randombio.com | Science Dies in Unblogginess | Believe All Science | Follow The Science
Wednesday, September 01, 2021 | Political Commentary

Do people ever say what they believe?

If, as is now claimed, people are saying things they don't really believe, we are justified in ignoring everything they say

W henever someone says ‘This will all end in tears’, I'm always tempted to ask ‘How will we know? How will that be different from the tears we're in now?’ Or when they say ‘I slept like a baby,’ I take that to mean they woke up every 1½ hours and screamed their head off.

Well, maybe they did, but more likely those sayings are merely metaphorical. But many people are now happy to claim that the idiotic things they say in public are only metaphors and aren't intended to be taken seriously. They don't seem to realize this means we're justified in ignoring everything they say.

Exhibit A: a remark by a commenter at Quillette.

Denial of biological differences is not a liberal mainstream belief. And in any case surgical interventions & taking hormones are hardly the actions of those unaware of their biological sex that's why they have them. References to 'trans women being women' is not meant to be literal but a psychological equivalence.

What this commenter is saying is that he wants to say outrageously false things to get attention while denying that what he's saying is false. If he really believes this, he needs to get out more and actually talk to liberals. Many really do believe—or claim to believe—there are more than two sexes and that wearing the costume of the other sex literally makes you one. Hence the fake news stories we're being bombarded with about couples of “men” having babies, while forgetting to state that one (or both) of them was not an actual male at all.

In my discussions with a liberal (which I eventually gave up when they stopped answering and started just calling me names), the discussion went like this. (My question was chopped up in the reply.)

Q: You said you believe biological sex is binary. . .

A: NEVER SAID THAT! (If I did, I don't remember, nor have the context). Can't be binary with humans born with 3 sex genes; I heard a story on NPR (could have been 'Fresh Air') about a woman born XXY. It was quite a story along with info on these unorthodox sex genes. . . . I believe we are born and develop environmentally on a continuum of male to female.

Q: . . . Congratulations on that, but that is not what your fellow left-wingers believe. They think sex is literally a continuum . . .

A: IT IS!!!!!!! It's not just 100% male & 100% female, which would deny the reality of gays, trans, and whatever.

Q: . . . and they will cancel anyone who says it's not. Articles claiming that sex is a continuum have even turned up in Nature magazine. . .

A: They must know something you don't.

Q: . . . If you haven't heard of all this, it means your sources aren't as broad as you think.

A: Surprise! Of course I've heard of this, and believe in a biological continuum as expressed above.

Notice what's happening: they equivocate between biological sex, which is binary and immutable, and the psychological perception of sexuality, which is the domain of fantasy, imagination, and emotional feelings, and then take that logic back to conclude that biological sex is not binary at all. This liberal states plainly that they think sex is a biological continuum, and that's apparently what NPR wanted its listeners to think (although I can't verify that, as I missed that particular NPR broadcast).

This is called concept creep: 'sex' now means whatever a person feels in their head; 'trauma' now means anything uncomfortable; and unwelcome words are now a form of 'violence', justifying a literally violent response or an arrest for 'hate crime' and a radical revision of the First Amendment. What motivates it? What we used to call PC has always been a form of pretense: pretending that things are not the way they are to acquire status as more-transgressive-than-thou. It's a form of magical thinking, that saying something makes it so. But more than that, they get the joy of sounding like obnoxious jerks, which seems to bring happiness to a certain class of people.

Almost everything on twitter that's not either informational or trivial falls into this category. It seems clear that the main effect of stuff like this will be to discredit ‘gender’ as a meaningful concept. Which means that libs will have to invent some new logical absurdity, and maybe that's why they're doing it.

What about conservatives?

Conservatives often bring up the idea that the confusion about sex is resulting in men being allowed into women's bathrooms. This appeals to the yuk factor, or what Jonathan Haidt calls the sanctity / degradation dimension, which distinguishes libs from cons.

In practice it's less of a problem than one might think. I've worked with architects and building designers, and all of them would have jumped for joy at the prospect of eliminating restrooms altogether. In many public buildings in the USA, such as hospitals, we no longer have sex-segregated restrooms. They are single-occupant only. You can see this by the long line of patients lined up at the door. The line gets even longer when an occupant forgets to leave the door open after they leave.

The problem with politics is not so much misinformation, but that politics is a way of simplifying a worldview. Instead of examining evidence, we judge truth by whether it accords with what we wish to be true and by how much it angers our political opponents. And so we get articles like “Follow the science toward tyranny” by Ken Masugi, who writes

human beings want to be free and reject rules they did not create. Applied directly to society, the methods of natural science would destroy the ways of a free nation.

One reason I never called myself a conservative is their rejectionism and their unquenchable desire to cave to the opposition. Leftists say 'follow the science' to impose their collectivist tyrannical restrictions on us. Therefore science is tyrannical and must be rejected . . . sigh. . . .

The CDC is a public health agency, stuffed with government bureaucrats itching to invent new rules, that does science almost for a hobby. Lefties falsely claim 'the science' dictates this and that, and some—though thankfully not all—conservatives accept it and fall into the stupidity trap.

Or maybe, like that commenter at Quillette, we could just say cons don't really believe this—it's not meant to be a literal but a psychological equivalence to truth.

If that's where we are, and nothing anyone says in America today is intended to represent the actual truth, and is only being said for effect, then we can't believe anything they say. And if they actually mean it, they're misinformed and we still can't believe anything they say. Win-win.

sep 01 2021, 6:12 am

Related Articles

Sex and gender: the biological facts
Why do some people think biological sex is a continuum? Here are some commonly asked questions about sex and gender

What does the Y chromosome do?
Is it really possible for a person to change sex? Do other animals have Y chromosomes? Some facts about our most beloved chromosome

Gender is a meaningless term
If nobody knows what gender you are from one minute to the next, the word ceases to have any practical meaning.

On the Internet, no one can tell whether you're a dolphin or a porpoise

book reviews