Is it about to snap? Sure hope so. Reality must be defended by working academics and scientists and the journals who publish them. They have to stay in their jobs, toxic as it may be to do so, and stand up. Some, like you, have had to leave to pave the way. Even Richard Dawkins was cancelled and stripped of an award! When enough of them finally do stand up, the mainstream media will follow their lead. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if this keeps going on, if science really has been destroyed by these SJW mythologies. But that's not really possible--the scientific method and approach is a wonderful human invention that will be rediscovered, because nothing else is as useful in helping humans get to the truth about our physical world.

Expand full comment

Wish that truth will triumph, but at 94 , I wonder if that’s going to happen in my lifetime! This is such a global phenomenon.. the lies are swallowed and regurgitated at such an alarming rate! There are so many people profiting from it or scared to say the emperor has no clothes !

This is beyond an ideology of limited fascism . Eventually, maybe truth will prevail... I hope!

Expand full comment

My mother is 94 too, and she wonders the same thing. Very sadly, it may not turn around in her lifetime or yours. Maybe not in mine either...but I do think there is some hope for science...and scientists. All we can do is our best to scatter seeds of wisdom for future generations and hope some grow. In a way, to be psychologically sane, I need to let go of the "when." It's the only way I can keep from going mad with grief.

Expand full comment

This ideology and its effect on so many people whether children abused in the interest of “kindness” when they really need psychotherapy or adults fired from their jobs for not bowing down to lies.In that way, I am reminded of the authoritarian regime under which I grew up where one dared not oppose the ideology. That is what concerns me the most.This authoritarianism is much more invasive,because it’s not limited to one or two countries. It has to be stopped.

Expand full comment

I love your optimism!

Expand full comment

Well, it's a perfect sunny day in the northwest after a very long winter and cold and wet spring, so I woke up on "the sunny side." Not how I feel all the time!

Expand full comment

Well, every day that we open our eyes and see the ceiling, it's a blessing! The first thing I say every morning when I wake up is "Thank you!" I have a feeling that you do, too! Enjoy that perfectly sunny day...

Expand full comment

Colin: You are, of course, correct, and I support your ongoing efforts. However, I wonder to what degree the conversation will change until there is what Thomas Kuhn referred to as a "paradigm shift." The claims to which you refer are so outlandish, in my opinion, that a reasoned rebuttal is futile. It's analogous to using geology to dissuade someone who believes in the flat Earth theory. Further, when people devolve into obscenities and childish ad hominem attacks (as in the example you provided), they are revealing serious psychological issues that have nothing to do with the substance of the debate. And, they are just engaging in theatrics for their own aggrandizement. Arguing with a person like that is a losing proposition.

Again, I respect your courage and fortitude to keep plugging away. But, I really think this pseudo-intellectual edifice will not collapse until it becomes so unwieldy that it crumbles of its own weight. Of course, your pressures against it (and, to a lesser extent, mine) may hasten its demise, but only slightly, I fear. Sincerely, Frederick

Expand full comment

“But, I really think this pseudo-intellectual edifice will not collapse until it becomes so unwieldy that it crumbles of its own weight.”

It’s already collapsing of its own weight. I see it every day. Like Humpty Dumpty, it’s having a great fall.

Expand full comment

I wish you were right . I need some sanity !

Expand full comment

Great piece! I can't even understand what PZ thinks he's saying. Does he believe there are no categories distinguishing human reproductive systems and it's just a coincidence that babies never seem to come out of the people with penises? Or is he saying that people with penises who like MCU movies reproduce in a fundementally differently way than those who like Masterpiece theater? Sex is not intended to capture literally every aspect of a person's personality or identity!

Expand full comment

Catherine: "! I can't even understand what PZ thinks he's saying."

Indeed. Entirely different and quite antithetical ways of looking at the issue.

Basically, apparently and to some extent, the difference between lumpers -- PZ and his ilk -- and splitters -- Colin and his more or less credible tribe:

"Lumpers and splitters are opposing factions in any discipline that has to place individual examples into rigorously defined categories. The lumper–splitter problem occurs when there is the desire to create classifications and assign examples to them ..."


Apropos of which, you ever take a close look at the standard biological definitions promulgated in the peer-reviewed journal on Molecular Human Reproduction?


They basically "split" the defining traits down to a single necessary and sufficient condition -- i.e., functional gonads of either of two types. In notable contradistinction to Colin's rather idiosyncratic and quite unscientific definitions that "lump" 3 sufficient conditions -- i.e., "gonads of past, present, or future functionality" -- only one of which is necessary, into the category.

Entirely different kettles of fish. Not to mention pots and kettles of varying shades of black ...

Expand full comment
May 9, 2023Liked by Colin Wright

It must be so demoralizing for you as a scientist. Thank you for standing up for the truth.

Expand full comment

I’m sure Collin gets the feeling at times that he is the lonely voice in the wilderness. . .

Expand full comment
May 9, 2023Liked by Colin Wright

Edit needed:

“but to make matters worse, the Washington Post published a nonsensical article by Jennifer Finney Boylan, an English professo, who argued...”

Expand full comment

Lysenkoism is back in style again. But these academics and journalists who parrot gender nonsense have no excuse--they will not be arrested and executed by Stalin’s henchmen. I guess they must be true believers earning virtue points.

Expand full comment

Is 'the sex binary' an actual term in biology? Or has it seeped in recently from leftist politics?

PZ Meyers, IMHO, went off the rails quite some time ago. He went Lysenkoist (in the broad sense, not the specifically biological sense) well before the Great Awokening and the complete radicalization/crazification of the American left.

Expand full comment

Thank you Colin! Yes , the future belongs to those of us who stand firm in the face of delusion and deceit” !

Let’s hope that there are enough people of courage and conviction, like you!

I’m hoping for a groundswell of those who say “Yes !” To truth!

It must happen !

Expand full comment

With Riley Gaines calling all female athletes to take a stand against male bodies in women's sports events, we'll witness the practical ramifications of various false theories supporting sex spectrum ideology. We are also hearing that studies of "post-op" individuals who made life changing decisions to "change gender" come up with results like "lost to follow-up" and "gender incongruence." The latter meaning the patient was so confused that the researchers' data shows "non-binary or other identification" from the supposed sex the surgeries were mimicking. The conflicts of interest prevent otherwise trained, logical academics from seeing the long term results truthfully. Link to the reporting on the EPATH illogic here:


Expand full comment

I hope you’re right that we’re on the brink of a return to sanity.

The idiocy that social media platforms in support of Gender Identity Theory is infuriating. The attitudes of activists frankly remind me of the stereotypical bro charging into a martial arts gym claiming jiu-jitsu doesn’t work… right before getting embarrassed. The problem today is we hear all of the posturing, the bad ideas virtue signaled on Twitter go unchecked (except by people like Colin Wright, biology “black belt”.)

Expand full comment

It would be good to explicitly say and expand on why the gamete size definition is far from arbitrary. How does this fact, along with others, provide superior predictive power?

I think I see the appeal of the gender non-binary to many. On the surface it seems like a paradigm shift with superior explanatory powers, and like other paradigm shifts (classical mechanics to quantum mechanics) it requires new background propositions (sex is not binary). What I don’t see from this new “paradigm shift” are the superior predictive powers.

Expand full comment

I meant the sex binary, not gender binary.

Expand full comment

It’s easy to fall into that trap ! Sex is binary , gender is a made up construct.

Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)May 10, 2023
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Yes and no, as I recall. (And it’s not even that long ago... just seems like this new nonsense has been going on forever. Sigh.) “Gender” was/is indeed often used as a euphemism for (interchangeable with) sex, for those too prudish to use the more accurate word (because it also refers to the act, not the biological/physiological categorization). It was also (and presumably still is) used by linguists to distinguish between forms of words in those languages that have such a distinction. (Not so much English, other than (of course) pronouns; but German, Romance languages, Slavic languages, and undoubtedly others have (seemingly arbitrarily) gendered nouns and corresponding adjectives. And a few of those languages have three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.)

Agree with Renate Bob that the term “gender” as it is used/abused today is mostly a made-up construct, reliant on stereotypes about (though maybe also to some extent actual inherent differences between) men and women, and boys and girls.

Expand full comment

Do you know who first proposed that males and females are defined by the size of their gamete? I'm curious about this history because (contrary to some claims) it is not a new idea: it was in every biology textbook for many decades. But so far I have been unable to find where and when it started...

Expand full comment

Here's a starting point:

In 1677, Dutch microbiologist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to see spermatozoa. In 1827, Karl Ernst von Baer discovered the mammalian ovum. About 50 years later, Oscar Hertwig observed the fusion of starfish ova and sperm. That should probably bracket the timeline. If you come across the first reference to sex based on gamete size, please share with me. I would like to know, too.

Expand full comment

Y'all might want to check out Google's Ngram viewer:



Not quite sure how to use it myself, particularly for checking sources & publications that use the term "gamete", but the indicated link may provide a useful starting point.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment

De nada; share the wealth, praise the lord and pass the ammunition ... 😉🙂

But you might also note the section on the Google Book sources, one of which is the 1909 Edinburgh Obstetrical Society, though not sure how accurate the descriptions are, how consistent they are with current knowledge:


Expand full comment

Thank you!!!!

Expand full comment

It’s been going on since forever. Ancients and many generations since may not have known a thing about gametes or biology as a science , but they knew men and women, a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the Like on the NGram viewer -- hope you find it of some use. 🙂

But "men" and "women" are matters of definition -- those definitions, and the underlying ones for "male" and "female", change and have changed all the time. "female" once meant "she who suckles" -- Jenner & his ilk might qualify:


People generally knew historically there were significant differences between "men" and "women", but it is only recently that we've created hard-edged definitions for them -- "adult human male" & "adult human female" -- and for the sexes themselves.

Expand full comment

“Thanks for the Like on the NGram viewer -- “

You’re quite welcome. 🙂

Definitions of men and women may change at times, and from one culture to another, but the underlying reality is always there, call it what you will. The hard edged definitions such as “adult human female/male” with their large and small gametes is meant for today’s gender geniuses with their debating society, I think. What Collin expounds on I’ve known since junior high, from the textbooks.

Yes, it’s all spelled out there, large and small gametes and all the rest. Man and woman, it’s no great mystery, not even a small one.

Expand full comment

> "... the underlying reality is always there ..."

The only "underlying reality" is gametes and gonads and genitalia. How we create definitions that use those facts is something of a matter of choice, a matter of "social construction".

Something that Catherine Hawkins usefully underlined with her "Definitions are human inventions and can certainly change to incorporate new understanding" in her recent guest post here:


> "... meant for today’s gender geniuses with their debating society, I think. ..."

Not really or not entirely. A major problem with the transgender clusterfuck is that pretty much every last "man", "woman", and otherkin has a different definition for the relevant terms, "man", "woman", "male", and "female" in particular. Something which Colin more or less recognized some 3 years ago, at least relative to "gender":


Really don't think we're going to resolve the issue until we can agree on definitions for those terms. And which better ones than those that are "hard-edged", that have some currency in reputable biological journals?

See philosopher Will Durant's comments on Voltaire's quip:

“ 'If you wish to converse with me', said Voltaire, 'define your terms.' How many a debate would have been deflated into a paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms! This is the alpha and omega of logic, the heart and soul of it, that every important term in serious discourse shall be subjected to strictest scrutiny and definition. It is difficult, and ruthlessly tests the mind; but once done it is half of any task. — Will Durant"


Expand full comment

So why even care what an English professor or anthropologist, for that matter, has to say about biology. They have no more authority than my gardener does. Stick to their own disciplines

Expand full comment

The man named Prof. "Jennifer" Finney Boylan is also a featured player on the old Bruce (call me "Caitlyn") Jenner reality show. In one episode he traded hairstyle and makeup tips with another man named "Candis" Cane while they were sharing a hotel room together in New Orleans. In other episodes he served as "Caitlyn's mentor." Boylan also co-wrote a novel with the best selling romance novelist (40 million books in print), Jodi Picoult. Now with a curriculum vitae like that, is it any wonder that Mr. "Jennifer" branched out to biology?


Expand full comment

I may not be the brightest but I still have some working brain cells, and I had to shut down some of the few I have left in order to read that paragraph out of the SA article. "Childcare capacity?" "Interest in literature?" I'm surprised he didn't include "Likelihood to wear makeup." The ridiculousness and lack of seriousness displayed by the "intellectuals" in this cult is Exhibit A as to why some have lost respect for many in academia.

Expand full comment

<blockquote > Lastly, I want to highlight a common fallacy deployed by people like PZ Myers and Agustin Fuentes, which is to falsely equate what people are with who they are.</blockquote >

Which is reflected in the common mantra of support for trans identities, that “trans people are <i >who</i> they say they are.” Unless we think they’ve stolen a credit card or they’re claiming to be the rightful ruler of Romania we’re not questioning “who” they say they are, but “what” they say they are: male as opposed to female, female as opposed to male, or some other option. Sex is a category; they want it treated as an identity.

Ironically, this argument from an atheist about people being reduced to gametes if sex is about gametes echos the common theistic complaint that if we leave out the soul, then people are “reduced” to molecules. But we’re so much more than molecules! We’re so much more than gametes! A molecule can’t appreciate a sunset and a gamete can’t put on heels and do the cha-cha. Bring in the (gender) soul and all is complex and nuanced again.

PZ accuses you of the fallacy of reductionism, yet seems to be making a different form of that fallacy.

Expand full comment

Sastra: Sex is a category; they want it treated as an identity.

Exactly right. Though that the sexes are categories is something that many people don't seem to have a flaming clue about, or that to qualify as a member one has to be able to pay the "membership dues". Can't wear the "gang's colours" if one can't pay those dues. See:

"sex: 2) Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions."


The "dues" in question there being "reproductive FUNCTION" -- no tickee, no washee.

Sastra: ... echos the common theistic complaint that if we leave out the soul, then people are “reduced” to molecules.

Bingo! 🙂 Apropos of which, you might have some interest in this absolutely brilliant insight and succinctly phrased analogy from "Radfem Black" (RFB):

RFB: "You gonna tell people they’re 'reducing beings to their bones' next for saying that a vertebrate is a creature with a spine? (obviously you’re not one 🤡💀)."


The people that RFB was targeting -- direct hit -- might just as well say that calling someone a teenager is "reducing people to their ages"; "doncha know that humans are so much more than an age?!" 🙄

Seems that many people -- those ones in particular -- don't realize that categories are just abstractions and "social constructions". We PERCEIVE that various entities have traits in common -- age ranges, possession of spines (many politicians & the Woke excluded ...), and functional gonads -- and give or assign names -- "teenager", "vertebrate", and "male" & "female", respectively -- to entire groups and members of them. Many if not most of those targeted are turning those abstractions into "identities", into concrete entities -- the "sin", the logical fallacy of reification:


But you in particular might have some further interest in my "What is a woman?" post which basically takes RFB's tweet as the over-arching theme of it:


Expand full comment
May 10, 2023·edited May 10, 2023

Amused to hear PZ Meyer's name again. Not at all surprised by his stance on the issue.

Expand full comment

You might be further "amused" to note that at one point PZ's "stance" was that, "By the technical definition [for the sexes], many cis women are not female":


Stopped clocks and all that -- by the standard biological definitions stipulated in reputable journals like Molecular Human Reproduction [MHR], he is quite correct. Though he was rather less than "amused" when I called him on it on his blog; no sense of humour -- or of intellectual honesty (lot of that goin' round these days).

But see the Glossary definitions in this MHR article for corroboration, apart from which makes a solid case why "gametic" definitions are hardly "arbitrary":

"Female: Biologically, the female sex is defined as the adult phenotype that produces [present tense indefinite] the larger gametes in anisogamous systems.

Male: Biologically, the male sex is defined as the adult phenotype that produces [present tense indefinite] the smaller gametes in anisogamous systems."

"Gamete competition, gamete limitation, and the evolution of the two sexes" (Lehtonen & Parker [FRS]):


Expand full comment