Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

About the facts of life, Darwinian Jerry Coyne is still being stubborn …


Earlier today, in A Man is a Woman, Winston, Barry Arrington asks us to imagine the reprogramming of people who think that words like “male” and “female” represent biological realities, which is somewhat like Winston’s mistake in imagining that 2 and 2 could make 4 even if the party needs them to make 5. In 1984 O’Brien tortured him out of that.

Darwinian evolutionary biologist Jerry “Why Evolution Is True” Coyne is refusing to follow Nature down the primrose path of political correctness and is doubling down on what people used to be allowed to accept as biological fact:

The shameful part of all this is that the scientific journal Nature, as well as three evolutionary biology/ecology societies, who should know better, made statements or editorials that neither sex nor gender are binary. That’s a flat-out abnegation of both their responsibility and of science itself. Evolution itself produces a binary of sex! To be anthropomorphic, evolution wants a binary of sex.

He is defending philosopher Alex Byrne, who wrote on this theme at Medium. criticizing Anne-Fausto Sterling’s op-ed in the New York Times, “Why Sex is not binary.”

Coyne goes on:

As a (former) scientist, it’s distressing to me to see my fellow progressive scientists twist and deform biology out of all recognition so that it buttresses their ideology. We don’t need to do that. Our ideology is a good one—much preferable to discriminating against groups based on (supposed) biological differences—but we should ground it in reason, not biology. And the reason is simple, recognized long before biology became a discipline: we should, in a good and caring society, treat all people as we would wish to be treated were we in their position. (This reciprocity is embodied in the ethical philosophy of John Rawls.)

Of course the Authoritarian Left will demonize people like Byrne (I can already anticipate him being called a “transphobe”), and it’s not pleasant for me to criticize the Society for the Study of Evolution, of which I was once President, for distorting biology in the interest of social justice. I share their goals, but as a biologist I don’t share the “scientific” assertions cooked up to buttress those goals. Jerry Coyne, “Once again: Why sex is binary” at Why Evolution Is True (blog)

Coyne seems to think that the Society still has goals he can share (“I share their goals but…”) but that remains to be seen. There may be plenty more new goals where these came from and old goals could end up being demonized. That happens a lot among the Woke.

As I (O’Leary for News) have tried explaining elsewhere, when the SJWs come for scientists, it can get ugly fast:

Here’s what’s been happening: The social justice mob has gone all non-binary. That would be no more significant than shocking pink hair except for two things:

1. They want to impose on biologists the idea that male and female are just social constructs.

2. The biologists believe that humans are animals.

Now, if you didn’t believe that humans are animals, you could always just say: “Well, among cattle, there are bulls and there are cows – and it sure pays to know the difference when you are working with them. Among gorillas, there are great big silverbacks (males) and then there are she-gorillas. But humans, of course, can be non-binary because we aren’t animals.”

Having decided a long time ago that humans are animals, however, and even that we are related to gorillas and closely related to chimps, the biologists are kind of stuck.

The social justice warriors are closing in, as one evolutionary biologist, Colin Wright, riskily relates:

Recently, this fear has been realized as social justice activists attempt to jump the epistemological shark by claiming that the very notion of biological sex, too, is a social construct.

Yes. And fear is forcing science journals to publish articles implying that the idea has merit.

Even more recently, the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, Nature, published an editorial claiming that classifying people’s sex “on the basis of anatomy or genetics should be abandoned” and “has no basis in science” and that “the research and medical community now sees sex as more complex than male and female.” In the Nature article, the motive is stated clearly enough: acknowledging the reality of biological sex will “undermine efforts to reduce discrimination against transgender people and those who do not fall into the binary categories of male or female.” But while there is evidence for the fluidity of sex in many organisms, this is simply not the case in humans. We can acknowledge the existence of very rare cases in humans where sex is ambiguous, but this does not negate the reality that sex in humans is functionally binary. These editorials are nothing more than a form of politically motivated, scientific sophistry. Colin Wright, “The New Evolution Deniers” at Quillette

Actually, these editorials are warnings for people like Wright to conform to the nonsense or get buried:

What these articles leave out is the fact that the final result of sex development in humans are unambiguously male or female over 99.98 percent of the time. Thus, the claim that “2 sexes is overly simplistic” is misleading, because intersex conditions correspond to less than 0.02 percent of all births, and intersex people are not a third sex. Intersex is simply a catch-all category for sex ambiguity and/or a mismatch between sex genotype and phenotype, regardless of its etiology. Furthermore, the claim that “sex is a spectrum” is also misleading, as a spectrum implies a continuous distribution, and maybe even an amodal one (one in which no specific outcome is more likely than others). Biological sex in humans, however, is clear-cut over 99.98 percent of the time. Colin Wright, “The New Evolution Deniers” at Quillette More.

Reality check. At least Wright knows he is living dangerously. But in a world where there is a war on correct answers in general, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: Is Darwinist Jerry Coyne starting to get it about SJW “science”? Ah, not a moment too soon.; Here is a perfect specimen of sp. SJW, Trollus inyerfaceus. We have certainly dealt with them. Coyne may find some in his own back yard.

The perfect storm: Darwinists meet the progressive “evolution deniers” — and cringe… Double down cringe…

The Darwinians’ cowardice before SJW mobs explained in detail: They thought the mob was coming for someone else.

Rob Sheldon: Have a little pity for scientists scared of SJWs. I thought the Areo article was the most honest I have met in a long while. It is one thing to boast about courage in the faculty lounge, it is quite another in the provost’s office. I have been cursed with both experiences.

Larry Krauss? Francisco Ayala? And now Neil deGrasse Tyson? (All are pop science bigs, accused of sexual harassment.)

News, shame is about moral government. Thus we face the IS-OUGHT gap. How can ought be bridged to is, apart from at the root of reality? What candidate is better than the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature? KF kairosfocus
The significance of the story is actually that the SJWs have now turned their bicycle chains on science. This is so whether we think individuals in science had the right emphasis or not. So far, the news is not good. Most are capitulating like bureaucrats. Coyne, au contraire, seems unfazed by the types of events that got Bret Weinstein ejected at Evergreen. But Coyne (b. 1949) is retirement age so he may continue to be a good source of information when others have fled or offered public apologies to mobs while wearing metaphorical dunce caps. Yes, it's sad. On the other hand, they helped build it. They could help dismantle it if they wanted to. News
Jerry Coyne is still a prominent evolutionary biologist, atheist and distinctly left wing. He usually goes out of hos way to disagree with anything the right has to say. News must have been surprised and had to report it. But it does make me wonder if he would have been fired for using the correct pronouns and not the pronouns of choice. ET
Who exactly cares about J. Coyne? Why do you guys regularly jump into rivers tied to this or that dumb rock? Clue: if no one comments on a posting, you've likely missed the mark. Nonlin.org

Leave a Reply