19 June – PZ Herds All His Lies Into a Concentration Camp

We had a few leisurely days here at PZWatch while our namesake liar was away at a conference actually talking about science. We noted yesterday that he was back, but today he’s back with a vengeance. Five lies! The most we’ve see in a single day.

We have a LOT of work ahead of us – and we’re away at a conference of our own – so we won’t even try to work out a gag to illustrate the absurdity of all of today’s lies, we’ll just get started with the first one.

PZ Myers Lie:

“This is one holiday that Trump and his ilk won’t be appropriating to turn into a campaign rally for white nationalism, unlike the 4th of July.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/19/its-juneteenth/

Facts:

PZ – a 62 year-old bearded biology professor – links to a story in Teen Vogue about a holiday called Juneteenth, which celebrates the last slaves being freed by the Union Army after the Civil War. This is the context for the lie we quote above.

PZ attempts an interesting sleight of hand here evade the charge of a lie – he tries to make it predictive. You can’t lie about the future, or so the saying goes, and saying Trump will not be doing X is a good way of getting a shot in at Trump or his supporters without technically crossing the lie barrier, even if there is no truth to the charge of X. Here, PZ slips up and makes a concrete prediction that Trump will turn the 4th of July holiday into a campaign rally for white nationalism.

There is no evidence for this charge. In fact, the schedule for the 4th of July holiday in Washington, D.C. has just been released and there is no mention of white nationalism at all (another sentence we’d never thought we’d write. Thanks, PZ!). Additionally, according to a recent poll, 36% of African-Americans approve of Trump, and we find it impossible to believe that many people approve of a President who either is a white nationalist or supports white nationalist causes. All of which adds this to the growing list of PZ Myers lies.

Analysis:

PZ hasn’t talked much about Trump lately, but when he does it’s against the backdrop of a steady drumbeat of racism. Nothing Trump actually does matters to PZ – meeting with Kanye West, backing sentencing reform, etc. – the only thing that matters is how Trumps words can be twisted to fit PZ’s conservatives-are-racist narrative. This is one of the more shameful narratives PZ pushes on a regular basis without evidence. But there is so much more to come today, so let’s crack on.

PZ Myers Lie #2:

The US has concentration camps. This country has always had concentration camps.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/19/a-concentration-camp-by-any-other-name-is-still-a-concentration-camp/

Facts:

Many of PZ’s lies come from his practice of redefining words to suit his political purposes, and this one is a perfect example. Here a good definition of a concentration camp, and one that is very close to the definition PZ uses elsewhere in his post. Under this definition, the US has only had concentration camps at discreet moments in its history, and currently does not have any right now. A group of people detained at a country’s border for crossing that border illegally cannot truthfully be said to be in a concentration camp.

Analysis:

PZ doesn’t like US immigration policy. He’s something of an open borders advocate, although pinning him down on an exact policy prescription on this issue is as difficult as it is on any other. So as long as there are immigration laws preventing people from freely entering the United States – other nations can have immigration laws, as far as we can tell, but not the US – then those people who attempt to enter the country without following those laws are by PZ’s definition put into “concentration camps.”

But hold on – we’re only a few sentences in, there are many more PZ lies to come!

PZ Myers Lie #3:

We are the world’s greatest master of concentration camps and ethnic cleansing.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/19/a-concentration-camp-by-any-other-name-is-still-a-concentration-camp/

Facts:

There is little ambiguity to this statement. PZ is speaking about the United States, and making the claim that the country is the greatest “master” of concentration camps and ethnic cleansing. One could argue that this claim in entirely dependent upon PZ’s definition of the word master, but we are going to use the definition we think PZ means in the context of this blog post, which is: “a great figure of the past (as in science or art) whose work serves as a model or ideal.”

Now that we have the basis to evaluate PZ’s claim, let’s dig into the specifics. Has the US used concentration camps in the past? Undoubtedly yes, as we discuss above. Has the US employed “ethnic cleansing” in the past? PZ argues that the country has, specifically in their dealings with Native Americans, and given a plain reading of the definition, we would agree. But does the fact that the US has done each of those things in the past mean they are the “world’s greatest master” in each?

The answer is plainly no. The concentration camp article we cite above gives only a brief mention of the US’ history before detailing a much longer and more prolific history of concentration camp use in, for example, the Soviet Union. Turning to the present day, China uses a network of concentration camps to manage ethnic minorities in the name of countering terrorism.

Turning to the ethnic cleansing charge, the Wikipedia article we cite does not even mention Native Americans when giving examples of past instances of ethnic cleansing, even though it meets the definition. It seems improbable that the “world’s greatest master” at something would not be included in the most basic description of the history of that thing, therefore we have added this to the growing list of PZ Myers lies.

Analysis:

But wait, there’s more.

PZ Myers Lie #4:

“But America used [concentration camps] to round up and imprison people of Japanese descent in WWII, and we’re also using them now to isolate people of Latin American descent.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/19/a-concentration-camp-by-any-other-name-is-still-a-concentration-camp/

Facts:

We don’t think we need to spill too much ink on a refutation here. The United States is not using concentration camps to isolate people of Latin American descent. There are 58 million people of Latin American descent living all over the US, and none of them are isolated in concentration camps.

Analysis:

This is an especially despicable lie from PZ Myers, but we’re not done yet. There’s still one more to go.

PZ Myers Lie #5:

“We are throwing people who have committed no crime into crowded, inadequate facilities on the basis of their ethnicity, and people are dying.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/19/a-concentration-camp-by-any-other-name-is-still-a-concentration-camp/

Facts:

It is a crime to enter the Unites States illegally. And to the extent these prospective immigrants are placed into detention facilities, it is because of their actions crossing the border, but because of their ethnicity.

Analysis:

This is technically two lies, and given our longstanding practice of giving PZ the benefit of the doubt we’ve lumped those two into one lie here.

We’ve said before that we think PZ is at his most incoherent when he’s talking about economics – we may need to revise that opinion after today’s performance. Four lies about immigration and concentration camps is a lot to fit into one post, but PZ almost managed to squeeze a couple more in as well.

You might surmise from PZ’s post that he does not believe countries should have borders, but we honestly have no idea. We did a search for “immigration” on Pharyngula and came up with nothing but PZ Myers ranting about X or Y, and perhaps if we read everything he’d every written on the subject we might be able to cobble together a coherent policy position, but it’s more likely that we’ll find a bunch of contradictory statements and not much actual substance.

Such is life when you’re trying to figure out the enigma that is PZ and why he lies so much. Suffice to say, our hope that his renewed interest in science would decrease the number of lies he tells was unfounded. PZ is who he is, and won’t be changing – for better or worse – anytime soon.

Final Tally:

Today: 3 science-related posts and 3 posts on other stuff.

Since 30 May 19: 22 science-related posts, 61 non-science posts.

26% of PZ’s posts on a “science blog” have been about science. 

Note: Most of PZ’s posts on science since 30 May have been dedicated to a spider data gathering initiative. There have been precious few posts on anything else having to do with science. When the spider initiative is complete, we’ll take a look at the numbers and parse out how much other science content he provides.

Today: 5 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 27 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.