Friday 15 October 2021

A Biologist in the Lion's/Lioness's Den


Last night's Question Time featured biologist Lord Winston and saw this revealing exchange:
Fiona Bruce: So Robert, I am interested in your view given that you were Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam for some time...
Robert WinstonI'm sorry?
Fiona Bruce: I am interested in your view given that you were Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam, weren't you, for some time? You have mentioned Kathleen Stock and the trans issue but obviously, academic freedom has been talked about in any number of areas in recent years.
Robert Winston: I was rather hoping you would be interested in my opinion as a biologist which seems rather more important, because I could have said something...
Fiona Bruce: Well, I am just saying it because the issue of academic freedom isn't solely limited to trans...
Robert Winston: I am about to say something that will probably mean you will want to edit the programme when we have finished but basically...
Fiona Bruce: OK, all right, we are all braced for it.
Robert Winston: I will say this categorically that you cannot change your sex. Your sex is actually there in every single cell in the body. You have a chromosomal sex, you have genetic sex, you have hormonal sex, you have all sorts of different aspects, psychological, brain sex. They are all different and we are very confused about this, unfortunately, and regrettably, it has got into this argument that people will now accuse me of being transphobic...
Fiona Bruce: Well, obviously, there are trans people who say you absolutely can do that.
Robert Winston: Well. unfortunately, you can't say this publicly. This is one of the big problems. Even saying this on this programme undoubtedly will result in my getting a huge amount of hate mail, it always does. But I do think it is a big issue about the attitudes. There are of course issues which are important about young people who are confused about their sex but we won't go down that route here. But it does affect a whole lot of issues in schools and elsewhere in our society. Of course, we should accept people as they are. Overall, I think it is a very sad thing that we can't discuss biological science without actually getting completely caught up emotionally with something which is really completely wrong.
Fiona Bruce: Well, as I say, there are people who would vehemently disagree with you...
Robert Winston: Yes, I know.
Fiona I am just going to make that clear.
It's very interesting that we're in a world where the BBC can 'reality check' certain things but not others. They won't 'reality check' absurd statements about sex, for example. 

And it's fascinating how gingerly they tread around some facts - like the fact that you cannot change your biological sex. 

I'll let a few tweets speak for me concerning Fiona Bruce's role here:
[1] "I'm about to say something that will mean you will probably want to edit the cannot change your sex" This basic scientific fact has now become so taboo that the BBC think it's necessary to provide 'balance'. They wouldn't do this for flat-earthers.
[2] Imagine it.
Brian Cox: "I'm about to say something that will mean you will probably want to edit the programme... the earth is round."
Fiona Bruce: “Well, flat-earthers will say it’s flat.”

[3] Fiona Bruce at the end of that clip, adding that some people will vehemently disagree with the fact that you can't change sex, is not to providing balance or a counter argument as she might see it. It's simply misinformation and wrong. Why did she feel the need to add that?

[4] “Good evening and welcome to Question Time from Nottingham.......of course we should recognise those that disagree that it is the evening, that the programme is Question Time and that there is such a place as full respect to them too.”

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