Ixthos

Implications of the Reshi King - XY chromosomes, ethnicity, and identity

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The Reshi King changed from male to female, with an implication this didn't just change the Reshi King's external physiology, but also caused the mammary glands and gonads to change also, and a much deeper implication that the Reshi King, originally female, was now male - a complete transformation of every part, and implying that every cell in their body has now gained new information, as one of their X chromosomes would have to be replaced with an entire Y chromosome. Basically, healing to match your perceived identity can actually add new genetic information to you.

So, can this apply to changing ethnicity also? If someone perceived themselves as Alethi when they are ethnically Herdazian, could they change to become an Alethi? Or if someone from Scadrial's north who is a worldhopper thought of themselves as a Nalthian, would they change to become a Nalthian, though lacking Breath? Presumably change is based on altering your identity to march that of another classification, and some identities are potentially closer together than others, or are seen as closer by some.

In fact, their are entire tiers of potential changes that are less extreme than changing from male to female, and several that are more, so how far can Cosmere healing go to make you match another group?

 

In general from least difficult to most, here are some possibilities, so the first entry requires the least physical and genetic changes, while the last entry requires the most:

  • Changing family bloodlines within the same ethnicity (so going from genetically matching your relatives to matching your close friends who are of the same ethnicity)
  • Changing from one ethnicity to another on the same planet (such as the Alethi and Herdazian example above)
  • Changing from one ethnicity to another on a different planet with no magical abilities innate (so from Scadrian to Nalthian)
  • Changing from male to female or vise versa - this one is confirmed
  • Changing from one ethnicity to another on a different planet - or the same planet - which has some innate connections (so from Scadrian to an Elantrian)
  • Changing from one species into another with a similar physiology (such as from Alethi to Singer)
  • Changing from one species into another with very different physiology (such as from Alethi to Sleepless) (Might be implied with one of the Yolen species)

 

What are your thoughts?

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You... took this in a direction neither nazis nor minorities & immigrants are going to be very comfortable with irl, lol

Yes, changing ethnicities, though those would also require Connection changes.

I'm not sure about the Elantrian bit though, you could make yourself Arelish, sure... the answer should lie in Identity overwrite and Connection hack but apparently things didn't work out for Hoid (then again, he doesn't know everything, and knew less back then than he does now, and we don't know what exactly he tried: I'm guessing Connection and something to try to fool the Dor regarding his Identity but he didn't actively change his Cognitive perception of self or alter his Spiritweb)

That last one, you think Yolish Dragons' shapeshifting works via this... frame-shifting of perception?

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@Honorless I was wondering about Hoid's attempt. The problem is, as you noted, we don't know the exact details of what Hoid tried. Hemalurgy, with its abiility to steal connections and to take more from an Elantrian than it can from anyone else, might be able to do this in a brute force way, though that also depends on if you would think of Marsh as a Mistborn - though lacking some metals and potentially their shardmetal alloys - or something unique, if just taking or emulating the connections an Elantrian has would change them into an Elantrian. I agree though, I think he was more trying to fool the Dor as you said, rather tahn make an actual change to himself or how he sees himself. In fact, it might be that Hoid can't change how he sees himself, and so that is why he is immortal.

 

33 minutes ago, Honorless said:

That last one, you think Yolish Dragons' shapeshifting works via this... frame-shifting of perception?

Yes :-) I also think this is how the Returned shapeshifting works too. I think Dragons are the oldest race in the Cosmere and in general know more about how the systems work than others, so I think for them it is about frame-shifting their perception of themselves (and I like the way you put that!). The excerpt Brandon read isn't cannon, but if some of what it says is true they probably don't or can't change everything about themselves to appear human or another species due to the eyes, but I think that basically they can change how they see themselves and that changes how they actually are. In a sense every living thing in the Cosmere - and in this universe every human being and every animal and plant and single celled life etc. - starts as material of one type and becomes material of another, and even some of the matter we take in was once part of someone else. The pattern is what matters, but the patterns is also flexable. The Cosmere explores some philosophical questions such as the ship of Thesus - this feels like a logical extrapolation, taking matter that already is one thing, and changing part of its pattern to be - while still the same thing - something slightly different.

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On 11.12.2020 at 9:13 AM, Ixthos said:

The Reshi King changed from male to female, with an implication this didn't just change the Reshi King's external physiology, but also caused the mammary glands and gonads to change also, and a much deeper implication that the Reshi King, originally female, was now male - a complete transformation of every part, and implying that every cell in their body has now gained new information, as one of their X chromosomes would have to be replaced with an entire Y chromosome. Basically, healing to match your perceived identity can actually add new genetic information to you.

Technically we have no idea whether the individual in question is fully fertile.

On 11.12.2020 at 9:13 AM, Ixthos said:

So, can this apply to changing ethnicity also?

There is no reason to assume that is limited to sex. Any bodily change should be possible.

On 11.12.2020 at 9:13 AM, Ixthos said:

If someone perceived themselves as Alethi when they are ethnically Herdazian, could they change to become an Alethi?

How is one bilogically speaking Alethi? You could probably look Alethi, but there is no indication Stormlight healing or Progression could change spiritual or cognitive aspects. You'd keep an accent or body languahe.

On 11.12.2020 at 9:13 AM, Ixthos said:
  • Changing from one species into another with a similar physiology (such as from Alethi to Singer)

The Knights Radiant seem to be unable to make gemstones by arcane means. That one is likely to kill you,or if you are very lucky turn you permanently into slave form.

 

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On 12/12/2020 at 10:21 PM, Oltux72 said:

Technically we have no idea whether the individual in question is fully fertile.

True, but when Lopen's hand was healed it became a fully functional hand, not just organic matter in the shape of a hand. Would it not make sense for the gonads to be fully functional, just as a hand has functional nerves, capillaries, and tendons? I agree it isn't a guarantee, the changes might only be superficial, but wouldn't that make more sense?

 

On 12/12/2020 at 10:21 PM, Oltux72 said:

How is one bilogically speaking Alethi? You could probably look Alethi, but there is no indication Stormlight healing or Progression could change spiritual or cognitive aspects. You'd keep an accent or body languahe.

Alethi might have a subtly different hormone balance, a susceptibility to certain diseases a Herdazian wouldn't, or vice versa, and possibly different bone structure. We could also change the example of an Alethi turning into a Herdazian to changing into a Horneater and then talk about the structure of their throat and ability to eat hard shells. Changing the spiritual or cognitive aspects isn't a given, true, although the point is that the cognitive aspect does change, and the spiritual reflects the cognitive. Going back to the individual in question, would you agree they no-longer have a feminine spiritual aspect? That they have lost their connection to the concept in the spiritual realm of woman and female and become linked to the concept of male?

 

On 12/12/2020 at 10:21 PM, Oltux72 said:

The Knights Radiant seem to be unable to make gemstones by arcane means. That one is likely to kill you,or if you are very lucky turn you permanently into slave form.

Perhaps Singer is a bad example, maybe Aimian would have been better. Still, why would the change be a permanent lock to slave form?

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My question is this: How can the individual's DNA remain the same when the chromosome switches? The X chromosome is 3 times larger than the Y chromosome, and carries many, many more genes. I expect that this is magical handwavy-ness. Perhaps the healing changes the DNA to match the standard phenotype, sans any changes that the person wishes to heal. Concerning the "healing" of someone to a different ethnicity, I cannot think of a reason that this would be impossible, save for the fact that a person of an ethnicity may lack knowledge of what it means to be that other ethnicity or be unable to perceive themselves as a different ethnicity. Perhaps a person adopted into an ethnicity could do so. Concerning the "healing" of someone to a different race, see ethnicity but with a bit more confusion. The singer transformation might work if the individual healed themself to have the mechanism to grow a gemheart. Even if the Radiants can't make a gemstone, the method by which they are grown is still a biological process that could be mimicked in healing. I am uncertain as to whether a healing from one species to a species with innate Investiture [like Nalthians] would work, since it is a retroactive application, but theoretically, biology should match. Perhaps the person would simply become a Drab. The first and only barrier is whether the person perceives themself to be the thing they are trying to become. It might be difficult for a human to believe themself to be a Dysian Aimian. 

Concerning the spiritual aspect bit: I thought healing was returning the Physical aspect to be aligned with the Spiritual, so people would already have this Spiritual aspect but their bodies wouldn't match. Trans men are men, trans women are women, and non-binary people are non-binary even before they transition. If a person considered themself to be another gender/race/ethnicity/species, they are that gender/race/ethnicity/species in the Spiritual Realm.

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9 minutes ago, Gears said:

If a person considered themself to be another gender/race/ethnicity/species, they are that gender/race/ethnicity/species in the Spiritual Realm

I agree with a lot of what you said above, though this part in particular is problematic. I don't think they are already that gender/race/ethnicity/species in the Spiritual Realm until the healing takes effect - they are whatever the physical reality is until the healing causes their physical form to match their cognitive perception, and that then changes their spiritual connections. So the Reshi king, despite wanting to be seen as male, was not male physically or spiritually but was male cognitively, until the healing then caused the physical and spiritual to match the cognitive.

To put it another way, a square might want to be seen as a triangle, and sees itself as a triangle, but is still a square in the physical and spiritual realm, only deliberately standing so that shadows cast on it make it appear to be a triangle. Then, when investiture is applied, the shape changes to actually be a triangle, and the physical and spiritual then match it.

 

Also, maybe I shouldn't have chosen Nalthians as the off-world example because of the Breath they had. I mainly wanted them to be an example to compare to an Elantrian. Maybe someone from Ashyn would have been a better example, or First of the Sun? Someone who is just as invested as a regular Scadrian, but from a different world and very different line of descent while still being human, as opposed to Singer or Aimian, etc. Although ... Scadrians also have a bit of Presevation in them that others might not have.

Also also, and I seem to be working backwards through your points, I suppose the lost of the one X could be just a case of data being erased. If a new Y is produced - new information added - it would make sense that old information is lost. There are some shared genes between the X and Y chromosome, so maybe some of the lost X becomes part of the new Y?

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4 minutes ago, Ixthos said:

I agree with a lot of what you said above, though this part in particular is problematic. I don't think they are already that gender/race/ethnicity/species in the Spiritual Realm until the healing takes effect - they are whatever the physical reality is until the healing causes their physical form to match their cognitive perception, and that then changes their spiritual connections. So the Reshi king, despite wanting to be seen as male, was not male physically or spiritually but was male cognitively, until the healing then caused the physical and spiritual to match the cognitive.

I disagree with this, but I don't have any evidence or reasoning for why.

1 minute ago, Ixthos said:

Also also, and I seem to be working backwards through your points, I suppose the lost of the one X could be just a case of data being erased. If a new Y is produced - new information added - it would make sense that old information is lost. There are some shared genes between the X and Y chromosome, so maybe some of the lost X becomes part of the new Y?

According to a quick Google search, there are 900 genes on the X chromosome and 55 on the Y chromosome, which doesn't sound right, but it was what I found. A person going from X to Y would lose 845 genes. That would lose a lot of data, and I don't know how the body could rectify this. Going from Y to X would probably be fine because the DNA could just code for recessive genes.

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Just now, Gears said:

I disagree with this, but I don't have any evidence or reasoning for why.

Fair enough :-) disagreement is often healthy. If you do think of a problem with this theory I'd be happy to hear it.

 

2 minutes ago, Gears said:

According to a quick Google search, there are 900 genes on the X chromosome and 55 on the Y chromosome, which doesn't sound right, but it was what I found. A person going from X to Y would lose 845 genes. That would lose a lot of data, and I don't know how the body could rectify this. Going from Y to X would probably be fine because the DNA could just code for recessive genes.

True, though in theory that data could still be stored in the spiritual realm. It might be that, if later on they start to think of themselves as female again and change back, their original chromosomes would be restored, so it isn't that the data is lost only that it is moved, their cells storing it initially but then it gets backed up to the cloud when a new version is installed.

Though even if it is lost, data is unfortunately lost all the time. If you ever eat something with intact DNA it will get broken down in your stomach, and the data lost. While not exactly the same scenario, it does mean that data in any given medium isn't sacred in and of itself - a burned book loses its words, but other copies of the book could still remain.

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On 12/14/2020 at 11:39 AM, Gears said:

I disagree with this, but I don't have any evidence or reasoning for why.

According to a quick Google search, there are 900 genes on the X chromosome and 55 on the Y chromosome, which doesn't sound right, but it was what I found. A person going from X to Y would lose 845 genes. That would lose a lot of data, and I don't know how the body could rectify this. Going from Y to X would probably be fine because the DNA could just code for recessive genes.

It is important to remember that you are only losing one copy of these genes-the other X chromosome still has all these genes.  Additionally, some of the differences between male and female has to do with the level of expression of these genes.  Having only one copy will lower the expression level.

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On 14.12.2020 at 1:51 PM, Ixthos said:

True, but when Lopen's hand was healed it became a fully functional hand, not just organic matter in the shape of a hand.

In the interest of science we'd need to dissect The Lopen.

I doubt he'd agree to that, so our understanding of the Arcane Arts is delayed.

On 14.12.2020 at 1:51 PM, Ixthos said:

Would it not make sense for the gonads to be fully functional, just as a hand has functional nerves, capillaries, and tendons? I agree it isn't a guarantee, the changes might only be superficial, but wouldn't that make more sense?

The Rosharans know hands. The hand used to be functional. Arcane arts can reveal the past. There was another hand to mirror.

It is likely that the Rosharans know how mammalian reproduction works anatomically. On a genetic level? I doubt that. If the genetics remain unchanged, you'd get atypical gametes.These are unlikely to be viable.

And how would an X chromosome corresponding to a Y chromosome look? It never existed and there is no algorithm to tell how it would look like.

On 11.12.2020 at 11:51 AM, Honorless said:

You... took this in a direction neither nazis nor minorities & immigrants are going to be very comfortable with irl, lol

Basically that is made unavoidable by Sel. Ethnicity is an objective reality in the Cosmere. Nor can you expect magic to produce results aligning with any conventional politics. Though I appreciate the irony.

On 14.12.2020 at 1:51 PM, Ixthos said:

Alethi might have a subtly different hormone balance, a susceptibility to certain diseases a Herdazian wouldn't, or vice versa, and possibly different bone structure.

On average, if you compare large groups. But an individual?

On 14.12.2020 at 1:51 PM, Ixthos said:

We could also change the example of an Alethi turning into a Herdazian to changing into a Horneater and then talk about the structure of their throat and ability to eat hard shells.

Horneaters and Herdazians can hardly be called ethicities. If you have extra organs, you are a subspecies.

On 14.12.2020 at 1:51 PM, Ixthos said:

Changing the spiritual or cognitive aspects isn't a given, true, although the point is that the cognitive aspect does change, and the spiritual reflects the cognitive. Going back to the individual in question, would you agree they no-longer have a feminine spiritual aspect?

Possibly. If that is a spiritual attribute at all.

On 14.12.2020 at 1:51 PM, Ixthos said:

That they have lost their connection to the concept in the spiritual realm of woman and female and become linked to the concept of male?

 

Perhaps Singer is a bad example, maybe Aimian would have been better. Still, why would the change be a permanent lock to slave form?

No gem heart -> Nothing to keep a Spren in -> No Spren -> No Form (a. k. a. Slaveform). And in that form you likely lack the mental faculties to do anything about your state.

On 14.12.2020 at 5:39 PM, Gears said:

According to a quick Google search, there are 900 genes on the X chromosome and 55 on the Y chromosome, which doesn't sound right, but it was what I found.

A Y chromosome is a reduced X. It has its peculiar shape because a lot has been lost. Chromosomes all look like Xes.

On 14.12.2020 at 5:39 PM, Gears said:

A person going from X to Y would lose 845 genes. That would lose a lot of data, and I don't know how the body could rectify this.

By using only the genes from the remaining X. That is the deep reason Conditions like hemophilia are spread through the female line by mothers who themselves do not suffer from the condition.

On 14.12.2020 at 5:39 PM, Gears said:

Going from Y to X would probably be fine because the DNA could just code for recessive genes.

Whence does the healing create a chromosome? Some alternate reality?

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There's something that people are missing here, which can sound nitpicky at first but is actually quite important for the concepts.

Both sex and gender are socially constructed, and while people are interpreted as having a given sex and gender at birth we know that this is really just a guess by the medical profession. The reason this is important is that people aren't just males who identify as women, or females who identify as men or people with bodies of a given sex. A transgender man is still male and so is his body whether or not he attempts medical transition. This is also a reason that terms like 'male to female' and 'female to male' are starting to fall into disuse and in some spaces are considered a bit crude to use.

But what is really important to note is that many trans people do experience dysphoria, which can be traumatic, where there's a strong view of what your body is meant to be that clashes with what your body currently is. For some trans people the way they address this is via medical transition. This doesn't make a body more or less 'male' or 'female' before or after, but it can bring a lot of comfort. Overall this is a pretty different experience to how people experience culture and ethnicity which is more generally understood to be collectively experienced through things like family, language, music, food, customs etc. and the relationship to place which is not really able to resolved via physical transformation. It's not like Stormlight would be able to heal you by changing not only you but your family's physical appearance, and even their food practices, language etc. etc.

Obviously the investiture can perform radical changes to the body, and probably the changes could be on any scale so long as there was the Stormlight to fuel it, but the specific premise by which the Reshi king transformed is not going to be a method for ethnic and cultural transformation. It would not even be a pathway for a number of trans people (though to stress this does not mean someone physically or spiritually is anything but the gender they identify as).

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@Proletariat I am planning on responding to everyone more fully later on, but I just need to address your point on sex and gender. While gender may be a social construct, sex is not. There are four classifications for all living things with regards to reproduction: Male, female, hermaphrodite, and asexual. Male produce sperm which are small mobile gametes, female produce eggs which are large immobile gametes, hermaphrodites produce both, and asexual produce neither, instead relying on mitosis or budding. Sex is as real a classification as species, and so I think investiture can change both. I think the Reshi king has become male, not just a man - I think they can now produce sperm, and no longer have eggs, basically. I think this therefore carries through to more drastic cellular and genetic changes, not just physical. Perhaps I am wrong about the Reshi king and they are still biologically female but appear as a man, but we have seen investiture from the Well used to change entire species to better suit them to a life in a world of ash, and even produce an entire species, I don't think it is as big a stretch.

To be best of my knowledge the Reshi king wanted to be seen as a man, not that they had dysphoria. I would suspect that this means anyone, whether or not they feel dysphoria, would be similarly changed to match what they want others to see them as. This possibly makes Knights Radiant low grade Returned, who likewise can change appearance to match what they and others think of them as. And I'm still convinced this is what Dragons do to shapeshift, taking an existing mechanic and expanding on it further, using it to change species temporarily.

Edited by Ixthos
corrected typo
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8 hours ago, Ixthos said:

@Proletariat I am planning on responding to everyone more fully later on, but I just need to address your point on sex and gender. While gender may be a social construct, sex is not. There are four classifications for all living things with regards to reproduction: Male, female, hermaphrodite, and asexual. Male produce sperm which are small mobile gametes, female produce eggs which are large immobile gametes, hermaphrodites produce both, and asexual produce neither, instead relying on mitosis or budding. Sex is as real a classification as species, and so I think investiture can change both. I think the Reshi king has become male, not just a man - I think they can now produce sperm, and no longer have eggs, basically. I think this therefore carries through to more drastic cellular and genetic changes, not just physical. Perhaps I am wrong about the Reshi king and they are still biologically female but appear as a man, but we have seen investiture from the Well used to change entire species to better suit them to a life in a world of ash, and even produce an entire species, I don't think it is as big a stretch.

To be best of my knowledge the Reshi king wanted to be seen as a man, not that they had dysphoria. I would suspect that this means anyone, whether or not they feel dysphoria, would be similarly changed to match what they want others to see them as. This possibly makes Knights Radiant low grade Returned, who likewise can change appearance to match what they and others think of them as. And I'm still convinced this is what Dragons do to shapeshift, taking an existing mechanic and expanding on it further, using it to change species temporarily.

No, there are obviously different organs that are used. No one is doubting the existence of sperm or eggs. This does not mean that sex isn't socially constructed, because sex is how we understand and label these things given that the things that we call sex aren't always necessarily grouped together whether there is medical intervention or not. We acknowledge that it is a linguistic shortcut, for example, rather than a perfect term when we might similarly refer to seahorses as males despite the fact that they have a different chromosomal situation, different pregnancy situation etc. with basically the only comparable thing being sperm or eggs.

Insisting on the idea of 'biological sex' as an immutable category is not a useful shortcut to describe the situation of sex, and if you want to simply discuss whether someone has ovaries or whatever then do that. But someone isn't 'male' or 'female' by dint of having certain genitalia, and I think it is very important for you to understand that trans men aren't 'females' and trans women aren't 'males' both for the sake of this discussion but also so that you don't offend people irl.  

As someone in the trans community I also want to make clear that there is a difference between being accepted by society as having a gender (i.e not wanting to be invalidated by transphobia and cisnormativity), and the desire to change your body to meet these expectations (which is often, but not always, driven by dysphoria). Some people don't have the genitalia that society expects, but not everyone has a secret wish to change their genitalia because we already are how we identify. That this character did want that change is also completely fine, but it wouldn't have happened if they didn't deeply reject their body. Which is textbook dysphoria. 

 

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On 12/22/2020 at 2:59 AM, Proletariat said:

No, there are obviously different organs that are used. No one is doubting the existence of sperm or eggs. This does not mean that sex isn't socially constructed, because sex is how we understand and label these things given that the things that we call sex aren't always necessarily grouped together whether there is medical intervention or not. We acknowledge that it is a linguistic shortcut, for example, rather than a perfect term when we might similarly refer to seahorses as males despite the fact that they have a different chromosomal situation, different pregnancy situation etc. with basically the only comparable thing being sperm or eggs.

Insisting on the idea of 'biological sex' as an immutable category is not a useful shortcut to describe the situation of sex, and if you want to simply discuss whether someone has ovaries or whatever then do that. But someone isn't 'male' or 'female' by dint of having certain genitalia, and I think it is very important for you to understand that trans men aren't 'females' and trans women aren't 'males' both for the sake of this discussion but also so that you don't offend people irl.  

As someone in the trans community I also want to make clear that there is a difference between being accepted by society as having a gender (i.e not wanting to be invalidated by transphobia and cisnormativity), and the desire to change your body to meet these expectations (which is often, but not always, driven by dysphoria). Some people don't have the genitalia that society expects, but not everyone has a secret wish to change their genitalia because we already are how we identify. That this character did want that change is also completely fine, but it wouldn't have happened if they didn't deeply reject their body. Which is textbook dysphoria. 

 

I can tell you care about this topic deeply, and I don't wish to offend you. I also care about this issue in the broader category of science and truth, which matter just as much to me, so I will try to be respectful to you without having to agree with you. And while I don't wish to offend anyone, I can't say black is white or white is black if those two colours are not the same, even if it offends someone. (There is a quote I remember when someone said "I call a spade a spade", to which someone else said, "yes, but there is a difference between calling a spade a spade and calling a spade a [swearword] shovel." I will try to talk about spades, not [swearword] shovels, and if I can avoid having to talk about spades I will, but I won't call a spade a hammer, though I do agree a spade can be used as one.)

 

First, sex isn't a social construct, it is a scientific construct, and thus not subject to arbitrary changes or redefining in the absence of adequite reasons, those being observed real world phenomena. If we encounter aliens which fuse three unique cells together, then we would need a new term for that, but if they produce one of two types of cells, one of which is smaller and generally are motile, the other larger and stationary, then male and female would still be viable terms. Indeed, it is so ingrained into life on earth that even some colonies of generally single celled organisms produce male and female parts. Plants have male and female parts, and even the seahorse which you mentioned is still classified as male because of the terms described above, which have nothing to do with anatomy and everything to do with sex cells. Those cells are what defines male and female, and those aren't subject to personal or cultural interpretation, but scientific accuracy. It is science because it describes traits that are so universal even some single celled organisms can enter into a mode to produce them, and some fish can even change sex to produce them when environmental conditions change such that there aren't any females, one member going from male to female to fill that gap. Those terms cannot be arbitrarily changed - some fish can change sex, change the gametes they produce, and their sex is defined by the gametes they produce. We are always learning more, but that doesn't mean a category can just be discarded.

To put it another way, what would you define - scientifically - a male to be compared to a female, or what word would you use to describe an organism that reproduces via fusing two cells together which produces small, usually mobile, cells and which doesn't produce a single large immobile one? Male and female describe specific real world traits, and these traits are like two piles of sand, every grain closer to one centre than the other. Do the piles exist? That depends, but you cannot say that grains in one pile belong to another pile that it isn't in, and if you are describing a path for someone to walk talking about the space between the piles is meaningful. Or the example from before about squares and triangles. The square, before being changed, might make itself look like a triangle, but with one you can tessellate the plane and produce two types of parallel lines, and with the other you will have three types of parallel lines. Constructs? Yes, but that doesn't mean they aren't reflections of things in the real world. The solar system is a construct, not a physical object, but do you agree you can't decide that Earth is actually part of the Sirius star system and not part of the Sol system? There are nuances within categories, but that doesn't mean the category can be thrown out.

 

To try to bring this topic back to the Cosmere, this is like many other philosophical questions like the ship of Theseus, and potentially Sorites paradox, showing how objects and classifications in the physical world affect the cognitive and the spiritual realm. In the Cosmere ideas and classifications become entire beings, such as Cryptics and Honourspren. What are the applications then to scientific and social categories?

 

I appreciate if you want to respond, so by all means do so, but afterwards may we please keep this topic focused on the topic at hand - the idea that investiture can be used to change genetics and cell-structure, to even change organs and organ placement up to and including changing species.

Any way, I don't know if you celebrate Christmas, but I hope tomorrow is a happy and joyful day for you. Take care, and have a great day!

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I think healing into another ethnicity is much harder than transitioning if a person utilizes cosmere healing.

As we know, cosmere healing works by matching up your body to your spiritual aspect. In the case of a trans person, the person identifies as another gender which then makes the spiritual aspect match the gender they identify as while their body is left unchanged. Cosmere healing then changes the body to fix the discrepancy between the spiritual and the physical aspect of the person. With ethnicity, while the biological change is arguably simpler on the surface, the spiritual side of things can get weird because yes, there must be changes to your spiritual aspect because now you have different parents, personal history, and cultural background too. After all, ethnicity is a social group that shares a common national or cultural heritage, not just the distinctive features, unless you mean healing into having features that will make you pass as a person of a different heritage but divorced from the cultural aspect which would be a whole different thing (cosmetic cosmere healing perhaps?).

So if one can somehow heal into another ethnicity, it requires a discrepancy between one's perception of their ethnicity and the ethnicity they were born into. I won't be asking why the discrepancy exists on a case-to-case basis but I believe the cause and the person's background contribute to the plausibility of the ethnicity change. If someone has been naturalized into the intended ethnicity for a major part of their life, especially adoptees, I think that will help in the change because they have the Connections and context to believably construct a cultural experience that they have lived through though. If a person merely thinks of themself as being of another ethnicity without having a complete picture of the cultural experience, we encounter a problem. If the person can heal into another ethnicity, what cultural heritage is getting added into their mind and where did that heritage come from? If the heritage comes from an incomplete understanding of the culture, it errs on the side of Yikes as that will include stereotypes, cliches, overgeneralizations, misinterpreted bits due to the person's own cultural biases, and cultural components that are divorced from their contexts. If the heritage comes from the spiritual ideal of an ethnicity's culture, no ethnicity is enough of a monolith to have one specific spiritual aspect to Connect to and the person will need to choose a very specific experience to Connect to which can be hard if you don't know enough about the culture or its people in the first place.

If our hypothetical person has overcome the cultural heritage quibble, there are a few other problems to contend with:

  1. We have never seen anyone being healed into having a different parentage within the same ethnicity and cultural experience using cosmere healing or magical mechanics that can do both healing and shapeshifting, let alone changing their birth cultural background. If, as you have stated, changing one's parentage is easier than transitioning, we should have seen an instance where that happens. As far as we know, there are no confirmed examples. Most of the changes are a more thorough healing of damaged tissue, restoration of lost limb(s), and the most extreme one, transitioning, is more like changing into one's gold shadow, still the same person of the same parentage but with a different set of sex markers that matches their gender, not an entirely new person born from different parents.
  2. Cultures usually don't force their members to physically and biologically conform. You can be naturalized into most cultures and be accepted without overhauling your entire body. Unless a culture forces that level of conformity or the person is experiencing debilitating dysmorphia due to not physically fitting in, the change will be unnecessary. If the person wants to conform to that level, a cosmetic procedure can do the trick without the whole spiritual mumbo jumbo part. 

If a person can  canonically change their parentage and they want a full-blown ethnicity change, with added cultural heritage and all, then we encounter the magical mechanic quibbles, which are:

  1. A very large amount of Investiture is needed. They are changing their physical aspect while simultaneously fiddling with their spiritual aspect and that will require way more than a handful of spheres.
  2. A ridiculously specific Intent is needed. They are making up a whole new personal history greatly influenced by the ethnicity's culture. A farmer and a merchant of the same ethnicity live very different lives and don't get me started on a particular community's quirks' influence. This can get into Soul Forgery level of Intent specificity so hypothetical person better prepare their Intent.
  3. The number of new Connections one needs to forge. Not only is the person Connecting to how they see themself but they're also remaking their entire life from parentage to cultural background.
  4. The results can easily be botched. Perhaps the physical transformation happened and now the person passes as their intended ethnicity but their cultural background doesn't. Maybe they resorted to Connecting to what they think the intended ethnicity's culture is, maybe their Intent wasn't specific enough, maybe the Intent was specific but the details are wonky.

If our hypothetical person can overcome the mechanical hurdles, in theory, they can change their ethnicity but the amount of work required and the still-present question of the possibility of parentage change. This makes changing ethnicity much harder, if not impossible, compared to transitioning. If cosmetic cosmere healing is possible, that person would have a better chance passing as another ethnicity by having magic cosmetic surgery done on them and delving into the culture they see themself as a member of though now there might be some ethics and moral quibbles.

N.B.
There is, in fact, away for a trans person to transition without having a full-on chromosome switch: the Investiture can change the presence/absence of the SRY gene and provide the hormones to promote the traits the person wants. While there are definitive markers of male and femaleness, it can get complicated because biology is weird that way. I'm attaching an infographic on that below for perusal purposes:

5fe50cb4ec477_160721987461875431944387764557181.thumb.jpg.36465dc070e4337e5172cc2b3b2b3ef2.jpg

 

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On 12/18/2020 at 9:34 PM, Brgst13 said:

It is important to remember that you are only losing one copy of these genes-the other X chromosome still has all these genes.  Additionally, some of the differences between male and female has to do with the level of expression of these genes.  Having only one copy will lower the expression level.

Good point, though I think the big thing to remember in all these scenarios is it isn't just changing the genes - those are in essence library books, reference manuals. The big thing is changing which cells are present, and their arrangement. Even if the change in coded information is small the physiological changes are massive, including changing bones. Changes don't happen at one level, but several - genetic which defines internal chemistry, cellular which defines which cells are present and where, and anatomically, which defines where and how organs are placed. Changing the body at a cellular level doesn't require the genes match, but it certainly helps when they have to produce new proteins after the change.

 

On 12/19/2020 at 7:28 AM, Oltux72 said:

In the interest of science we'd need to dissect The Lopen.

I doubt he'd agree to that, so our understanding of the Arcane Arts is delayed.

Don't worry - he can heal, and I'm sure he'd agree if it gave him some Herdazian surgery jokes :-P

 

On 12/19/2020 at 7:28 AM, Oltux72 said:

The Rosharans know hands. The hand used to be functional. Arcane arts can reveal the past. There was another hand to mirror.

It is likely that the Rosharans know how mammalian reproduction works anatomically. On a genetic level? I doubt that. If the genetics remain unchanged, you'd get atypical gametes.These are unlikely to be viable.

And how would an X chromosome corresponding to a Y chromosome look? It never existed and there is no algorithm to tell how it would look like.

They know about hands and what they do, but not how a hand works. Investiture does though, or can connect to something that does. And who says the hand was mirroring his other hand, rather than the concept of a hand? So not connected to his hand, but to the idea of hands in general.

So in the end it doesn't actually matter if the Radiant knows how their body functions. They probably would gain greater control if they did, but it isn't about the knowledge of any given individual on the subject, only that the idea of how their body works, or a body of the type they are changing to works, in the spiritual realm.

I'm not following what you mean about an X corresponding to a Y though?

 

On 12/19/2020 at 7:28 AM, Oltux72 said:

On average, if you compare large groups. But an individual?

Horneaters and Herdazians can hardly be called ethicities. If you have extra organs, you are a subspecies.

Possibly. If that is a spiritual attribute at all.

Again though if someone sees themselves as a certain group, and that group is subject to a higher likelihood of having certain conditions, wouldn't you expect if they changed externally to match them, and believed themselves to be a member of that ethnicity, they would gain that same average trait? And even if we say Horneaters and Herdazians are a subspecies (... actually, don't Herdazians have plate-like nails? So then lets go with that, as that certainly shouldn't count as a subspecies) that still represents a smaller change physiologically speaking than changing to a new species, especially if the organ is based on an existing on in the body.

On that last point, what properties do you think exist as spiritual attributes? We know birthplace is one - what others do you think would or wouldn't?

 

On 12/19/2020 at 7:28 AM, Oltux72 said:

No gem heart -> Nothing to keep a Spren in -> No Spren -> No Form (a. k. a. Slaveform). And in that form you likely lack the mental faculties to do anything about your state.

That is assuming they can't grow a gemheart. It is organic, something their bodies produce. For all we know a Singer could regrow a lot gemheart assuming the loss doesn't kill them. If someone can become a Singer with investiture giving them the capability biologically, I don't think there would be a problem. Just because it can't be produced otherways doesn't mean it can't form within them as a natural biological process.

 

On 12/24/2020 at 3:49 PM, Hessi's Ward said:

I think healing into another ethnicity is much harder than transitioning if a person utilizes cosmere healing.

As we know, cosmere healing works by matching up your body to your spiritual aspect. In the case of a trans person, the person identifies as another gender which then makes the spiritual aspect match the gender they identify as while their body is left unchanged. Cosmere healing then changes the body to fix the discrepancy between the spiritual and the physical aspect of the person. With ethnicity, while the biological change is arguably simpler on the surface, the spiritual side of things can get weird because yes, there must be changes to your spiritual aspect because now you have different parents, personal history, and cultural background too. After all, ethnicity is a social group that shares a common national or cultural heritage, not just the distinctive features, unless you mean healing into having features that will make you pass as a person of a different heritage but divorced from the cultural aspect which would be a whole different thing (cosmetic cosmere healing perhaps?).

So if one can somehow heal into another ethnicity, it requires a discrepancy between one's perception of their ethnicity and the ethnicity they were born into. I won't be asking why the discrepancy exists on a case-to-case basis but I believe the cause and the person's background contribute to the plausibility of the ethnicity change. If someone has been naturalized into the intended ethnicity for a major part of their life, especially adoptees, I think that will help in the change because they have the Connections and context to believably construct a cultural experience that they have lived through though. If a person merely thinks of themself as being of another ethnicity without having a complete picture of the cultural experience, we encounter a problem. If the person can heal into another ethnicity, what cultural heritage is getting added into their mind and where did that heritage come from? If the heritage comes from an incomplete understanding of the culture, it errs on the side of Yikes as that will include stereotypes, cliches, overgeneralizations, misinterpreted bits due to the person's own cultural biases, and cultural components that are divorced from their contexts. If the heritage comes from the spiritual ideal of an ethnicity's culture, no ethnicity is enough of a monolith to have one specific spiritual aspect to Connect to and the person will need to choose a very specific experience to Connect to which can be hard if you don't know enough about the culture or its people in the first place.

If our hypothetical person has overcome the cultural heritage quibble, there are a few other problems to contend with:

  1. We have never seen anyone being healed into having a different parentage within the same ethnicity and cultural experience using cosmere healing or magical mechanics that can do both healing and shapeshifting, let alone changing their birth cultural background. If, as you have stated, changing one's parentage is easier than transitioning, we should have seen an instance where that happens. As far as we know, there are no confirmed examples. Most of the changes are a more thorough healing of damaged tissue, restoration of lost limb(s), and the most extreme one, transitioning, is more like changing into one's gold shadow, still the same person of the same parentage but with a different set of sex markers that matches their gender, not an entirely new person born from different parents.
  2. Cultures usually don't force their members to physically and biologically conform. You can be naturalized into most cultures and be accepted without overhauling your entire body. Unless a culture forces that level of conformity or the person is experiencing debilitating dysmorphia due to not physically fitting in, the change will be unnecessary. If the person wants to conform to that level, a cosmetic procedure can do the trick without the whole spiritual mumbo jumbo part. 

If a person can  canonically change their parentage and they want a full-blown ethnicity change, with added cultural heritage and all, then we encounter the magical mechanic quibbles, which are:

  1. A very large amount of Investiture is needed. They are changing their physical aspect while simultaneously fiddling with their spiritual aspect and that will require way more than a handful of spheres.
  2. A ridiculously specific Intent is needed. They are making up a whole new personal history greatly influenced by the ethnicity's culture. A farmer and a merchant of the same ethnicity live very different lives and don't get me started on a particular community's quirks' influence. This can get into Soul Forgery level of Intent specificity so hypothetical person better prepare their Intent.
  3. The number of new Connections one needs to forge. Not only is the person Connecting to how they see themself but they're also remaking their entire life from parentage to cultural background.
  4. The results can easily be botched. Perhaps the physical transformation happened and now the person passes as their intended ethnicity but their cultural background doesn't. Maybe they resorted to Connecting to what they think the intended ethnicity's culture is, maybe their Intent wasn't specific enough, maybe the Intent was specific but the details are wonky.

If our hypothetical person can overcome the mechanical hurdles, in theory, they can change their ethnicity but the amount of work required and the still-present question of the possibility of parentage change. This makes changing ethnicity much harder, if not impossible, compared to transitioning. If cosmetic cosmere healing is possible, that person would have a better chance passing as another ethnicity by having magic cosmetic surgery done on them and delving into the culture they see themself as a member of though now there might be some ethics and moral quibbles.

N.B.
There is, in fact, away for a trans person to transition without having a full-on chromosome switch: the Investiture can change the presence/absence of the SRY gene and provide the hormones to promote the traits the person wants. While there are definitive markers of male and femaleness, it can get complicated because biology is weird that way. I'm attaching an infographic on that below for perusal purposes:

5fe50cb4ec477_160721987461875431944387764557181.thumb.jpg.36465dc070e4337e5172cc2b3b2b3ef2.jpg

 

Very interesting - I'll read through this again and respond later, but you have made some interesting points :-) Though bare in mind we do have precedence for investiture changing an entire species (adjusting people to survive in a world of ash) and changing specific members of an ethnicity into an entirely new species (turning Terris Feruchemists into Mistwraiths). We know those are exceptional circumstances, but they do show that it is possible for those changes to be performed by investiture. We also know that some forms of investiture can bypass other typical requirements, such as Elsecallers being able to create miniature perpendicularities, something that would otherwise would require a massive quantity of investiture, so could smaller amounts, applied carefully, produce effects that only the Well has been shown to do otherwise?

 

@Hessi's Ward Okay, I've read through your analysis. Very interesting, and I think you've got a good point with a lot of it :-) however, I do disagree on certain points:

  • The healing isn't just based on spiritual connection but on cognitive perception - that is why Kaladin couldn't heal his scars until he moved past his pain. So one doesn't just heal to match spiritual connections but to match cognitive perception. Someone who believes themselves to be something aren't spiritually that thing yet, until the healing starts to move them in that direction and they then gain the spiritual link, reinforcing the cognitive perception and so forming a feedback loop
    • It is implied that changes to the spiritual component of someone immediately changes their physical (i.e. hemalurgy, and the released Bridge Four chapters of Dragonsteel), and that damage to the spiritual component can be healed (e.g. the question about Miles Hundredlives being a source of infinite hemalurgic spikes), so it seems likely that the spiritual components change is what causes the physical change
  • I don't think someone needs to know everything about being what they want to be seen as, and indeed one could theoretically heal into a people they don't understand - I could be wrong on this though, and perhaps the healing requires knowledge. Either way, I don't think someone who heals from A to B automatically knows what it is like to be B, only that they think of themselves as B or want to be seen as B. After all, what did Lightsong - using Returned as a base - know about being muscular and fit? I don't think you gain traits conceptually from changing, only the physical changes involved
  • See my previous post about the Well causing the Kandra to form, and the adaptations to the Scadrians, and the idea of Elsecaller-type hacks to bypass things requiring massive quantities of investiture
  • Good point about Soul forging, and very interesting point about the single gene that would need to be changed!
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I'm sorry to insert myself in the conversation so late, but I just joined the Shard recently.

One thing I have learned about the nature of science in our understanding of the universe (I hold a master's degree in chemistry and have broad interests in many sciences) is this: as much as we love to classify things, the universe is invariably more complex and diverse than the boxes we invent to put things in.  And make no mistake - the boxes are of our own invention.  Nature has no need for classification schemes or group definitions.  It's fascinating that @Ixthos chose to use this comparison

On 12/21/2020 at 11:27 AM, Ixthos said:

Sex is as real a classification as species

as there is a fierce debate among biologists about the "realness" of species.  Some examples of what seems to me to be the prevailing opinion:

"Species are not real in an evolutionary sense. They are man-made concepts that help us categorize nature's diversity."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/04/27/the-existence-of-different-species-is-a-scientific-construct-not-an-argument-against-evolution/?sh=5b27fac2b387

https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/accumulating-glitches/do_species_really_exist/

Heck, astronomers can't even settle on a definition for the word "planet".... it's amazing we've figured out as much as we have about something as complex as biological reproduction.  But I urge everyone to avoid the easy trap of assuming "what I've learned so far is a correct description of reality". It's NEVER true.  Classification, whether it be of organisms, genders, elementary particles, or astronomical objects, is a tool we use to help us understand, but it's not REAL, and it's always an oversimplification.

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@AquaRegia no problem :-) this is a forum for anyone to join in, and I like discussing and debating, so feel free!

The reason I chose to mention species is because it is very strongly linked to the idea of sex: i.e. the common understanding of sex is that sex requires a male/hermaphrodite and a female/hermaphrodite of the same species in order to produce more, and for species it is that those members could produce another organism via meiosis and couldn't do so with members of another species - that is you can produce offspring if you are the appropriate sex and species, but you can't produce offspring if you are the wrong sexes and species. There is a blurriness between certain boundaries of species, but a dog and a cat can't produce viable offspring to the best of my knowledge.

I do - and did in the above posts - agree that these are constructs, but stated they are useful constructs because they describe a useful and manifested pattern, and one that is so ubiquitous that even different types of life have adopted it using different mechanisms of manifesting it (such as ants using diploid genetics for females and haploids for males, birds using different chromosomes than mammals to determine sex, reptiles based on temperature as an egg, etc.) so they are constructs but just because they are constructs doesn't mean they aren't viable and useful descriptors that can be changed arbitrarily. It is Loki's wager - there certainly is fuzziness between categories, but that doesn't mean the category can just be discarded. Your head and your neck don't have a clear divide, but that doesn't mean head and neck are useless terms, or you can define your shoulderblades to be your head.

As a chemist you know the difference between electrons and protons - are those meaningful terms? You know two different atoms can have the same number of particles in the nucleus, but are still different elements; is the difference between carbon-14 and nitrogen-14? Are they not constructs also? Planets are indeed more complex to categorise than they had at first appeared, and even some moons are larger than some planets! And for stars there are stars that blur the line between gas giant and star. But do you agree the Earth and the Sun are different things, and they occupy two peaks in two piles that are themselves very fuzzy. As Stephen Fry put it (though he might have been quoting someone else) "Just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean science knows nothing." We are always learning, but that doesn't mean a category should be discarded without reason, especially if it is still useful.

 

I'm happy to continue this line, but maybe lets also, in addition to the above, talk about the idea of investiture adding information to someone's DNA, or taking information away as the case may be?

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I had a thought while reading this, it seems like we are trying to determine where the limit is, right? If you can completely change into the opposite sex, could you change ethnicity, species, etc.? Well, my thought was: What if there is no limit? What if the only boundary is how strong your perception is? We know that Dragons exist in the cosmere, and we know that they are shapeshifters. What if ‘Dragon’ is just a title for someone who has mastered the ability to completely change their perception of themselves, and can therefore change their form anyway they wish? 

That honestly seems a bit unlikely, but it is an interesting possibility. I think it is more likely that Dragons are actually a separate and distinct species, but I still like the idea that this is how they shapeshift. Perception Altering. Maybe the only thing limiting humans from doing the same is our capacity for change. Or limited brain function, we can’t fully imagine the viewpoint of something so drastically different from us, so complete shapeshifting isn’t possible. 

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18 hours ago, Ixthos said:

@AquaRegia no problem :-) this is a forum for anyone to join in, and I like discussing and debating, so feel free!

The reason I chose to mention species is because it is very strongly linked to the idea of sex: i.e. the common understanding of sex is that sex requires a male/hermaphrodite and a female/hermaphrodite of the same species in order to produce more, and for species it is that those members could produce another organism via meiosis and couldn't do so with members of another species - that is you can produce offspring if you are the appropriate sex and species, but you can't produce offspring if you are the wrong sexes and species. There is a blurriness between certain boundaries of species, but a dog and a cat can't produce viable offspring to the best of my knowledge.

I do - and did in the above posts - agree that these are constructs, but stated they are useful constructs because they describe a useful and manifested pattern, and one that is so ubiquitous that even different types of life have adopted it using different mechanisms of manifesting it (such as ants using diploid genetics for females and haploids for males, birds using different chromosomes than mammals to determine sex, reptiles based on temperature as an egg, etc.) so they are constructs but just because they are constructs doesn't mean they aren't viable and useful descriptors that can be changed arbitrarily. It is Loki's wager - there certainly is fuzziness between categories, but that doesn't mean the category can just be discarded. Your head and your neck don't have a clear divide, but that doesn't mean head and neck are useless terms, or you can define your shoulderblades to be your head.

As a chemist you know the difference between electrons and protons - are those meaningful terms? You know two different atoms can have the same number of particles in the nucleus, but are still different elements; is the difference between carbon-14 and nitrogen-14? Are they not constructs also? Planets are indeed more complex to categorise than they had at first appeared, and even some moons are larger than some planets! And for stars there are stars that blur the line between gas giant and star. But do you agree the Earth and the Sun are different things, and they occupy two peaks in two piles that are themselves very fuzzy. As Stephen Fry put it (though he might have been quoting someone else) "Just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean science knows nothing." We are always learning, but that doesn't mean a category should be discarded without reason, especially if it is still useful.

 

I'm happy to continue this line, but maybe lets also, in addition to the above, talk about the idea of investiture adding information to someone's DNA, or taking information away as the case may be?

I think where this becomes compromised is when there is an insistence on using terms in a way that is not useful.

The species example is interesting, because most of the classifications were created before any genetic testing or verification of ability to hybridise. They were made up to help create mental bookmarks, and then retroactively justified which is why they're constantly re-shuffled. Many species can hybridise and even have fertile offspring, which is dependent on whether the chromosome numbers match up to create even rather than odd combinations. It's also a concept that's entirely useless in the cosmere since Singers and humans can have completely fertile offspring despite having different colour blood (which implies it does not carry oxygen), different fundamental organs (like hearts), and different reproductive processes.


We can use it as a generic term in science where it is less a rule, and more a loose way to communicate concepts, such as concept of sex with an 'all-female' type of lizard. Exploring the roles and reproduction of a parthenogenetic lizard show that thinking of it in terms of female in any depth is pretty useless except to introduce to people the idea that all members of the species can lay eggs. We call a spade a spade, because we created and defined it. Sex is not a spade, and nor is race.

Challenging this is important because this topic IMO doesn't work if you try to base it on a scientific concept in this selective way, when we already know that people shift form to align with their genuine conception of body. We have it with Lopen, the Returned, and the Reshi King. And that's driven by how people understand their body, and not every trans person wants to undergo gender affirmation surgeries or similar so it won't always work like this. Understanding this, and how it links to why Lopen got his arm back, is key to your other musings.

If you were to insist on race as a coherent scientific concept [and the scientific theory of race has more or less been discarded], then it not only is wrong but doesn't help us understand how bodies are changing. We can surmise that people changing race via healing is something that would not easily happen because people experience ethnicity collectively unlike gender. It would probably require a resurrection and mind wipe to allow for someone to be properly convinced about their heritage to use healing to transform their ethnicity.

This is not to say that investiture doesn't have capacity - potentially unlimited - to change bodies, but that the healing mechanism cited has a limit due to its connection to how someone understands self and the body. Whereas someone like the Siah Aimians (and to an extent Vivenna) can probably already do every single physical element of what you're asking, and for Siah like Axies they can get rid of their nose without any identity shift. 

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On 1/17/2021 at 0:47 PM, Ixthos said:

As a chemist you know the difference between electrons and protons - are those meaningful terms? You know two different atoms can have the same number of particles in the nucleus, but are still different elements; is the difference between carbon-14 and nitrogen-14? Are they not constructs also? Planets are indeed more complex to categorise than they had at first appeared, and even some moons are larger than some planets! And for stars there are stars that blur the line between gas giant and star. But do you agree the Earth and the Sun are different things, and they occupy two peaks in two piles that are themselves very fuzzy. As Stephen Fry put it (though he might have been quoting someone else) "Just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean science knows nothing." We are always learning, but that doesn't mean a category should be discarded without reason, especially if it is still useful.

I'm happy to continue this line, but maybe lets also, in addition to the above, talk about the idea of investiture adding information to someone's DNA, or taking information away as the case may be?

Yes, of course protons and neutrons are useful constructs... under some circumstances.  For a high-school student, for example.  If, however, you are a physics grad student, and your mental construct of a neutron prevents you from understanding the process by which a free neutron decays into an electron and a proton, then it stops being useful and must be discarded.  I see people doing exactly this with both species AND sex; clinging to simplistic constructs, which WERE useful in some times and places, but which now prevent them from advancing to a more complete understanding.  Nobody is advocating "discarding useful categories", only replacing less useful ones with more useful ones.

I lack the biological expertise to discuss information being added/subtracted from DNA. :-)

7 hours ago, Proletariat said:

It's also a concept that's entirely useless in the cosmere since Singers and humans can have completely fertile offspring despite having different colour blood (which implies it does not carry oxygen), different fundamental organs (like hearts), and different reproductive processes.

I agree with most of your post, but not this.  Lobsters and other crustaceans on Earth have blue copper proteins in their blood - and thus blue-colored blood - which serves the purpose of transporting oxygen.  Different color does not imply different function.

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2 hours ago, AquaRegia said:

I agree with most of your post, but not this.  Lobsters and other crustaceans on Earth have blue copper proteins in their blood - and thus blue-colored blood - which serves the purpose of transporting oxygen.  Different color does not imply different function.

That's true! But the uselessness of the species concept in terms of Singers and humans remain, IMO. They have no common ancestry, and one has a heart with red blood and the other has a gemstone so who knows how that orange blood gets around or if it even does, but somehow they can hybridise.

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Agreed.  I have no wish to discourage discussion (don't be discouraged!), but I won't be participating.  If you accept that these two unrelated populations, from different planets, can, Star Trek fashion, mate and produce fertile offspring, then we have left the realm of any currently known science and are in a fantasy universe, where the entire explanation can simply be "magic".

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16 hours ago, Dannex said:

What if ‘Dragon’ is just a title for someone who has mastered the ability to completely change their perception of themselves, and can therefore change their form anyway they wish? Maybe the only thing limiting humans from doing the same is our capacity for change. Or limited brain function, we can’t fully imagine the viewpoint of something so drastically different from us, so complete shapeshifting isn’t possible. 

Hi, I'm just popping in to ask if I can steal this for a character idea :P

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