It is a constant uphill battle for biologists to keep defending the truth that animals have but two sexes, defined by whether they have the reproductive apparatus to produce small, mobile gametes (the males) or large immobile gametes (the females). I’m not going to go into this again as you can read my explanation here. I have a longer and more popular explanation coming out in a big paper in June (stay tuned).
There are just two sexes in animals (and in nearly all vascular plants): male and female. Clownfish are not a third sex (they change from male to female.) Seahorse males are not a third sex (they are males who produce sperm and carry the fertilized eggs of females around in a pouch). Hermaphrodites are not a third sex (they combine aspects of male and female sex), and I’m aware of only one case in which a human hermaphrodite, whose male parts produced sperm, fathered an offspring. Hermaphroditic plants are not a third sex; they are simply hermaphrodites that contain male tissue and female tissue (producing small sperm and big eggs, respectively). There is no individual in animals or vascular plants that produce a third type of gamete. Ergo, sex is binary.
This assertion, accepted for decades by biologists, is offensive to ideological Pecksniffs because they want sex to be a spectrum, as gender is. (Gender and sex are different, and gender really isn’t a spectrum, but bimodal, with the distribution looking like the back of a two-humped camel, with one hump being those identifying as the male gender and the other identifying as the female.)
Under woke ideology, what you think is good in society must be seen as true in nature, an inversion of the “appeal to nature” that argues that something that’s natural is perceived to be good. In this new fallacy, which is still a fallacy, something that’s good is perceived to be natural.
Another example of this fallacy comes from the idea that men and women are behaviorally identical, with any behavioral differences due to socialization. This is of course wrong to anybody with the merest acquaintance of data from evolutionary psychology, hormone differences, parallels from nature, and so on. But if you hold this fallacious idea, then you are not allowed to perceive inborn average biological differences between men and women in their behavior, preferences, or mentaion. And Ceiling Cat forbid the notion that those differences might be partly due to evolution, one result of the much despiséd
field practicum evolutionary psychology.
All of this, and more, is discussed in our forthcoming paper, a masterpiece defending the bastion of known biology against the onslaughts of distortionist ideology. Do I presage this paper to get you interested? Of course, for we had a lot of trouble getting it published since it defends biological truth instead of woke ideology.
But I digress a a bit. Colin Wright, who spends much of his career ably defending the two-sex paradigm against the onslaught of The Elect, has just fought off yet another attempt to argue that sex in humans (and presumably other animals) is a spectrum. Click on the screenshot below to read his piece from the City Journal.
I like the “no” answer, though it should have been larger. In his short article, Wright handily demolishes a deeply misguided preprint (not yet accepted for publication) which maintains that biological sex is “multimodal.” You can find the preprint at the second link below.
Because the sex binary has been so thoroughly stigmatized as inherently “oppressive” and invalidating of transgender and “non-binary” identities and experiences—cardinal sins of our age—this effort has started an arms race among activist scientists to create the least binary model of sex imaginable.
In pursuit of this goal, a “Multimodal Sex literature survey team” composed of researchers from UC–Berkeley and Loyola University Chicago has been assembled to “re-imagine a more inclusive framework for biological sex.” On January 27, 2023, the team produced their first pre-print paper, titled “Multimodal models of animal sex: breaking binaries leads to a better understanding of ecology and evolution.” The paper argues that sex is best viewed as “a constructed category operating at multiple biological levels” rather than bimodal or binary.
In saner times, such a paper would perhaps bring a small chuckle from a journal editor before issuing a swift rejection. But current times are far from sane, and the quick ascendance of fashionable pseudoscience in academia on the biology of sex is ample reason to worry that this paper will not receive the withering review it deserves.
The paper is actually quite amusing when it gives three examples supposedly showing sex in animals is multimodal. Wright dismisses them all handily, handing out the withering review that the paper really does deserve. All three examples actually presume the existence of a sex binary. In a just world, the paper would find a home only in The Journal of Biological Speculations That We Want to be True but Aren’t. But many journals seem to be more interested in what’s politically expedient than what’s true
Colin first re-explains the binary nature of sex When will people ever grasp this? They can’t, just as someone infected with the virus of religious ideology can’t grasp that there’s no empirical evidence for a god, and even if there is a god, he’s either malicious, indolent, or both.
Then Wright dismantles three examples of so-called “multimodal sex”. Here are the first and the third:
The authors then present three “case studies” that they claim demonstrate how the multiple “independent levels of sex” surveyed in the previous sections can be integrated “in a multimodal framework.” Every example intended to undermine the binarity of sex actually reinforces it. For instance, the first case study looks at several “sex role reversed” species that “defy ‘traditional’ expectations of social sex roles,” such as “male competition and female parental care.” But the simple fact that the authors are capable of identifying a system where females and males behave in ways that are not “traditional” demonstrates that being male or female is something entirely separate from possessing behavioral traits like competition or parental care.
Clownfish, like Nemo, not only change their sex roles, but their sexes themselves: when an alpha female dies, one of the males transforms into a biological female, changing its development so that it produces eggs but no longer sperm. It’s not a third sex, but a change of sex. I tell you, I am bloody sick of clownfish and seahorses being touted by the ideological zombies as having a “third sex.” You’ll remember what substance the zombies longed so much for.
Here’s Colin’s third example:
The third and final case study looks at “intrasexual polymorphisms,” which describe differences observed within a sex. “Not all members of the same sex look and behave the same way,” the authors claim, as though this were a novel insight. However, they go on to claim, “Collapsing intrasexual polymorphisms into a female-male binary erases extensive multivariate phenotypic variation.” The very act of referring to these polymorphisms as “intrasexual” means that the sex binary remains.
Not only that, but the sex binary certainly does NOT erase variation in appearance among individuals.
Unfortunately for these ideologues, retaining the real sex binary in animals is what helps make sense of many biological phenomena, like sexual selection and, ultimately, differences in parental roles and behaviors between the sexes. Saying that sex is not binary completely eliminates the value of explaining why, for example, male peacocks are colorful and have long tails, while females are drab and have short tails. (It’s sexual selection, Jake, ultimately based on differences in gamete size.)
Colin wrote a longer version of this critique on his Substack site, Reality’s Last Stand, but you’ll have to be a paying subscriber to read it. It will, however, be released from its paywalled staus in a couple of weeks.