It is widely accepted that the world’s two most prestigious scientific journals are Nature and Science. (The less narrowly focussed a journal’s title, the more prestigious it tends to be.) Nature is a UK operation based in London, while Science is the American equivalent. Every researcher wants to publish in these two journals, or better yet both.
We have covered Nature’s descent into woke activism here at the Daily Sceptic, the latest example being an article that suggests fat people contribute to “diversity”. It now seems that Science is going the same way.
On August 18th, an article appeared in the ‘Careers’ section of that publication, with the title ‘How astrophysics helped me embrace my nonbinary gender identity—in all its complexity’. (Remember: this is the journal that published Einstein’s papers on gravitational lensing.)
The author recounts that she first became interested in astrophysics after picking up a copy of Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design in a bookshop. The book introduced her to a “new kind of physics” that “doesn’t have all the answers” and even “disagrees with itself”. Over the next few years, she learned about subjects like quantum mechanics, where “anything can happen”.
The author goes on to explain that she only felt truly “at home” when she discovered the label “non-binary”, with its “fluidity and disavowal of the traditional two-gender system”. It was then she realised, “I am a photon—possessing qualities inherent to either side of the binary, but ultimately belonging to neither.”
And in her concluding paragraph, she claims, “Physics is always evolving, and gender is, too”.
Commenting on Twitter, physicist Laurence Krauss said “the few meager descriptions of physics” in the article “don’t seem accurate”. In any case, you can see what the author’s trying to do: establish a parallel between the ‘counter-intuitive’ nature of physics and the ‘counter-intuitive’ nature of gender.
The only problem is: there isn’t any such parallel. Gender is not “evolving”, and whatever identity an individual may create for themselves, “non-binary” is a made-up term. Of course, the author might argue that sex and gender are different things, and someone’s gender need not align with their sex.
To which I would respond: okay, can we do the same thing for other traits? Can I be ‘non-numeric’ with respect to age? Can I say that I feel like a 32-year-old today, but yesterday I felt like a 28-year-old, and tomorrow I’ll feel like a 36-year-old?
Even if one were to grant that gender is something distinct from sex, why am I reading about this in Science? If members of a particular sub-culture want to label themselves “non-binary”, and say this is their gender, they should be free to do so. But what does it have to do with the empirical study of nature?
My questions is, of course, rhetorical. We know the answer: because people who should know better have allowed once-great scientific journals to become a platform for woke activism.