8 July – PZ Myers is Back! And a Word on Comments

Before we dig into PZ’s lies about soccer, we’d like to say a word about comments.

Our two regular readers might notice, beginning with this post, that we’ve changed type of hurdles through which one needs to jump before commenting here. We made the decision we did at the outset because we were worried about spam, but we want to balance that concern with our commitment to free and open expression.

And since there hasn’t been much free and open expression, we’re going to make it easier to do so. Starting now, you can comment without registering for the site.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

After a long weekend away, PZ is back with a couple lies about women’s soccer. Why would a biologist care about soccer? Because he wants to make a point about feminism – the same point some of his preferred Presidential candidates are making – but it turns out he’s lying, in part, by using a novel sleight-of-hand. We dig into the details below.

PZ Myers Lie #1 and #2:

The differences are glaring: the women’s team is bringing in more money, is empirically better than the men’s team, and are playing more games than the men, yet they’re getting paid a lot less.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/08/im-not-even-a-sports-fan/
https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/08/im-not-even-a-sports-fan/

Facts:

PZ included a helpful chart with his post to better make his point, and the numbers look damning. But are they true? What’s going on here? As usual, with PZ Myers, there is much more on underneath the surface. Let’s work through it.

To start with, the link PZ uses to substantiate the claim that the women’s soccer team brings in more money redirects to a three and a half year old article from FiveThirtyEight. A more recent analysis by the Washington Post concludes the following:

There was a long-standing gap between revenue generated by the men and women, but that has disappeared in recent years. The women’s team contributed close or more than half of the federation’s revenue from games since fiscal 2016. Overall, from fiscal 2016 to 2018, the women’s games generated about $900,000 more revenue than the men’s games. In the year following the 2015 World Cup win, women’s games generated $1.9 million more than the men’s games. And in recent years, the men’s revenue tally also includes the fees that opposing teams pay in order to play the United States.
The USSF points out that if this calculation is extended to fiscal 2015 — in order to include a men’s World Cup cycle — the men’s team brought in $10.8 million more for the federation. For the current World Cup cycle, the women’s team is likely to have higher revenue, since they won the championship while the men failed to qualify.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/are-us-womens-soccer-players-really-earning-less-than-men/

At best, the situation is muddy and depends on the date range measured. At worst, PZ’s claim is an inversion of the truth and the men’s team brings in more revenue in an apples-to-apples comparison. Either way, it’s a patented PZ Myers lie.

For PZ’s second lie of the day, the date of the FiveThirtyEight article matters even more, because it predates the last women’s soccer collective bargaining agreement, which took effect in April 2017. This is one part of the sleight of hand PZ uses to claim players on the women’s team are paid ‘a lot less.’ The reality is much muddier [bold added]:

The lawsuit from the women’s team sketched out the following scenario: If both teams played 20 friendlies in a year, a top-tier women’s national team player would earn $164,320 less, or “38% of the compensation of a similarly situated MNT player.” That was true under the previous collective-bargaining agreement that ended in December 2016.

The Fact Checker obtained the new agreement, which took effect in April 2017. Using the same 20-game scenario, we calculated the player on the women’s team would earn $28,333 less, or about 89 percent of the compensation of a similarly situated men’s team player. If both teams lost all 20 games, the players would make the same amount. That’s because the men earn a $5,000 bonus when they lose and the women have a $100,000 base salary.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/are-us-womens-soccer-players-really-earning-less-than-men/

Members of the men’s team are not paid a base salary. Both PZ’s graphic and the Washington Post article mislead the reader into thinking they are paid ‘when they lose’, but in reality they’re simply paid to play (they get a bonus for a win) because they don’t make a salary otherwise.

The other half of PZ’s graphic, which is supposed to substantiate his claim that women are getting paid a lot less, deals exclusively with World Cup earnings. This is the second part of the sleight of hand we mention above. The first two rows itemize things the USSF pays the players, while the bottom two itemize what FIFA, through the USSF, pays the players. We’ll let the Washington Post take it from here [bold added]:

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand how World Cup prize money works. FIFA sets the amount and awards any prize money to the winning country’s federation. The federation — in this case USSFthen distributes it to the players based on each team’s collective-bargaining agreement.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/are-us-womens-soccer-players-really-earning-less-than-men/

In other words, the USSF has nothing to say about the amount of prize money allocated for either the men’s or women’s World Cup. We speculate the prize money differences between the two World Cup events could probably be accounted for by the differences in ticket sales, sales of broadcast rights, sponsorship agreements, and the like.

In other words, the vast majority of the pay gap PZ outlines is outside the control of the US soccer program, and there isn’t much of a gap in the portion that remains, making this another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

PZ also wrote that the women’s team “is empirically better than the men’s team.” We think PZ might be trying to claim that the women’s team could beat the men’s team on the pitch, which would be yet another lie, but he doesn’t come out and say that. This sentence could also be construed to mean that the women’s team is better at women’s soccer than the men’s team is at men’s soccer, which is why we don’t call it a lie.

The rest is fairly standard PZ Myers fare – but it’s always interesting to note that he doesn’t even try to ensure his claims can stand up to scrutiny. He references a Skepchick post covering much of the same ground, but he didn’t get his links there so he must have done his own, biased, research. We found the Washington Post fact-check article on the first page of our internet search engine, and five minutes later we’d identified these two lies. But it must be so much easier, when you already know what the outcome should be (discrimination!) to find something confirming your biases and pass that off as truth instead.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 42 science-related posts, 105 non-science posts.

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

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 46 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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