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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

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