29-30 July – PZ Myers Goes On a Science Spree! And Two More Lies!

We took yesterday off due to other commitments and we came back to a stunning development: a scientist actually blogging about science! PZ Myers has been talking more about science these past two days than he has about politics, which is a first since we started keeping tabs here at PZWatch. We’re excited about this development and hope it continues, but we’re also realists who know every time we’ve praised PZ, he’s immediately gone back to his old ways. So there’ll probably be no science for the next week, given our track record and his.

But there will be lies. We have two to cover today.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Child murderer was a white nationalist

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/29/child-murderer-was-a-white-nationalist/

Facts:

The lie this time is in the title of the post, which goes on to discuss the recent murders at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. PZ linked to a Heavy.com article about the murders as substantiation of his claim, but there is a problem. Santiago William Legan, the 19-year-old who killed three people at the festival before being killed by police, does not appear to be a white nationalist.

Heavy.com does not make the claim that Legan was a white nationalist, PZ Myers does. And he bases it off a single post on Instagram that reads, in its entirety: “Read Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard. Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?”

We’re not sure what to make of the second sentence, but it doesn’t seem to be typical of white nationalist talk. And we haven’t read Might is Right, but Leo Tolstoy apparently did and describes it as follows:

The substance of this book, as it is expressed in the editor’s preface, is that to measure “right” by the false philosophy of the Hebrew prophets and “weepful” Messiahs is madness. Right is not the offspring of doctrine, but of power. All laws, commandments, or doctrines as to not doing to another what you do not wish done to you, have no inherent authority whatever, but receive it only from the club, the gallows, and the sword. A man truly free is under no obligation to obey any injunction, human or divine. Obedience is the sign of the degenerate. Disobedience is the stamp of the hero.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Might_Is_Right

Others have described it as containing “open sexism and racism” or as a “proto-fascist white power manifesto.”

PZ apparently relies on this last description to base his claim, however he leaves something out. Legan self-identified as half Italian and half Iranian. Another of Legan’s Instagram posts contain a picture of his maternal grandfather, Ali Ashgar Vahabzadeh.

Additionally, this LA Times story contains the following tidbit:

Amid the screams, flying bullets and bloodshed that erupted on a warm summer evening at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, someone shouted a pivotal question at the gunman: “Why are you doing this?”


Because I’m really angry,” the gunman replied, according to Jack Van Breen, who spoke with reporters after performing at the festival with his band, TinMan.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-07-29/gilroy-garlic-festival-shooting-suspect

All of which leads us to classify this as a lie. There is not enough information about Legan’s views for PZ to claim that he was a white nationalist.

Analysis:

This is a classic case of confirmation bias. PZ wants to see a connection – any connection – with white nationalism/fascism so he can claim once again that antifa are the good guys simply fighting for right. Except its unclear how antifa would have ever known about half Italian, half Iranian Legan, as there does not appear to be much of a digital/social media record of him.

But PZ doesn’t really care about these kinds of nuances. He has a point to make and he won’t let facts get in the way of that.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

Whoa. When my kids were starting college, I was making $40K/year, and we didn’t even own a home — we were renting. Yet we managed to scrimp and save and get all three kids through four years of college. So that family is bringing in a quarter million per year, and they haven’t managed to set aside any money for their kids’ education? What have they been spending their money on? 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/30/the-rich-are-weird/

Facts:

PZ is discussing a Wall Street Journal article about wealthy parents transferring guardianship of their children in order to get legal aid. And the bolded questions above seem perfectly legitimate, except the article answers them in the exact snippet PZ posts in the blog.

One Chicago-area woman told The Wall Street Journal that she transferred guardianship of her then 17-year-old daughter to her business partner last year. While her household income is greater than $250,000 a year, she said, she and her husband have spent about $600,000 putting several older children through college and have no equity in their home, which is valued at about $1.2 million, according to the property website Zillow. She said she has little cash on hand and little saved for her daughter’s education.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/college-financial-aid-loophole-wealthy-parents-transfer-guardianship-of-their-teens-to-get-aid-11564450828

According to the article they had set over a half-million dollars aside for their kids education, but spent it on their older children. Note: we are in no way condoning what these parents did, we’re just saying PZ Myers lied about it.

Analysis:

PZ started off the post on another rant about Trump, and these people were just caught in the crossfire. And speaking of his Trump rant, it serves as a great example of the pettiness of PZ Myers. He tries to suggest Trump doesn’t understand that he has to hit the “heart” next to a tweet in order to “like” it. Instead, PZ quotes from a NY Mag column that says:

The president has even been known to sends printouts of tweets he likes. After he liked one Gaetz tweet, he had it printed by a staffer, signed it and requested that it be sent to Gaetz’s congressional office, where the now-framed tweet hangs.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/07/trumps-method-of-liking-tweets-is-needlessly-complicated.html

Except, there’s a perfect normal reason for Trump to not hit the “heart” button – everyone else will see it. He may not wish to advertise what Tweets he likes, simple as that.

Trump uses Twitter more than any other President and we find it unbelievable to suggest he doesn’t understand a key feature of the platform. But not for PZ.

Final Tally:

Today: 7 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 76 science-related posts, 178 non-science posts.

30% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 75 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

28 July – So What You’re Saying Is…

We first took notice of Jordan Peterson following his extraordinary interview/debate with Cathy Newman. Probably the most astonishing part of that interview/debate was the way Newman tried to re-frame Peterson’s arguments in a dishonest way to make him sound like a nut. She did this by repeatedly using the words “you’re saying,” followed by Peterson generally saying, “no, I’m not saying that.”

PZ Myers’s intellectual dishonesty works in much the same way. He rarely, if ever, treats an opposing argument in good faith. He almost always uses a variant of the “you’re saying” tactic, framing the argument in such a way that it’s easy for him to refute.

This is exactly what happens in today’s lie.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

It’s funny how Big Tent Atheism only wants to share the tent with cis het privileged white people who only want to talk about the Constitution as holy writ.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/28/what-should-atheists-support/

Facts:

PZ is responding to an email he received discussing the priorities of American Atheists. He reproduces only the following snippet:

To use American Atheist (AA) resources to continue pressing issues that are predominantly LGTB is, in my opinion, a dereliction of duty, unwise
and possibly actionable…Please remember that AA members are, primarily and traditionally, interested in separation of church and state issues.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/28/what-should-atheists-support/

The argument here is fairly straightforward: AA resources should be uses primarily to further the stated goals of the organization, primary among them being the separation of church and state. PZ’s interlocutor does not argue for the exclusion of anyone except “cis het privileged white people.” PZ puts those words in their mouth with no evidence, making this yet another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

We suspect there is much more context to the story, and the email PZ posted, than he lets on. But what strikes us most is PZ’s display of soft bigotry. He wants to put LGBTQ people into a neat box and say they can only be represented by an organization that focuses exclusively on issues important to them.

Do LGBTQ people care about religion in the public sphere? Do they care about the separation of church and state? Or is their activism only limited to LGBTQ issues? We’re confused. We assume LGBTQ people are, well, people, like everyone else with a diverse range of opinions and interests. PZ appears to want to put them off to one side and say, “you can only be concerned about this and that.”

That’s what we think he’s saying, anyway. It’s the only logical way for him to conclude that the American Atheists want to exclude everyone except “cis het privileged white people,” when in reality they say nothing of the sort.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 69 science-related posts, 174 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 73 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

27 July – Including “And” and “The”

Novelist Mary McCarthy, when asked about playwright Lillian Hellman, had this to say on the Dick Cavett Show:

CAVETT: What is dishonest about her?


MCCARTHY: Everything. But I said once in some interview that every word she writes is a lie, including “and” and “the.”

https://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/09/18/every-word/

Seems like Lillian Hellman and PZ Myers have a lot in common.

Instead of quoting just a snippet of PZ’s blog post today, we’ve reproduced the whole thing.

It’s a masterwork of dishonesty.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I’m gobsmacked. Ben Shapiro is spending $20K per week advertising on Facebook? PragerU, $80K? That’s a big chunk of change.


Two things come to mind. These right-wing figures are “fake news”. They’ve bought a claque, and their popularity is partly a sham.


But also…if you’re wondering why social media sites keep avoiding social responsibility, are being so cagey about not antagonizing fascists, all you have to do is ask who is paying them.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/27/whoa-those-goons-buy-their-popularity

Facts:

Above is the entire text of PZ’s blog post. In between the first and second paragraphs, he inserts this Twitter thread discussing how much organizations like Prager University and The Ben Shapiro Show spend on advertisements on Facebook. There are at least four lies interspersed throughout the post. We’ll deal with them one at a time.

Lie the first: The Ben Shapiro Show spent $489,662 on “ads about social issues, elections or politics” between May 2018 and July 24, 2019. The math on that is straightforward and works out to less than $8000 a week, not $20K. PZ confused what had been spent in the last seven days with how much they were spending per week.

Lie the second: The numbers for Prager University are similarly wrong. They spent less than $60K a week on average, not $80K.

Lie the third: We don’t know whether or not either of these organizations “purchased” followers in a way that’s been reported time and again in the media – and neither does PZ. That’s not what these ads do. Facebook does not allow people to purchase followers in this way through their platform. These ads appear to be simply advertising their existence and their content, like the Sierra Club, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood and a progressive billionaire PZ has written about before: Tom Steyer. You can see the full list of advertisers here, and it covers all sides of the political spectrum. Tom Steyer, incidentally, does spend an average of $80K a week on advertisements. Any bets on whether PZ will ever complain about that?

Lie the fourth: PZ once again claims that someone who disagrees with him is a fascist for no reason. Here, the charge is particularly interesting. Both Shapiro and Dennis Prager are practicing, orthodox Jews. If we were playing PZ’s name-calling game, we would have infinitely more evidence to call him an anti-Semite than he uses to brand these two fascists.

Analysis:

Once again, in keeping with our longstanding tradition to give PZ Myers the benefit of the doubt, we’ve rolled all of these lies up into one. And for the record, we actually don’t think PZ is an anti-Semite, but he is a liar. Both Prager and Shapiro describe themselves as classical liberals, and that’s kryptonite to an evangelical progressive like PZ. Their religion doesn’t matter, he would hate them even if they were atheist.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 3 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 69 science-related posts, 170 non-science posts.

29% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 72 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

26 July – Two Lies! And PZ Myers Targets an Academic Who Stood Up For Science

A good bit of the time, PZ Myers determines whether or not he’s going to like something based on the opinions of his perceived political enemies. For example, if Michael Shermer said he liked Rocky Road ice cream on Twitter, we can fairly certain PZ would, in the near future, say that if Shermer likes this kind of ice cream it can’t be any good.

He does a version of this today with his second lie, but first he does some lying about HBO and the creators of Game of Thrones.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Two white guys, Benioff and Weiss, were the show-runners for Game of Thrones, and they made a total botch of the last season because they were in such a rush to move on to brand new exciting projects…Unfortunately, the HBO show they were eager to do was Confederate, an alternate-history series in which they postulate a victorious Confederacy and the aftermath. The alt-right good ol’ boys were salivating over that, the rest of us were cringing, and everyone was wondering if the two guys who recklessly crashed HBO’s biggest cash cow had adequate sensitivity and nuance to handle that kind of story.
The answer is “no”.
 HBO has killed the project. Good.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/26/hbo-chose-wisely/

Facts:

The link PZ uses to substantiate his claim goes to a piece analyzing a Deadline report that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are trying to land a huge contract and will ultimately end up somewhere other than HBO. If that happens, HBO’s President of Programming said when asked about Confederate, ““I think anything they have with us would likely not go forward.”  In other words, HBO hasn’t yet officially killed the project. And they didn’t kill the project because Benioff and Weiss didn’t display “adequate sensitivity and nuance.” In fact, the opposite is likely true. HBO greenlit the project initially and, although we weren’t privy to internal HBO discussions about the project (and neither was PZ), most likely would not have done so were Benioff and Weiss not sufficiently nuanced in their writing.

Analysis:

PZ has been on this Confederate crusade since the show was announced, but we have absolutely no idea why. He says the alt-right good ol’ boys were salivating, but there is no universe in which Benioff and Weiss deliver a series that does not resoundingly reject the alt-right worldview. Just today PZ derided The Handmaid’s Tale as  feminist torture porn. Why wouldn’t those same alt-right good ol’ boys be salivating over the depiction of women in that show?

The other lie here is the idea that Benioff and Weiss botched the last season of Game of Thrones because they were in such a rush to move on to other things like Confederate. A few days ago PZ Myers was trying to tell billionaires how best to invest their money, here he suggests two television producers/writers at the top of their game, having just finished what might have been the most successful show in history, were worried about other things during the last season.

Again, PZ used to laugh at people who tried to make fantastic claims without any evidence at all to back them up. He’s one of them now.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

That’s some letter [Boghossian is] proudly waving around. It’s a gigantic black mark on his record that he’s advertising — if some person I didn’t know applied for a job at my university that included a university condemnation of their propriety and ethics, and prohibited them from applying for grant funding, that application would be round-filed so fast it would leave scorch marks as it exited the filing cabinet. That’s a kiss of death.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/26/our-own-little-basket-of-atheist-deplorables/

Facts:

Peter Boghossian was one of three people involved in what’s been called the Grievance Studies affair. They wrote fake academic papers and submitted them to various academic journals. When their hoax was revealed,

four of their 20 papers had been published, three had been accepted but not yet published, six had been rejected, and seven were still under review. One of the published papers had won special recognition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grievance_Studies_affair

The trio made international news, and Boghossian and James Lindsay went on various shows and podcasts – including Joe Rogan’s – to advertise their results. They became famous – and attracted the attention of PZ Myers – because of these hoaxes. Boghossian was the only one of the three hoaxers employed by an academic institution, and therefore the only one who potentially faced disciplinary proceedings of this kind. For him to not share the results of those proceedings would have been strange.

You can read his tweets about the decision here. He does not gloat or take any pleasure in it. He simply states it as fact, then thanks the many people who wrote letters in support, making this yet another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

PZ Myers, one would think, as a champion of science, would welcome and praise an academic who risked his entire career to expose serious problems in academia. And were PZ Myers not an evangelical progressive, that’s how he might have reacted to the entire affair. But, politics defines PZ and Boghossian made the mistake of targeting academic journals which are allied with PZ politically. So Boghossian – who is on the left – must be destroyed, regardless of what he did for science.

PZ excommunicates him, along with those already excommunicated, like Richard Dawkins and Bret Weinstein and Dave Rubin, none of whom are conservative. But, all of them wrote blurbs for Boghossian’s book and if they did that, well, that’s not a book he’s going to read.

Scientists don’t do things like this. Rational, reasonable people don’t say to themselves, “I hate those people so if they like something, I must hate it.”

Children say things like that. And so do evangelical political ideologues like PZ Myers.

Final Tally:

Today: 3 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 68 science-related posts, 167 non-science posts.

29% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 71 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

25 July – No Lies

Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 3 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 65 science-related posts, 163 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 69 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

24 July – Another Lie, Or Is It a Satire of a Lie?

PZ Myers was prolific today. Over the course of eight total posts he provided some interesting spider content, railed (and lied) about Trump being a racist (a lie we no longer count) and wrote one of the most confusing posts we’ve ever read, leading to the lie below.

Is it satire? Is PZ trying to go all meta on us?

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Oh. My. God. [Quillette] published a piece praising Boris Johnson that, I swear, reads like something from The Onion or McSweeney’s…Which now makes me wonder…is this entire article by Toby Young, with all its hyperbole and bizarre imagery, also intended to be satire? Is it mocking Boris or praising him effusively? It’s impossible to tell. 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/24/you-cannot-possibly-take-quillette-seriously/

Facts:

We don’t often use ellipsis to join quotations spanning entire blog posts, but we felt it was justified here. PZ claims in the first bolded sentence that Quillette praised Boris Johnson, but in the final sentence is says it’s “impossible to tell.”

In point of fact, it is possible to tell: Toby Young, who has had a personal relationship with Boris Johnson going back decades, both mocks and praises him. It is a nuanced piece which explains both Johnson’s appeal as well as his ability to enrage his opponents, of which PZ Myers is definitely in the latter category.

Analysis:

This post wasn’t very long, but PZ managed to contradict himself anyway within the span of just a few paragraphs. We think he might have been trying out a bit of satire, given that’s what he (unsuccessfully) tried to claim was happening in the Quillette piece. Whatever he was trying to do, he managed to turn it into a lie, as he often does.

Final Tally:

Today: 3 science-related posts, 5 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 64 science-related posts, 160 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 69 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

23 July – PZ Myers Fails To Understand an Article About How He Fails to Understand Republicans

The irony is almost too delicious.

An article in The Guardian made the rounds a couple days ago analyzing a study investigating the extent to which people on the right or left misunderstand each other’s views on political issues. One of the data points in the study broke down the accuracy with which highly educated and poorly educated Republicans understood Democrat ideas and found a small gap. However, the article went on to say:

For Democrats, the education effect was even worse: the more educated a Democrat is, according to the study, the less he or she understands the Republican worldview. “This effect,” the report says, “is so strong that Democrats without a high school diploma are three times more accurate than those with a postgraduate degree.” And the more politically engaged a person is, the greater the distortion.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/21/democrats-republicans-political-beliefs-national-survey-poll

We read this and immediately thought of PZ Myers, partly because that is our (volunteer, unpaid) job and partly because the description fits him to a tee. He has a doctorate and is highly politically engaged and – willfully or otherwise – hasn’t a clue what Republicans or Libertarians actually think.

We also thought to ourselves, “There’s no way in hell PZ will blog about this article. It hits too close to home. He’ll ignore it.”

Except, we momentarily forgot that with PZ Myers, there’s always another option: lie.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I read this article about the results of a national survey…It’s arguing that Democrats and Republicans don’t understand each other.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

While the article does mention the gap in Republican perception of Democratic ideas, the article actually argues, “Even more than their Republican counterparts, highly educated Democrats tend to live in exclusively Democratic enclaves. The more they report ‘almost all my friends hold the same political views,’ the worse their guesses on what Republicans think.”

Analysis:

This is classic PZ. He has almost no self-awareness or humility in the realm of politics, so the only thing he can do in situations like this is misread and misrepresent the article he’s critiquing. The clear thrust of it is aimed at people just like him, but he can’t, or won’t, acknowledge that point, so instead he makes it sound like the article was evenhandedly talking about the differences between the two parties.

The rest of his throat-clearing consists of complaining that the article aggregates a diverse political spectrum into two sides: “Democrats” and “Republicans.” Hold on to that thought for a minute, we’ll return to it later.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

When a Democrat guesses that 50% of Republicans think racism is a problem, they’re being charitable, because while we can’t read minds, we can see what the Republican party stands for, how their policies affect the country, and what the leadership says, and the Republican party is a flamingly racist organization led by openly racist politicians.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

See here. We’ve dealt with charges like this before. PZ offers no evidence for his smear of millions of people, nor does he name any of the multiple politicians he believes are openly racist.

Analysis:

We almost doubled over laughing when we read this. PZ completely misses the point of both the study and the article. It’s aimed at people like him who think the people who vote Republican are all racists, when in reality they’re not. But there isn’t one iota of his being which says, “Wait, maybe I’ve misunderstood conservative and libertarian thought for all these years, perhaps I should do some reading.” Instead he barrels ahead under the assumption that he’s right about Republicans and they’re all wrong. It’s absolutely amazing.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

Likewise, when the Republicans say 50% of Democrats don’t trust the police, they’re also being generous, because if you read the news (which is also biased in its reporting), all you see are stories of police murdering people and not being held accountable.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

The single most high profile police shooting of the last few months in the upper Midwest – a case which made international news – culminated less than three months ago in the conviction of the police officer responsible:

A Minneapolis police officer was convicted of third-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her home. Mohamed Noor was also convicted of manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. He wasn’t convicted of the most serious charge of intentional second-degree murder.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/04/30/justine-damond-shooting-minneapolis-cop-jury-deliberates/3624916002

Analysis:

This case took place in Minneapolis, which is not far from PZ Myers and the University of Minnesota Morris. He was undoubtedly bombarded with regional coverage of the case, and even blogged about it three times in 2017 when the shooting first occurred. He doesn’t mention it here because it doesn’t fit the narrative (lie) he wants to establish – that police murder innocent people with no accountability.

PZ Myers Lie #4 [in bold]:

Of course, the problem is compounded by the fact that the survey is asking respondents to treat Republican and Democrat and discrete and uniform organizations. We know that isn’t true.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

On page 11 of the study PZ references, we find this paragraph:

After indicating their agreement or disagreement with each of the seven statements, participants then proceeded to the “Estimation” portion of the survey. Here respondents estimated, on a scale from 0 to 100, the percentage of their political opponents who had agreed with each of the statements. Accordingly, Democrats were presented with each of the statements from the Republican Question Set and were asked, for each question, what percentage of Republicans they believed agreed with that statement. Similarly, Republicans were presented with each of the items from the Democrat Question Set and asked what percentage of Democrats agreed with each statement.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a70a7c3010027736a22740f/t/5d101028495118000181fad6/1561333806922/The+Perception+Gap.pdf

Far from treating the political parties as “discrete and uniform organizations,” the design of the study takes their diversity into account and asks respondents to estimate it.

Analysis:

PZ used to laugh at people who tried to characterize a study without reading it. His entire blog post is a case study in how to justify one’s own confirmation bias. How is he supposed to know what Republicans think? Could he…we’re just spit balling here…engage with them, give them a fair hearing and find out for himself?

PZ Myers Lie #5 [in bold]:

That this one guy [who] think[s] Bernie Sanders is a “good guy” is somehow supposed to mitigate the actions of the elected officials of the Republican party, and especially Trump, is galling.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

The “one guy” PZ refers to is cited, in The Guardian article, as an example of the diversity of opinion present amongst Republicans. He is not supposed to “mitigate” or “excuse” anything. PZ reproduces the paragraphs discussing this man, but then turns around and lies about what those paragraphs say. And it’s even worse than that – at the beginning of the post, PZ complains about how the article supposedly aggregates a diverse political spectrum into two sides: “Democrats” and “Republicans.” This “one guy” proves the point PZ was trying to make! There is a diverse body of thought on both sides of the political aisle.

Analysis:

This is a good time to remind readers that PZ Myers, less than a week ago, declared that every person who votes Republican is a racist. So while he can say – today – that diversity of opinion exists in both Republicans and Democrats, his previous words demonstrate that he doesn’t actually believe that. He paints with a Godzilla-sized brush and isn’t much for nuance when it comes to describing his perceived political opponents. Which, of course, was the very point of this article in The Guardian. It spoke directly to people like him – progressive, educated, and politically aware.

Except PZ Myers doesn’t listen.

Final Tally:

Today: 2 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 61 science-related posts, 155 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 5(!) PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 68 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

22 July – A Lie PZ Didn’t Need to Tell UPDATED: With Response by Yaacov Apelbaum

PZ Myers isn’t a stupid man. He earned a PhD, has spent his life in and around academia and at one time was at the forefront of the skeptical and atheist movements in the United States. He knows how to be careful and measured in making a claim, which is why it’s so disappointing to see him lie with such regularity, especially when he doesn’t need to.

Today’s lie is a case in point.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Real polygraphs are useless and inaccurate, I wonder how reliable a virtual polygraph would be? All this “analysis” comes from a crank conspiracy theorist named Yaacov Apelbaum who has software that goes through video clips frame by frame and assigns emotional values to every facial expression, that counts blinks, “umms”, and pauses, and arrives at an interpretation defined by the user, that is, Yaacov Apelbaum.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/22/cargo-cult-science-in-defense-of-right-wing-bias/

Facts:

We’re not in a position to evaluate Apelbaum’s methodology. Facial recognition technology combined with AI can do some incredible things but we’re not sure if detecting lies is one of them. And perhaps if PZ had limited his criticism to the technology itself, he’d be on relatively firmer ground.

But he didn’t.

He called Apelbaum a ‘conspiracy theorist’ as well, and that charge does not appear to be based in anything at all. A search of Apelbaum’s name and the word ‘conspiracy’ results in PZ’s own blog post as the very first hit. The rest of the results direct readers to his analysis of the Steele Dossier, which does not appear in any way to be a conspiracy theory.

In other words, this is yet another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

Someone who was actually interested in determining if Apelbaum’s unique lie detection technique was pseudo-science would have done something like ask Apelbaum for more information about his process. PZ gives no indication that he ever did that, but we did. We’ll post the results if we hear back from him.

Why did PZ do this? We have no idea. We’ve seen in before, in the lie about Stefan Molyneux. We noted at the time that if someone is a murderer, there’s no reason to lie about them being a rapist. PZ, apparently, can’t help himself. It might be pathological.

Lying often is.

UPDATE:

We were right. PZ never reached out to Mr. Apelbaum for more information about his process/methodology. Apelbaum kindly replied to our request for comment, writing:

First, your friend/customer/compatriot chose an interesting title for his publication. I love the play on words and the cleaver rhyming. For those of you who are not familiar with the phrase of “Cargo cult science”, it comes from Richard Feynman’s book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! In it, he describes the concept as:


“In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas ¬¬ he’s the controller ¬¬ and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.”


I find it ironical that Mr. Myers, who styles himself as the high priest of Science, never bothered to reach out to me and ask me about the details of the analysis before launching his polemic tirade disguised as scientific critique. But that is exactly what separates a scientist form crypto Red Green Alliance ideologist.

https://apelbaum.wordpress.com/2019/07/21/one-thousand-and-one-nights-and-ilhan-omars-biographical-engineering/

Final Tally:

Today: 3 science-related posts, 2 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 59 science-related posts, 151 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 63 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

21 July – More Incoherence about Economics From a Biologist

PZ Myers reminds us with some regularity that having a PhD in one discipline doesn’t mean you know anything about an entirely unrelated discipline. It’s a shame PZ doesn’t seem to understand that himself. Today he tried to explain the economics of asteroid mining to…well, the billionaires who have studied asteroid mining extensively and are planning to do it. How does that work?

Easy, he lies about it.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

That’s Bezos. He seems to have a superficial understanding of the fact that we’re wrecking our home, but his excuse is that we can go get stuff from space to reduce our drain on the system, which is nonsense. There’s no oil in space. Mining is always going to be more difficult, expensive, and dangerous on asteroids. The kinds of resources that drive the material development of society are going to be more destructive to the environment if we haul in more of them.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/21/stop-talking-to-billionaires-start-listening-to-climate-scientists/

Facts:

PZ is regrettably vague in the mechanism by which these resources will be “more destructive to the environment,” however his choice of the title for the post and the fact that he lets a climate change scientist have the last word strongly suggest he is talking about greenhouse gasses here.

And it’s a lie.

A recent study from the University of Paris-Saclay calculated the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by a platinum mining operation on earth and the amount that might be emitted by an asteroid mining operation. Here are the results:

…economies of scale from large asteroid-mining operations could lower this to about 60 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of platinum. That needs to be compared with the emission from Earth-based mining. Here, platinum mining generates significant greenhouse gases, mostly from the energy it takes to remove this stuff from the ground. Indeed, the numbers are huge. The mining industry estimates that producing one kilogram of platinum on Earth releases around 40,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide. “The global warming effect of Earth-based mining is several orders of magnitude larger,” say Hein and co.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612311/asteroid-mining-might-actually-be-better-for-the-environment/

Analysis:

Topics like this are why we like to call PZ Myers an “evangelical progressive.” There is a religious quality to his beliefs. He would likely dismiss this evidence out of hand and still maintain that asteroid mining would be worse for our environment than continuing to mine in our current fashion.

He gives up the game near the end of the post, when he says, “If you’re serious about saving Planet Earth, work to end capitalism and build sustainable, renewable institutions.”

Ending capitalism is the real goal. All the rest is just window dressing. It’s freedom, and free markets, that really bother PZ Myers. Which, for a scientist, doesn’t make much sense.

We wonder sometimes if he would rather be the richest person in the world 100 year ago or if he’d prefer to live near the poverty line today. His answer, we think would be revealing. In almost every way, those living in a first-world country near the poverty line today are far better off than the richest person in the world was in 1919, and almost every bit of that is due to capitalism.

We came across an old quote from PZ, which says:

If you’ve got a religious belief that withers in the face of observations of the natural world, you ought to rethink your beliefs — rethinking the world isn’t an option.

PZ Myers

His quasi-religious belief in socialism (or marxism, or anything other than the free market) withers in the face of the last 100 years of observations, but he’s not rethinking his world.

We find that curious.

Incidentally, we love the part where PZ tries to explain to the three billionaires who have invested millions of dollars in asteroid mining that what they’re doing doesn’t make economic sense. We’re sure none of them ever thought to crunch the numbers on this one, but they’ll certainly do so now, after reading PZ Myers’s insightful analysis.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 2 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 56 science-related posts, 149 non-science posts.

27% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 62 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

20 July – No Lies! And PZ’s Mission Statement Says Nothing About Truth

No lies to report from Pharyngula today, but in response to a dustup involving the Atheist Community of Austin and a blog called the Atheist Experience – a dustup which has nothing to do with Atheism – PZ Myers decided to repost the ironically named FreeThoughBlogs Mission statement.

Freethoughtblogs is an open platform for freethought writers. We are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism, and in addition, we recognize that the nonexistence of deities entails a greater commitment to human values, and in particular, an appreciation of human diversity and equality.
We are for feminism, against racism, for diversity, against inequity. Our network of blogs is designed to encourage independent thinking and individual autonomy — freethoughtblogs.com is a vehicle for giving vocal secularists a venue for discussion of their values and interests.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/20/the-atheist-community-of-austin-has-drifted-out-of-sync-with-ftb/

We here at PZWatch are fully compatible with that mission statement, but something tells us PZ wouldn’t give us a venue to discuss our interests.

We’d read the statement before – we considered including it as a Great Big Lie, because PZ and the other bloggers there are purveyors of dogma and authoritarianism on many different levels – but something struck us about it this time around. It doesn’t say anything about truth.

Maybe we’re being too hard on PZ. Maybe he doesn’t really care about truth, even though he says he does in other contexts. Maybe someone who has him on their YouTube show could ask.

We’d like to know the answer.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 3 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 55 science-related posts, 147 non-science posts.

27% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies – it’s been 2 days since his last lie.

Since 30 May 19: 61 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.