Glinner evokes the mob!

Oh no! Graham Linehan mentions me again!

He gets everything wrong again. I’m not practicing “mob-friendly pseudoscience” — the kind of stuff I do doesn’t find favor with pseudoscientists or mobs. Rather, Glinner leads a hate-mob himself, and if anyone is going to get mobbed today, it’s me, descended upon by the anti-trans loons endemic to the UK. So far, it hasn’t happened — maybe Linehan is losing his social potency? Or maybe the fact that the article is not great, and is published in a magazine for conservative twits?

He’s highlighting an exercise in pedantry published in some magazine called “The Critic”. I never heard of it before, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.

The Critic is a monthly British political and cultural magazine. Contributors include David Starkey, Joshua Rozenberg, Peter Hitchens and Toby Young.

The magazine was founded in November 2019, with Michael Mosbacher, former editor of Standpoint, and Christopher Montgomery, a strategist with the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, as co-editors. It was funded by Jeremy Hosking, a Conservative party donor who had previously donated to Standpoint.

I’m not familiar with many UK political figures, but I’ve heard of Peter Hitchens (vapid gasbag) and Toby Young (eugenics cheerleader and generally awful human being), so I’ve already got a sense of the flavor of the magazine. I think I don’t need to read further.

I did check out the recommended “great piece” though. It’s familiar stuff; it’s the same Twitter nonsense I criticized before. He has two points that he babbles about. One is that I’m breeding spiders, therefore I know deep-down that sex is real.

Recently, Myers has started breeding spiders, a project which he is documenting in great detail on twitter. What I found intriguing is that in his spider updates, any uncertainty about the reality of sex or how many sexes there are, seems to be forgotten. When he charted the growth of his arachnoid pets, he used two colours: yellow for spider-girls and blue for spider-boys with no need for intermediate hues. His blog is full of references to his female spiders producing eggs — never the males, whose function is to provide the sperm ideally without getting eaten by their mates. Quite how his spiders know about sex, given that it is (according to Myers) a social construct, is never explained.

This is gender-critical bullshit. Recognizing that sex and gender are concepts that are interpreted and shaped by culture does not mean that I deny the reality of gametes, and reproduction, and egg-laying, and different roles by individuals in sex. You’d think they’d figure out that all my posts about breeding spiders must mean that I don’t deny that sex exists, but no, they think it’s some kind of big gotcha. Tell me that you don’t understand the role of culture in sexual behavior without telling me in so many words that you don’t understand the role of culture in sexual behavior.

Also, curious fact about my yellow and blue chart lines: those are assigned after the fact. We’re charting growth from the day of eclosion, when sex is indetectable, and we get our first hint about a month later when the later-identified females have a surge in growth (but it’s not a rigid distinction — there’s a lot of overlap), and about two weeks later they go through a molt and we see a distinct difference in palp size. Then I go into the spreadsheet and add the label for sex.

His second criticism, and the one he dedicates most of his article to, is the complaint that sex can’t be bimodal because we can’t quantify maleness and femaleness, that we can’t define the degree to which someone is male or female.

EXACTLY. That’s what I say.

To him, though, that means sex has to be a strict binary, unaffected by any cultural construction of the phenomenon, which is totally bonkers.

Sex isn’t bimodal, because it’s a category, not a value. Specific measurements can have all sorts of distributions (including bimodal) — and if those traits are bimodal, they likely have that shape precisely because we have two, and only two, sexes.

Oh. Sex is a category, and we have defined two, and only two categories, and therefore because we have constructed these categories, sex is binary and not at all constructed. Categories are absolute and magical, defined entirely outside the influence of human interpretation, and delineated by strict boundaries, defined by our cultural traditions in addition to variable biological properties.

OK, so if I add the categories “trans woman” and “trans man,” I have immanentized a new sexual reality, and can declare that sex is quaternary. Go ahead, add your own category, we can expand this indefinitely. All you have to do is come up with a definition that bounds your category. The boxes you find yourself in are entirely real.

By the way, I’ve operationally defined sex in spiders as trinary without even trying. I have these stacks of containers for spiders, and there are three distinct sets: males, females that produce fertilized eggs (they have specific labels), and morphological females that have been exposed to a male but refuse to mate and therefore don’t lay eggs (and lack labels). Those are the categories set up in my lab, therefore they must be real. It can’t possibly be that the non-reproductive females have criteria for mating that go deeper than whether the male has palps or not.


  1. says

    …Christopher Montgomery, a strategist with the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs…

    In other words, purveyors of already-disproven rubbish. Dismissed.

  2. mamba says

    How does he know that none of your spiders are gay, effeminate, or asexual?
    How does he know that a male spider doesn’t feel like a female inside or vice versa?

    Maybe the only reason the “spiders are seemingly different than humans in sexual categories” is humans don’t talk to them in the same language so we don’t know what they are thinking sexually? Most other animals clearly show signs of gayness in nature randomly just as humans do (dolphins, monkeys, penguins, etc…), so he’s already wrong of course, but if he’s gonna poke you about spider sex parts, he’s still wrong and doesn’t even know it.

  3. cartomancer says

    As we all know, ethnicity evolved over two and a half thousand years ago. There are precisely two – and only two – ethnicities: Greek and Barbarian. How dare these ridiculous wokephoroi intimate otherwise! I’ve read my Herodotus! It says right here in Aristotle that Greeks and Barbarians are different in the nature of their rational capacities! That their cultures and customs are different. That they use different names for the gods and fight in different ways, and that the one is courageous and logical and democratic (except for when they aren’t) and the other is effeminate and slavish and dissolute.

    I mean, I don’t hate people who want to call themselves “British” or “Irish” or “Americans”, but classical ethnography says otherwise, so we really ought to legislate them out of existence and deny them vital medical care. Well, when they’re not denying themselves vital medical care. Okay, bad example. But the point still stands – Greek and Barbarian, and THAT’S IT!

  4. taikonotaiko says

    No one tell Glinner about bees! His tiny, shrivelled mind wouldn’t be able to take it.

  5. microraptor says

    Why are we using the term “gender critical” at this point? I thought that was just a TERF rebranding effort to make themselves sound better.

  6. wzrd1 says

    Yeah, woke up to enjoy a light meal of another idiot, who reliably informed me that humans are apex predators, mutations that allow humans to succeed in hostile environments cause diseases and those diseases are a natural form of population control.
    So, an omnivore is an apex predator is a tiny bit of a failure, not defining what a hostile environment is an abject failure, not defining these allegedly limiting diseases yet another and that was his first three sentences in a paragraph, with precisely zero support for those claims anywhere in the rest of his failing conjectures stated in the first three sentences.
    I could equally count humans as predators by pointing at ranchers, then disprove that humans are carnivores by pointing out farmers.
    I helpfully gave some indicators on what an apex predator is, using the orca successfully and routinely hunting great white sharks as an example and casually mentioning the fact that on every continent, something has and still does successfully hunt humans, from pumas, lions, tigers, sharks, wolves, well, save for Antarctica.
    And suggested he define these diseases that are “caused by mutations that allow humans to survive in hostile environments”, giving a failure at population control with just mentioning the quite common type 2 diabetes and its being quite ineffective at limiting reproduction, hence being an abject failure at population control.
    All, while preparing for my morning cup of coffee.

    That’s nearly as bad as someone trying to tell me humans have canine teeth, therefore are predators. Sharks lack canine teeth, so I guess that they’re herbivores?

  7. AstroLad says

    …save for Antarctica.

    Leopard seals have been known to attack humans, at least once fatally.

    I think it was Frank Worsley, captain of the Endurance on Ernest Shackleton’s ill fated voyage, that had to shoot one that was attacking him. I first read this more than 60 years ago in the Reader’s Digest version of Alfred Lansing’s book about the expedition. My memory may be a little hazy.

  8. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I find it interesting that Linehan is attacking you specifically given who one of his few remaining friends is.

    You know, the tedious wanker whose name rhymes with Spikal Blugent.

  9. says

    @7 I remember reading that book condensation, back when it was the last part of the Reader’s Digest magazine. My parents got the magazine, along with a number of others, monthly, and for many years got all the Readers Digest condensed books. Always having something to read in the house after I finished my library books was wonderful growing up. They kept older Readers Digest mags for years, so when I was about ten I read through several years worth starting in the mid-sixties. It’s nice to be reminded.

    As an adult I found the Lansing book Endurance at the library.

  10. Marissa van Eck says

    This is a fairly easy fallacy to spot though, isn’t it? He’s confusing the map (“sex is only two categories”) for the territory. Does he think the laws of physics are actual laws in the sense humans have them too?

    The distribution of sex (and gender!) is bimodal. The binary is a naive approximation. It’s not a useless one, but it’s also not the full story. What’s the formal name for the fallacy that includes mistaking the map for the territory?

  11. says

    Sometimes I wonder, do they believe that my (presumed) Y chromosome has a moral obligation encoded on it for me to wear pants and like football? Do they think pants and football are a billion years old?

    Just because I have a certain chromosome or a particular configuration of plumbing doesn’t mean I have to act according to very recently formed stereotypes. I just find them baffling.

  12. whywhywhy says

    #12 First question, are you Scottish? For some reason that negates the billion year old encoding of males wearing pants. (It also increases the odds of being incredibly polite while also swearing constantly.)

  13. Tethys says

    @Marissa Van Eck

    The binary is a naive approximation. It’s not a useless one, but it’s also not the full story. What’s the formal name for the fallacy that includes mistaking the map for the territory?

    According to wiki:

    In logic, the law of excluded middle (or the principle of excluded middle) states that for every proposition, either this proposition or its negation is true. It is one of the so-called three laws of thought, along with the law of noncontradiction, and the law of identity. However, no system of logic is built on just these laws, and none of these laws provides inference rules, such as modus ponens or De Morgan’s laws.

    The law is also known as the law (or principle) of the excluded third, in Latin principium tertii exclusi. Another Latin designation for this law is tertium non datur: “no third [possibility] is given”. It is a tautology.

    There is also an informal Fallacy of the Excluded Middle, aka False Dilemma, which states:

    A false dilemma, also referred to as false dichotomy or false binary, is an informal fallacy based on a premise that erroneously limits what options are available. The source of the fallacy lies not in an invalid form of inference but in a false premise.

    Is Glinner one of those slyme pit skeptics who is being victimized by their aggrieved sense of entitlement? He managed to evoke mobs, a false premise, and fail at logic in one sentence.

  14. StevoR says

    Talking of transphobes lying and inciting hate-filled misinformed mobs like another example in this morning’s news here :

    The letter, published on Tuesday in Launceston’s Examiner, was quickly re-shared on social media by trans-exclusionary groups, with one post viewed 74,000 times on Twitter and another shared 160 times on Facebook. A Tasmanian community page also posted the letter, with 150 shares. ..(snip).. The city of Launceston released a statement the same day, stating the letter had no basis in fact and that no such incident had occurred at the facility. Mayor Danny Gibson confirmed the council had never received a complaint about transwomen using female change rooms.

    “Disappointingly, the newspaper made no attempt to check the veracity of the letter with the council,” he said.

    “The publishing of this letter has, as you could expect, resulted in considerable angst and grief for council staff, particularly those at the front desk, at the aquatic centre, and indeed those on the ends of the telephone, who continue to be the subject of ongoing abuse. “I know I have, and I’m sure other councillors have also received additional information and letters concerning this, the tone of which is less than desirable.” Comments expressing transphobic sentiment were also present on social media posts..


    “I spoke to the writer. I think she made it up. She wasn’t very convincing. I asked her what happened, to give me some detail, a time, date, but she wouldn’t.” The Examiner published a clarification on Wednesday, stating, “unfortunately we appear to have been misled”, and that “after inquiries with the letter writer the Examiner has concerns that the letter contained incorrect information”.

    The council remained unsatisfied, with councillor Hugh McKenzie saying it was “hidden down the bottom and you wouldn’t have even seen it”. Mr Westfield was appointed editor of the Examiner — Tasmania’s second-largest newspaper, and Australia’s third oldest — in December. He was a former media adviser to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Westfield also advocated for the preselection of failed (& extremely transphobic far reichwing bigot – ed) Liberal candidate Katherine Deves at last year’s federal election and served as her campaign manager and media adviser.

    Source :

    Transphobes lie inciting fear and hate and real people – most of them cis in this case – get attacked and harmed. Familiar sad & infuriating story.

  15. bcw bcw says

    “Don’t tell them about the bees!” is my new phrase to mutter loudly on the subway.

  16. John Morales says

    Tethys @16,

    Logic is not limited to the two-valued, despite long dead Greek dudes classical notions.

    Exactly. The proposition that “In logic, the law of excluded middle (or the principle of excluded middle) states that for every proposition, either this proposition or its negation is true.” needs a quantifier to be universal — ternary logic has three truth-values.

  17. Roy says

    Modern conservatives are dividing humans into male v female just as past ones divided humans into black v white.

  18. Alt-X says

    Linehan Has to be the biggest disappointment I’ve ever met on Twitter.

    I get major “doth protest too much” vibes from him. I feel sad for the guy.

  19. lumipuna says

    StevoR at 17 – Practically identical manufactured controversy (about public pool facilities) took place here in Finland a couple weeks ago.