces a non-viable fetus that dies well before delivery.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:22 PM   #214
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
No problemo; good question.

But what ties the transgenderism and intersex issues together - and many others - is the question of what definitions for the sexes we're going to agree on. We can't possibly resolve any of those if large percentages of those with "skin in the game" have entirely different, contradictory and antithetical definitions for those terms.

Part of the discussion here in this thread has apparently been over placing the intersex in either the male or female categories. But, by the standard biological definitions, many of the intersex simply don't have one, aren't members of either; they're sexless. And, apparently, some of the intersex accept that conclusion:
First off, congenital conditions of sexual development have nothing at all to do with transgenderism. They are genuine deleterious medical conditions that need genuine medical treatment. They are not identities, and they have nothing at all to do with identity issues based on gender perception.

Secondly, people with CCSDs are NOT sexless. They are all - each and every single one of them - male or female. The vast majority of people with CCSDs are unambiguously male or female, and the conditions manifest as either development disorders of the secondary sex characteristics at puberty, or they manifest as problems with fertility.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:27 PM   #215
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
Ironically, just a few days ago SBM posted this entry referencing postmodernism, with the sub-heading:

'An exploration of how, under the guise of “reason”, doctors, desperate to be different no matter the evidence, have embraced the position that there are no aspects of reality that are objective and that feelings matter more than facts.'
The irony... it burns!
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:29 PM   #216
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
I and many others have credibly argued that there are serious problems with that "structure-absent-function" definition, including Paul Griffiths and Marco Del Giudice of the University of New Mexico.
I'd just like to point out that you're promoting a view of reproductive biological categories from a psychologists and a philosopher, over the view of evolutionary and developmental biologists.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:32 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Quite agree on the "water-muddying" - though others might have more pithy phrases, the least "offensive" of which might be "bait-and-switching by frauds and grifters". But - hey!, de gustibus ...



Sure, it's a structure. But the standard definitions are all about function.

The thing is that we don't get to make up our own definitions - as we don't get to drive on any side of the road we want whenever we want. There are fundamental principles of logic and science and biology that undergird those biological definitions. If you - and Hilton and Company as progenitors of that idea - want to tout that definition then I think you have to make a better case than "Because I say so", or "Because that's the way grandpappy did it".

I doubt that you or they have given any thought to how that definition of yours would play out if it was rigorously put into practice in various journal articles and research. Rather important to differentiate between the fertile and the infertile, a distinction which that definition sweeps under the carpet if not repudiates.

In addition to which, that "past-present-future functionality" definition basically boils down into a spectrum - three mutually exclusive conditions, each of which qualifies an individual for membership in the male and female categories. Bit "incongruous" to then be throwing stones at Novella and company for doing the same thing.
What's your beef with Hilton, anyway?
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:36 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Paul Griffiths - philosopher of biology - has clearly done so in his Aeon article:

https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity

And it is a logical consequence of the biological definitions more or less endorsed by Lexico and Google/OED.
Not really, it's more the logical consequence of listening to philosophers over actual scientists.
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:45 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
The necessary element is held within the anatomical formation that is required to produce those gametes - even if the gametes are not actually produced.
Can we drill down on this a bit?

Very rarely, individuals with CAIS have been found to have "fully developed Müllerian structures." Are these individuals female (in your reckoning) despite having a 46,XY karyotype?
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Old 1st August 2022, 05:59 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Can we drill down on this a bit?

Very rarely, individuals with CAIS have been found to have "fully developed Müllerian structures." Are these individuals female (in your reckoning) despite having a 46,XY karyotype?
CAIS is one of the most confounding ones. Personally, I consider CAIS individuals to be female*, and most biologists seem to view them as categorically female, but karyotypically male. But they are definitely an edge case, one where I think case-by-case consideration should be made. IIRC (and my R is iffy) CAIS tends to have undifferentiated testicular material in their gonads - it's not ovarian tissue, but it's doesn't develop into testicular material either, sort of a pre-testicle-muddle. PAIS is different, in that the degree of testosterone uptake during gestation caries, but is generally sufficient to develop full on testicular tissue in their gonads.

*ETA: There are probably some medical situations where CAIS individuals would be more appropriately deemed male, but it's well outside my scope of understanding.
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Old 1st August 2022, 10:44 PM   #221
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Akshooallie...

You wouldn't see a spectrum, nor would you see any normal distributions along each karyotype combination. Karyotype, as with sex, is a categorical variable, not an ordered variable. You can get a bar graph out of it... and depending on how you decide to arrange the karyotypes, you can make it superficially look like a bimodal distribution - or even a trimodal if you rearrange them enough times! But at the end of the day, there is no innate order to karyotypes, so the entire concept of a bimodal distribution doesn't even compute. Same thing with sex - it's a strictly binary categorical variable... associated with several correlated characteristics which can be measured in an orderly fashion.
Sure, karyotypes are "categorical variables". Doesn't mean one can't order them - many different ways of doing so, some better than others.

Consider this "joint-probability distribution" by karyotype and heights that I'd posted here - somewhere - earlier; see below.

As I had mentioned, if you mentally rotate the 3D graph so that you're facing the karyotype-percentage face then you'd see 6 discrete peaks - corresponding to the height means for each of the karyotypes - with nothing in between, i.e., no karyotypes "between", say XX & XY. A multi-modal distribution.

And if you deleted all of the karyotype plots except the XX and the XY, and then call them "female" and "male" then I suppose you'd get a "bimodal" distribution though I'm not entirely sure that the term is entirely accurate.

But since there are only two probability distributions to consider then it's reasonable to show them as overlays as is typical. As in this joint-probability distribution by "sex" and "agreeableness"; women tend to score higher in agreeableness than do men.

Where Novella went off the rails and into the weeds was in claiming - with diddly-squat in the way of credible evidence - that that "paradigmatic" case of continuous distributions also characterized sex. But, of course, sex is, by definition, binary; there are NO sexes between male and female or on either side of those "categories" as with the XX & XY karyotypes:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg SexSpectrum_KaryotypeVsHeights2B.jpg (61.8 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg SexDifferences_Agreeableness2A.jpg (31.3 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg CadeHildebreth_BimodalSex_1B.jpg (34.7 KB, 2 views)
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Old 1st August 2022, 11:03 PM   #222
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
I'd just like to point out that you're promoting a view of reproductive biological categories from a psychologists and a philosopher, over the view of evolutionary and developmental biologists.
Not at all the case. You might take a gander at a fairly recent post of mine here where I linked to a 1972 article by Geoff Parker (FRS), biologist extraordinaire, who apparently started the ball rolling on those standard biological definitions:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...22519372900070

Now behind a paywall, but from my copy of the article; I may be able to upload it if anyone is interested:

Quote:
... these two genotypes are JJ (sperm producers, i.e. males) and AJ (ovum producers, i.e. females). ...

Wikipedia's bio; the guy is hardly chopped liver:
Quote:
Professor Geoffrey Alan Parker FRS (born 24 May 1944) is an emeritus professor of biology at the University of Liverpool[1] and the 2008 recipient of the Darwin Medal. Parker has been called “the professional’s professional”.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoff_Parker

See also a 2014 article by Parker and Lehtonen, another fairly well-regarded biologist, on Gamete competition, gamete limitation, and the evolution of the two sexes:

https://academic.oup.com/molehr/arti...2/1161/1062990

See their Glossary for the definitions for "male" and "female" - pretty much identical to those in various dictionaries (below).

See this also for some stats on that paper of theirs:

https://oxfordjournals.altmetric.com...802153/twitter

"In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric"
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Old 1st August 2022, 11:21 PM   #223
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
What's your beef with Hilton, anyway?


I actually appreciate that she went to bat for me on Twitter some time back - before I was defenestrated for running afoul of the Tranish Inquisition.

And I've been quite impressed with many of her earlier tweets, particular this series where she emphasized "makes large gametes" as the defining trait of females - of all sexually-reproducing species:

https://twitter.com/FondOfBeetles/st...20326844506112

Why I was rather disappointed to see her being "point-man" for that "past-present-future" definition which is profoundly unscientific (below).

Although I think that letter helpfully draws attention to the profound differences between the "patchwork definitions of the social-sciences" and the standard biological ones.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 03:04 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Sure, karyotypes are "categorical variables". Doesn't mean one can't order them - many different ways of doing so, some better than others.
You're missing the point. This is how statistics actually works, in the real world that I'm talking about. In order to get a bimodal distribution, the variable on your x-axis must be Ordinal. That means you MUST be able to say that x1 < x2 < x3 < x4 and so on. They must be innately ordered so that values extending to the left are increasingly smaller and values extending to the right are increasingly larger. Most of the time, those variables are continuous - meaning that they are Real Numbers, but Integer Numbers also work.

Karyotypes are not Ordinal. Neither is sex. It has no inherent order. Thus, you CANNOT get a bimodal distribution, no matter what you do.

For your karyotype example, it's even less reasonable. You're showing each karyotypes as if it has a probability density function of its own, but it doesn't. For each individual karyotpye, the person either has that karytoype or they do not - it's a strict Yes/No. If you were to plot each karyotype on it's own... all you would have is single bars. If you stuck them on the same graph, you would have a frequency distribution of the various karyotypes. A frequency distribution is NOT a histogram, and it is definitely not a probability density function.

Your entire approach is not even wrong.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 03:09 PM   #225
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post


I actually appreciate that she went to bat for me on Twitter some time back - before I was defenestrated for running afoul of the Tranish Inquisition.

And I've been quite impressed with many of her earlier tweets, particular this series where she emphasized "makes large gametes" as the defining trait of females - of all sexually-reproducing species:

https://twitter.com/FondOfBeetles/st...20326844506112

Why I was rather disappointed to see her being "point-man" for that "past-present-future" definition which is profoundly unscientific (below).

Although I think that letter helpfully draws attention to the profound differences between the "patchwork definitions of the social-sciences" and the standard biological ones.
Just so we're clear... you're of the opinion that my sibling, who has had a hysterectomy, is neither male nor female? That pre-pubertal children are neither male nor female?

You are incorrect, and you are out of sync with any biologist worth their salt, and you seem to be basing your view on a rather narrow interpretation of a work from 40 years ago, from a single person. It seems that this specific short excerpt lacking context is the cherry-picked definition that supports your personal take on sex class definitions in mammals.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 04:29 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Just so we're clear... you're of the opinion that my sibling, who has had a hysterectomy, is neither male nor female? That pre-pubertal children are neither male nor female?
Yup. Sorry to burst your bubbles; suck it up, buttercups.

The names for the sexes are just labels that denote transitory reproductive abilities; they're not any sort of "immutable identities" based on some "mythic essences". Those ARE the definitions, and those are the logical consequences. If you don't like the latter then you have to give some justification for replacing them.

Not rely on being "offended":

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/706...say-i-m-rather

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
You are incorrect, and you are out of sync with any biologist worth their salt, and you seem to be basing your view on a rather narrow interpretation of a work from 40 years ago, from a single person. It seems that this specific short excerpt lacking context is the cherry-picked definition that supports your personal take on sex class definitions in mammals.
You think Geoff Parker (FRS) is not "worth his salt"?

Quote:
This evolutionary biology paper on the evolution of two sexes, by Lehtonen & Parker, is the gold standard for explaining why there’s only two sexes in anisogamous species.
https://twitter.com/zaelefty/status/1459925709426728961

And hardly my "personal take" when Lexico, Google/OED, Wikipedia, and various journals - and many of the sources they cite - say virtually if not exactly the same as what Parker and Lehtonen have been saying for 50 years.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 05:21 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Yup. Sorry to burst your bubbles; suck it up, buttercups.

The names for the sexes are just labels that denote transitory reproductive abilities; they're not any sort of "immutable identities" based on some "mythic essences". Those ARE the definitions, and those are the logical consequences. If you don't like the latter then you have to give some justification for replacing them.

Not rely on being "offended":

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/706...say-i-m-rather



You think Geoff Parker (FRS) is not "worth his salt"?



https://twitter.com/zaelefty/status/1459925709426728961

And hardly my "personal take" when Lexico, Google/OED, Wikipedia, and various journals - and many of the sources they cite - say virtually if not exactly the same as what Parker and Lehtonen have been saying for 50 years.
Just so we're clear... Zach Elliot doesn't share your view of what defines sex.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 05:50 PM   #228
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Just so we're clear... Zach Elliot doesn't share your view of what defines sex.
I know. That's why I find it rather amusing and quite ironic that he's been championing that paper of Parker's & Lehtonen's.

Rather doubt he ever got as far into it as the Glossary and its definitions for "male" and "female". Or thought closely about their logical consequences.

Been meaning to go over to his blog and pour a bit of salt on his tail. Although I see now that his recent post - January this year - quotes those same definitions - he can't have much of a clue about the logical and epistemological principles behind such definitions:

https://theparadoxinstitute.com/blog...termining-sex/

If you're on Twitter then you might ask him about that "discrepancy" ...
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Old 2nd August 2022, 06:55 PM   #229
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
I think he probably did. If one is trying to analyze and model the development of anisogamy it seems crucial to differentiate between those individuals which actually produce gametes and those which don't.
My understanding is that he was exploring the evolution of sexual dimorphism. So he's talking about the evolution from isogamy to anisogomy. He's talking about the origin of different gamete types. His definitions are provided with that context in mind.

His paper, as I read the abstract, is not about different gamete types or different sexes. It's about the development of the two sex system of reproduction.

Without seeing the actual article, I suspect that sterility is not particularly relevant to his context. Applying the definition beyond the scope of that particular paper is questionable at best.

I can verify that when I was in school in the late 80s (B.S. Biology) there were only two sexes discussed. Sterility was never considered to be an absence of sex. I believe in my radiation biology class we talked about males being infertile due to radiation effects. Still males.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 07:20 PM   #230
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Originally Posted by TomB View Post
My understanding is that he was exploring the evolution of sexual dimorphism. So he's talking about the evolution from isogamy to anisogamy. He's talking about the origin of different gamete types. His definitions are provided with that context in mind.
Sure. But those definitions are what are now more or less standard:

Quote:
male (adjective): Of or denoting the sex that produces gametes, especially spermatozoa, with which a female may be fertilized or inseminated to produce offspring.
https://www.lexico.com/definition/male

Originally Posted by TomB View Post

His paper, as I read the abstract, is not about different gamete types or different sexes. It's about the development of the two sex system of reproduction.
As I mentioned, Parker's 1972 article is at Science Direct behind a paywall:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...22519372900070

I got a copy before that happened which I could probably put on Google Drive if anyone was interested.

But the 2014 article by him and Lehtonen that followed along from it is readily available:

https://academic.oup.com/molehr/arti...2/1161/1062990

Originally Posted by TomB View Post
Without seeing the actual article, I suspect that sterility is not particularly relevant to his context. Applying the definition beyond the scope of that particular paper is questionable at best.
Don't see that any of the other definitions I've quoted - more or less identical to those in the 2014 article linked above - give any indication of them pertaining only to a discussion of anisogamy.

Originally Posted by TomB View Post
I can verify that when I was in school in the late 80s (B.S. Biology) there were only two sexes discussed. Sterility was never considered to be an absence of sex. I believe in my radiation biology class we talked about males being infertile due to radiation effects. Still males.
"Still males" - by a rather unscientific definition that is not at all supported by credible dictionaries, encyclopedias, journals, and biologists (FRS).
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Old 2nd August 2022, 08:17 PM   #231
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post


"Still males" - by a rather unscientific definition that is not at all supported by credible dictionaries, encyclopedias, journals, and biologists (FRS).
You mean like the credible published biologist who taught the class?

If you do a search, you will find tons of biological journal articles of which the topic is "male infertility" or in which such a phrase is used. These are credible, peer-reviewed and mainstream.

I think the term that comes to mind is "cherry picking."

By the way, mules are infertile hybrids that can be either male or female:
https://academic.oup.com/jas/article.../1/283/4771605

Many hybrids are sterile, but biologists still consider them to have sexes.

Here's an article I found discusing why male hybrids are more likely to be infertile than female hybrids.
https://www.nature.com/scitable/topi...etic-sex-1144/

I find your judgment of "unscientific" to be...well...unscientific.
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Old 2nd August 2022, 09:03 PM   #232
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Quote:
Steersman: Sure, karyotypes are "categorical variables". Doesn't mean one can't order them - many different ways of doing so, some better than others.
You're missing the point. This is how statistics actually works, in the real world that I'm talking about. In order to get a bimodal distribution, the variable on your x-axis must be Ordinal.
What horse crap. That karyotype-height example I gave was a case of a joint probability distribution - heights on the X-axis (to the right), karyotypes on the Y-axis (to the left):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_...y_distribution

There's no magic involved that says only one of the horizontal axes can give a bimodal or multimodal distribution when the whole distribution is projected on the corresponding vertical face. Either variable can do so. That one of them happens to be discrete means diddly-squat - as you more or less conceded later on.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
That means you MUST be able to say that x1 < x2 < x3 < x4 and so on. They must be innately ordered so that values extending to the left are increasingly smaller and values extending to the right are increasingly larger. Most of the time, those variables are continuous - meaning that they are Real Numbers, but Integer Numbers also work.

Karyotypes are not Ordinal. Neither is sex. It has no inherent order. Thus, you CANNOT get a bimodal distribution, no matter what you do.
Pray tell, where does The Statistics Bible say anything of the sort?

It's entirely possible to map the categorical variable to monotonically increasing integers - either arbitrarily or with some method. As I more or less did by saying that the absence of a sex chromosome (X, Y) was an oh, that X was a 1, and Y was a 2:
  1. O-O-X = 001
  2. O-X-X = 011
  3. O-X-Y = 012
  4. X-X-X = 111
  5. X-X-Y = 112
  6. X-Y-Y = 122
And here's a Wikimedia picture saying pretty much the same thing, a "bivariate, multimodal distribution:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F...iate-small.png

You may well get different arrangements of the peaks depending on how you order those karyotypes in that Mathematica plot of mine - which I had created years ago for a Medium article. But there will still be two peaks. At least if one assumes that spaces between the individual karyotypes qualify as valleys.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
For your karyotype example, it's even less reasonable. You're showing each karyotypes as if it has a probability density function of its own, but it doesn't.
What the hell do you think a comparison of the probability density functions for the two sexes is if not a "bivariate multimodal [probability] distribution" with one axis having two values? See the Agreeableness graph below which is a typical format.

See also the raw format that I had uploaded to Wikimedia from a Journal article (Frontiers in Psychology):

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F...reeablenes.jpg

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
For each individual karyotype, the person either has that karyotype or they do not - it's a strict Yes/No. If you were to plot each karyotype on it's own... all you would have is single bars. If you stuck them on the same graph, you would have a frequency distribution of the various karyotypes. A frequency distribution is NOT a histogram, and it is definitely not a probability density function.
Yes, and for each of those 6 karyotypes there's a population of individuals with a range of heights that follows something of a normal distribution, each of which extends on a line from the bottom-left to top-right (more or less).

Seems like a perfectly reasonable study to me: put everyone into one of 6 karyotype bins and then measure their heights, and plot the individual distributions.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Your entire approach is not even wrong.
You may wish to take a close look at that multimodal distribution article and get back to me. Of particular note from Figure 1:

Quote:
Figure 1. A simple bimodal distribution, in this case a mixture of two normal distributions with the same variance but different means. The figure shows the probability density function (p.d.f.), which is an equally-weighted average of the bell-shaped p.d.f.s of the two normal distributions.
Each of those normal distributions is a different value in some categorical variable - typically the two sexes as with the Agreeableness plot, but 6 karyotypes in my elaboration.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimodal_distribution
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Old 2nd August 2022, 09:27 PM   #233
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Originally Posted by TomB View Post
You mean like the credible published biologist who taught the class?

If you do a search, you will find tons of biological journal articles of which the topic is "male infertility" or in which such a phrase is used. These are credible, peer-reviewed and mainstream.
Not sure that "peer-reviewed" is all that it's cracked-up to be, particularly these days ...

Quote:
On the importance of using the trans concept to understand practice of walking. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full...57034X17732626
https://twitter.com/RealPeerReview/s...62909007896576

Originally Posted by TomB View Post
I find your judgment of "unscientific" to be...well...unscientific.
Still waiting for someone here - or at Novella's misnamed blog or that of Andy Lewis to provide evidence in reputable journals of that structure-absent-function definition that they've been peddling. Particularly at SBM - one would think I was demanding their first-born or their souls ...

Seems to me that no one really wants to accurately define those terms out of of a fear of "offending" someone by depriving them of their sex-category membership cards.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/889...nnot-be-honest
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Old 3rd August 2022, 01:25 AM   #234
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Present tense. I suppose being in the middle of a fairly intensive language course concentrates the mind (this morning starts in 10 minutes), but has nobody here even heard of the present habitual tense?

The reason my mind is concentrated on it is that this works differently in Gaelic. If I wanted to talk about my membership of the Linton Singers I would say, in English, "I sing in a choir". Present tense. That doesn't mean I'm actually in the hall belting out Vivaldi's Gloria as I type, in fact the choir is currently on its summer break. It means that is a thing I do habitually. I have done it in the past, frequently, and I intend to do more of it in the future, frequently.

In Gaelic, however, I'd have to use one of the future-tense constructions to get this over. "Bidh mi a' seinn ann an còisir" (literally "I will be singing in a choir") or "Seinnidh mi ann an còisir" (literally "I will sing in a choir") both work to indicate my habitual turning up at the village hall on Sunday evenings. For native English speakers this is unnatural and needs to be learned, but it makes you think.

But in another context, Gaelic works exactly like English. "Tha mi a' dol a Ghlaschu." "I am going to Glasgow." That could be followed by the words "a-màireach" ("tomorrow") or "Disathairne" ("Saturday") in either language and it would mean the same thing. Not that I'm currently speeding along the A721, but that I will be doing it tomorrow, or on Saturday. A present-tense verb is being used to indicate a future action.

So don't be so quick to say that the use of a present-tense verb in English means that that action has to be occurring right this minute. It doesn't.

Jeez, the way this is going, people and animals are only going to be able to be described as male and female when they are in the actual act of releasing fertile gametes. Why is an unvasectomised man who is sitting quietly watching the TV any more fertile than a vasectomised man doing the same thing? Come to that, what about releasing infertile gametes? If a woman ovulates but that particular ovum has a defect that means it can't develop, is she not a woman that month?

This is absolutely nuts and heading in some very silly reductio ad absurdum directions.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 08:42 AM   #235
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Many dictionaries (and Wikipedia) define "teacup" as a cup for drinking tea.

Here's a conversation that didn't happen in my house yesterday:

Me: Damn, I was reaching for the remote and I've spilled my tea.
My wife: Here are some towels to mop it up with.
Me: Thanks.
My wife: Hand me the teacup and I'll refill it.
Me: What teacup?
My wife: The one you spilled. It's not broken, is it?
Me: No, nothing broke, but there's no teacup to hand you any more.
My wife: Nonsense, it's right there.
Me: No, you see, a teacup is a cup for drinking tea. But because of the spill, there's no tea in this cup any more. So I certainly can't be drinking tea from it, so by definition it's not a teacup. It might not be a cup at all, I'll have to check some more definitions...
My wife: Oh, forget it, get your own tea.
Me: ...so you have to understand that the very definition of teacup is based upon the act of drinking tea, and if there's no tea and no drinking going on, calling it a teacup is as ignorant as saying the sun rises. There might be a case for calling it a former teacup or a potential teacup, but the ontological implications...
My wife: *fills her teacup with vodka and drinks it, with no philosophical difficulty whatsoever*

I tried to make up an example that would exaggerate the silliness of this kind of definitional argument, but I failed. The infertile-people-have-no-sex one is sillier.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 08:52 AM   #236
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If we're carrying on with the reductio ad absurdum, female mammals are only fertile for a very short period during their oestrus/menstrual cycle. In most species of mammal the female isn't even interested in the male during her non-fertile periods, in fact she's likely to give him a kick in the teeth if he tries anything. Which he probably won't, because the lack of interest tends to work both ways.

So is a mare, say, only female when she's actually releasing that fertile ovum? That's generally seasonal, too. Bitches usually only ovulate twice a year. Are they only female during these times? Suppose the ovum that was released on this particular occasion wasn't fertile for some reason. Is she not female at all on that occasion?

Is a stag, or a stallion, or a bull only male when he's actually mating with a female? What about bulls standing in AI studs?

You could salami-slice this forever and decide that mammals are only male or female for an inordinately small part of their lives. What are they the rest of the time? Because I think we need to know? I call stags and bulls and stallions and indeed men "he", but what should I be calling them at the times they're not actively fertilising females? I call mares and bitches and ewes and indeed women "she", but what should I be calling them when they're not actually ovulating? How do I possibly know which ones to call she and which ones to call he?

True story. I went to the post office.
Me: Do you have any belated birthday cards, I forgot my cousin's birthday yesterday.
Gillian the postmistress: Hmm, let me see, is that for male or female?
Me: female, please.

Gillian did not ask me whether my cousin was of childbearing age (she isn't) or whether she was proven fertile (she isn't, she has no children) or whether she was ovulating at this precise moment. Gosh, I wonder why not? How could we have chosen the correct card?
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Old 3rd August 2022, 10:06 AM   #237
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I still don't agree with you, but I'll think about it.

Well, I did think about it. I don't like to adopt an entrenched position in relation to a novel proposition, no matter how ludicrous it seems at first blush. Now I've thought about it, I still think it's ludicrous. Noting the fervent zeal with which Steersman is putting forward his interpretation I see little to no chance of a meeting of minds, but here goes.

There are a number of reasons for needing to define words, but the most common are the dictionary compiler trying to find a way to describe actual usage for the benefit of learner and native speaker alike, and the taxonomist trying to find language to describe new categories or objects. I think we're conflating the two here.

The words male and female, when we're dealing with mammals (so let's leave clownfish out of it, I think Emma has dealt pretty well with the wider ramifications in non-mammalian life anyway), have been used for a very long time indeed to refer to the two sexes. There has never been any requirement for a specific individual to be fertile, either at the time of speaking or indeed ever - past or future - to be referred to as male or female. We commonly talk about pre-pubescent males and post-menopausal females. In my profession, when registering a new patient, we first ask the sex, male or female, then we ask if the animal has been neutered. The answer to the second question does not negate the answer to the first question. A castrated male is still considered male and a spayed female is still considered female. The difference is important for all sorts of medical reasons, but somehow we don't have words for these individuals that don't still include "male" and "female" - because they have always been regarded as male and female, not as something else.

The binary male/female distinction is paramount and fundamental, and it extends to abnormal individuals also. A freemartin heifer is still female - indeed, if she had not been conceived as a female embryo she could not have become a freemartin. We've discussed various human DSDs here and I have pointed out that most DSD conditions are sex-specific. Klinefelter's occurs only in males, Turner's occurs only in females, and so on. This is accepted as a given in any clinic dealing with these conditions.

Most chimeras and mosaics are similarly easy to classify, as pretty much always (really, always - every time someone thinks they have a gotcha, they haven't) one sex is dominant and there are only remnants of tissue that are classifiable as the other sex. The individual as a whole organism is clearly male or female. Fertile or not.

(CAIS is only an argument about taxonomy. We know what CAIS is. We're only arguing about which box to put CAIS into. CAIS individuals aren't a third box, nor do they negate the integrity of the two boxes we have.)

This is how the words male and female are normally used, not just in common parlance, but in medicine and biology. Just to take one example from the medical field; in embryology, it's normal to refer to male and female embryos. We don't have other words to refer to embryos which have the potential to become female as opposed to embryos which have the potential to become male. We don't need them.

So if you're writing a dictionary definition and you come up with something that doesn't match this common usage, you're doing it wrong. The dictionary-compiler doesn't create the usage, it's the other way round.

On the other hand, you may be a taxonomist looking for a name for a new category in order to discuss it. That's different, because in this case your definition will create the usage.

One thing you should really try to do here is avoid words that are already in common usage meaning something else. So if I'm a biologist who has found a new species of rodent in the jungle, it's a good idea not to give it a name that's already in use for a different species of rodent. That's likely to cause confusion and get push-back.

Closer to home, maybe a word is needed for men who think they're women, or who want to be women. "Transwomen" might work well enough. However, if you insist on appropriating the word "women" for these people and that the beings formerly known as women are now to be called cervix-havers or menstruators, you will get pushback.

So how did this "only currently fertile individuals are male or female, everything else is something which is neither but which we unaccountably don't have any words for" thing happen? Was it a dictionary compiler or a taxonomist?

It seems to me that this has originated as an attempt at dictionary compilation. I see no reason to believe that the 1972 definition that is being relied on here was an attempt to re-purpose the words male and female to refer only to fertile individuals. This was not accepted usage at the time, and there was (and is) no requirement for such usage. We don't need words that only refer to fertile individuals, we're doing just grand with "fertile male" and "fertile female" and similar constructions. The guy who wrote that definition was not trying to name new concepts that needed naming. He was trying for a definition that described existing usage.

We seem to be the victims of an over-literal interpretation of wording which at the time was entirely unexceptional, using the present habitual tense in English. The sex that produces small motile gametes, the sex that produces large immobile gametes. Produces, in the same sense that I sing in a choir, even when I'm at choir practice but not actually singing at that moment, even when I'm not at choir practice right now, and even when the choir is on its summer break.

Also, "the sex that..." does not mean that every single member of that class has to do this thing. It was absolutely accepted in 1972 that there were two sexes. I look at a freemartin. What sex is she? She is obviously a member of the class of which (normally) produces large immobile gametes. She was conceived as an embryo with XX chromosomes and developed along the pathway to produce large immobile gametes, until her twin brother screwed all this up by handing her a dose of androgens. If she had not been female, her brother's androgens could not have had this affect on her. There is no farmer, vet or biologist (outwith the few who are infected with this crazy pedantry) who wouldn't agree that a freemartin is female. Lots of things don't conform to the strict dictionary definition that describes their normal condition, but they still belong to that class of things. A hand affected by polydactyly, or paralysis, or which has lost several fingers, is still a hand.

As far as I can see, the 1972 definition was an attempt to describe the two boxes, male and female, only two of them, in a rather more scientific way than had been done before. It was not an attempt to re-define the words into new definitions at odds with long-standing and common usage. In 1972 it wasn't usual to add extra verbiage (and make dictionaries twice as long) to point out that what is being referred to is the class of individuals which typically does this, or presents like that, or looks like the other. People were normally considered to be bright enough to understand that that was what was meant.

Then we get people in non-jobs such as "philosophy of biology" who have to justify their salaries somehow and enjoy verbal fencing and salami-slicing, taking this perfectly unremarkable definition, not understanding the present habitual tense, and not understanding the concept of categories.

And we end up with people who really should have better things to do with their time actually assisting the agenda of the vested interests that are trying to muddy the waters by claiming that only a tiny proportion of mammals are actually male or female. As opposed to, you know, all of them.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 10:17 AM   #238
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Oh, and another thing. We already have way too much "argument from authority" going on in this general area of discussion - to the point where Emily's Cat is complaining about the fallacy of sophisticated theology.

In my opinion we do not need any more of that. "I have found this guy with an impressive-looking degree or academic appointment, are you really disagreeing with him?" Well, yes actually. I've got a reasonably impressive degree or two myself, and did have reasonably impressive academic appointments, and these things don't cause me to genuflect. I've seen my share of absolute idiots spouting nonsense who have been able to put the title "Professor" in front of their names. Sheesh. I have also been a scrutineer for academic journals, and the amount of utter dreck that has got past the peer-review process pretty much bends space.

This is a sceptics forum. We make our own arguments.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 10:32 AM   #239
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

Snip lots of good stuff...

Then we get people in non-jobs such as "philosophy of biology" who have to justify their salaries somehow and enjoy verbal fencing and salami-slicing, taking this perfectly unremarkable definition, not understanding the present habitual tense, and not understanding the concept of categories.

And we end up with people who really should have better things to do with their time actually assisting the agenda of the vested interests that are trying to muddy the waters by claiming that only a tiny proportion of mammals are actually male or female. As opposed to, you know, all of them.
I feel sure they fully understand the tense and the concept of categories, but there's no kudos in simply agreeing with previous analysis.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 11:20 AM   #240
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I should maybe describe what a freemartin is, because it impinges on more than one aspect of this discussion.

When (fraternal) twin calves are in utero, in probably 90% of cases the foetal circulations become conjoined in the placentae, leading to both calves becoming chimeras - they have cells from their twin. If both calves are the same sex this doesn't even trouble the scorer. You'd have to do genetic analysis of their blood cells compared to the rest of their cells to notice it. If the calves are of opposite sexes, the male calf will have female blood cells in circulation, and the female calf will have male blood cells in circulation. (Thankfully this doesn't happen in sheep, where twinning is a lot more common, or indeed in man.)

This has pretty much zero effect on the male calf. A colleague of mine is currently selling a breeding bull (name of Cardhu) of proven fertility as a star sire for his breed, citing his pedigree with rare and derirable blood lines in it. I'm not sure if she has even bothered telling prospective purchasers that Cardhu is a twin to a freemartin heifer. Sure, if you take a blood sample from him you'll find a lot of female cells there, but he's not female, don't be ridiculous. He's a male who got some female blood cells when he was a foetus, which established themselves in his bone marrow and went on propagating. These XX cells don't make a damn bit of difference. He's still male.

On the other hand the heifer twin (whose name I forget) is more seriously affected. If you sample her blood you'll find lots of male cells, so she does have an SRY gene on board - but it's not functional. The SRY gene does not express in blood cells in any way that affects the sex of the individual. If it was only these cells, she'd be a normal female in the same way her brother is a normal male. The problem is that when the twins' placental circulations became conjoined, she didn't just get blood cells, she got plasma from her brother, plasma containing male hormones. Depending on how soon that started, this affected her development to a greater or lesser extent.

She's still female. The cells that matter, the cells where the expression of an SRY gene would cause an embryo to head down the male pathway, are still on the female pathway because they do not have an SRY gene. But the development of her sexual organs has been interfered with by being exposed to hormones they shouldn't have been exposed to. She is infertile. She has a short vagina among other abnormalities. And I'm sure she'll be very tasty.

This situation is commonplace. Farmers know about it and vets know about it and we actually have a specific word for the condition. But we all know that freemartinism is a condition that occurs only in females.

Unless we're a philosopher of biology who is trying to carve out a career by being too clever by half.
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