29-30 July – PZ Myers Goes On a Science Spree! And Two More Lies!

We took yesterday off due to other commitments and we came back to a stunning development: a scientist actually blogging about science! PZ Myers has been talking more about science these past two days than he has about politics, which is a first since we started keeping tabs here at PZWatch. We’re excited about this development and hope it continues, but we’re also realists who know every time we’ve praised PZ, he’s immediately gone back to his old ways. So there’ll probably be no science for the next week, given our track record and his.

But there will be lies. We have two to cover today.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Child murderer was a white nationalist

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/29/child-murderer-was-a-white-nationalist/

Facts:

The lie this time is in the title of the post, which goes on to discuss the recent murders at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. PZ linked to a Heavy.com article about the murders as substantiation of his claim, but there is a problem. Santiago William Legan, the 19-year-old who killed three people at the festival before being killed by police, does not appear to be a white nationalist.

Heavy.com does not make the claim that Legan was a white nationalist, PZ Myers does. And he bases it off a single post on Instagram that reads, in its entirety: “Read Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard. Why overcrowd towns and pave more open space to make room for hordes of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats?”

We’re not sure what to make of the second sentence, but it doesn’t seem to be typical of white nationalist talk. And we haven’t read Might is Right, but Leo Tolstoy apparently did and describes it as follows:

The substance of this book, as it is expressed in the editor’s preface, is that to measure “right” by the false philosophy of the Hebrew prophets and “weepful” Messiahs is madness. Right is not the offspring of doctrine, but of power. All laws, commandments, or doctrines as to not doing to another what you do not wish done to you, have no inherent authority whatever, but receive it only from the club, the gallows, and the sword. A man truly free is under no obligation to obey any injunction, human or divine. Obedience is the sign of the degenerate. Disobedience is the stamp of the hero.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Might_Is_Right

Others have described it as containing “open sexism and racism” or as a “proto-fascist white power manifesto.”

PZ apparently relies on this last description to base his claim, however he leaves something out. Legan self-identified as half Italian and half Iranian. Another of Legan’s Instagram posts contain a picture of his maternal grandfather, Ali Ashgar Vahabzadeh.

Additionally, this LA Times story contains the following tidbit:

Amid the screams, flying bullets and bloodshed that erupted on a warm summer evening at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, someone shouted a pivotal question at the gunman: “Why are you doing this?”


Because I’m really angry,” the gunman replied, according to Jack Van Breen, who spoke with reporters after performing at the festival with his band, TinMan.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-07-29/gilroy-garlic-festival-shooting-suspect

All of which leads us to classify this as a lie. There is not enough information about Legan’s views for PZ to claim that he was a white nationalist.

Analysis:

This is a classic case of confirmation bias. PZ wants to see a connection – any connection – with white nationalism/fascism so he can claim once again that antifa are the good guys simply fighting for right. Except its unclear how antifa would have ever known about half Italian, half Iranian Legan, as there does not appear to be much of a digital/social media record of him.

But PZ doesn’t really care about these kinds of nuances. He has a point to make and he won’t let facts get in the way of that.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

Whoa. When my kids were starting college, I was making $40K/year, and we didn’t even own a home — we were renting. Yet we managed to scrimp and save and get all three kids through four years of college. So that family is bringing in a quarter million per year, and they haven’t managed to set aside any money for their kids’ education? What have they been spending their money on? 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/30/the-rich-are-weird/

Facts:

PZ is discussing a Wall Street Journal article about wealthy parents transferring guardianship of their children in order to get legal aid. And the bolded questions above seem perfectly legitimate, except the article answers them in the exact snippet PZ posts in the blog.

One Chicago-area woman told The Wall Street Journal that she transferred guardianship of her then 17-year-old daughter to her business partner last year. While her household income is greater than $250,000 a year, she said, she and her husband have spent about $600,000 putting several older children through college and have no equity in their home, which is valued at about $1.2 million, according to the property website Zillow. She said she has little cash on hand and little saved for her daughter’s education.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/college-financial-aid-loophole-wealthy-parents-transfer-guardianship-of-their-teens-to-get-aid-11564450828

According to the article they had set over a half-million dollars aside for their kids education, but spent it on their older children. Note: we are in no way condoning what these parents did, we’re just saying PZ Myers lied about it.

Analysis:

PZ started off the post on another rant about Trump, and these people were just caught in the crossfire. And speaking of his Trump rant, it serves as a great example of the pettiness of PZ Myers. He tries to suggest Trump doesn’t understand that he has to hit the “heart” next to a tweet in order to “like” it. Instead, PZ quotes from a NY Mag column that says:

The president has even been known to sends printouts of tweets he likes. After he liked one Gaetz tweet, he had it printed by a staffer, signed it and requested that it be sent to Gaetz’s congressional office, where the now-framed tweet hangs.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/07/trumps-method-of-liking-tweets-is-needlessly-complicated.html

Except, there’s a perfect normal reason for Trump to not hit the “heart” button – everyone else will see it. He may not wish to advertise what Tweets he likes, simple as that.

Trump uses Twitter more than any other President and we find it unbelievable to suggest he doesn’t understand a key feature of the platform. But not for PZ.

Final Tally:

Today: 7 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 76 science-related posts, 178 non-science posts.

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

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 75 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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