3 July – Three Lies! And How Not To Think Skeptically, Brought To You By PZ Myers

We found skepticism over a decade ago. Before, we considered ourselves skeptical without really knowing what it was. We were intrigued by events like Bigfoot and UFO sightings, but were always inclined to believe in a rational explanation. Natural contrarians, we challenged authority and wanted to know how things worked and why. Once we learned about skepticism and science-based-rationalism, we were armed with a tool set that helped shape our initial skeptical impulses, with perhaps the most important tool being: follow the evidence.

If the evidence leads you to a conclusion different from the one you had in your mind, there is only one option: change your mind.

Not only is there nothing wrong with changing your mind after reviewing the evidence, we think of it as the hallmark of skeptical thinking.

PZ Myers does not.

PZ railed against Michael Shermer yesterday on Twitter for doing exactly that: changing his mind after being presented with new evidence.

If it sounds incongruous for a skeptical atheist like PZ Myers to blast someone for following the evidence, that’s because you’re not as well acquainted with PZ as we are. We know Myers isn’t skeptical about anything related to politics. In that arena, his mind is granite, inflexible, immovable, and unchangeable no matter what data you throw at him. It allows us to predict, generally, what he’s going to say about any given issue. It’s how we knew he would lie about Antifa and continue his efforts to rehabilitate the group’s reputation after they seriously injured a journalist covering their march.

It’s also how we’re able to predict what he will say tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. It’s supposed to be a celebration of America, the founding, and freedom, among other things. PZ has never thought much about America, and has written before that it should be a “national day of mourning.” Expect more of that tomorrow, but with a twist.

Antifa has been in PZ’s mind lately, and in just the last few weeks he’s gone from pretending progressive activists never get violent to embracing Antifa’s violence on the streets of Portland. We expect he will call them “patriotic” tomorrow.

There will be a 4th of July spectacle in the streets of the nation’s capital, and in writing about it, PZ should compare it to both Nazi Germany and Tiananmen Square. He’ll call Trump an autocrat, and then he’ll say that violent groups like Antifa are necessary to resist the coming right-wing tyranny. Indeed, it will be the only patriotic thing to do, in his mind.

That’s our prediction for what’s in store tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy a few lies about Michael Shermer and Nazis, all of which we think are setting up the post he’s going to write tomorrow.

PZ Myers Lie:

Yeah, right. As we’re seeing in the American concentration camps today, German Nazis didn’t have a monopoly on evil. 



PZ is responding to a tweet from Michael Shermer which says:

The best books I’ve read on Nazism are Ian Kershaw’s Hitler trilogy, Vol. 2 especially. As tempting as it is to analogize groups we don’t like today to the Nazis, Nazism was unique, and uniquely evil.


We’re going to ignore the concentration camp lie from here on out. Given its usage in social media and popular culture today thanks to a certain Congressperson from New York, it’s impossible to precisely define the term anymore. It now means only what people on opposite sides of the isle who use it want it to mean.

But, we did identify another lie. PZ claims Shermer said Nazis had a monopoly on evil, but Shermer made an entirely different claim. He said Nazi evil was unique to Nazism, meaning its hard to equate Nazi evil with any other kind of evil. We think that’s a self-evident, if rather banal, observation nobody should have much of a problem with. Nobody except PZ Myers, of course, who feels the need to lie about it.


PZ is fond of comparing generic Republicans – before and after Trump entered the political scene – with Nazis, so it’s no surprise to see him tear into Shermer for calling Nazi evil unique. But we think he has a bigger purpose in mind. If Trump were, in fact, leading an authoritarian Nazi party, it would be both virtuous and necessary to resist that party using force. After all, you can’t wait until tanks are rolling through city streets (like they will be on the 4th) because it will already be too late. See our analysis opening this post. PZ is setting the stage here for tomorrow.

PZ Myers Lie #2:

Shermer had even more to say, though, including this astonishing canard: Good to remember that Nazi=National Socialism. Not far right but far left. Do we really need to debunk this exercise in naive etymology anymore?



While it is true that fascism has been characterized by many as a right-wing ideology since WWII, opinions on this question are changing. In 2008, Jonah Goldberg wrote the book Liberal Fascism which makes the following claim:

…both modern liberalism and fascism descended from progressivism, and that before World War II, “fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement with many liberal and left-wing adherents in Europe and the United States.”


The book received mixed reviews, as detailed at the Wikipedia link, but we’ve read the book and believe it makes a persuasive argument. Lots of the people at Quora think so, too, although some of the arguments get a bit muddled.

But it none of this matters, because the argument that Nazism was left-wing is not, as PZ claims, an “exercise in naive etymology.” Every argument we’ve read relies not on the Nazi use of the word “socialism,” but on the actions of Hitler and the Nazi party. The debate is not etymological, but historical, and that makes this another PZ Myers lie.


Nazis have to be right-wing mainly because PZ Myers identifies as left-wing. This is another one of those areas where no matter what evidence is presented to PZ, he will never, ever warm up to the notion that Hitler’s ideology was left-wing in nature. Republicans are the Nazis, which is why Antifa has to resist them, with violence if necessary.

PZ Myers Lie #3:

Also, in case you didn’t get the memo, Nazis were not atheists, but were generally Lutherans and Catholics. 



This is an interesting one. We internally debated not calling this a lie, because it’s not clear whether he’s speaking about the Nazi leadership or the rank and file. But if we assume he is talking about the religious leanings of the Germans who would eventually make up the Nazi Party, then the point he wants to make about Nazi ideology makes no sense. Sure, people might have been Lutherans or Catholics before Hitler took power, but what did Hitler intend the Nazi party to do with religion?

Interestingly enough, we have an answer [bolded for emphasis]:

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.



Read the Wikipedia analysis above and then ask yourself again why Nazism is considered a right-wing ideology. Hitler was all about science! Sounds a little too close for comfort to our favorite Biologist, but we’re not yet ready to call PZ a fascist. He is, however, definitely a liar.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 41 science-related posts, 97 non-science posts.

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

Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 44 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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