Popular science blog's transgender-affirming theory about sex gets debunked

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Popular science blogger Steven Novella proposed a radical theory of “bimodal” sex that purports to reject the longstanding binary model by using false and unevidenced claims that have been thoroughly debunked by other science bloggers.

Novella, a neurologist, host of the popular podcast The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, and editor of the blog Science-Based Medicine, published an article titled “The Science of Biological Sex” last month. Novella portrays himself as an unbiased science educator who seeks to clear up “misconceptions about the basic science” about transgender issues that have been “coopted as part of a politically-motivated culture war.”

Ex-scientist Andy Lewis wrote a rebuttal to Novella’s piece on his own science blog, The Quackometer, that was recently republished by evolutionary biologist Colin Wright in his popular substack Reality’s Last Stand.

Novella’s arguments are centered around the claim that biological sex is not binary, but rather exists along a “bimodal” spectrum. This “bimodal” model asserts that although people tend to be either mostly female or mostly male, these differences are only a matter of degree. Novella claims that experts who “actually” understand the biology of sex agree with him on this issue. Lewis points out that no peer-reviewed biology papers have ever claimed that sex is best described as bimodal, nor has any biologist ever been able to articulate the traits and measurements used to create the bimodal sex spectrum.

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