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Old 3rd August 2022, 11:26 AM   #241
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Originally Posted by Lplus View Post
I feel sure they fully understand the tense and the concept of categories, but there's no kudos in simply agreeing with previous analysis.

Hard to say. There have been some statements in this thread (or maybe another one, I'm getting them a bit mixed up) that suggest a genuine lack of understanding of the present habitual tense.

And if someone doesn't understand the present habitual tense, then I'm not sure whether understanding categories is going to be easy.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 11:57 AM   #242
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Yup. Sorry to burst your bubbles; suck it up, buttercups.

You know, if that's a sample of your discourse, I'm not all that surprised if Emma Hilton has stopped engaging constructively with you.

Condescention and argument from authority in the one package are not a good look.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 02:07 PM   #243
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Now, given that the 1972 definition appears to have been a shot at producing a more scientific definition of the words male and female as they were in common use in both normal speech and scientific discourse at the time (which is still more or less exactly as they are used today), and science has moved on, and we have idiot nitpickers who will try to pick apart any definition that has an ambiguity in it (even an ambiguity as normal as the present habitual tense), can we do better?

This is where Emma and friends come in, with their various attempts to describe the two sexes in terms of developmental pathways. Bodies organised around the production of small motile or large immobile gametes is one way. Wolffian and Muellerian pathways is another. I do not see what's wrong about any of that on its own terms. They're trying to accommodate the anomalies, like the polydactylic or the paralysed hand. The approach has become quite widely accepted and so I have tended to go with it.

But before that gained such wide acceptance I myself went the genetic route, partly because so many people were shouting about XY or XX being the final discriminating criterion, which of course it isn't. It leads to idiots saying things like "so what sex is someone with a genetic complement of 47 XXY?" The answer is simple, that is a male with Klinefelter's syndrome (absent any other abnormalities being present at the same time), but we can do without this sort of hassle.

The SRY gene is the real determining factor. It's usually on the Y chromosome, but it can appear elsewhere, giving rise to men who are actually XX, or it may be absent in someone with XY chromosomes, giving rise to women who are actually XY (in this particular case Swyer's syndrome).

If you simply base your definition on the presence of a functional SRY gene - with the emphasis on functional, because remember the freemartin heifers with all these normal XY white blood cells, but SRY genes in white blood cells are not functional - then you get pretty much everyone. And indeed you may very occasionally have to infer the presence of a functional SRY gene from the development pathway of the body, because a proportion of the very rare XX males don't have their SRY gene in a part of the body that can be safely biopsied. But it's there, you know it's there because you can see its effects, in the same way you could see that the moon was there even if the sky was permanently covered by cloud, by the presence of the tides.

The tricky one is CAIS. My opinion is that in one sense we can go back and look at the "functional" word again. Can an SRY gene, however normal, be said to be functional if the receptors for the hormones it's designed to trigger aren't there? One could argue that the SRY gene of a CAIS woman is no more functional than the SRY gene in the freemartin's blood cells. That makes her female. Or one could clarify that by explicitly adding that a male requires both a functional SRY gene and functioning androgen receptors to go in the "male" box.

There are others who want to categorise CAIS women as male, but honestly the more I think about it the more specious this appears to be, by analogy with normal-in-structure but functionless SRY genes in chimeras and mosaics, where the gene isn't actually functional because it isn't present in the tissues that express it to determine the sex pathway the foetus will follow. The SRY gene in CAIS women is equally functionless because tissues capable of being acted on by that gene (in the sense we're talking about) don't exist in that body. But I'm not hugely exercised about this. This is merely an executive decision about which category you want to put CAIS women in. They don't create another category.

In 1972 both normal conversation and mammalian biology thought in terms of two boxes, male and female, and the question was how do you determine which individual goes in which box. That, to be honest, is still the question. In 1972 someone thought that gamete size was the best way to describe the two sexes. These were simpler times, without "philosophers" misunderstanding the grammar, wilfully or otherwise, and without postmodernists looking to get published by denying the reality of sex.

My own view is that nowadays the presence or absence of a functional SRY gene is a better one. With functional being defined as being expressed in the tissues responsible for sex differentiation, and having the necessary hormone receptors to allow it to be expressed.

No doubt someone can do better. But I do not think either society or biology has moved from the concept of there being two sexes (even the idiots who try to maintain it's a "spectrum" haven't postulated a third sex), and I think biology is getting better at diagnosing the edge cases correctly, to the point where I don't actually think there are any genuine edge cases in purely biological terms. (What you do with a boy who has 5ARD who was mistakenly brought up as a girl is a social problem. He's a boy and he will grow up into a man, even if you called him Caster when he was a baby.)

So that's my current thinking on the matter. And I entirely agree with Emily's Cat. The whole "spectrum" thing is a complete misconception and nobody has any idea what to do with the x-axis. They're plotting secondary features that have some relationship to sex, and pretending that discrete variables are somehow continuous.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 02:19 PM   #244
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
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.
Thanks for a fairly thorough response over several individual comments which will take me a bit of time to chew through and do justice to.

However, I felt your "utter dreck" comment - "bends space", indeed - is largely the crux of the matter, and deserves a brief elaboration on.

Not sure if you've seen the post of Michael Shermer - skeptic extraordinaire of course - on Matt Walsh's video "What is a woman?", but this passage is more or less the smoking gun in the case against the perpetrators and peddlers of that "dreck":

Quote:
But Grzanka’s dodge is not uncommon in academia today, and in exasperation with Walsh’s persistent questioning in search of the truth, Grzanka pronounces on camera, ”Getting to the truth is deeply transphobic.”
That "getting to the truth is deeply transphobic" may well serve as a fitting epitaph for much of Academia.

But somewhat more broadly, Shermer's post is arguing in favour of a "family resemblances" definition for "woman", a concept which many others, Kathleen Stock in particular, have used in their own rather idiosyncratic and quite unscientific definitions for the sexes. In addition to which, one might reasonably argue that your own working definitions for the sexes - and those of many others - are also based on that same concept or perspective.

However, as I've argued there, that "family resemblances" idea has been refined into the more precise and tractable concept of "polythetic categories" which is not without some significant problems of its own:

https://michaelshermer.substack.com/...omment/7630788

And one of most relevant of those problems is that they basically boil down into spectra - a concept which is, of course, not without a great deal of utility of its own. But it kind of leaves hanging the question of exactly what property it is that, for example ALL females of ALL sexually-reproducing species share that qualifies them for membership in that category. In effect, the question is, what is the necessary and sufficient condition that all members must possess to qualify as members of that category?

A question that the family resemblances concept, the polythetic category definition simply can't answer because there isn't any such property. Which, one might reasonably argue, makes the concept somewhat useless - at best.

Why I've argued there, with some evidence from credentialed biologists ... , that the monothetic category definition - basically the definitions of Parker (FRS), Lehtonen, Griffiths, Lexico, Google/OED - is much preferable.

Bit of a thorny and problematic dichotomy that I haven't fully resolved yet even in my own mind, but I think its a useful concept and perspective. Somewhat in passing and as a point of reference for future discussions, an article by Belgian virologist Marc van Regenmortel - hardly chopped liver himself - which provides a useful illustration of the differences between those two types of categories:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_H...an_Regenmortel

https://www.researchgate.net/publica..._virus_species

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/...fig1_309889266
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Old 3rd August 2022, 02:38 PM   #245
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TL;DR version

If you're creating a definition that illustrates how the words male and female are actually used in normal discourse (in relation to mammals, let's keep this simple) and your definition ends up excluding the vast majority of individuals who would be considered unambiguously male or female by the vast majority of speakers of the language - both lay persons and professionals - you have done it wrong.

If you believe the language needs dedicated words that apply only to currently fertile individuals (whatever the hell you actually mean by that, and that part could certainly do with a re-think) then you can't actually have "male" and "female" because they are already in use. In the same way you really shouldn't try to name your brand new rainforest discovery a "horned toad", because that's already taken. Think of something else.

Why do you want dedicated words that only apply to currently fertile individuals anyway? We've done fine without such words and we're still doing fine. And what do you suggest we call the very large group of individuals you just excluded from being male or female? They still have differently-structured bodies that require different accommodations and medical care. We need language to talk about that.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 02:47 PM   #246
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Oh, as regards the "bends space" comment, I was primarily thinking about my own field, and the garbage that's made it into even prestigious journals, from evaluations of analytical instruments that simply don't work well enough to be useful or safe, to homoeopathy, chiropractic and similar woo. If you can get a deeply flawed puff-piece claiming that homoeopathy is of some use for skin disease in dogs into the Veterinary Record (and that happened, and somewhere on this forum you can probably still find me and Badly Shaved Monkey and Yuri Nallysus tossing around drafts of our lengthy letter to the editor shredding it), then all bets are off, anywhere.

My deeply jaded but also highly realistic conclusion is that nothing in any journal (and textbooks are even worse as they aren't peer-reviewed) can be relied on simply on the basis of its being printed by that journal. Use your own brain.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 03:11 PM   #247
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
TL;DR version

If you're creating a definition that illustrates how the words male and female are actually used in normal discourse (in relation to mammals, let's keep this simple) and your definition ends up excluding the vast majority of individuals who would be considered unambiguously male or female by the vast majority of speakers of the language - both lay persons and professionals - you have done it wrong.
You might note that "male" and "female" have traditionally been used as genders by which Bruce Jenner might reasonably qualify as the latter. That's the problem with polythetic categories. By which he and his ilk - with their ersatz bewbs and neovaginas - might reasonably qualify:"Heh! I share some family resemblances so how dare you exclude us from that exalted state and the benefits that derive therefrom!!"

Traditional uses aren't all that credible justification for how words should be used. Definitions and uses change all the time, often for sound reasons.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
If you believe the language needs dedicated words that apply only to currently fertile individuals (whatever the hell you actually mean by that, and that part could certainly do with a re-think) then you can't actually have "male" and "female" because they are already in use. In the same way you really shouldn't try to name your brand new rainforest discovery a "horned toad", because that's already taken. Think of something else.
Sure. Quite agree. Have often suggested that Parker and company might reasonably have created brand new words rather than "repurposing" ones in more general use. For example, see my older Medium post:

Quote:
So, in consequence and relative to which, one might tentatively suggest a couple of hyphenated words — based on Latin for some extra pizzazz — to cover all of those bases, to create a set of exhaustive categories, to name them for some as yet unspecified “adaptive or pragmatic purpose”, to wit: parit-ova (produces ova); sperma-facit (produces sperm); and, for the sake of completeness and to remove any possible “wiggle-room”, nec-non-parit-ova-genituram (produces neither ova nor sperm).
https://medium.com/@steersmann/reali...s-77f9618b17c7

Though I think that's just moving the goal posts without addressing the fundamental issue. It would have been inevitably followed by a definition for those who were "adult human parit-ova" which the transloonie nutcases would try to "self-identify" as.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Why do you want dedicated words that only apply to currently fertile individuals anyway? We've done fine without such words and we're still doing fine. And what do you suggest we call the very large group of individuals you just excluded from being male or female? They still have differently-structured bodies that require different accommodations and medical care. We need language to talk about that.
Good question - you might ask that of Parker and Lehtonen.

But as I've said earlier, if one is modeling the evolution of anisogamy, it seems of some relevance to quantify the percentage of the population who can actually reproduce - right now, not some time down the road or in the distant past. Which provides some justification for labelling those groups even if "male" and "female" may not be entirely justified.

Though I think there is some - seems that pretty much all of sexual dimorphism - physiologically, genetically, psychologically, genetically, etc. - is a direct result of two fundamentally different ways, forms, mechanisms or processes for reproducing sexually.

Further, I kind of think you're too focused only on mammalian reproduction. Rather large number of species who do so who probably don't have anything like the SRY gene you apparently think is the defining criteria.

Which I think causes any number of problems, not least in characterizing clownfish. By the "developmental pathway" definition, one might reasonably argue that newly-hatched clown fish are both males AND females. Which seriously conflicts with their definition as sequential hermaphrodites.

Houston, we have a problem. Maybe a way of stick-handling around it, but I don't think it's a trivial issue.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 03:25 PM   #248
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Good question - you might ask that of Parker and Lehtonen.
Have either of them ever said that prepubesecent boys aren't male yet?
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Old 3rd August 2022, 03:45 PM   #249
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Quote:
... you apparently think is the defining criteria

Hmmm. I have a problem with someone who doesn't know that the word "criteria" is plural. Along with not understanding the present habitual tense. Suggests a lack or rigorous thought on the issues.

Broadening this question to take in all life is what Emma has tackled. You don't like her. I think she's done a bang-up job.

I'm not interested in wishy-washying around any discourse that might classify Bruce Jenner as anything other than male. You can drown in this and never get out, because words soon cease to have any meaning at all. It's Humpty Dumpty down an endless rabbit hole.

There is no third sex. It is trivially easy to categorise mammals (or if you go down Emma's route, all multicellular life) into one of the two sexes. If you are emotionally invested in choosing definitions of the sexes that allow you to call a large proportion of this life as neither male nor female, then you're on your own. I'm not interested. (You might want to ask Emma about juvenile clownfish. I don't really have an opinion about non-mammallian life, I'm interested in what's going on in discourse about human beings and illuminating it through my knowledge of the biology of other mammals.)

Though I am interested in how you decide on the status of each individual in the context of fluctuating fertility. Let's stick to mammals for now. You've decided pre-pubescent juveniles aren't male or female. You've decided females who no longer ovulate aren't female. You've decided all castrated and spayed animals are no longer male or female. You've decided vasectomised individuals and individuals with fallopian tube ligation aren't male or female. (But what then happens if either natural re-canulation or assisted reproduction allows them to reproduce? Back to having a sex?)

What about women with IUDs? What about women on the pill? What about women with hormone implants? What about men who only ever have sex with women in these categories? They can't reproduce in that situation. What about couples who always use condoms? What about people who aren't having sex at all, even if they aren't using any sort of contraception and would be able to conceive if they did have sex? What about homosexual people who aren't having sex in a way that could cause conception? Anybody there have a sex, or are they all sexless?

What about women in the infertile phase of their menstrual cycle? We're only fertile for a few days a month. Are we only female on those days? Or maybe only at the moment the ovum is being released? What about a month when the ovum that was released was a dud?

What about animals with oestrus cycles? Is a bitch only female for a few days twice a year? Bear in mind that not only is she not fertile the rest of the time, she isn't interested in mating, and dogs aren't interested in mating with her. They're "sexless" in the sense of lacking desire as well as fertility. (It's still trivially easy to tell which sex they are though.)

What about seasonal breeders? Many breeds of sheep only start ovulating in autumn, controlled by the shortening day-length. Are they not female in spring and summer? Many many wild animals have a similar breeding pattern. Are the males of these species male, even though they don't have any fertile females to mate with?

What about females who are actually pregnant? They aren't fertile either by your definition, as far as I can see. What about females who are lactating and feeding their infants - a phase of the reproductive cycle that often inhibits ovulation?

Go away and think about all these situations and come back when you've actually decided which ones are "really" male or female in there. Or alternatively, give it up and do something more productive with your time.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 03:53 PM   #250
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Have either of them ever said that prepubesecent boys aren't male yet?
Has anyone - particularly dictionary writers and the ones responsible for "teenager" - ever said that those who are under 13 or who are over 19 are not teenagers?

That IS - as I've said several times now - what "necessary and sufficient conditions" entail and lead to.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:01 PM   #251
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If you went to the dictionary compiler and said, your definition of "teenager" appears to exclude people before their thirteenth birthday and after their twentieth, is that what you mean, I'd expect them to say "yes".

If you went to one of these authorities you respect so much and said, your definition of "male" appears to exclude pre-pubescent boys, is that what you mean, well - let me know what answer you get.

If they say "no I didn't mean that at all" you have some re-thinking to do. If they say, yes that's what I mean, then you have a lot of work on your hands to explain why anyone with the remotest connection to the actual real world should pay a blind bit of attention to this nonsense.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:07 PM   #252
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
If you went to one of these authorities you respect so much and said, your definition of "male" appears to exclude pre-pubescent boys, is that what you mean, well - let me know what answer you get.
Contact info here:

https://evolution.unibas.ch/scharer/..._lehtonen.html

https://www.researchgate.net/publica...f_a_revolution
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:11 PM   #253
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Hmmm. I have a problem with someone who doesn't know that the word "criteria" is plural. Suggests a lack or rigorous thought on the issues.
Mea culpa; shoot me at dawn ...

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Broadening this question to take in all life is what Emma has tackled. You don't like her. I think she's done a bang-up job.
I'm actually quite impressed and supportive of much of what she's said. Just a bit disappointed that she's now peddling quite unscientific claptrap. [Emma: if you're under duress, blink three times ... ]

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'm not interested in wishy-washying around any discourse that might classify Bruce Jenner as anything other than male. You can drown in this and never get out, because words soon cease to have any meaning at all. It's Humpty Dumpty down an endless rabbit hole.
That's an edge case - but a particularly serious and quite problematic one. Sticking our heads in the sand about relevant definitions doesn't seem like a workable policy or way off the horns of that dilemma.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
There is no third sex. It is trivially easy to categorise mammals (or if you go down Emma's route, all multicellular life) into one of the two sexes.
Not disputing that at all.
But don't think either you or she have answered my objections about clown fish.


Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
<snip>

What about females who are actually pregnant? They aren't fertile either by your definition, as far as I can see. What about females who are lactating and feeding their infants - a phase of the reproductive cycle that often inhibits ovulation?
Methinks you're straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel whole. You might try reading that Aeon article of Griffiths.

Of particular note is his argument that "sex" whether it's structure-absent-function ones of Hilton, or the function-only ones of Griffiths - is the RONG tool for the jobs that society is trying to force it into doing.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Go away and think about all these situations and come back when you've actually decided which ones are "really" male or female in there. Or alternatively, give it up and do something more productive with your time.
Do I detect a note of exasperation and impatience?
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:13 PM   #254
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Just thinking about this in the context of the row about "trans kids". If pre-pubescent children aren't either male or female, what are they being transed to or from?

What about a post-menopausal (er, former woman?) who decides to transition. What is she transitioning to or from?

What about a vasectomised (man?) who decides to transition? What is he transitioning to or from?

You've taken away normal language by re-purposing it to a purpose where it's not even needed. You haven't even come near to a definition of which individuals can be considered male or female in your brave new world, as I detailed in post #249. You don't even know which individuals you're still allowing the words to be used for and which you aren't, and it seems to me you have a herculean job on your hands to come up with a watertight definition of which individuals you consider to be sexed and which sexless. It's a completely useless definition that doesn't even offer useful new definitions for the words that have been repurposed.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:19 PM   #255
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I have literally no idea what you are attempting to prove by any of this. I have literally no idea where you think you might be going with it.

I don't care about clownfish other than observing that I thought they were cute when I was snorkelling, and their biology is interesting. If you're the sort of person who wants to formulate a grand theory of everything then you want to consider them of course, but there is no need to do that if one is only discussing mammals, or indeed human beings. I'm reminded of the twitter bio of a woman with CAIS. It simply reads "not a clownfish".

Whether there are or are not forms of non-mammalian multicellular life which one might reasonably classify as neither male nor female does not really concern me other than as an interesting observation. It's not relevant to species where individuals are, in fact, all classifiable as either male or female, by perfectly reasonable criteria which produce a result that would be recognised by everyone who is not past hope drowned in the genderwoo.

Oh, and I'm not the one who is straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel. You are the one who is so keen on watertight definitions. I'm just pointing out the variety of situations and circumstances you'll have to consider when you produce that watertight definition of which individuals are permitted to have a sex and at what times, and which aren't. That is a pretty important issue for your mission, I think.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:36 PM   #256
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
That's an edge case - but a particularly serious and quite problematic one. Sticking our heads in the sand about relevant definitions doesn't seem like a workable policy or way off the horns of that dilemma.
There are no horns. There is no dilemma. The current policy works just fine. Everyone knows what is meant by male and female in mammals. The only ones who don't are being disingenuous or willfully obtuse. Forcing a quibble on definitions solves no problems anyone actually has. It advances no discussion on topics of interest here.

If you simply must have a definition of male and female that satisfies some perfect system of formal logic, please start a thread about it, and stop jamming up this one with repeats of an argument we've all already grokked and dismissed.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 04:52 PM   #257
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I suppose it's technically relevant to this thread. But I agree, it's getting boring now, and I doubt if I'd follow it to a new thread.

I am slightly interested to discover the perfect system of formal logic that will perfectly indicate the status of every mammalian individual (I'll be kind and limit it to that) in situations and circumstances including but not limited to the ones I covered in post #249. I'm not holding my breath, and describing this as "straining at a gnat" is hilarious.

I have also no interest in "reading that Aeon article of Griffiths" for greater enlightenment. If this can't be explained to a reasonable degree of comprehension in this thread, it has a problem. This isn't twitter. There is no character limit, and posts don't vanish down your timeline if you go to bed. Which I really must do now.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 05:13 PM   #258
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I suppose it's technically relevant to this thread. But I agree, it's getting boring now, and I doubt if I'd follow it to a new thread.

I am slightly interested to discover the perfect system of formal logic that will perfectly indicate the status of every mammalian individual (I'll be kind and limit it to that) in situations and circumstances including but not limited to the ones I covered in post #249. I'm not holding my breath, and describing this as "straining at a gnat" is hilarious.
Put a "nominally" in front of all those uses of "male" and "female" - explicitly or implicitly.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I have also no interest in "reading that Aeon article of Griffiths" for greater enlightenment. If this can't be explained to a reasonable degree of comprehension in this thread, it has a problem. This isn't twitter. There is no character limit, and posts don't vanish down your timeline if you go to bed. Which I really must do now.
Quote:
"On the other hand, whatever its shortcomings as an institutional definition, the concept of biological sex remains essential to understand the diversity of life. It shouldn’t be discarded or distorted because of arguments about its use in law, sport or medicine. That would be a tragic mistake."
https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity

That's what you and Emma are basically doing: distorting the biological definitions to the point where they can be discarded because there's nothing that uniquely differentiates ALL males from ALL females of ALL sexually reproducing species.

I've tried explaining - though you don't seem to be listening - that Emma's definitions basically turn the sexes into spectra, into polythetic categories. If you're not listening then there's not much point of quoting passages and analyses of them - links and suggestions to follow them are about all that can be justified.

But see too:

Marco Del Giudice of the University of New Mexico once put it - in an essay that I have to thank Colin for since he once tweeted a link to it:

Quote:
"On a deeper level, the ‘patchwork’ definition of sex used in the social sciences [and by Emma Hilton and Company] is purely descriptive and lacks a functional rationale. This contrasts sharply with how the sexes are defined in biology. From a biological standpoint, what distinguishes the males and females of a species is the size of their gametes: males produce [present tense indefinite] small gametes (e.g., sperm), females produce [present tense indefinite] large gametes (e.g., eggs; Kodric-Brown & Brown, 1987)"
https://www.researchgate.net/publica...Sex_and_Gender

That's also what you and Emma are doing - pushing a "patchwork", non-functional, ad-hoc definition that's little better than folk biology.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 05:21 PM   #259
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I think you are so far down the Humpty-Dumpty rabbit hole that you've lost touch with reality. Why do we need something "that uniquely differentiates ALL males from ALL females of ALL sexually reproducing species."?

You're so wedded to this philosophical idea you're going to keep your teeth in it even when it's drowning you.
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Old 3rd August 2022, 05:33 PM   #260
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I think you are so far down the Humpty-Dumpty rabbit hole that you've lost touch with reality. Why do we need something "that uniquely differentiates ALL males from ALL females of ALL sexually reproducing species."?

You're so wedded to this philosophical idea you're going to keep your teeth in it even when it's drowning you.
Amusing metaphor and arresting image ...

But while I certainly agree that it's a "philosophical idea", I think you're rather too quick to dismiss its value or relevance to some serious matters at hand.

From the International Encyclopedia of Philosophy on "Natural Kinds":

Quote:
A large part of our exploration of the world consists in categorizing or classifying the objects and processes we encounter, both in scientific and everyday contexts. There are various, perhaps innumerable, ways to sort objects into different kinds or categories, but it is commonly assumed that, among the countless possible types of classifications, one group is privileged. Philosophy refers to such categories as natural kinds. Standard examples of such kinds include fundamental physical particles, chemical elements, and biological species. The term natural does not imply that natural kinds ought to categorize only naturally occurring stuff or objects. Candidates for natural kinds can include man-made substances, such as synthetic elements, that can be created in a laboratory. The naturalness in question is not the naturalness of the entities being classified, but that of the groupings themselves. Groupings that are artificial or arbitrary are not natural; they are invented or imposed on nature. Natural kinds, on the other hand, are not invented, and many assume that scientific investigations should discover them.
https://iep.utm.edu/nat-kind/

Some fundamental principles there about how and why we define and name various categories that have a great deal of relevance to the whole edifice of biology. On which much of our vaunted "civilization" depends.

You might also consider this passage from virologist van Regenmortel's article on virus classifications:

Quote:
"Sections 4–8 of this review followed a chronological presentation of recent developments in viral taxonomy which revealed that the field has been plagued by an uninterrupted series of conflicting views, heated disagreements and acrimonious controversies that may seem to some to be out of place in a scientific debate. The reason, of course, is that the subject of virus taxonomy and nomenclature lies at the interface between virological science and areas of philosophy such as logic, ontology and epistemology which unfortunately are rarely taught in university curricula followed by science students (Blachowicz 2009)."
Great deal of the transgender "contretemps" is because too many so-called scientists haven't an effen clue about various fundamental and quite relevant principles from the fields of "logic, ontology and epistemology".

Link to peruse the balance at your leisure ...

https://www.researchgate.net/publica..._virus_species
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Old 3rd August 2022, 05:56 PM   #261
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Thanks, though I didn't see any actual contact information for Parker - apart from "University of Liverpool". But, given that the guy is 78 years old, I expect he's retired or emeritus - and probably not much interested in any philosophical ramifications of his definitions.

However, Lehtonen looks like a good bet; may contact him myself although Rolfe's credentials would probably carry more weight.

Somewhat in passing, contact information for Griffiths who I may also send an email to:

https://www.sydney.edu.au/arts/about...griffiths.html

Although I think he was pretty clear on what he thought were the logical consequences of those biological definitions:

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

Even if he was maybe not quite as forthright on the specifics as I think he should have been.

But one of the major problems or sticking points has been the desperate insistence that every member of every sexually-reproducing species has to be of one sex or another. "The politicisation of the definition of sex", indeed:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/...467-923X.13029
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Old 3rd August 2022, 06:17 PM   #262
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Thanks, though I didn't see any actual contact information for Parker - apart from "University of Liverpool".
Keep looking, it's on there under "Author for correspondence."
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Old 4th August 2022, 12:18 AM   #263
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
You know, if that's a sample of your discourse, I'm not all that surprised if Emma Hilton has stopped engaging constructively with you.
"one swallow does not a summer make". Nor one peevish response an ogre beyond the pale.

Rather a large number of people who think that simply being offended qualifies as an argument. Happens mostly on the woke and transgendered side - Helen Joyce had some choice tweets on the prevalence there:

https://twitter.com/HJoyceGender/sta...65894805360640

But the GC side are hardly immune to that failing either - mostly women who get rather "peeved" with the argument that sex is anything but immutable, that some third of us at any one time are sexless. Been "blocked and reported" - one assumes - on Twitter by some of the best - Maya Forstater and Kathleen Stock in particular; kind of expected better of the latter, the commitment to dispassionate argument by philosophers and all that.

See below; see basically wants to define the sexes as a polythetic cluster. Which boils down into a spectrum.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Condescension and argument from authority in the one package are not a good look.
When you're perfect, it's hard to be humble ...

I'm really not cutting any of my arguments from whole cloth. They all have more or less solid antecedents - which you're welcome to challenge as you wish. I'm not saying they're gospel truth or anything of the sort; only saying here are the premises and those are the logical conclusions.
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Old 4th August 2022, 12:19 AM   #264
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Keep looking, it's on there under "Author for correspondence."
All I saw were some very old - 2012 - articles with Parker's name on them. I did find one that gave an email address but it doesn't match the (presumably) current one for the lab at the Liverpool university that he was the head of.
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Old 4th August 2022, 12:31 AM   #265
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
There are no horns. There is no dilemma. The current policy works just fine. Everyone knows what is meant by male and female in mammals.
You might try reading the Quackometer critique of Novella's "thesis" - and the comments at both - which shows that many people haven't an effen clue:

https://www.realityslaststand.com/p/...-american-mind

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The only ones who don't are being disingenuous or willfully obtuse. Forcing a quibble on definitions solves no problems anyone actually has. It advances no discussion on topics of interest here.
Hardly a "quibble" when every man and his dog has a different set of definitions:

Quote:
Sex: Binary, Spectrum or “Socially Constructed”?

More particularly and to begin with, there are the various “theories” about sex itself, about whether it’s a spectrum, or a binary; about whether the binary is to be based on structure-absent-function or function-only; about whether it is - gawd help us all - merely a “social construction”. For instance, both Nature and Scientific American - supposedly credible and authoritative journals - seriously beclowned themselves by endorsing the position that “The idea of two sexes is simplistic”. Which was particularly amusing, in a gallows-humor sort of way, in light of the fact that the author, biologist Claire Ainsworth, subsequently repudiated that suggestion and headline.
https://humanuseofhumanbeings.substack.com/p/welcome

As Voltaire put it, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.”

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If you simply must have a definition of male and female that satisfies some perfect system of formal logic, please start a thread about it, and stop jamming up this one with repeats of an argument we've all already grokked and dismissed.
Being something of a stranger in a strange land in this neck of the woods you'll have to give me some evidence of that ...
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Old 4th August 2022, 01:48 AM   #266
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Hard to say. There have been some statements in this thread (or maybe another one, I'm getting them a bit mixed up) that suggest a genuine lack of understanding of the present habitual tense.
Pretty much the same as "present tense indefinite":

Quote:
We use the simple present tense when an action is happening right now, or when it happens regularly (or unceasingly, which is why it’s sometimes called present indefinite).
https://www.grammarly.com/blog/simple-present/

Quote:
In English grammar, the habitual present is a verb in the present tense used to indicate an action that occurs regularly or repeatedly. It's also known as the present habitual.
https://www.thoughtco.com/habitual-p...rammar-1690830

The former of which I've used frequently, including once here:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...6#post13867466

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
And if someone doesn't understand the present habitual tense, then I'm not sure whether understanding categories is going to be easy.
Not quite sure how you think that necessarily follows ...
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Old 4th August 2022, 01:26 PM   #267
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
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" ...
Again, your inferences are incorrect.

While Elliot does reference a definition that uses the term "adult", it also defines sex based on the PHENOTYPE, and whether that PHENOTYPE is the kind that produces ova or sperm.

The PHENOTYPE being referred to is the reproductive anatomy.

Here's the deal: If a person has the male phenotype for reproductive anatomy, they may or may not actively produce sperm. But they 100% cannot produce eggs.
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Old 4th August 2022, 01:51 PM   #268
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
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):
My MS in Applied Mathematics with a BS in Applied Statistics, as well as 20+ years as a practicing actuary trumps your "able to read wikipedia"

Karotypes are not ordinal; they are categorical. You cannot get a bimodal distribution from categorical data. End of.
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Old 4th August 2022, 01:54 PM   #269
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
This is absolutely nuts and heading in some very silly reductio ad absurdum directions.
So reductio ad absurdum that I am skeptical of the intentions behind it.
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Old 4th August 2022, 01:57 PM   #270
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
So reductio ad absurdum that I am skeptical of the intentions behind it.


You might reflect on Conan Doyle's quip:

Quote:
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/a...n_doyle_134512
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:00 PM   #271
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
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.
Excellent post

I think this is the very first time that I've ever seen someone actually arguing that the strawman is real, from the perspective of the strawman. I don't even have a word for it, really.
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:01 PM   #272
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
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.
No kidding. This forum is chocker-block full of impressive degrees.
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:05 PM   #273
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
My MS in Applied Mathematics with a BS in Applied Statistics, as well as 20+ years as a practicing actuary trumps your "able to read wikipedia"
I'm suitably impressed. Though I might tender my own credentials as an electronics technologist specializing in control systems (cybernetics) with some 30 "years before the mast" designing, building, and repairing various electronic systems for use in marine, automotive, and industrial applications.

Though I'll concede that my knowledge of statistics is a bit rough around the edges - a deficiency that I'm trying rectify.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Karotypes are not ordinal; they are categorical. You cannot get a bimodal distribution from categorical data. End of.
I'm still waiting for your citations of the statistics literature as to why that can't be done.

I'm also waiting for you to actually look at and think about that joint-probability distribution I've posted before of karyotypes & heights. You might reasonably quibble about the order, but don't see how you reasonably deny that there IS a family of probability distributions for heights for EACH of the karyotypes listed. All of which might reasonably be put into the joint probability distribution shown.
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:23 PM   #274
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Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Again, your inferences are incorrect.
Which "inferences"? To which conclusions? Show your work ...

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
While Elliot does reference a definition that uses the term "adult", it also defines sex based on the PHENOTYPE, and whether that PHENOTYPE is the kind that produces ova or sperm.

The PHENOTYPE being referred to is the reproductive anatomy.
So? What's your point?

His very first JPG is from Parker's and Lehtonen's article on gamete dimorphism. Which explicitly includes the phrases "produces (habitually) large gametes" and "produces (habitually) small gametes". Those ARE the necessary and sufficient conditions for sex category membership. No gametes, no sex.

Originally Posted by Emily's Cat View Post
Here's the deal: If a person has the male phenotype for reproductive anatomy, they may or may not actively produce sperm. But they 100% cannot produce eggs.
Pray tell, where have I EVER said that if a person can't produce one type of gamete that it necessarily follows that they have to produce the other type?

Too many - you included - seem fixated on that argument. But that is not at all what many, including Paul Griffiths have been saying for years:

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
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:27 PM   #275
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I confess to having skipped some recent bits of this latest debate, but this whole argument about what does or doesn't constitute a this or a that reminds me of a famous (though unfortunately spurious and fictional) legal case sometimes called "Regina Vs. Saskatchewan," in which using impeccable logic, a man who shot a pony with a feather pillow for a saddle was charged under the Small Birds Act.
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:32 PM   #276
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
No doubt someone can do better. But I do not think either society or biology has moved from the concept of there being two sexes (even the idiots who try to maintain it's a "spectrum" haven't postulated a third sex), and I think biology is getting better at diagnosing the edge cases correctly, to the point where I don't actually think there are any genuine edge cases in purely biological terms. (What you do with a boy who has 5ARD who was mistakenly brought up as a girl is a social problem. He's a boy and he will grow up into a man, even if you called him Caster when he was a baby.)
There was a post on twitter some time back that I thought made a really good point regarding edge cases: You only know they're edge cases... because you know where the edge is.
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:38 PM   #277
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
I'm actually quite impressed and supportive of much of what she's said. Just a bit disappointed that she's now peddling quite unscientific claptrap.
Seriously, you keep asserting that scientists are "unscientific" because they don't use your definition.

By what authority and expertise do you demand that YOUR definition is the one that should be adopted? What relevant background and experience do you have that would convince anyone at all to take your word for it?
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:41 PM   #278
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Do I detect a note of exasperation and impatience?
I guarantee I am exasperated. But I think I'm being remarkably patient.
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:44 PM   #279
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Old 4th August 2022, 02:45 PM   #280
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post


You might reflect on Conan Doyle's quip:



https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/a...n_doyle_134512
I'll supply my own rejoinder: Once you eliminate the idiotic, everything makes more sense.

What you're proposing isn't "improbable", it's irrational and useless.
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The distance between the linguistic dehumanization of a people and their actual suppression and extermination is not great; it is but a small step. - Haig Bosmajian
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