Saturday, June 26, 2021

How artificial intelligence reads minds

[This is a transcript of the video embedded below.]

Human communication works by turning thought into motion. Whether that’s body language, or speech, or writing – we use muscles in one way or another to get out the information that we want to share. But sometimes it would be really handy if we could communicate directly from our brain, to one another or with a computer. How far is this technology along? How does it work? And what’s next? That’s what we will talk about today.

Scientists currently have two ways to figure out what’s going on inside your brain. One way is to use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the other is using electrodes.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or fMRI for short measures the flow of blood to different regions of the brain. The blood-flow is correlated with neural activity, so an fMRI tells you what parts of the brain are activated in a certain task. I previously made a video about Magnetic Resonance Imaging, so if you want to know how the physics works, check this out.

The problem with fMRIs is that they require people to lie in a big machine. It isn’t only that using this machine is expensive, it also takes some time to take an fMRI, which means that the temporal resolution isn’t great, typically a few seconds. So fMRI can’t tell you much about fast and temporary processes.

The other way to measure brain activity is electroencephalography, EEG for short, which measures tiny currents in electrodes that are placed on the skin on the head. The advantage of this method is that the temporal resolution is much better. The big disadvantage though is that it gives you only a rough idea about the region where the signal is coming from. A much better way is to put the electrodes directly on the surface of the brain, but this requires surgery.

Elon Musk has the idea that one day people might be willing to have electrodes implanted into their brain and he has put some money behind this with his “neuralink” project. But it’s difficult to get a research project approved if it requires drilling holes into other people’s heads, so most studies currently use fMRI – or people who already have holes in their head for one reason or another.

Before we talk about what recent studies have found, I want to briefly thank our tier four supporters on patreon. Your support is of great help to keep this channel going. And you too can be part of the story, go check out our page on patreon, the link is in the info below.

Let us then have a look at what scientists have found.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and other American universities have done a very interesting series of experiments using fMRI. In the first one, they put eleven trial participants in the MRI machine and showed them a word on a screen. The participants were asked to think of the concept related to a noun, for example an apple, a cat, a refrigerator, and so on. Then they gave the brain scans of 10 of these people to an artificially intelligent software, together with the word that the people were prompted with. The AI looked for patterns in the brain activity that correlated with the words, and then guessed what the 11th person was thinking of from the brain scan alone. The program guessed correctly about three quarters of the time.

That’s not particularly great, but it *is better than chance – it’s a proof of principle. And along the way the researchers made a very interesting finding. The study had participants whose first language was either English or Portuguese but their brain signature was independent of that. Indeed, the researchers found that in the brain, the concept encoded by a word doesn’t have much to do with the word itself. Instead, the brain encodes the concept by assigning different attributes to it. They have identified three of these attributes:

1) Eating related. This brain pattern activates for words like “apple”, “tomato” or “lettuce”
2) Shelter related. This pattern activates for example for “house”, “closet”, or “umbrella”, and
3) A body-object interaction. For example, if the concept is “pliers” the brain also activates the part representing your hand using the pliers.

This actually allows the computer to predict to some extent how the signal of a concept will look like even if the computer hasn’t seen data on that before. The researchers checked this by combining different concepts to sentences such as “The old man threw the stone into the lake”. Out of 240 possible sentences, the computer could pick the right one in eighty-three percent of cases. It is not that the computer can tell the whole sentence but it knows its basic components, it knows the semantic elements.

The basic finding of this experiment, that the brain identifies concepts by a combination of attributes, has been confirmed by other experiments. For example, another 2019 study, which also used fMRIs asked participants to think of different animals and found that the brain roughly classifies them by attributes like size, intelligence, and habitat.

In the last decade there have also been several attempts to find out what a person sees from their brain activity. For example, in 2017 a team from Kyoto University published a paper in which they used deep learning – so, artificial intelligence again – to find out what someone was seeing from their fMRI signal. They trained the software to recognize general aspects of the image, like shapes, contrast, faces, etc. You can judge the results for yourself. Here you see the actual images that the trial participants looked at, and here the reconstruction by the artificial intelligence – I find it really impressive.

What about speech or text? In April 2019, researchers from UCSF published a paper in Nature reporting they had successfully converted brain activity directly to speech. They worked with epilepsy patients that already had electrodes on their brain surface for treatment. What the researchers looked for were the motor signals that correspond to the sounds in speech, like the tongue, jaw, lips, and so on. Again, they let a computer figure out how to map the brain signal to speech. What you are about to hear is one of the participants reading a sentence and then what the software recreated just from the brain activity.

That’s pretty good, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it took weeks to decode the signals with that quality, so it’s rather useless in practice. But a new study that appeared just a few weeks ago has made a big leap forward for using brain-to text software by looking not at the movements related to producing sounds, but at the movements that come with handwriting.

The person who they worked with is paralyzed from the neck down and has electrodes implanted on his brain already. He was asked to imagine writing the letters of the alphabet, which was used to train the software, and later the AI could reproduce the text from brain activity when the subject imagined writing whole sentences. And, it could do that in real time. That allowed the paralyzed man to text at a speed of about 90 characters per minute, which is quite similar to what able-bodied people reach with text-messaging, about 135 characters. The AI was able to identify characters with over 94% accuracy, and with autocorrect that went up to 99%. So, as you can see, on the side of signal analysis, research has progressed quite rapidly in the past couple of years. But for technological applications the problem is that fMRIs are impractical, EEGs aren’t precise enough, and not everyone wants to have a USB port fused to their brain. Are there any other options?

Well, one thing that researchers have done is to genetically modify zebrafish larvae so that their neurons are fluorescent when active. That way you can measure brain activity non-invasively. And that’s nice, but even if you did that with humans, there’s still the skull in the way, so that doesn’t seem very promising.

More promising is an approach pursued by NASA which is to develop an infrared system to monitor brain activity. That still requires users to wear sensors around their head but it’s non-invasive. And several teams of scientists are trying to monitor brain activity by combining different non-invasive measurements: electrical and ultrasound and optical. The US military, for example, has put 104 million dollars into the Next-generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology Program, or N cube for short which has the aim of controlling military drones.

We live in a momentous period in the history of human development. It’s the period when humans leave behind the idea that conscious thought is outside of science. So, all of a sudden, we can develop technologies to aid the conversion of thought into action. I find this incredibly interesting. I expect much to happen in this field in the coming years, and will update you from time to time, so don’t forget to subscribe.


  1. I am pretty sure I would pass on having electrodes implanted in my brain by an Elon Musk company.

    1. Particularly worrying if it's the Boring Company.

    Disappointed! :)

  3. I find it amusing but not surprising that I tend not to comment much here on on topics that were part of my day job. I'm looking forward to what others have to say, though.

  4. I once worked as a technician delivering, set-up, and maintaining hospice equipment for terminally ill patients. My duties required me to work with the equipment, not with the patients, but of course, there was close contact with them.
    A lot of these hospice patients were in, or near vegetative states, unable to effectively communicate with their caretakers. Some of them are even “locked-in” meaning that it’s unknown if they are even conscious.
    This AI mind-reading technology has the potential to greatly benefit the end-of-life quality for these patients. To communicate, even if just to answer yes/no questions would be a godsend to them. In many cases, it would allow them to make their own end-of-life decisions, e.g., whether to remain on life support equipment or not. Or just to be able to say goodbye to family and loved ones.

    1. Is there anyone who you could broach that idea with, I wonder. That would be amazing.

      I'd use something like that to argue with people, probably. :)

  5. People who already have holes in their heads, like certain conspiracy theorists, might be good subjects for this sort of research-- ha ha. But seriously, it would be fascinating to try some of the AI scan analysis to someone dealing with mathematical concepts. For instance, thinking of imaginary numbers, or even taking a square root-- I wonder what attributes would emerge. They might be surprisingly primitive and along the lines of shapes or grasping a tool. The brain might have only a few tools at its disposal, but they can be used in various combinations to provide a substrate for everything we can think and experience. That would be my expectation.

  6. There's a deep-dive look into brain-scanning technology and the development of Neuralink on the 'Wait but Why' blog, if anyone is interested in finding out more.

    The closet is not a comfortable place to shelter, gotta say.

    I wouldn't mind having a 'disco brain', though.

  7. It may be some time before we can have links that send information directly into the brain. I suspect that might require electrodes going directly into the brain. This technology appears to be ways of decoding what the brain is sending as a message through various detection means.

    To communicate into the brain directly I would imagine possibly electrodes would not actually go to the brain, but rather we might clone up neural tissue that does. This tissue would be connected to electrodes, and an assembly would enter the meninges in the spinal column. The neural tissue attached to these electrical lines would be fed to the brain surface in a manner like angioplasty. If this neural tissue is a form of pre-neuron stem cells, they could then form dendritic connections with neurons in grey matter and learn to communicate with the brain. If these were possible, we would then of course have a seamless interlink between cybernetic AI systems and the brain, and for that matter brains with other brains. This system would be connected to an implant sitting somewhere in the body, say the shoulders or back somewhere, where this would be similar to a Wifi system no larger than say a small coin.

    It will be a while before this comes. To be honest I really would prefer to be nicely dead before it does. The impact on what is meant by a human will be a sort of nuclear explosion. We will become something completely different from what we are now. We already have taken some steps in this direction, where people glued to little slabs with glass screens are a clear case of this. The interlink at this point is simply lousy compared to what may yet come. Once there are seamless interlinks humanity may evolve into becoming a sort of mass-mind. The Star Trek NG BORG may be our future.

    1. There's actually a song about that happening:


    2. That is about Schrodinger's cat. I am listening to an NPR report about the condo tower collapse in Miami and a sad story of a woman who got out but her cat disappeared.

    3. Damn, poor woman. That whole disaster is horrific.

      'Schrodinger's Cat' is a contemplation of our interconnected future as vat-brains, in which Schrodinger's Cat is indeed alive, albeit preserved in this Borg-esque entity.
      It's also a banging dance track. :)

    4. I was just thinking, if some device that could act as an emergency beacon to broadcast a distress signal after being triggered by physical trauma could send out a signal to emergency services including vital statistics as well as a report of brain-state, i.e. conscious or not.

  8. This research implies to me that we are not too far away from having reliable lie detectors; and maybe there are more experiments and development funding for that application than is publicly known.

    On the one hand, I have long wished every candidate for public office could be vetted by a reliable lie detector; or any other kind of salesperson. On the other hand, I imagine how Trump and many dictators would apply that technology: to surveil and enforce loyalty, with literal thought-police.

    Maybe it is not too soon to consider how we might want to regulate such technology.

    Perhaps the regulatory principles should be embedded in the same AI code which does the processing.

  9. Sabine wrote:
    "In the last decade there have also been several attempts to find out what a person sees from their brain activity. For example, in 2017 a team from Kyoto University published a paper in which they used deep learning – so, artificial intelligence again – to find out what someone was seeing from their fMRI signal. They trained the software to recognize general aspects of the image, like shapes, contrast, faces, etc. You can judge the results for yourself....I find it really impressive."

    Yes, Sabine, that is pretty amazing. However, I would be more impressed if humans could invent a device that could look directly into a human mind and literally see what it is that is thinking a thought, or dreaming a dream.

    To understand what I am getting at, consider lucid dreamers, for example, who can control their dreams.

    The question is, what is the ontological status of this self-aware, subjectively-based entity (agent) who can willfully grasp the holographic-like substance that forms a dream and shape it into anything the agent "desires"?

    I mean, what exactly is "it" that (by sheer personal preference) can willfully choose to transform the fabric of its own inner-being into a tropical island paradise, for instance, or perhaps a cityscape filled with humans working and shopping?

    In other words,...

    (and pretending that the "cityscapers" could actually see, and feel, and hear, and smell, and taste their surroundings)

    ...what would the conscious and self-aware *creator* of the dream actually look like from the perspective of the humans in the dream?

    Would they be faced with the same dilemma that earthly humans are faced with when it comes to why we cannot see or discern what the Creator of the universe looks like? - (assuming such an entity actually exists).

    Well, I suggest that if Berkeleyanism is a possibility,...

    (wherein the universe is the MIND of a higher consciousness)

    ...then yes, the humans in the dream, and us so-called "real" humans, would be faced with the same dilemma.

    I guess my point is that it is one thing for researchers to create a computer algorithm that, more or less, "guesses" what one is thinking based on the increased activity in certain areas of the brain (what they call "hot spots"),...

    ...however, it is something else altogether to think they could ever *directly* witness what is literally taking place within the inner-dimension of a human mind (which, in essence, is the metaphorical equivalent of a closed and inaccessible "parallel universe" presided over by a "God-like" agent).

  10. How artificial intelligence reads minds:

    as what we learned them?
    or it's quite opposite.

    we may think un-emotional thinking layer may superior to our impressed thoughts on others.

    i think its ok, yeah.

    on the other hand, and i'm sorry about that, our civilization, consciously not so developed as we might think. moreover still evolving.

    learning with modelling, or founding things in extreme accuracy under barely limited knowledge is a counscious artefact.

    this system intelligent unit, like you and me are the executers, but the intelligeble parts of it beyond than our intelligence, of course not only ours, every pet owner knows that, animals get dream.

    welcome the vector space, if intelligable part of you (say will to power and shape) more expressed on through ego (reason: freedom), for example an artist vector space managed by power rather than expressed shaping, and forming impressions in the front side, give them in their later life deep knowledge of power.

    on the other hand, a scientist get more spiritual counscious gain in his later life.

    because his expression on to super ego from the power "reason: control", the major difference between the art and science is the personalization.


    good speed to them, i return to my subject.

  11. It is scary, Lawrence. I guess we would not become a single mastermind, but we will remain individuals to a large or some extent, but with a directly-connected-to-selected-others attribute to our mind. I wonder what such a direct connection would do to sense of individuality and the way choices evolve in a brain.

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    1. I've eaten some interesting meat, don't think I've had emu yet.
      I live in a part of Sydney with a mostly not-White/foreign population, and I love that great international food is a short walk away.
      On-topic, I wonder how online group communication will shift with that extra-close connection, if neurally-linked communication reaches that level.

    2. C Thompson5:16 AM, June 27, 2021

      Nobody is interested in the opinion of a Nazi who wants to kill people who disagree with her whacko ideology which she can't even explain.

    3. C Thompson:
      I wonder how online group communication will shift with that extra-close connection, if neurally-linked communication reaches that level.

      It could be that our thoughts will be upload to the cloud, anonymously shared and indistinguishable from our own. I hope that the implant comes with an off-switch.

    4. I hope so. I can imagine getting stuck in some sort of argumentative feedback loop, for one example.

    5. I guess that it depends on who controls the off-switch.
      A new form of ostracism. Don't like what someone is thinking? Just mute him.

    6. True.
      And then we'll end up with echo-chamber hive-minds, maybe.

    7. C Thompson9:38 AM, June 27, 2021

      "F_ck off."

      Oh dear. Are we getting close to some further threats of violence and murder?

  13. I think the 2020s will have a scientific revolution that will make all other scientific revolutions seem puny and insignificant! Subjective physics will change everything!

    Imagine finding out that you are really a high mass dark matter homuncular particle in your brain, conceived 13.8 billion years ago in the Big Bang with a long genetic code with code to become a universe far in the future!

    Imagine in the far future you grow to be a universe and marry another universe and rotate around each other before finally merging and experiencing a big bang in which a googol particles are conceived which both of you will raise for trillions of years!

    In the more immediate future, imagine being able to purchase an appropriate artificial body for almost any planet, moon, or space station! Simply move your dark matter homuncular particle with the surrounding focusing crystal to a new body -- it would be like putting your sim card in a new mobile phone!

    Most death and pain will be gone when the artificial body industry goes into mass production! Who knows, maybe Mr. and Mrs. Universe might incarnate to help their Earth children through this momentous transformation to ensure no catastrophes occur --- Heaven on Earth!

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  14. We’ve had direct experience with an individual who suffered a closed head injury, a subsequent long term coma, a reawakening and an additional fifteen years until death from the complications of old age. Prior to the accident he was: a combat pilot who flew jets in support of ground troops in Vietnam during the sixties and then an aeronautical engineer until his final retirement. He designed and built his own retirement home. He was an avid outdoorsman who understood (and practiced) nature conservation. He recognized the human ramifications at work that actually lead to selective changes in an animal population. And, just for fun, he taught himself how to engineer and design web pages. But, the man who emerged from the coma was not the same man who entered it. He was helpless, self possessed, and childlike. His devoted wife cared for him and waited on his every need. But he never regained any part of his old ‘self’. I would caution anyone who hopes to use AI or some other form of communication to “speak” to a loved one for the last time, to not expect much. The individual who replies may not be the individual you remember. That being said, I think AI would be beneficial for people with a Christopher Reeve type injury to help them regain neuro muscular control, and also for someone with a degenerative neuro-muscular disease like Hawking whose mind and personality are fully intact. But, I also am very worried such advances might be used in unscrupulous ways. Technological breakthroughs are as often motivated by idealism as they are by necessity. (Flight and submarines immediately come to mind). So idealistic advances can be co-opted. I wonder how the “Orange Nightmare” might have utilized this technology had it been available. Asimov’s “Foundation Series” showcases the good and the bad aspects of this technology. And, though dating to the ‘40s, is still worth the read.

    1. That is an interesting and maybe instructive history. I continue to wonder why the brain as opposed to the entire body (all functions) is considered preeminent if not in fact in charge. Not to in any way to diminish the advances being made as per Dr.H.

    2. Interesting. Some years ago an elderly relative suffered a sudden life threatening hemorrhage. Her last act before she passed out from blood loss was to activate her medical beacon. It sent an ambulance to her home (she was self-sufficient). Emergency surgery to close the blood vessel and intervention with massive amounts of blood to replace what she’d lost saved her life. But, something was wrong. She appeared to be in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. She lay in her bed barely conscious. Slack-jawed and drooling she was clearly unaware of her situation. This was a woman who managed her own affairs, including her business and was only in her early 70’s. Her children questioned her condition with the attending physicians and their diagnosis was…senility! But, her daughter was insistent that she’d not exhibited this prior to her emergency. Re-evaluating the situation it was decided she might be Vitamin B deficient and should receive a Vitamin B infusion. She was given an injection that evening, and by early the next morning she was conscious, alert, actively conversing with everyone, and wondering when she could go home. I think medical professionals do (almost) understand the body in its entirety.

    3. Brad,
      Most of my interactions in hospice was with the family of the patients. I witnessed a wide spectrum of emotions from them. Anger was one of the more dominant ones. I imagine that the patients felt the same.

  15. Dr. H., Don't run away from issues.

    "They regard this as transphobic, I guess, because you are not treating them the same way you treat cisgender people. "

    Do you "guess" that defining "man" and "woman" in terms of biological fact rather than subjective feeling is transphobic?
    You call people transphobic if you "guess" that they are transphobic?

    Why don't you reveal what your gender is under the new subjective definition of gender to mean absolutely anything? Does your gender change from minute to minute? How do you know?

    Do you agree with C.Thompson that people who base the definition of "man" and "woman" based on objective biological fact rather than subjective feeling should have their livelihood removed, be subject to violence or be executed. A bit like the Nazis did when people didn't agree with their whacko ideology..

    "C Thompson1:38 AM, June 22, 2021

    P.S. I'd rather not see brute force used but brute force has is often used to

    C Thompson8:30 AM, June 20, 2021

    Gender Critical Theory (the proponents of which ought to be fired into active volcanoes, not just from their jobs, in my rather biased opinion) "

    1. Steven,

      I have already explained to you several times that you are not the one who gets to define how the rest of society uses the words man and woman, but you were unable to comprehend this the first 5 times so I don't think you will understand it now, or ever. Fine, then, some people have cognitive limitations, and clearly we have reached yours here, but please stop wasting my time.

      As to my gender. People address me as female because it's what I look like and it's fine with me. I don't really care much to be honest. Do I actually identify with the traits commonly associated with women in the society that I live in? I don't think so. I thus have a lot of sympathy for those who want to shake loose of societal expectations.

    2. Sabine replied to Steven Evans:
      "As to my gender. People address me as female because it's what I look like and it's fine with me. I don't really care much to be honest. Do I actually identify with the traits commonly associated with women in the society that I live in? I don't think so. I thus have a lot of sympathy for those who want to shake loose of societal expectations."

      A bit off-topic here (but what the heck).

      I suggest that the human consciousness (soul) has no gender, for surely, with just a few edits in the DNA of a developing embryo, any one of us could have popped-out of our mother's womb sporting genitalia that is the opposite of what we possess now, and we would have played our "roles" according to (as you noted) "societal expectations."

      The bottom line is that gender is just an illusion foisted upon each of us within the context of the greater illusion of objective reality.

    3. Sabine Hossenfelder6:49 AM, June 27, 2021

      "you are not the one who gets to define how the rest of society uses the words man and woman,"

      ??? But I am not claiming to be the one who decides that. That's the gender ideologues like C. Thompson who want people thrown out of their jobs, violently attacked or even killed if they express scientific fact instead of a subjective, contradictory ideology.

      I'm simply pointing out, by argument rather than hinting at violence or murder, that gender ideology is nonsense. That does not deny anyone's freedom.

      If we define "woman" to be a subjective feeling then absolutely anyone can claim to be a woman and absolutely no-one can demonstrate that they are. This is a meaningless definition. Do you agree?

      The definition of "man" and "woman" based on biology is objective. The difference between the sexes is less and less significant in modern society but it still has some relevance. E.g. A woman can become pregnant while a man cannot.

      " Do I actually identify with the traits commonly associated with women in the society that I live in? I don't think so."

      And? How does that make defining "man" and "woman" objectively in terms of biology transphobic??

      "I thus have a lot of sympathy for those who want to shake loose of societal expectations. "

      Ditto. But that is not what the gender ideologues want. They want to force an ideology on the sane who know the ideology to be nonsense. By claiming that defining "man" and "woman" in terms of biology is transphobic you are on the side of ideological fascists.

      You cannot over-write scientific fact with subjective ideological nonsense, even if the significance of the scientific fact has been exaggerated or misrepresented.

      You have yet again failed to show that defining "man" and "woman" in terms of biological sex is transphobic. When do you hope to justify your accusation? Soon?

    4. The post you are replying to is jarring. It seems personal and offensive, absent a backstory (to me). I am puzzled why you bother to respond as it is not only off-topic but also uninteresting.

    5. Well Peaches,
      Pardon me for getting personal, but I don't think that anybody is going to mistake you for a guy.

    6. I am still waiting to hear when this mythical time was when society made no distinction between gender and biological sex.

    7. @ Steven Evans: Many words have several definitions. Look in any dictionary to see this. Gender can have its first definition as sex or sex-type. Another definition may be about expression or which sex/gender and maybe nuances on that does a person express.

    8. Morris,

      Sorry about that. I suspect this comment was accidentally posted here instead of on the earlier thread, where it wasn't quite as off-topic. I didn't notice this when I replied.

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. @Robin
      Nobody claimed that there's ever been no connection between sex and gender, just that it's meant different things at different times to different people, and the distinctions haven't always been just 'male' and 'female'.

    11. Lawrence Crowell7:10 PM, June 27, 2021

      1) I am not calling for anybody who believes in this unscientific gender ideology nonsense to be forced to accept scientific fact. The gender ideologues and the other Woke clowns are on their way to starting a civil war in your country, though, based on a bunch of unscientific nonsense from the social "sciences".

      2) We are talking specifically about gender ideology. If the starting point is gender based on subjective feelings rather than on biological sex, then literally none of us can know our gender. How could we? So gender ideology is immediately meaningless and useless.

    12. Trans and cisgender. Not hard, except for you.
      Just because you don't get it, doesn't mean that nobody else gets it.
      Woke clowns and gender idealogues and Nazis, oh my!!!

    13. C Thompson2:13 PM, June 28, 2021

      "Trans and cisgender."

      I'm sorry, are you finally about to make some definitions or are you just writing 3 random words?

      Stop threatening to kill people who disagree with your nonsensical ideology for just a moment and provide your definitions of "gender", "man" and "woman".

      Let's have a good old laugh at the moron,

    14. We're laughing at you, or at least I am.
      You love the dictionary so much, you look those words up and leave me alone.

      I will no longer engage with you.
      You are just a fucking bully pretending to have a clever argument to strike with, one more spiteful loser.

      Leave me alone - do not comment on or to anything I say here.
      I will no longer engage with you.

    15. @ Steven Evans: It has been documented for some time that sexual behavior that might be considered "off center" is very common in the zoological world. This is usually with same-sex behavior, but it also extends to behaviors of males mimicing females and visa versa. This has been studied and its role in evolution examined. The naïve expectation is this should not have any selective advantage. However, since such behaviors are not strictly binary it does turn out to persist. There are reasons to think there are genetic predispositions to such behaviors. These can actually work to allow members of a species to pass their genes on to the next generation.

      Some people are turned off by the "ick-factor" of homosexuality, and others do not like the gestalt frame shift of realizing the woman they are looking at is biologically make. This predisposition is enhanced I think by certain religious and political ideologies. The term woke has become popular and is often used in the pejorative. Woke just means an awareness of social, racial, gender etc injustices that exist. I find nothing troubling about this, but the right wing has of late used this as some red flag to warn of culture war. These ideas, and I have personally heard men say they cannot wait for the big civil war to root out certain people, as far more troubling than the issue such people claim to address. In the end it is about putting various types of people in their "rightful place." Those with the guns feel they have the right to do this.

      We are living the Chinese curse or blessing of living in interesting times.

    16. Lawrence Crowell2:42 PM, June 29, 2021

      Lawrence, Yes, and you can describe all such behaviour in humans with the starting point being "man" and "woman" defined according to biological sex. This is consistent and there are no issues.

      If however you define "man" and "woman" according to "gender", then this definition is fuzzy and subjective - you will have whole swathes of tomboyish women and effeminate men wondering whether they are a man or a woman under the new definition. Even transgender people, who are a tiny number of people who this redefinition is apparently being carried out for, would not be sure of their gender as gender dysphoria is also subjective and fuzzy.

      Such a definition would be unscientific and couldn't be put into law.

      If you then add on dozens of other "genders", this is completely meaningless; everyone could just define their gender at any moment to be exactly themselves at that moment. But we call these individual characteristics. It has nothing to do with sex or gender necessarily.

      So the upshot is that the gender ideological definitions are useless and meaningless. It might seem quite simple to define a transgender woman as a woman but in fact a transgender woman is a biological man who has a subjective feeling that they might be a woman (obviously some regret their physical transition, exactly as one would expect), and defining "man" or "woman" based on subjective feelings fails as I have described.

      So a trans woman is a man, and a trans man is a woman. It is biologically impossible for humans to change their sex.

      Obviously, socially we can use transgender people's pronouns, etc., to respect their subjectively felt gender. And trans people and intersex people are such a tiny number of people they can be given their rights in society without having to replace biology with some lunatic, unscientific, self-contradictory ideology dreamed up by halfwits in social science depts. Legally it simply won't work, because it is a denial of reality.

      The origin of all sex- and gender-related phenomena and characteristics is the biological fact of sexual reproduction by the two sexes.

      "In the end it is about putting various types of people in their "rightful place." "

      Exactly, like C. Thompson who has stated she would like all people who hold the science-based definition of "man" and "woman" to be killed; and like Luke Barnes who wrote his fantasy about killing everyone who points out Christian fairy tales aren't Physics.

      Whether they are Woke, BLM, Anti-fa, white supremacists, Christians or Muslims, fascists are fascists. If they knew any natural science they would all be cured of their whacko delusions.

    17. "Such a definition would be unscientific and couldn't be put into law."

      You severely misunderstand how the legal system works.

    18. For the record, there's what, 6 or maybe 8 gender-descriptors I can think of, off the top of my head, the most commonly used being 'man' and 'woman'.

      Do people have that much difficulty and concern about how many different names and occupations people have as some people do about how many gender-descriptors there could be?

    19. Umberto Eco wrote that a key signature of fascism is that it is a bundle of contradictions. This may be one way that fascism may be identified, but yet it is very difficult to put a precise finger on it. Don-the-Con t'Rump told nearly 30,000 lies as president, and he certainly fit Eco's definition when it comes to lack of consistency.

      If people go very far out on the right and another group go very far out on the left, they curiously end up meeting each other head on. In a discussion group I am on there is a t'Rumpite extreme rightist and a Marxist. They disagree when it comes to ideology but agree interestingly a lot on substance. A lot of what the agree on has to do with "science denial," in particular with global warming. They have different ideological reasons for this, but substantively they are similar.

      At least the Communists are a bit more easy to spot.

      Calling someone in the BLM movement or woke and so forth a fascist is something that needs to be explained. I fail to see how the BLM, Black Lives Matter, is something totalitarian. Maybe you might agree with BDAAP, Black Deaths Are A Problem? The same with Woke, which just means coming aware of systemic injustices.

      The thread here has gone a bit loopy, from AI parsing of brain activity to transgenderism and now fascism. Maybe a time will come when certain patterns of thought can be identified. Maybe we can understand what makes a person transgendered, or authoritarian --- authoritarian personalities tend to be highly concerned over things such as gender roles.

    20. Moin, moin. (8)
      Ich denke, dass ein Teil des Musters sich durch den Grad der Widersprüchlichkeit der Thematik bestimmt ist.
      Je größer die Widersprüche und je emotionaler die Debatte um ein Thema aufgeheizt ist, desto größer wird der Reiz für autoritäre Charaktere, sich darin zu involvieren...
      vermute ich.
      Ich denke, dass dem Faszienbündel der römischen Ädilen eine faszinierende Symbolik inne liegt...
      In meiner Vorstellung trägt jeder von uns ein Bündel Widersprüche in sich, die auf dem Weg der Entscheidungsfindung intern wie Marionettenschnüre wirken und uns zur Haltung in die ein oder andere Richtung motivieren... ohne uns Klarheit darüber zu geben, an welchem Ende gezogen worden ist, da sie in sich verknüpft sind.
      Der faschistische Ansatz liegt darin, diese Schnüre nach aussen zu zerren, sie in Rutenbündeln als ultimatives Argument zur Schau zu stellen und diejenigen unter uns, die es genossen haben, mit ihren Schnüren zu spielen, solange sie im Inneren lagen...
      durch die zur Schau Stellung der gekreuzigten Kadaver ihresgleichen davon zu überzeugen,
      dass die Zeit zum Spielen vorbei ist.
      Stalin hat meiner Meinung nach dadurch den Sozialismus seiner Zeit zur Tyrannei umfunktioniert.
      Ich denke, dass Faschismus sich insbesondere dadurch erkennen lässt, dass er zunächst versuchen wird, die Phantasie zu unterdrücken.

      Liebe Grüße, muck(8)

    21. Sabine Hossenfelder7:26 AM, June 30, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      "You severely misunderstand how the legal system works. "

      It works like the one in Kafka's "The Trial" apparently. You won't define what you mean, but you are more than happy, repeatedly now, to tag people "transphobic" for not believing in your secret definitions. It's shocking to see how good a Woke Guard you make.

      Again, you haven't answered the point. How could anyone know if they are a "man" or a "woman", or any of the other made-up "genders" in gender ideology for that matter?

      You're a professional scientist at an elite institute - why don't you tell me what a "man" or a "woman" is?

      Gender ideology is akin to the use of epicycles to describe planetary motion - the ideology fails to fit the biology and is just an ad hoc, self-contradictory mess because it ignores the origin.

      The origin in this case is the crucial fact of sexual reproduction in humans - every sex- and gender-related phenomenon and attribute derives from this clearly defined, objective fact.

    22. C Thompson8:23 AM, June 30, 2021

      "For the record" v "I can think of, off the top of my head,"

      Absolutely brilliant! You open with a self-contradiction. And you are prepared to call for the killing of people based on an idea you can barely recall.

      "What was it again, 6 or 8 genders? Anyway, kill them all."

      " different names and occupations people have as some people do about how many gender-descriptors there could be? "

      I know what my name and my job is thanks. Why don't you tell me how I know if I am a "man" or a "woman" or one of the other Pokemon characters?

      Why don't you tell me what a "woman" is?

      You can't. Yet you call for the execution of people who "disagree" with you. What a terrifying species the Thick are.

    23. Lawrence Crowell3:07 PM, June 30, 2021

      I didn't say all the members of the groups listed are fascists, just that some are. The fascists are the ones who are convinced of their crazy idea (religion, all whites are automatically racist, all whites are superior, men can be women, etc.) and will use violence to enforce it.

      The thread carried over.

      Anyway, do you or do you not agree that there is no consistent definition of "woman" in which we can describe a transgender woman as a woman? That's the whole argument.

      ("authoritarian personalities tend to be highly concerned over things such as gender roles." I don't think that was aimed at me, but JFTR I don't care what roles people take, I am simply interested in the facts. And the fact is a transgender woman is a man. There's no way round it. )

    24. Steven,

      Well so I went from being transphobic to being woke, how interesting.

      "You're a professional scientist at an elite institute - why don't you tell me what a "man" or a "woman" is?

      You can look up the definitions as well as I. In fact you have, because you have copied them here many times. The problem is you don't understand them, otherwise you wouldn't make such utterly idiotic statements as that no one can know if someone's a man or a woman because that's subjective. Why don't you stop for a moment insulting others and blaming your lack of comprehension on other people and consider that maybe the problem is you.

    25. It's a bit painful watching Steven Evans being repeatedly body-slammed by Dr. Hossenfelder, but it's entertaining.

      I literally can't understand what he was just trying to say to me anyway.

      To Lawrence's comment:
      I remembered that there has been study done on some transgender people's brains do share traits with their actual gender. I googled to refresh my memory and found this article:

      A reader will note that descriptive terminology regarding gender is discussed and gametes are not even mentioned.

    26. Sabine Hossenfelder2:34 AM, July 01, 2021

      You are dodging the question, Dr. H.

      Tell me what a "woman" is and how someone would know if they are a "woman" in the gender ideological la-la land you have taken up residence in.

      "no one can know if someone's a man or a woman because that's subjective"

      Right. I have no idea if I am a "man" or a "woman" in your la-la land. It's not based on biology or the usual phenotypes, it's based on "feelings". What "feelings" determine whether I am a "man" or a "woman"? Tell me so I can determine whether I am a "man" or a "woman".

    27. C Thompson4:06 AM, July 01, 2021

      Is it 6 genders or 8 genders? You're not really sure. But kill everybody who doesn't agree that it's 6 genders or 8 genders or whatever it is.

      You are a complete and utter moron and a fascist.

    28. Sabine Hossenfelder11:21 AM, June 17, 2021

      "I am all in favor of clear definitions"

      So let us finally have the definition of "woman", Dr. H.
      Drum roll, please.....

    29. Steven,

      If you are too dumb to even recall what you said yourself, I can't help you.

    30. I cannot help but hear songs by the Kinks and Lou Reed with this thread.

      If one is interested in a definition of an organism by their chromosomes then indeed a transwoman is XY and if one requires that as a definition of gender then you can, at least in your mind, make it so. If one is to widen this from a narrow biological or genetic basis to a social level, then things are more complicated. If one is to do that with liberality, which is that expression by people is not to be unnecessarily curbed, then maybe transwomen are to be treated as they express themselves and wish to be regarded.

    31. @C Thompson: I have read similar things. These things illustrate how species have a range of genetic variation that in general give a greater fitness to the species at large. This is what might be called group fitness that some biologists object to.

    32. This comment has been removed by the author.

    33. @Dr. Hossenfelder:
      We're all just too Post-Modernist Woke Fascist for our own good, apparently *shrug*

      @Lawrence Crowell:
      Agreed. 'Lola' and 'Walk on the Wild Side' are both excellent jams.

      "Is it 6 genders or 8 genders? You're not really sure. But kill everybody who doesn't agree that it's 6 genders or 8 genders or whatever it is.

      You are a complete and utter moron and a fascist."
      Charming. Mr. Evans has the best pick-up lines.
      Because he asked so politely,

      The terms for gender that I am aware of are:

      - Cisgender (or cis) men and women

      - Transgender (or trans) men and women

      - Non-Binary (or N.B./'enby')

      - Gender-fluid (feels neither strictly male nor female)

      - Gender-queer: not strictly fitting [I would be this, had I had the language for gender sooner. I did wonder if I should've been a boy, but that was the gender-binary expectations I didn't fit, not my body.]

      - Transmasculine and Transfeminine (Transmasc, transfem) Similar to but broader terms than 'transgender'.

      Here's hoping we can define ourselves however we please if we communicate via brain signals, and gender won't be a concern with our activities.

    34. Sabine Hossenfelder8:30 AM, July 01, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      So you are in the ludicrous position where you are a professional scientists but will not state what a "woman" is.

      Either because you don't know what a "woman" is, or possibly because you are concerned about stating it in public as the Woke lunatics will immediately attack you, like C. Thompson did about your re-tweet.

      Either way you have perfectly illustrated my point for me.


    35. C Thompson9:28 AM, July 01, 2021

      Look at you, you are picking up in confidence - venturing forward a few terms from the ideology you would kill for.

      So now the definitions, please, and how do we know which of these "genders" we are?

      I have no idea which of these genders I am. Biologically I'm a man, but that is irrelevant apparently in your la-la land.

    36. Lawrence Crowell8:35 AM, July 01, 2021

      Don't dodge the question, Lawrence.

      " then maybe transwomen are to be treated as they express themselves and wish to be regarded."

      Socially we can use their pronouns, etc., of course. But as soon as you start defining "man" and "woman" in terms of "gender" the definition is fuzzy and there will be swathes of people who don't know whether they are a "man" or a "woman", including people who may have "mild" gender dysphoria, say.

      And as soon as you allow extra genders to be defined in terms of pretty much any human characteristics, then this leads logically to us all being "gender-fluid" by the second, which is not a useful concept.

      Do you agree or not?
      We're talking about whether these definitions make sense or not, not whether we should make some people's lives a misery or not.
      Dr. H. has completely dodged the question, maybe because she is in the public eye and it's a risky topic. But you're not, so what's your answer?

    37. Steven,

      Oh, everyone can see that I have answered your question, just like I have answered your previous questions. You just ignore the answer. It isn't even funny, it's just stupid.

    38. I've been entertained for the last few days. What is he going to come up with next to keep his side of things going? What insult is he going to throw at me, anything original?

    39. Sabine Hossenfelder12:35 AM, July 02, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      Stop dodging the question and tell me what a "woman" is. If you don't know what a "woman" is, how do you know you are one?

    40. Ah, Steven Evans the Great is back, this time he has forgotten what he asked in the first place. Your question was what gender is. I have pointed out that you have informed us all, multiple times, that you have looked it up in the dictionary, so why the heck do you want me to now waste my time to look it up for you. As to what a woman is. I have already answered this question on the previous thread. Clearly you didn't bother reading the answer. So why would I repeat it now, since you will only ignore it? Your behavior is a paradigmatic example of confirmation bias. Whenever someone explains to you why you are wrong, you simply ignore it.

    41. I did exactly as he asked, and the poor man (I think?) is confused now.
      Steven can pick a gender description that he likes, that resonates with him, that makes him feel comfortable.

      As for attacking people and wishing them dead, I became aware via Facebook of the suicide of a person harrassed by an online outfit called Kiwi Farms. All the anti-trans, non-trans-affirming, trans-segregating ideology and speech and writing backs up and enforces this hatred an harrassment:

      So yes, I am quite convinced that people who share misinformation and negative opinions about transgender people (transgender women are men, they should not be allowed nor welcomed into cisgender women's spaces, facilities and sporting competitions, opinions that Steven Evans has all stated) should not be able to keep their jobs due to hate speech, and that the best way forward is for these people to be disenfranchised and de-platformed. Failing that, the recourse is to speak against them, to share truth, and to wait for them to die.

      One cannot say they support transgender people then say bigoted, anti-trans shit and not expect to be called out.

      I wrote Dr. Hossenfelder (about a month ago, by now) because I think highly of her, not because I wanted to attack her. I have a chance to have conversations with an intelligent, influential person, I didn't take that lightly.

      It turns out Dr. Hossenfelder and I are pretty much in agreeance. I am also rather glad to find others here who get where I'm coming from and have commented in support of transgender people, how they fit in with scientific facts, and that they deserve respect as equals.

      But if Steven Evans wants to keep entertaining us, who am I to stop him.

    42. @ Steven Evans: You wrote,"But as soon as you start defining "man" and "woman" in terms of "gender" the definition is fuzzy... ." Sure, but has it not occurred to you that when it comes to things like society, people, relationships and so forth that things get fuzzy? We do not go around talking to each other as scientists or scientific subjects. That is life, and it gets really messy sometimes. Try changing a dirty diaper some day.

    43. The language for trans, non-binary, etc. people exists to help expand and clarify definitions, not mess then up though.
      People stuck in gender-binary/non-trans accepting paradigms would find them unclear or messy.

    44. Lawrence Crowell3:04 PM, July 02, 2021

      " Sure, "
      Good, you agree. The definition of "man" and "woman" in terms of "feelings" is vague and therefore ultimately meaningless.

      "has it not occurred to you that when it comes to things like society.. things get fuzzy?"

      I have made that point several dozen times - we can accommodate these matters flexibly socially or informally, but not in science, the law or the dictionary which deal with actual facts and have to avoid contradictions.

      There shouldn't be any problem, except that some extreme Woke fascists like C.Thompson want to impose their unscientific, self-contradictory ideology by lethal force.

  16. Steven, are you saying Dr. Hossenfelder is a Nazi sympathiser if she agrees with me?

    I think it's hilarious albeit irritating that you think I'm a murdurous extremist for stating my opinion, but your insinuating that the host of this blog is one - that's horrible, stupid and Just Not Cricket.

    1. C Thompson10:48 AM, June 27, 2021

      Are you completely brain dead?

      "a murdurous extremist for stating my opinion"

      Your opinion that you want to kill all people who disagree with your lunatic ideology.

      You wrote repeatedly that you want to enforce your nonsensical, unscientific ideology on people who instead believe in objective, scientific facts, by throwing them out of their jobs, subjecting them to violence and killing them.

      Who exactly do you think should be killed? Anybody who defines "man" and "woman" according to objective, biological fact.

      Enforcing a lunatic ideology via violence is the behaviour of a Nazi.

      You are a Nazi.

      Now you are trying to backpedal quickly by pretending what you repeatedly wrote was all in jest, while simultaneously still wishing everybody dead who disagrees with the crazy ideology which you can't even explain.

    2. Steven,

      Your "argument" is incoherent and inconsistent, as both I and Udi have pointed out repeatedly. And if you call someone a "Nazi" here one more time you go back on the blacklist, my patience ends here.

    3. Sabine Hossenfelder12:04 PM, June 28, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      You have shown no incoherency or inconsistency.

      It's perfectly consistent to define "man" and "woman" based on the objective facts of biological sex. Gender is a fuzzier term from the social sciences, but defining it as the traits associated with a particular sex leads to a bimodal distribution. This allows for individual differences, so again it is not inconsistent with reality. Finally, some people are born biologically intersex and trans people report a subjective feeling of gender dysphoria. Although it is biologically impossible for a human to change their biological sex, so a transgender woman who is biologically a man cannot become a woman, although he can present socially as one and transition physically to some extent.

      Where is the inconsistency?
      Where is the incoherence?
      Where is the transphobia, which you "guess" I am guilty of?

      Meanwhile, the gender ideological definition defines a "man" and a "woman" in terms of subjective feelings? So are you a woman? You don't know. What about now? You still don't know. Am I a man? I have no idea. All the genders are defined subjectively so how could anyone possibly know their gender?

      And this is coherent is it? It's meaningless nonsense. I've never heard so much drivel in my life.

    4. @Steven
      Given all that trans people deal with in benighted places that pass laws that make their lives harder, and the fact that being openly trans is actively dangerous for many people, I'm not putting up with any justifications for treating trans people as a special class.
      You know who else divided up and labelled, literally labelled people in ways to de-humanise them?
      THE NAZIS. They literally stuck labels on people.

      Of course I don't think people who treat trans people differently/who think they should be somehow made to be separate to how they deserve to be, even just in language, deserve my regard or respect. Science is your shield for your disgust and fear, and you're blind to your utter ignorance.

      Especially if I'm accused of being a Nazi by one of them. I call it hate speech. You get to say it but I absolutely do hope other people find it intolerable and your own life is made less pleasant in return.
      I may be foolish, but you are contemptible.

    5. Steven,

      Yeah, as I have noted above, you are cognitively unable to comprehend that it's not you who decides how society uses words.

      "genders are defined subjectively so how could anyone possibly know their gender"

      By Steven-logic no one can possibly know what they're thinking because it's subjective. If you can't fathom why this is inconsistent bullshit I can't help you. You're refusing to treat transpeople the same as cispeople -- we do as a matter of fact not address people by their sex because we don't know their sex -- hence are clearly transphobic, and are going on and on (and on and on an on) about it while in the same breath denying that you're doing what you are doing.

      I have told you this all before and only repeating this here for those readers who haven't followed the earlier thread. Incidentally your backwards "argument" has only made me more sympathetic to the hostility that transpeople face.

    6. Sabine Hossenfelder1:26 AM, June 29, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      I have to make the same points yet again. I am not saying that I get to decide how society uses words, clearly I don't, so why do you repeatedly claim that I am? I am simply making an argument that gender ideology definitions are clearly nonsensical and useless.

      I have also stated from the start that trans people should be treated according to their gender not their sex, where sex is not relevant. This is clearly not a transphobic point of view - I accept trans people's subjective feeling of gender and treat them according to their gender.

      You have not shown therefore that defining "man" and "woman" in terms of biological sex is transphobic per se. Maybe the use of "man" and "woman" in society is not always relevant to a situation, but that's another matter. Such usage does not follow necessarily from the scientific-based view of sex and gender. So the scientific-based view of sex and gender is not necessarily transphobic. And indeed there are transgender people who publicly support the science-based view of sex and gender.

      Now why don't you tell me what the shiny new definition of gender is, what a "man" and a "woman" are, and tell me how people work out what gender they are? Do we choose from a menu of new genders "defined" by a subjective, imprecise natural language description of feelings which we feel is closest to our own subjective experience, sort of, maybe, mmm, don't really know. Oh, but now I feel a bit different today, pass me the gender menu. Explain how this works.

      "has only made me more sympathetic to the hostility that transpeople face. "

      I'm sure they do face hostility. Not from me though. And trans gender rights won't be helped by trying to enforce an ideology that is muddled nonsense.

      "are going on and on (and on and on an on) about it while in the same breath denying that you're doing what you are doing."

      And so are you, Udi Fuchs and C. Thompson. But while I have made my definitions clear many times to you, you 3 will not provide the gender ideological definitions of gender, "man" or "woman" because it's gobbledygook and you know I would ridicule you for it. You prefer to pretend that I want to attack trans rights, which is untrue. This is what the Woke do - no arguments, lots of unjustified slurs, lots of threats of violence. Similar in many respects to the religious.

      So let's have the gender ideological definitions.

    7. Steven, So leave us Woke to it, and go take yourself somewhere else, if we're that terrible.

      A description is not a slur if it's true.
      You're the one who started with insults about 'the Woke' and fascist ideology, then pulled out the Nazi accusation. Reap what you sow.

      Speaking of violence, you're being deliberately obtuse as a point of attack. You're so stupid that you believe I actually want to go to the trouble of ejecting people into volcanoes, really?!

      Several of the commentariat have given you explanations and definitions besides Udi, Dr. H and myself.

      We've explained ourselves and you're refusing to believe us.
      Just, go away to somewhere you find more agreeable. Please. Thank you.

    8. C Thompson5:36 AM, June 29, 2021

      I understand you are very dim and have serious mental health issues, but you need to be aware that incitement to violence, repeated incitement to violence, is illegal.

      So keep your fascist fantasies of mass violence and murder to yourself in future.

      I know you are convinced your unscientific, self-contradictory ideology is true, even though you can't actually explain it, just like you think that dreams can predict the future, but neither is true. You are simply a moron.

    9. Sabine Hossenfelder1:26 AM, June 29, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      Any time you want to define what "gender" or a "man" or a "woman" is, go right ahead.

      Also, as I accept the subjectively reported gender of trans people and use their pronouns to show that acceptance, and have stated from the start that I am supportive of trans rights, I cannot be and am not transphobic. As I have noted several times, some trans people actually believe in the science over the unscientific ideology.

      So you need to withdraw the accusation, as it is without foundation.

    10. No.
      Those transgender people are selling themselves short and throwing other transgender people under the bus.
      You stop insulting me and others who disagree with you, stop telling people they're Woke clowns and insane Nazis and maybe I'll think about it.

    11. Having read this very long and non-relevant comment thread, I have to side with Steve Evans here — no one has yet replied to his argument that if gender is based off of feelings alone, then there is no objective, empirical criteria for distinguishing between men and women. This has obviously been problematic in the realm of sports, where biological definitions of men and women are crucially relevant to an individual’s capacity to perform. It’s also problematic in the military world — the Army’s most recent attempt, for instance, to implement a gender neutral fitness test, where the metric was designed only to test an individual’s capability to perform tactical tasks, resulted in a steep failure rate for women. The test is thus being redesigned so that the standards are different (lower) for women than they are for men. This is done of course with the socially progressive intention of ensuring women can continue serving in the armed forces, but ironically it requires a strict demarcation between what distinguishes a man from a woman, such a definition can surely only be biological.

    12. CMW,

      That's not what Steven claimed. He claimed if there aren't any objective criteria, there are none, which is of course nonsense. You can full well just ask people what gender they identify with. I don't understand how this is so difficult to comprehend.

      And, yes, as we discussed way way earlier, in some areas of our lives biological sex is relevant, I have said this over and over again, and fully agree. But in most areas of our lives it isn't.

    13. Sabine Hossenfelder11:48 PM, July 06, 2021

      Dr. H.,

      The point is that the "genders" in gender ideology are not clearly defined, so how could anyone know their gender? By looking at an extremely limited list of subjective feelings and trying to guess which fits the closest with one's own subjective experience?

      Good grief! What utter, utter drivel.

      I'm supposed to look at 84 Pokemon cards and say which one I'm closest to based on a very limited number of subjective characteristics imprecisely stated in natural language?

      I have never heard such tripe.

      Logically and inevitably we would all have to declare ourselves "gender-fluid" by the moment. Or an "individual". So we already have a word for it.

      All sex- and gender-related phenomena in humans derive from the basic and clearly defined fact of sexual reproduction. Everything is explained by the biology, including gender dysphoria.

      You yourself have repeatedly refused to define what a "woman" is under gender ideology. So how do you know you are a "woman"?

      I would say the fact you've had a child/children is a bit of a clue, but obviously that's irrelevant in this Alice in Genderland where anything can mean anything, and everything means nothing.

      Universal fine-tuning is a stupid, unjustified claim; religious belief in Iron Age fairy tales is completely mentally deluded; but this gender ideology garbage, my God, it's off the charts insane. You have taken all leave of your senses.

    14. Steven,

      Look, if it doesn't matter to you what your gender is, fine. I don't care much either, but this isn't the point. The point is that it matter to some people.

      "Logically and inevitably we would all have to declare ourselves "gender-fluid" by the moment. Or an "individual". So we already have a word for it."

      As I have told you many times before, you are not the one who gets to decide how language is used.

      "You yourself have repeatedly refused to define what a "woman" is under gender ideology. So how do you know you are a "woman"?"

      There is nothing to define, I have told you that many times before, you just do not understand it. If someone says they're a woman, they're a woman. That's that. I have also already told you that people address me as a woman and that's fine with me, but that really I don't care much one way or another.

      "I would say the fact you've had a child/children is a bit of a clue..."

      Have you still not understood that sex isn't the same as gender? It's not all that difficult: Sex isn't the same as gender.

    15. @Dr. Hossenfelder:

      It's a trap!
      I don't know if Steven can't or won't understand or whether he just has a hobby of arguing.

      You have been as clear as anyone could be in addressing him but he's the one who apparently has problems understanding words, defenitions and context.
      The 'she/her' in your Twitter account is a pretty good clue about your gender.

    16. Sabine Hossenfelder3:39 AM, July 07, 2021

      "The point is that it matter to some people. "

      OK, so you agree with me. You have no idea what the "genders" are in "gender ideology" but if people want to go around saying they are Pikachu gender that is their right under free speech. Sure. People can go around claiming they are the reincarnation of Napoleon if they like.

      But scientifically, legally, commonsensewise, "gender ideology" is meaningless nonsense.

      I'm glad we agree.

    17. Steven Evans,

      I am stunned that you evidently managed to grow up and not notice that not every word we use in every-day language has a scientific or legal definition. As to "commonsensewise" -- well, most people are perfectly able to comprehend that sex isn't the same as gender, just that you're not one of them.

    18. Steven-Logic: A Critique

      'All sex- and gender-related phenomena in humans derive from the basic and clearly defined fact of sexual reproduction. Everything is explained by the biology, including gender dysphoria.'

      Quite literally, science disagrees. I previously cited valid science that agrees otherwise. There are biological reasons for how sex and gender manifest, just not the ignorant ones given here.

      'The point is that the "genders" in gender ideology are not clearly defined, so how could anyone know their gender? By looking at an extremely limited list of subjective feelings and trying to guess which fits the closest with one's own subjective experience?'
      Also flat-out wrong.

      I furnished this blog with several succint, accurate definitions of terms used in English to describe gender. If that is understood as equivalent to scores of Pokemon, the problem lies not with the defenitions but with comprehension and learning abilities.

      'commonsensewise' [sic] should have at least one space and/or hyphen in it since that's a grammatically incorrect construction.

      The attempts to 'gaslight' with insults and repetition are hilariously unconvincing.

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  17. I think the homuncular dark matter particle (baby universe) in a brain, like a universe, is not gendered but I think the electromagnetic wave focusing crystal around it is slightly different for males and females which usually corresponds to their biological sex.

  18. Mary Lou Jepsen's OpenWater is a very promising light based technology. A cheap alternative of MRI and also a possible solution for "mind reading". It's very interesting from physics perspective so I think a video would be nice about this technology.

    TED talk:


    1. Hi The Bodja,
      That is mind-blowing. I wonder what the time-resolution is, looks like it'd be near-instantaneous.

  19. So thinking to the recent discussions of political systems and my ignorance of the proper terms, I've thought it'd be rather helpful to be able to flash each other the context of what we're meaning as we talk/chat with each other, or send a quick question that can be answered in minutes or seconds to clear things up, whether communication is mostly external to our minds or direct to them.

  20. Living in a society is only possible, if we do not say all the time what we are really thinking.
    How can this work if we can communicate from brain to brain?
    The application of this technique will be limited to rare cases.

    1. Hi Henning,
      Perhaps if we do communicate brain-to-brain, we'll get better at marshalling and presenting our thoughts appropriately and clearly.

      It may become like the opposite of how social/online media tends to work, where there's a disconnect between each participant that tends to de-personalise communication and strip away much context.

      (I for one would have to practice more impulse-control in direct-brain communication, I know.)

  21. @Dr. Hossenfelder:

    I should've known not to keep trying to get Steven Evans to give up his arguments and attacks as that has been an exercise in futility. I've gone and sunk to his level at times, and haven't achieved anything for it. I want you to know I'm going to try to be a more useful member of the commentariat instead of contributing to argument-spam.

    Also (topic change), I ordered 'Lost in Math' from the blog link because people kept commenting that it's good. I'm enjoying reading it, and learning about the development of physics.

  22. Recently I came across some information where doctors were able to use fMRI to determine brain signatures for locked-in patients. I don't have any additional information, but I can see how this would be of great relief to family members knowing that their loved one is at least conscious of what's going on and be said around them, even if they can't respond.
    As a side note, because of my experience working in hospice I've drafted a living will directing my family to withhold life support for me if I am ever unable to communicate for myself.

    1. I think I'd be put to better use an organ donor than kept alive but unresponsive by machines, if I ever came to that pass.
      I don't know how I feel about having a mind that can communicate without a useful body, but there's the likes of Stephen Hawking that still managed to be part of society.

    2. Perhaps Dr. Hawking was who he was because of ALS.
      Maybe he tried harder because of it.

  23. Here’s an interesting article. Forget for the moment the subject of the “edge of chaos” that provides the optimal performance for an AI “brain”. Instead, notice the architecture of the brain. It seems reasonable to assume that identical chips could never be produced. While every chip would be manufactured identically, the structures of nanowires would never be identical. That means each resulting AI chip would develop its own optimal communication system. Would that also mean, for instance, that my AI computer might be better at certain tasks than yours? Would my input parameters, being related to my preferences, result in different outcomes for the same questions? Could you even use my computer if it has adapted itself to parameters based on my inputs?

    1. That looks like it would be great for building life-like AI for machines too.

  24. Steven,
    I have stopped reading your posts because you aren't saying anything and you are saying it over and over. Give it up and get back to talking about science.

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    1. Where did they get a 3rd door from?

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    3. That's what taxes should be used for, improving infrastructure and amenities, and providing Eldritch-friendly toilets. :)

    4. In my area of the country they’ve partitioned one of the rest rooms (usually the men’s) and added a separate door. These are called family rooms. Parents with small children and adults with special needs use them. This is common in interstate freeway rest areas. Also retail and public buildings, including some government buildings. And it’s being included in all new construction. It’s been my experience that when an employee transitions, buildings with multiple rest rooms reserve one (usually the men’s, and usually in the executive area) for that employee. It seems that there is societal inertia regarding those individuals, though with the recent Supreme Court decision allowing people to use the room of their choice society will have to grow up.

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    7. Something is better than nothing, and the Supreme Court decision is a start.
      In my experience at 2 or 3 pubs and nightclubs and at a community-focused restaurant in Sydney, the worst problems are walking in on somebody standing in a cubicle with the door open, and having to put the seat down to use the loo, not anything else related to gender or biology.
      I've also used women's restrooms at the same time as trans and non-binary people, and there is no concern there, they just want to relieve themselves.
      (I assume Brad and most people would expect that.)
      In any case, many 'disabled' facilities are for everyone to use anyway AFAIK.

    8. @Jonathan:
      If only there was no need for the Supreme Court to undo said Executive Orders, and Society could move on.
      I was in the 'Put the Seat Back Up!' camp until I realised that there would be no errant wee on the seat if male housemates just left it up, and I put it down for myself.
      Mein gott, we've moved on a fair bit from brain-reading technology...
      I propose that a future use of such technology is to read the preference for the position of home furniture as the user approaches, and adjusts itself accordingly. I expect the Japanese will jump on this first.

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    11. I propose a new term: 'Stevans', a portmanteau contraction of Steven Evans, in his honour.

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  26. An extra-dimensional portal, perhaps?

  27. Jonathan, if toilets were seperated into 'Sitting' and 'Urinals' I'd be happy as there would be less pee on the floor in the sitting toots.

  28. There's a new fluorescence microscopy technique been developed by the University of Zurich called DOLI that can see a detailed image of the microvascular structure.


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