12-13 Aug – A Conspiracy of Lies!

We were away for a day working on another project and we came back to find…

…a sensible, skeptical post from PZ Myers.

On the off chance you’ve been digitally detoxing for the last few days, we’ll recap the news. Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell in New York City from an apparent suicide. That’s the bland, vanilla version. Conspiracy laden versions have everyone from Donald Trump to Bill Clinton to Vladimir Putin paying off the guards and sending hitmen into Epstein’s cell.

PZ rejected all of those theories, saying “plausibility is not evidence, nor is your conviction that someone is a villain.”

That was the first post we read upon our return, and it filled us with hope.

Short-lived hope.

His very next post embraced a conspiracy theory we’ll cover in our first lie today, and a few posts later he embraced a conspiracy theory about Epstein, but only if it makes Republicans look bad:

If you want a conspiracy theory, you can have one…but it should revolve around the right-wing demonization of drugs and mental illness, the proliferation of for-profit prisons, and the awful people who run prisons as punitive pits for the unwanted.


Annnnnd he’s back. We knew the measured, skeptical PZ Myers couldn’t last long.

And we’re back! Covering three lies and one conspiracy theory today.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Joseph Grendys is…the underserving owner of big chicken processing plants, an enterprise desperate for cheap labor and loaded with terrible working conditions. One of the reasons they hire undocumented workers is because they can be paid little and compelled to work under inhumane, dangerous connections [sic], so that people like Grendys can make more money.



If you clicked on the sole link PZ provides as evidence for this post, you’d come away wondering where the charge of inhumane working conditions comes from. We don’t know, either. We think PZ made it up. There have been, according to this Reuters article, allegations of labor abuses spanning the years 2004-2008, which were settled by the company, but there were no charges of dangerous or inhumane working conditions. We did find one article from last year published by the notoriously left-wing SPLC describing the death of a worker in a poultry processing plant, but that appears to have been the fault of the worker for failing to turn a machine off before deciding to clean it. In other words, the charge that Joseph Grendys “compels” people to work under “inhumane, dangerous” conditions is a lie.


This lie is probably the result of PZ being lazy. He has a playbook when it comes to dealing with employers like Grendys which includes charging them with forcing people to work in dangerous conditions. No evidence is necessary as far as PZ is concerned. But there’s another part of this post that interests us, and that’s the conspiracy theory PZ advanced:

And, as it turns out, this raid occurred after the plant was penalized for harrassment, and after efforts to unionize. We here in America have a fine tradition of brutal union-busting, how convenient that the federal government provides thugs at no cost to the owner.


PZ suggests that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids were payback for the workers’ efforts to unionize and for the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the company.

Except this charge makes no sense.

As this Reuters article makes clear, Grendys’s plant is just one of five targeted in the ICE raids last week. And the EEOC lawsuit which resulted in a $3.75 million settlement was over complaints spanning the years 2004 to 2008. If the raid was payback of some sort, Grendys is an evil genius indeed. He managed to cover his tracks by waiting a decade and then making sure four other plants were included in the raids.

It’s amazing PZ was able to figure it out. It just goes to show the power of skeptical thinking!


PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

Poultry processing has become a sinkhole of unfair, criminal labor practices. All I can say is…stop eating chicken. It’s cheap protein where the filthy rich can degrade worker’s lives in its production, because it is poorly regulated.



Between his rant about Joseph Grendys and this lie, PZ went on a tangent about a group called Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery who, according to the two-year-old article he cites, has done some shady things in the past. CAAIR is a relatively small outfit in rural Oklahoma working hand-in-hand with the criminal justice system to rehab drug offenders to keep them out of prison. The article quotes a professor at UCLA saying there is “a very strong 13th Amendment violation case,” but nowhere in the article do they charge that their labor practices are criminal.

Similarly, Joseph Grendys’s operation has been thoroughly investigated by the EEOC for multiple years and they did not find any evidence of criminal labor practices. PZ just makes this claim up out of whole cloth.

And in neither of these cases do lack of regulations appear to be the issue. Again, in Grendys’s case, his plant has been investigated by not only the EEOC but ICE as well. And the CAAIR program exists only because judges in the criminal justice system of Oklahoma and neighboring states assign people to work there and oversee its execution. Both cases are evidence of the fact that this industry appears to be well, not poorly, regulated, making this yet another PZ Myers lie.


PZ is generally incoherent when he’s ranting about labor or economics or the rich, so it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what his issue is Joseph Grendys or the poultry industry as a whole. He’s pro-open borders. He wants to let anyone and everyone into the United States, but he’s also pro-union. And those two positions don’t mix, which is why Bernie Sanders (a Presidential candidate PZ has endorsed in the past) once said open borders was a libertarian Koch brothers’ plot.

But, we don’t get paid to check PZ’s opinions or coherence level. We don’t even get paid to check his facts, but that is all we do here at PZWatch.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

Daniel Povey gathered a group of like-minded conservative thinkers who weren’t affiliated with the university, grabbed some big ol’ boltcutters, and assaulted the protesters late one night. Punches were thrown. Povey and his friends were thrown back. He’s calling it a “counter-protest”, but protest movements don’t involve planned violence, and usually involve peaceful non-violence training, rather than angry mobs…I’ll spare you all the long defense of Nazi Germany in which he argues that Hitler might have been “a little bit triggered” by all those rich Jews. You can read it if you want. You probably don’t want to, not recommended.



PZ helpfully links to Povey’s letter, which explains his actions and why he took them. Povey helpfully includes a link to the letter Johns Hopkins sent to him, and between those two descriptions of the events of that night you can get a sense of what happened.

PZ banks on the fact that his loyal followers will not read any of the underlying source material, however, because in this passage he lies twice about what it says.

Povey didn’t plan for violence to occur that evening, as confirmed by both his version of events and Johns Hopkins. To the contrary, Povey claims he did do non-violence training with the people who accompanied him into the building, telling them they should not retaliate even if they were attacked.

The second lie is easy enough to spot if you’ve read PZ Myers for any length of time. Would anyone in this day and age – who isn’t a nut – actually defend Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews? Of course not, and neither did Daniel Povey. He says the following:

It’s the same as if a gay Jew were to join the Nazi party and begin endlessly apologizing for his ancestors having lent money to Aryans at too-high rates of interest; and agreeing that he needs to recognize his “problematic Jewishness” and “toxic homosexuality”, stop talking, and make space for Aryan voices to be heard.


Povey was trying to make the point that fascist Nazi ideology demonized people in much the same way that proto-fascist progressive ideology demonizes people today. We take no position on whether or not this argument is valid, we’re simply pointing out that it’s the opposite of what PZ Myers portrays it to be, making it his third lie of the day.


We love the lies that are refuted by the actual source material to which PZ links. It’s as if he’s almost daring people to call him out as a liar, while knowing simultaneously that they won’t. The ones that do get banned. We know. We’ve been there.

And we’ll be here again tomorrow.

Maybe. We did skip yesterday.

Final Tally:

Last Two Days: 1 science-related post, 9 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 86 science-related posts, 233  non-science posts.

27% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Last Two Days: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 87 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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