Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why I'm glad I'm not P.Z. Myers

I'm busy preparing a longer piece right now, but in looking through my archives I was struck by a quote from just year ago.

The post was about a debate on family between a Catholic archbishop and a professor of biology. The archbishop had argued against gay marriage on the grounds that it meant accepting that fathers or mothers were unnecessary within a family:

What will happen to children growing up in a world where the law teaches them that moms and dads are interchangeable and therefore unnecessary...

How did the professor, P.Z. Myers, respond? With this:

I think a world where moms and dads are interchangeable in their roles and responsibilities in child-raising would be a fine place to live. Aside from nursing (and again, biologists will fix that someday, too), men and women can change diapers, attend PTA meetings, play ball, give hugs, cook, and read bedtime stories equally well...

Professor Myers presents himself as a voice of secular liberal reason. He is an academic who writes a well-read blog. And yet he approves of interchangeability between the sexes to the degree that he wants his fellow biologists to "fix" things so that men will breastfeed babies.

I'm glad that I'm still startled by such expressions of liberal modernity. It's not a mindset I ever want to inhabit.


  1. Presumably a world 'where moms and dads are interchangeable' is supposed to be a finer place than the world as it presently is. That, of course, is inevitable for a progressivist, but lurking behind that supposition is a profound hatred for what we know we are as human beings.

    The proposed paradise of the Transhumanists seems always to be built upon the charred corpses of actual men and women. Upon the remains, that is, of those we love.

  2. According to P Z Myers,"....men and women can change diapers, attend PTA meetings, play ball, give hugs, cook, and read bedtime stories equally well..."

    Not in my experience they can't. What Myers means by 'can' is 'ought to' - in his unisex world.

  3. Liberals also tend to have wet dreams of the "singularity". This attitude seems to descend from the belief in evolution and Darwinism itself in combination with other forms of thought that make up liberalism. Of course another contradiction that liberals tend to possess is the belief that we are overpopulated and going to die of global warming, global cooling or climate change.

  4. This guy is arguing that the idea that women should breastfeed is a "naturalistic fallacy". Which is that just because women have been endowed by nature to breastfeed it doesn't mean that its "right" for them to breastfeed. Eeek.

  5. My understanding is that he's not a "professor," at least in the way that term is understood in Australia. In the US they pretty much apply professor to any teaching academic staff member. It would be more accurate to call him a 'lecturer' or whatever the Australian equivalent, when speaking in an Australian context.

  6. "....men and women can change diapers "


    "attend PTA meetings,"

    Sorta, women are better at talking and making contacts which is why mothers usually dominate those boards.

    "play ball,"

    Sorry, girls caint throw.

    "give hugs,"

    Yup, but to most people a hug from a mum and one from a dad are very different things.


    When they bother to learn men are much better cooks.

    "and read bedtime stories"

    Don't doubt it.

    But what they cannot do

    "equally well..."

    is provide a model for their children on how the different genders interract in the real world outside universities, where different genders do exist and are not a fantastical "social construct".

    This is information a child needs and cannot get from an outside culture that denies the information exists.

    A kid can recover from not having strong role models of both genders just as strong plants can grow in weak soil, but it is certainly harder. The evidence for that is sadly all around our eyes [and sometimes in my bedroom].

  7. I'm conflicted about this. Myers, just like the other "New Atheists" such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris, Coyne etc, is an irritating new atheist and a knee-jerk liberal. They are just embarassing.

    But I think that it is inevitable that homo sapiens will one day undergo speciation. Most likely pushed by revolutionary technology rather than evolutionary biology.

    The problem is that revolutionary technology may throw out the moral baby with the material bath water.

    So we should be looking at trying to keep what is good in our cultural traditions. Constructivism in technology, conservatism in morality.

  8. "Constructivism in technology, Conservatism in morality" is a good formulation.

    Speciation may be the future of our kind, but it will not happen overnight and it will not be a club into which some of us may choose to join. Nor can we know anything about it. Planning for it is like making real estate investments in The New Jerusalem.

    Our present electrical technology is fragile and expensive. (One indication of the cost is found in the after effects of rare earth mining.) New, robust and affordable technologies may arise and they may push Homo sapiens into unexpected speciations, but this feels like a stretch to me. Environmental stress is the more likely cause. In the event, the process will be invisible to all living through those generations.

    Conservatism, in any case, is a matter of what is at hand.

  9. Myers isn't that much about interchangeability of sexes here(read the previous post):


    To repeat novaseeker from previous post's comments:

    "He's not really sex-neutral, he's pro-female and anti-male."

    Though I must correct this:

    "That makes sense when you consider that eliminating sex/gender means feminization, because we all actually start life as female-type in the womb, but some of us differentiate into male type."

    We don't start off as female-type in the womb, we start off undifferentiated.
    Testosterone differentiates males from females in layman's terms, however testes formation from the undifferentiated gonads, and hence testosterone production is the default setting for humans.


    For me, the elimination of genders/sex means the elimination of sexuality, and thus elimination of females/femaleness to a much larger degree than males/maleness.

    However the removal of sexuality isn't even a consideration in their view, but that of unbridled sexuality couched in terms of "love", which selects for femaleness rather than maleness.

  10. Liberals also tend to have wet dreams of the "singularity". This attitude seems to descend from the belief in evolution and Darwinism itself in combination with other forms of thought that make up liberalism.

    Elizabeth, I'm not sure what you're talking about but Evolutionary theory does not teach that the sexes are the same.

  11. "Elizabeth, I'm not sure what you're talking about but Evolutionary theory does not teach that the sexes are the same."

    The "singularity" (in it's connection to the Darwinian theory) has its basic premises of endless progression and always evolving (evolution). We evolve into new beings and alter our natures. We can become men or women (sometimes we are masters of our own universe or the god is in us because the individual and liberty is supreme). We come into this world with no creator but by random chance and materialism or naturalism is all that there is. Evolution may not explicitly teach that there are no differences between the sexes but its philosophy will lead to this conclusion sooner or later because of the whole concept of materialism, progression, evolution and other things alike.

  12. This is pretty bizarre.

    The guy's a biologist, a big evolution fan, and a materialist. He presumably thinks that human life is an immensely complicated physical system that's grown up and arrived at its present state over the course of several billion years.

    Sexual dimorphism has been part of that system since the Cambrian period. Nonetheless, he's confident that the behavioral aspects of human sex distinctions can be done away with just by deciding to do so, maybe with the help of some drugs or surgery or whatever that he and his buddies are going to come up with. That's going to be a big benefit.

    The socialists found out that you can't just intervene in a complex evolved system and force it to do whatever you want. If that applies to the Russian economy, why wouldn't it apply to something much more complicated, like human beings and human life generally?