23 July – PZ Myers Fails To Understand an Article About How He Fails to Understand Republicans

The irony is almost too delicious.

An article in The Guardian made the rounds a couple days ago analyzing a study investigating the extent to which people on the right or left misunderstand each other’s views on political issues. One of the data points in the study broke down the accuracy with which highly educated and poorly educated Republicans understood Democrat ideas and found a small gap. However, the article went on to say:

For Democrats, the education effect was even worse: the more educated a Democrat is, according to the study, the less he or she understands the Republican worldview. “This effect,” the report says, “is so strong that Democrats without a high school diploma are three times more accurate than those with a postgraduate degree.” And the more politically engaged a person is, the greater the distortion.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/21/democrats-republicans-political-beliefs-national-survey-poll

We read this and immediately thought of PZ Myers, partly because that is our (volunteer, unpaid) job and partly because the description fits him to a tee. He has a doctorate and is highly politically engaged and – willfully or otherwise – hasn’t a clue what Republicans or Libertarians actually think.

We also thought to ourselves, “There’s no way in hell PZ will blog about this article. It hits too close to home. He’ll ignore it.”

Except, we momentarily forgot that with PZ Myers, there’s always another option: lie.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I read this article about the results of a national survey…It’s arguing that Democrats and Republicans don’t understand each other.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

While the article does mention the gap in Republican perception of Democratic ideas, the article actually argues, “Even more than their Republican counterparts, highly educated Democrats tend to live in exclusively Democratic enclaves. The more they report ‘almost all my friends hold the same political views,’ the worse their guesses on what Republicans think.”

Analysis:

This is classic PZ. He has almost no self-awareness or humility in the realm of politics, so the only thing he can do in situations like this is misread and misrepresent the article he’s critiquing. The clear thrust of it is aimed at people just like him, but he can’t, or won’t, acknowledge that point, so instead he makes it sound like the article was evenhandedly talking about the differences between the two parties.

The rest of his throat-clearing consists of complaining that the article aggregates a diverse political spectrum into two sides: “Democrats” and “Republicans.” Hold on to that thought for a minute, we’ll return to it later.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

When a Democrat guesses that 50% of Republicans think racism is a problem, they’re being charitable, because while we can’t read minds, we can see what the Republican party stands for, how their policies affect the country, and what the leadership says, and the Republican party is a flamingly racist organization led by openly racist politicians.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

See here. We’ve dealt with charges like this before. PZ offers no evidence for his smear of millions of people, nor does he name any of the multiple politicians he believes are openly racist.

Analysis:

We almost doubled over laughing when we read this. PZ completely misses the point of both the study and the article. It’s aimed at people like him who think the people who vote Republican are all racists, when in reality they’re not. But there isn’t one iota of his being which says, “Wait, maybe I’ve misunderstood conservative and libertarian thought for all these years, perhaps I should do some reading.” Instead he barrels ahead under the assumption that he’s right about Republicans and they’re all wrong. It’s absolutely amazing.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

Likewise, when the Republicans say 50% of Democrats don’t trust the police, they’re also being generous, because if you read the news (which is also biased in its reporting), all you see are stories of police murdering people and not being held accountable.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

The single most high profile police shooting of the last few months in the upper Midwest – a case which made international news – culminated less than three months ago in the conviction of the police officer responsible:

A Minneapolis police officer was convicted of third-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her home. Mohamed Noor was also convicted of manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. He wasn’t convicted of the most serious charge of intentional second-degree murder.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/04/30/justine-damond-shooting-minneapolis-cop-jury-deliberates/3624916002

Analysis:

This case took place in Minneapolis, which is not far from PZ Myers and the University of Minnesota Morris. He was undoubtedly bombarded with regional coverage of the case, and even blogged about it three times in 2017 when the shooting first occurred. He doesn’t mention it here because it doesn’t fit the narrative (lie) he wants to establish – that police murder innocent people with no accountability.

PZ Myers Lie #4 [in bold]:

Of course, the problem is compounded by the fact that the survey is asking respondents to treat Republican and Democrat and discrete and uniform organizations. We know that isn’t true.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

On page 11 of the study PZ references, we find this paragraph:

After indicating their agreement or disagreement with each of the seven statements, participants then proceeded to the “Estimation” portion of the survey. Here respondents estimated, on a scale from 0 to 100, the percentage of their political opponents who had agreed with each of the statements. Accordingly, Democrats were presented with each of the statements from the Republican Question Set and were asked, for each question, what percentage of Republicans they believed agreed with that statement. Similarly, Republicans were presented with each of the items from the Democrat Question Set and asked what percentage of Democrats agreed with each statement.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a70a7c3010027736a22740f/t/5d101028495118000181fad6/1561333806922/The+Perception+Gap.pdf

Far from treating the political parties as “discrete and uniform organizations,” the design of the study takes their diversity into account and asks respondents to estimate it.

Analysis:

PZ used to laugh at people who tried to characterize a study without reading it. His entire blog post is a case study in how to justify one’s own confirmation bias. How is he supposed to know what Republicans think? Could he…we’re just spit balling here…engage with them, give them a fair hearing and find out for himself?

PZ Myers Lie #5 [in bold]:

That this one guy [who] think[s] Bernie Sanders is a “good guy” is somehow supposed to mitigate the actions of the elected officials of the Republican party, and especially Trump, is galling.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/23/its-what-they-do-not-what-they-say/

Facts:

The “one guy” PZ refers to is cited, in The Guardian article, as an example of the diversity of opinion present amongst Republicans. He is not supposed to “mitigate” or “excuse” anything. PZ reproduces the paragraphs discussing this man, but then turns around and lies about what those paragraphs say. And it’s even worse than that – at the beginning of the post, PZ complains about how the article supposedly aggregates a diverse political spectrum into two sides: “Democrats” and “Republicans.” This “one guy” proves the point PZ was trying to make! There is a diverse body of thought on both sides of the political aisle.

Analysis:

This is a good time to remind readers that PZ Myers, less than a week ago, declared that every person who votes Republican is a racist. So while he can say – today – that diversity of opinion exists in both Republicans and Democrats, his previous words demonstrate that he doesn’t actually believe that. He paints with a Godzilla-sized brush and isn’t much for nuance when it comes to describing his perceived political opponents. Which, of course, was the very point of this article in The Guardian. It spoke directly to people like him – progressive, educated, and politically aware.

Except PZ Myers doesn’t listen.

Final Tally:

Today: 2 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 61 science-related posts, 155 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 5(!) PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 68 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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