26-29 Sep – PZ Lies While We Take A Few Days Off

We had a last-minute chance to take a few days off and unwind at the beach, and we’re of the opinion that if you’re offered that opportunity you say yes immediately and don’t look back. We knew PZ wasn’t going anywhere, and while we expected to find a few more lies upon our return – he’s been uncharacteristically subdued in his recent political commentary – we have two to showcase for you today.

The subjects of both are frequent targets of PZ Myers – James Lindsay and Elon Musk. James has the temerity to question PZ’s evangelical progressive political dogma. Musk has the gall to use his fortune to try new stuff. PZ hates both of those things, and when he hates something you can be sure a lie will follow.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

James Lindsay, embarrassingly regressive acolyte of the equally embarrassing Boghossian, decided to explain to the waiting hordes of alt-right dopes how the Spaniards conquered the Americas in the 16th century using the Liberalism and Science of the 18th century Enlightenment.  They used the vast powers conferred upon them by Humean philosophy, apparently…Gosh. I thought Spain used the advantages of gunpowder and horses to murder and enslave populations that were decimated by exotic diseases that Europeans had unthinkingly seeded on the continents, which in itself doesn’t sound like an exactly “enlightened” act. But hey, you know if a different set of Europeans two centuries later invented some useful rationalizations for racism and colonialism (along with some genuinely good principles), and that makes it all A-OK to ahistorical pseudoscholars almost three centuries after that, it must have been a good thing.



There are several lies here which, given our longstanding tradition, we’ll treat as one.

The ellipsis above are, in the original blog post, where PZ inserts a three tweet snippet from a much longer thread by James Lindsay. Our general rule of thumb for reading a PZ Myers blog post is: whenever he posts a quote from one of his perceived ideological enemies, there is usually way more to the story.

Was the point of Lindsay’s Twitter thread to explain to “waiting hordes of alt-right dopes how the Spaniards conquered the Americas”?

Yes and no.

First of all, there is no evidence that Lindsay’s Twitter followers are exclusively or even extensively “alt-right.” Given the tenor of the comments on this thread, one could hypothesize that his audience is a mixed bag of supporters and critics. But, to the causal observer, there does not appear to be the same number of sycophants on his Twitter feed as there are in the Pharyngula comments section, to choose a random example.

Second, the entire Twitter thread originated with this tweet:

Here’s something you can’t really say: A shocking amount of Social Justice Theory exists specifically to maintain a strict assumption of cultural relativism, which is to say to maintain the lie that all cultures produce equal outcomes.


His goal isn’t to describe how Spaniards conquered the Americas, but to describe his position on cultural relativism – a point PZ fails to bring up in his post. In the process of doing that, the example he uses is Spain in the Americas.

And it is here where PZ actually helps make Lindsay’s point. PZ says, “I thought Spain used the advantages of gunpowder and horses to murder and enslave.” That’s the same point Lindsay makes, with one exception. To PZ, those “advantages” spring up out of nowhere. “Gunpowder and horses” (which were by no means their only advantages) just appeared, not as a result of anything the Spaniards did, but due to something like luck. As Lindsay makes clear, he doesn’t believe that. He believes those advantages “came from developing superior epistemologies and ethics.”

Lindsay also never claims that what the Spanish did in conquering the Americas is “A-OK” with him. He appears to make no value judgement about it at all. What he does say is this, “The key actually isn’t that European ‘culture’ is superior. It seems to have some elements that are and some that aren’t, depending on what you’re measuring for.”


Were PZ Myers an intellectually honest critic, he would have addressed the overarching point Lindsay was trying to make about cultural relativism. Instead, he chose to infer a relatively minor historical inaccuracy to smear Lindsay instead. For our new readers – welcome to PZ’s argumentative style.

  1. Pick a target.
  2. Find a weakness.
  3. Lie about that weakness.
  4. Claim victory.

James Lindsay, consider yourself PZ-pwned.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

A couple of years ago, Elon Musk bought a company called Neuralink, which is trying to build a bigger, better brain-machine interface. The hype was incredible. Here’s a small sample (note: the author confuses a concept called a “neural lace” from Ian Banks’ science fiction novels with Musk’s Neuralink over and over again, which tells you how unreal every thing is)…Nope. None of that is true. It serves Musk’s interest to have these absurd claims floated about. I wrote about this nonsense at the time. 



The ellipsis above once again denotes where PZ inserted a snippet from the linked article on Neuralink. Here it is:

As an immediate application, Neural Lace could potentially help patients suffering from brain injuries and certain illnesses. However, the utimate goal and mission of Neuralink are to successfully merge the human brain with machine, fusing human intelligence with Artificial Intelligence. As a result, this is expected to bring humanity up to a higher level of cognitive reasoning. 
At some point, Neural Lace is going to enable humans to upload and download information directly from a computer. Just in a similar way how Neo from the Matrix does in order to learn new skills and acquire new information. 
In order to insert Neural Lace, a tiny needle containing the rolled up mesh is placed inside the skull. The mesh is then injected and unveiled upon injection, encompassing the brain. 
The Neural Lace integrates itself with the human brain. It creates a perfect symbiosis between human and machine. This technology could be the catalyst for the technological Singularity.


There are two lies in PZ’s post.

First, author of the Interesting Engineering article does not confuse “neural lace” with Neuralink. At the very beginning of the article he says, “Part of Elon Musk’s inpiration for the creation of Neuralink is a science-fiction concept called Neural Lace that is part of the fictional universe in Scottish author Iain M. Banks’ series of novels The Culture.” He then uses Neural Lace as a rhetorical device throughout the rest of the piece. Far from confusing the two concepts – which PZ thinks illustrates the hype surrounding Neuralink – the author understands the two concepts better than PZ does.

Secondly, PZ offers no evidence that any of the potential applications of the “Neural Lace” technology are impossible. Will it enable humans to upload/download information from a computer? Maybe. Will it help patients suffering from brain injuries? Perhaps. You can’t falsify a prediction without some pretty hard evidence it’s not possible.

For example, if Elon Musk said he could get a pig to fly to Mars using only its tail as propulsion, then PZ Myers would be on firm ground calling that a lie. If Musk says he’s on the brink of developing new anti-gravity technology allowing that same pig to leave the Earth’s gravity, then the refutation of that prediction would involve a deep dive into the technology before one could proclaim it will not work.

PZ doesn’t do that. He says, “I wrote about this nonsense at the time,” but all he’s really doing is recycling the same criticisms over and over again: It’s all hype. It’ll never work. It’ll take a miracle. He never digs into the science – probably because he’s not qualified to do so – but he wants to proclaim it as false anyway.

Which is a lie.


If PZ had said something like this instead – “Elon Musk is more smoke than fire. I don’t think the reality will live up to the hype.” – not only would we not call it a lie, we’d agree with him. We’ve listened to Musk and aren’t convinced he’s as smart as everyone makes him out to be. But, his success to this point is undeniable, and that’s really what irks PZ Myers. Musk thinks and dreams big, and sometimes achieves those dreams. If people, especially those without a PhD, can do that, then it invalidates a huge chunk of PZ Myers’s worldview which says people get ahead and stay there unfairly due to racism or sexism or some other type of privilege.

This brings us to another point we probably don’t make often enough here at PZWatch. Just because we think PZ Myers is a liar doesn’t mean with disagree with him about everything.

We don’t think Elon Musk’s signal-to-noise ratio is very high, but just because we agree with PZ on that point doesn’t prevent us from calling out his lies. Truth is truth, and we should strive to be as accurate (or more so) in our criticism as we are in our agreement. But, when everything is a zero-sum game and power is the only metric for success, then the side you choose to belong to is incredibly important. And once you pick a team, you always have to side with that team, no matter how dishonest they become.

It’s fascinating for us to watch that world in action.

Final Tally:

26-29 September: 3 science-related posts, 11 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 112 science-related posts, 406 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

26-29 September: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 127 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

25 Sep – PZ Lies About Random Dude On Twitter

We haven’t seen this in a while from PZ, but he did something today we think is the laziest, least serious thing someone can do: find a random oddball tweet, criticize it, then suggest the sentiment is representative of X group.

It’s a good way to take shots and score partisan political points at the expense of X group, but it’s at best dishonest and at worst a disgusting slur (both of which are in PZ Myers’s wheelhouse).

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

He’s not even being provocative! He just thinks girls can’t have credible opinions if raping them makes you a pedophile. That’s probably the Catholic side of his bio speaking. Well, maybe the Libertarian side, too. By the way, he’s quite proud of his tweet, and is bragging that Twitter didn’t see any problems with it, either.



The target of PZ’s ire is the following tweet by someone named Justin Murphy:

Not even being provocative but if you think Greta Thunberg has the maturity to guide global policy-making then you cannot object to Jeffrey Epstein paying 16-year-olds for sex.


We’ll ignore the part where he claims he’s “not even being provocative,” because it’s fairly obvious he was trying to do exactly that. But what of the rest of the tweet?

He’s trying to make a general point about the maturity of a 16-year-old. As a society, we have collectively decided that, before someone turns 18, they are not entitled to do certain things: vote, enter into a contract, consent to sex with an adult at least 4 years older. By extension, Murphy is trying to point out that Greta Thunberg – who is 16 – should not be mature enough to “guide global policy-making.”

Let’s go back to what PZ said: “He just thinks girls can’t have credible opinions if raping them makes you a pedophile.”

There are multiple ways this a lie, so we’ll start at the beginning. Murphy didn’t say “girls can’t have credible opinions,” the specific thing he said was “guide global policy making,” two very different things. Everyone has an opinion about climate change, vanishingly few people have the power or reach to effect global policy.

Epstein certainly committed statutory rape multiple times, which by definition makes him a pedophile, but that is irrelevant to Murphy’s point.

According to the indictment filed in US District Court, Epstein paid all of his victims “hundreds of dollars” for each encounter and used them to recruit new victims using the promise of cash. The indictment does not accuse Epstein of using violence or threats of violence to coerce his victims (neither “violence” nor “force” appear anywhere in the document), so the entirety of the moral case against Epstein rests on the idea that a sixteen year old is not mature enough to consent to having paid sex with a sixty-year-old man.

And if a sixteen-year-old isn’t mature enough to give consent, can they be mature enough to guide global policy on climate change? That’s the provocative question Murphy asks, and PZ lies about.


Murphy describes himself as a “Libertarian communist Catholic.” We’re going to assume there’s a story behind this, as two of those things (libertarian and communist) are diametrically opposed and neither one plays very well with the third (Catholic). In other words, we don’t believe he simultaneously has a foot in all three camps, but PZ wants to use the opportunity of this tweet to take a swipe at two of them – libertarian and Catholic. Somehow we’re supposed to think libertarians are bad because Murphy used the word in his Twitter bio. Ditto for Catholics.

We’re not persuaded, and can’t imagine who would be, but this appears to be the only reason PZ chose this tweet to post on his blog. Why else highlight some random person on Twitter if you can’t make a broader point about two groups you hate? Would PZ have gone on a rant about some random 16-year-old’s tweet if they had no political or religious affiliation in their bio?

We don’t think so.

This is simply an extension of PZ’s argumentative style: never, under any circumstances, correctly describe a political position your ideological opponents hold. Always lie. Always obfuscate. Always exaggerate. In this way, you’ll always be arguing against a straw man you can easily set alight.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 3 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 109 science-related posts, 395 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 125 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

24 Sep – Again, No Lies

PZ posted only once, and complained in that post about Richard Carrier calling him a liar.

So it is a charge that bothers him. He does still at the very least pay lip service to the idea that truth is a desirable quality.

That’s news to us. We have one hundred and twenty-four examples which suggest the opposite.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 1 post on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 109 science-related posts, 392 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 124 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

23 Sep – No Lies

When life gives you lemons…

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 5 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 109 science-related posts, 391 non-science posts

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 124 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

22 Sep – When Is PZ Myers Going To Lie Rehab?

He absolutely needs to fine-tune his veracity, and could use to time away to deal with it.

Instead, Jordan Peterson is in rehab to try to help him deal with an addiction to a specific prescription drug, and PZ Myers wants to crow about it. Always one to celebrate the foibles of those he considers intellectual enemies (we don’t think Peterson considers PZ at all), we predict he’ll bring this subject up every time he mentions Peterson moving forward. When he’s not lying about Peterson, he’ll be reminding people about this stint in rehab to try to score points.

Today, he did both.

I liked this angle on the story: going into rehab was the right thing for Peterson to do, and he is to be commended for reaching out for help. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of those tedious self-help gurus, a conservative version of Oprah, who is always telling people that their attitude is the problem, that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, when there are systemic problems that require social cooperation to accomplish real change.



“Tedious self-help guru” is a pejorative way to describe a clinical psychologist who used to teach at Harvard, but PZ Myers has always shown a bit of flair for the unnecessary ad-hominem personal attack. While not technically a lie – Peterson did write a book called Twelve Rules For Life – it’s dancing all over the line.

The lie is later on in the paragraph – constituting the entirety of the blog post – when PZ describes what Peterson says. Accurately characterizing his opponents’ arguments is always a problem for him, and this is no exception.

We’ve listened to some of Jordan Peterson’s lectures and read parts of his book – we didn’t get through all of it – but we’re confident he has never said, nor would he ever think that someone’s attitude is “the” problem. Sixth among his twelve rules is this: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” In other words, there are issues in the world to criticize, but before you do that you should make sure you’ve taken a good look at yourself. He does say there are things you can do to improve your life – he is a clinical psychologist, after all, it would be a surprising for him not to say that – he never denies the fact that there are problems in the world requiring social cooperation. In fact, we’ve heard him speak often on the need for social cooperation, just not quite in the way PZ Myers might think of it.

Additionally, in PZ Myers’s world, the phrase “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” is an insult that suggests poor people are poor because they don’t work hard enough. That is another sentiment we’re confident Peterson has never expressed. In fact, we’ve heard him say exactly the opposite.

All of which makes this yet another PZ Myers lie.


Peterson speaks often of the need for balance between ‘chaos’ and ‘order’, writ large. PZ blithely calls him a ‘conservative’, and while we suppose that’s mostly correct it also misses Peterson’s real message.

He thinks it would be a disaster if one side were to win.

PZ can’t wait for the “revolution.” He wants his side – the progressives – to win and would love to see conservatives eradicated from the face of the earth.

Peterson thinks that would be a disaster (and so do we). According to him, we need the left and the right to maintain a certain sense of balance between chaos and order. When one side – either side! – gets too powerful, the results are devastating.

That’s not a typical “conservative” or “progressive” sentiment, but then again the vast majority of what Peterson talks about has nothing to do with politics, which is one of the reasons we’re pretty sure PZ Myers has spent almost no time listening or reading what he has to say.

Which, come to think of it, makes Peterson just like every other person PZ criticizes on Pharyngula.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 109 science-related posts, 386 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 124 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

21 Sep – Two Days Without a Lie!

Is PZ Myers turning over a new leaf? It’s been two days since his last lie. Three has generally been his limit, and after that the lies return with a vengeance.

Today, we have hope. Today, he actually said publicly that he agrees with Jordan Peterson! And if that isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, or a Super Bowl winning Vikings’ season, we’re not sure what is.

Tomorrow is another day. We’ll see if the streak can continue.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 2 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 108 science-related posts, 382 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 123 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

20 Sep – No Lies!

Skating away on the thin ice of a new day.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 5 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 108 science-related posts, 380 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 123 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

18-19 Sep – PZ Myers Uses This One Weird Trick

Busy day for us yesterday, and thankfully PZ decided to give us the day off and not tell any lies. Today, however is different.

As we’ve well documented in the past few months, actual conservative or libertarian (or even centrist) political ideas never get a hearing on Pharyngula. PZ never cedes any space on his blog to ideas or people who could upset the ideological purity of his hand-picked audience. But, we imagine it also gets boring to bat around the same old evangelical progressive ideas day after day, so from time to time he decides to use this one weird trick to bash his perceived political enemies.

Instead of engaging directly with their ideas, PZ Myers engages with someone else’s (always a progressive) characterization of those ideas. It’s kind of like wanting to comment on the latest Brad Pitt movie, but not wanting to actually see it, so you read a hostile review instead and then bash it.

This is what PZ did to Ben Shapiro today.

Shapiro has a new book out, one that PZ Myers will never, ever read. How can we say that with so much confidence? Because the act of reading Shapiro’s book would force PZ to engage with his ideas, and we think that might make him melt faster than a vampire in sunlight.

Instead of reading the book, PZ read this review instead and decided it would be the perfect foil to ridicule Shapiro’s ideas.

We wonder what grade he would give to one of his students if they did that?

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I wouldn’t argue that the Nazis were moral in the slightest, but they were definitely part of Western Civilization (is Shapiro going to argue otherwise?), they were definitely Christian, and the Germans are definitely rooted in Western/Christian philosophy — in fact, contributing largely to it — so how does that ignorant twerp get off claiming that Nazi philosophy was a rejection of the social values of a culture they were strongly part of?



We’ve covered a similar lie before, but here PZ’s claim is stronger.

So, too, is the refutation.

The Nazi Party in particular, and Hitler’s philosophy in general, was antithetical to Judeo/Christian philosophy. We’ll once again reproduce these two paragraphs from Wikipedia:

Christianity remained the dominant religion in Germany through the Nazi period, and its influence over Germans displeased the Nazi hierarchy. Evans wrote that Hitler believed that in the long run National Socialism and religion would not be able to coexist, and stressed repeatedly that Nazism was a secular ideology, founded on modern science. According to Evans: “Science, he declared, would easily destroy the last remaining vestiges of superstition.” Germany could not tolerate the intervention of foreign influences such as the Pope, and “Priests, he said, were ‘black bugs,’ abortions in black cassocks.’”

During Hitler’s dictatorship, more than 6,000 clergymen, on the charge of treasonable activity, were imprisoned or executed. The same measures were taken in the occupied territories; in French Lorraine, the Nazis forbade religious youth movements, parish meetings, and scout meetings. Church assets were taken, Church schools were closed, and teachers in religious institutes were dismissed. The Episcopal seminary was closed, and the SA and SS desecrated churches and religious statues and pictures. Three hundred clergy were expelled from the Lorraine region; monks and nuns were deported or forced to renounce their vows.


Nazis may have come from Christian stock, but their actions upon joining the Party and Hitler’s plans for the future make it quite clear they repudiated their old philosophy.


We laughed out loud when we saw PZ had written the words “Western/Christian philosophy.” Up until that point he’d used “Judeo-Christian” exclusively, but even he realized he couldn’t say the Nazis held Judeo-anything views, because of the whole genocide thing, so he switched it to ‘Western.’

Making that switch is also a tacit admission that he knows the point he’s making is wrong. How would it be possible for the Nazis to have Judeo-anything views if one of their goals was the extermination of all Jews? Wouldn’t they kinda-sorta-havta repudiate at least some of Jewish philosophy if they wanted to kill all of them?

Untangling the answers to those questions would require some deep thinking about the points Shapiro makes, which, in turn, would require actually reading the points Shapiro makes.

We’ve already established PZ Myers will never, ever do that, which makes the last paragraph of his post especially delicious:

Maybe a better approach would be to note that being Christian, Jewish, or Western does not make one good, by any means. That is the deep hole in the middle of Shapiro’s assumptions.


PZ has no idea what Shapiro’s assumptions are! All he knows is what a hostile reviewer has said about them.

Sad, amazing stuff.

Final Tally:

Last Two Days: 2 science-related post, 9 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 107 science-related posts, 375 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 123 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

17 Sep – PZ Lies About Richard Stallman, Again!

After a welcome day off from documenting the many lies of PZ Myers, we were greeted this morning with one more about Richard Stallman.

This one is even more egregious than the last.

PZ puts the refutation of his lie right above the lie itself, almost begging his readers to call him out. But, none of them did.

They never do.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Never, ever be that guy who nitpicks about whether rape might be acceptable depending on how many birthdays a woman has had.



“That guy” is Richard Stallman, and if you’re interested in a recap of the controversy to date, go here.

The first thing we’ll do is reproduce the Stallman quote PZ placed directly above this lie:

Stallman said “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”


We bet you’re now wondering what the context for this comment was. Stallman was responding to the following comment:

Giuffre was 17 at the time; this makes it __rape__ in the Virgin Islands.


PZ, and the article he quotes, make an interesting omission from the text of the conversation: Stallman asked a question before writing the words quoted above. Here is his full comment:

Does it really? I think it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17


It was, in fact, Stallman’s interlocutor who defined rape based on how many birthdays a woman has had. Stallman was actually making the same point as PZ Myers – albeit much more forcefully. Once again, PZ inverts the meaning of Stallman’s words and it leads to yet another lie.


Once again, facts don’t matter here. In PZ’s eyes, Stallman is a bad guy and it doesn’t really matter what you say about bad guys. You can lie about them with impunity on Pharyngula. “The cause” is the most important thing here, and Stallman made the mistake of trying to question it.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related post, 5 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 105 science-related posts, 364 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 122 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

16 Sep – No Lies

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 105 science-related posts, 359 non-science posts.

23% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 121 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.