Spot the logical fallacy– sex and sports edition

Hmmm, apparently my media consumption has pushed me into center-left culture warrior mode as I get back into blogging.  But, my goodness that has to be literally one of the worst piece I’ve ever read in the Atlantic.  It should be taught in philosophy or critical thinking classes for “spot the logical fallacy” (and, no, I won’t point out many because any reader with good critical thinking skills will catch them). “Separating Sports by Sex Doesn’t Make Sense”

This quote has led to a lot of attention on twitter (Yglesias’ take):

Like, hello, boys are, on average, inherently bigger, faster, and stronger and what complete sophistry and intellectual dishonesty to pretend that all the science on this isn’t “on average.” This is a terrific thread on this fact.  Basically, elite women’s sports simply would not exist (and HS sports teams would only have a few extraordinary females) if we didn’t have sex division.  

Rather than admitting this, much of the author’s contentions are shaped by this:

Sari van Anders, the research chair in social neuroendocrinology at Queen’s University, in Ontario, told me by email. She said that this complexity means it doesn’t make sense to separate sports by sex in order to protect women athletes from getting hurt. 

I don’t want a separate girls soccer and basketball team at my local high school so that girls don’t get hurt.  I want separate teams so that girls can play HS basketball and soccer.  Girls and women’s sports are great and I’m a fan, but to pretend that males don’t (on average!) have huge biological advantages in most sports, or that the science isn’t settled on this, is just pure anti-science.  I also can’t let this line go:

And though sex differences in sports show advantages for men, researchers today still don’t know how much of this to attribute to biological difference versus the lack of support provided to women athletes to reach their highest potential. 

This tweet is the appropriate response (though, I wouldn’t blame “journalists”)

Anyway, I’m actually entirely open to fair-minded discussion of how we think about the role of sex in sports– and youth sports in particular.  There’s surely room for improvement.  For one, we should let girls play football and wrestle, etc., if they are good enough and not worry about them “getting hurt.”  But any discussion that starts from a gender-ideology, anti-science premise that there’s no meaningful biological sex differences in athletics and that all such sex differences are just socially constructed is not a discussion that gets us to actual improvements.  

When woke knows best

I feel kind of lame taking this long time off and then coming back just to complain about wokeness, but, alas that’s how the spirit moves me today.  Mostly, because of the NCSU email I got today with a link to this story, “Latinx Heritage Month: What Is It and How Can You Get Involved?”

I’ve been please to see the move away from “Latinx” as more and more liberals have recognized the problematic nature of insisting on a term for a group of people who clearly do not have much desire to be referred to by that term (4% of Latinos prefer the term Latinx). 

So, interestingly, the NCSU “Latinx” folks (folx?) are aware of this pushback so they take the time to explain their use of the term:

Why does NC State call it “Latinx” Heritage Month?

“Latinx” is a new, gender-neutral term for people who share Latin American heritage. While the term’s exact origin is unclear, its earliest use was likely by LGBTQ activists of that same heritage. By inserting an “x” into “Latina” and “Latino,” they sought to disrupt the gender binary inherent in Spanish — and raise awareness of marginalized identities within their community.

Not every person of Latin American heritage feels “Latinx” represents them, but languages change to meet the needs of speakers. Many familiar words or phrases were once viewed as clunky, unnecessary or even provocative. Today, “Latinx” appears in every English dictionary and is accepted by the AP Stylebook, which NC State follows.

More importantly, we follow our students and alumni. [emphasis mine]

Many people may still prefer to call themselves Latina, Latino or something else that specifies their heritage or national origin, such as Mexican American or Venezuelan. Others may use “Hispanic” to signify they are from a Spanish-speaking country or background. We stick to the AP Stylebook by respecting an individual’s preference — while still honoring our community’s use of the general term they feel is most inclusive.

Honestly, this just comes down to “it doesn’t really matter what Hispanic/Latino people want; we (the enlightened) know best).  Some really nice elision here too with “accepted” by the AP Stylebook. In fact, I just wen to the AP Stylebook and this is actually intentionally misleading from NCSU:

Latinx, which should be confined to quotations, names of organizations or descriptions of individuals who request it and should be accompanied by a short explanation.

Meanwhile, I don’t doubt that there’s a substantial number of very vocal NCSU students and alumni arguing for “Latinx” but as twitter teaches us every day, very vocal is not necessarily a good reflection of real life.  The Gallup poll, however is.  

Of course, this is actually pretty small potatoes with all that’s going on in the world, but I do find it compelling in that I think it really does capture that “but we know best!” element that is so off-putting about woke ideology.  And damn it, I’m put-off. Mostly because I think we still need to make a lot of progress towards equality and this does not get us there. 

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