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Arete last won the day on January 18

Arete had the most liked content!


About Arete

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    Ecological speciation, functional genomics, phylogenetics, population genetics and evolution.
  • College Major/Degree
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Evolutionary Biology
  • Occupation
    Assistant Professor


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  1. While I don't think one can generalize about everyone's reason for refusing the COVID vaccine, there certainly are a number of widely circulated, obviously false conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccines, many of which involve mind control.
  2. So, my son went through a phase where he would refuse to brush his teeth. He'd claim it "hurt" or it "tasted yucky", but the reality was he just vying for independence and didn't like being told what to do and when to do it. Fortunately he outgrew the phase at age 4. If you're not getting vaccinated, despite the clear and unequivocal evidence that it's beneficial to you and those around you simply because you don't want to be told what to do, you're being childish. A less childish approach would be to separate the two issues - It is possible to oppose government mandates without refusing an obviously beneficial prophylactic vaccine to the detriment of self and community.
  3. I guess as a general statement - infectious diseases fundamentally operate at population scales. Individual co-operation with public health measures have unavoidable implications for the population as a whole. The individual choice to get vaccinated, wear a mask, social distance, etc or not has a probabilistic impact on a pathogen's transmission and virulence properties. Those properties dictate how the disease spreads and how sick it makes people. This of course generates an intrinsic conflict between individual rights, and public health priorities. On the other hand, there's stop signs, red lights, hazardous waste disposal laws, fire regulations, etc. so it's not exactly unprecedented that you may be expected to suffer minor inconvenience for the wellbeing of others, and people don't seem to get all righteous about their FrEeDuM to be a selfish, childish prick that endangers other people when it comes to those other circumstances.
  4. Being an Australian but living abroad I've been loosely following and enjoying the bureaucratic bungling of the whole issue by Scotty from Marketing and his administration. It has been a very publicly embarrassing debacle, which given my general sentiments towards the Liberals, is quite the popcorn feast. I do keep reading about Djokovic sticking by his principles/being principled, and thus being of strong moral fiber... but if you undergo some kind of action to publicly take a stand on a given issue, then attempt to subvert or otherwise avoid the consequences, you're just a garden variety hypocrite. If this really was the hill he wanted to die on, he should have boycotted the Australian Open in the first place. I also have to admit I have a particularly malevolent attitude towards public figures who use their position of privilege to flout and undermine public health efforts in the midst of a pandemic. You may as well be supplying arms to terrorists or dumping oil in the arctic and bragging about it.
  5. You're way nicer than me. I stop grading the paper/exam, fail it, fill out the online academic misconduct report form for the dean, then send the student the boilerplate "You have been formally sanctioned for breach of the academic integrity policy" email. I just don't see any point wasting my time grading work when a student has cheated. I almost have to grudgingly respect the audacity when on the rare occasion a student I caught cheating requests to join my research group.
  6. The students I teach are predominately pre-med, and the stakes are high. They are all paying a lot to be there, need straight A's to get into competitive medical programs. and not all of them are straight A students. Some students will go to extraordinary lengths to try and get that A, including harassing/stalking their professors, cheating, trying to find loopholes in university policies, etc and so on. My take is this: a) I'm there to teach the course, not police the academic misconduct policy. Some students will cheat in my course and get away with it - but I'm not going to run sting operations and deliberately try and catch cheaters, because ultimately it's a waste of my energy which could be spent on better quality teaching and pedagogy. b) If I do catch a cheater (which happens at least once a semester), I don't screw around. You fail and get formally reported for a academic misconduct. I block your email/phone number. You appeal to the dean if you don't like it. I don't give warnings (aside from in the syllabus) "just this one time" or other half measures. If I catch you it's extraordinarily likely this ain't your first rodeo. I trusted you, and you treated me like an idiot - you wrecked your GPA/lost your scholarship/ruined your graduation plans, not me. c) I don't take it personally or get upset about it. I get that this is a deeply flawed system, and the motivations to cheat. I also get that my upper division elective is just not that important in the long run, and I won't get worked up being the integrity gatekeeper of the academic world. I give my students the benefit of the doubt, and try to get on with being the best instructor I can.
  7. The irony of your use of the word "evolve" is quite amusing.
  8. And you have preferred, unbiased collective term for these, or you're expecting them all to be listed each time they are referred to?
  9. Alright, what's you preferred, non- "PC filtered" term for all possible trait states that may result in an ambiguous determination of sex?
  10. And here I was thinking I was using an collective term, frequently used in the scientific literature to describe the diversity of intersex conditions when I should have been writing them all out as an exhaustive list to avoid being the social justice warrior PC police. Apologies, won't happen again. Btw, anyone have a list of every possible color between green and blue? RIP the word count on this lizard manuscript.
  11. There are two, binary GAMETES in an XY mating system. Gametes are distinct from sex - many diploid organisms have two gametes and zygotic states that are generally hermaphroditic. Sex is not defined by gametes and includes both physiological and chromosomal properties, in which there is clearly diversity beyond two binary categories. You can argue semantics about where to draw lines on a spectrum forever. Some critics of the Fausto-Sterling paper state that X0 individuals are female - others disagree, which I imagine depends on your perspective and the scientific utility of categorization to your particular field of study (e.g. a geneticist vs an endocrinologist vs a sociologist etc.) , and has analogous discussions across the sciences - e.g. taxonomic nomenclature.
  12. Some X0 individuals can successfully fall pregnant. A proportion of XXY individuals produce viable sperm. Plenty of XX and XY individuals are sterile. So sex isn't well defined by successful reproduction/production of viable gametes either. Generally those studies only consider true gonadal intersex (i.e. XY karyotype with ovaries and vice versa) to be defined as intersex. It's not my field of study and there appears to be plenty of contention, but it does appear to be the most widely accepted figure, if you go by say, the UN office of Human Rights, or the Intersex Society of North America, for example. The ISNA page has a breakdown of specific intersex conditions included, and I cited the actual peer reviewed paper in my previous post. I would say it appears credible, but doesn't account for population variation - for e.g. It does not test if the rate of intersex births differs between say, North America and East Asia.
  13. Ok, So a person born with a single X chromosome is not karyotypically male (XY) or female (XX). They have female gonads, and can typically reproduce with fertility treatments, but often display masculine secondary features. Typically, they have a female gender identity, but not always. Ergo, such a person exists in a genotypic/phenotypic state between the general definitions of male and female. The medical diagnosis they would generally be given is that of Turner's Syndrome. Yes, they are medical diagnoses of intermediate states. As an analogy most humans have 46 chromosomes. Some have 47. They are typically diagnosed with Downs, Edwards, Patau etc Syndrome - just because there are medical diagnoses for trisomies doesn't mean that ALL humans have 46 chromosomes - because people with 47 chromosomes do exist. Yes I am, and no, it's not about inclusiveness necessarily - it's simply factual accuracy. Intersex people exist, which means that sex is non-binary for a proportion of humans. Stating that they somehow don't count because of the associated diagnoses for these states doesn't make people with Turner's, Klinefelter's AIS etc disappear. As I alluded to previously, you wouldn't throw all the cyan lizard specimens out the window just so you could put the lizards into jars labelled blue and green, so why would you do it with human sexes?
  14. I mean my first post in the thread contained citations with examples, the infographic contains dozens of examples of intermediate trait states, other threads have included numerous examples... If I am to be somewhat presumptive, and I apologize if I'm wrong, if your argument is that these individuals should be excluded based on them being "abnormalities" or "disorders", then yes, I agree that sex becomes binary and fixed if you choose to ignore all of the circumstances in which it doesn't. If you were sorting green and blue lizard specimens in the museum and you threw the one in fifty that was cyan out the window, the lizards would all indeed be blue or green. The arrows indicate potential changes in trait state that may occur with changes in life history or therapeutic intervention. E.g. at conception, an XO indivdual is Karyotypically 50/50 between male and female, at birth they have female gonads, but take on masculine secondary sexual characteristics during puberty. I think regardless of how you define it, at the end of the day it's rather difficult to define sex as binary in any biologically accurate context. The most widely cited proportion for intersex births is 1.7%, although depending on how you define intersex, estimates can range from 0.001% to 4%. At the end of the day, biological classification is messy. I mean even if you go to the gametes - I have a friend who studies selection in sperm morphology - there isn't even a typological definition of sperm that holds universally true. Trying to put virtually anything about nature into binary categories is going to be an oversimplification of existent diversity.
  15. Every one of the boxes that describes a phenotype/genotype that lies between genotypically/phenotypically male phenotypically/genotypically female at either end of the chart. The temporal axis, along with the arrows demonstrates how an individual can transition between states at different life history stages. Ergo. while there are two sexes, they are neither binary nor temporally fixed - so there are a minority individuals to which the question "Are you male or female?" would be "Neither." The biology reality of that is unequivocal.
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