Sex is a spectrum

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72 Responses to Sex is a spectrum

  1. dearieme says:

    That’s about the size of it. For humans at least.

  2. Spencer says:

    Lol. I introduce students every semester to various non-overlapping or barley overlapping graphs by sex. Every year their jaws drop further. Twenty years ago barely an eyebrow was raised.

    • Anonymous says:

      grip strength and what else?

      • Here are a few, XX versus XY chromosomes. Gamete size. Testosterone levels, internal anatomy, and external anatomy. In all of these cases, overlap is either zero or near zero.

    • jb says:

      Aside from certain measures of physical strength, where I’ve seen separations up to 2 SD, what characteristics do you graph that don’t overlap, or barely overlap? I can’t think of any. (Unless you are talking about hormone levels, which is kind of cheating…)

    • Cat Rationalist says:

      related joke from cold war times:

      An American says: “there is freedom of speech in USA”. A Soviet man says: “there’s freedom of speech in USSR, too. It’s just we don’t allow people to tell lies”.

      I heard that Americans used laugh at this, now they don’t

      • szopeno says:

        There is an old POlish joke: Both in Poland and in USA we have freedom of speech. The difference is that in USA you have also freedom after speech.

        • bob sykes says:

          Once upon a time. Now, not so much.

          • J. says:

            Was it when Debs was jailed or when Margareth Sanger spent 30 days in jail? Was it when Martin Luther King and other protestors were jailed? Maybe you were just happy with the people who used to be jailed assurances of freedom to be damned?

            • volcan poas says:

              Debs was freed by Warren Harding, not someone generally thought of as a progressive hero. RE MLK, this is from Wikipedia entry for Letter From Birmingham Jail::”On April 10, Circuit Judge W. A. Jenkins Jr. issued a blanket injunction against ‘parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing.’.” Note the similarity between the actions banned by the injunction and the charges (the real ones, not the fantasy ones) being levied against the Jan. 6 defendants.

              I could have added a lot more, but I don’t want to test anyone’s patience.

    • Spencer, It is a sad reality of history that societies go crazy. How else would you describe Lysenkoism in the USSR? The Cultural Revolution in China? Wokeism in the USA?

  3. Emily Bourie says:

    I loved your Covid interviews throughout the pandemic, especially at the beginning, and hope you would do another soon.
    A bunch of my husband’s family just came down with it in North Florida in this current spike, and one just passed on the 4th; he was 57 and healthy. The ones still battling have come to Jesus.

  4. Frau Katze says:

    Quote “Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is when a person who is genetically male (who has one X and one Y chromosome) is resistant to male hormones (called androgens). As a result, the person has some of the physical traits of a woman, but the genetic makeup of a man.”

    I saw a interview with one of these people. She looked and sounded like a woman. (But they’re infertile.)

    I had never heard of this before.

    • Frau Katze says:

      That’s why you didn’t portray your two peaks as Dirac delta functions.

    • Gordon William Marsden says:

      most non xy or xx are infertile. very low stats for other configurations . almost statistical chatter . they dont breed so they dont expand on their piece of the pie.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Right. I’d never heard of this androgen insensitivity syndrome until a few weeks ago.

      • JAMES SHEARER says:

        According to wikipedia:

        “XYY syndrome is a genetic condition in which a male has an extra Y chromosome.[1] There are usually few symptoms.[2] These may include being taller than average, acne, and an increased risk of learning problems.[1][2] The person is generally otherwise typical, including typical rates of fertility.[1]”

    • AIS (including CAIS) is no joke. Fortunately, it is also quite rare. The Wikipedia article on CAIS provides a good, high-level discussion of the topic.

    • random observer says:

      IIRC there was an episode of House MD some years ago in which this proved to be the mystery syndrome driving the plot.

    • ASR says:

      I found it interesting, when I read a textbook on this subject, some forty years ago, that androgen insensitive men often present physically as very attractive, curvaceous women with pleasant facial features. Several accompanying photographs supported the text’s assertion. The authors also mentioned that one very prominent Hollywood “sex goddess” was actually an androgen insensitive male, whose true nature was known only by her and her doctor..

      • dearieme says:

        “whose true nature was known only by her and her doctor”: what, was he/she chaste? Rather unusual for Hollywood I’d have guessed.

        • dearieme, some CAIS persons (XY males, but completely androgen insensitive) have normal sized vaginas (and can easily have sex). Some do not (and find sex very painful and difficult). See the Wikipedia page and other pages on the subject. Note that none are fertile.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Here’s the interview with a person with CAIS.

    • saintonge235 says:

      I’ve heard that one androgen insensitivity woman did manage to give birth, but there was no checkable reference.

  5. teageegeepea says:

    What’s at the left & right corners past the peaks?

    You could do a graph of gamete sizes. Then it would look more continuous… if you included multiple species.

  6. Catxman says:

    There’s generally some overlap between the sexes. For instance, on intelligence, there is great overlap in the middle regions of the IQ chart between males and females, but all the really brilliant people (on the far right side) are men.

    — Catxman

    • Henry Scrope says:

      Wider curve for males than females, my wife tells me there is a massive disproportion of boys in the special needs category at schools.

      • Gordon William Marsden says:

        yes. very wide distribution on males , gives at the 15 and 85 percentile . brilliance and inventiveness at one end, the 85 and a large burden to society on the 15 end

  7. JMcG says:

    That would make an epic t-shirt.

  8. ziel says:

    Not much of a cline!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    why so much kurtosis on these graphs?

  10. Nick Danger says:

    Does X-axis have units of measure?


  11. Some are disguised, The graph for “Shit coming out of their mouths” would look nearly identical at first, until one broke it down by type, at which point one would see dimorphism.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sure, but are we thinking straight about the Basques? We asume that all those racially mixed/culturally horse ‘n’ cart groups spreading all over the place were linguistically IE, but couldn’t some have picked up an Older E. language? And isn’t Svante Paabo one sneaky …?

  13. Unladen Swallow says:

    What exactly is being measured here? Just curious.

    • uhoh says:

      I assume the image is just for a laugh, to bond with the troops. (Happy to include myself) But if it is a graph of something, what is the x-axis?

  14. Jacob Rosenthal says:

    This one gave me a laugh. Unrelated, but, any new thoughts or data pertaining to your hypotheses of Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence or exclusive homosexuality in males? Usually enjoy the discussions on those posts.

    A more specific question: Do you think glycogen storage disease type 1a or spinal muscular atrophy could be added to the list of IQ-boosting disease mutations among the Ashkenazim? I’ve seen at least one study that found a higher mean IQ (and a higher verbal IQ in particular) in patients with SMA, and glycogen storage disease type 1a typically causes hyperuricemia (elevated uric acid) which may boost IQ; that is, if uric acid has the positive effect on intelligence other studies claim it may have…

  15. Gkai says:

    Still no link. Based on anecdotal evidence (women around me), i call bullshit.
    I do not see how this would go unnoticed, except if it was only for very high frequencies for exemple. You do not see women constantly asking men to lower tv sound. You see them contantly asking men to open jars.

  16. dearieme says:

    Here’s an anecdote: I have no idea whether there is a literature on this.

    My wife has an excellent ability to pick out detail in a stationary view. “Do you see that herd of deer on the hillside? Aren’t they well camouflaged?” she will say. And I have to admit to not having seen them.

    But if there’s some sport on the telly and someone produces a rapid piece of skill I will say “Did you see how he did that? Watch hise left foot which …”. But my wife will not have a clue about the detail: she has to wait for the slo-mo replay.

    Now: do men have quicker eyes and women subtler eyes? Well they do in this house.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s probably true (visual parsing showing a speed advantage for men, an accuracy advantage for women (which may be related to better color discrimination) )… but I would surprised if the gap would be as dramatic as in the graph shown above, there should be a significant overlap….

      Same remark about discerning small sound: I do not doubt there is a difference (my default opinion before any study is that there is a difference….because that what is most commonly found everytime you do such a measure). But to produce a gap with almost no measurable overlap (like in sex is a spectrum graph) , you must have such differences that it would be common knowledge among folks not blinded by political correctness. Physical strength is, at least on some aspects like grip strength (so the jar opening)…Color discrimination also is, less so but it is known, but not sure you could produce a bimodal graph with such a huge gap. Small sound? not aware of anything like that, so the bimodality should be weak, or what you measure should be much more specific than hearing threshold…

    • Dataexplorer says:

      “ But if there’s some sport on the telly and someone produces a rapid piece of skill I will say “Did you see how he did that? Watch hise left foot which …”. But my wife will not have a clue about the detail: she has to wait for the slo-mo replay.”

      If you are a sports enthusiast then you spend a lot of time paying close attention to things like foot positions. Your eyes are already trained to look at it. If you’re not really that interested then you won’t focus on the details. Even on the slo mo replay she’s probably just humoring you: “yes dear that is great, now let me get back to my flower arrangement.

  17. Cat Osily says:

    Women have better sense perception in all the senses. Colorists (those who mix and match paint for design) are always women. The finer distinctions in color are not visible to men. I.e; deep navy blue may be mistaken for black, or very pale pastel yellow for very pale pastel orange.

    In music, sound engineers use females to refine and distinguish recorded sound.

    A mother can identify the smell of any member of the family from their laundry.
    Pregnant women have an almost supernatural sensitivity to smells.

    Touch, of course, is more refined in women due to more delicate skin.

    Anectdotally, women do seem to be the ones to say, ” I taste thyme in this”, or ” they used margarine in these cookies, not butter, yuk”

  18. Cat Osily says:

    Women have two copies of all genes. Only one is expressed. Evolution has the uncanny ability to distinguish between the and decide which one is better for survival. The developing female embryo will switch on the safest one, i.e., the one that has been around the longest.

    The male will pass on the recent mutations, some of which will be good, like greater intelligence, and some, like retarded intelligence, will be worse.

    That is why there is greater genetic variation, not only in intelligence, in men.

  19. cameron232 says:

    These aren’t non-overlapping distributions but John Archer lists the large psychological differences (using Cohen’s d) between men and women and points to their likely evolutionary origin (sexual selection based on differing reproductive strategies).

    One obvious one that’s virtually non-overlapping – rape.

  20. cameron232 says:

    The very large sex differences from that paper: violent crime, homicide, violent video game usage, effortful control, fear in real world situations, pain tolerance, systemizing quotient scale, occupational interests, engineering interests, age difference (wrt mate choice), rape and partner homicide. Emotional vs. sexual jealousy (in relationships) shows as a large, almost very large difference.

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