The Top Ten Lies of PZ Myers (since the 30th of May)

We opened our doors on the 30th of May, 2019. That was only 91 days ago, but that’s all the time PZ Myers needed to reach the 100 lie mark. In celebration of this arbitrary three-digit round number, we’re celebrating today by counting down the Top Ten Lies that have appeared on the pages of Pharyngula in the last 3 months. None of these have been acknowledged or corrected by PZ Myers, and we think there’s almost no chance they ever will be.

But if it happens, we’ll report it here.

We don’t care about PZ’s political opinions. We don’t care if he’s a socialist or a SJW. We don’t care what he thinks about Trump or Republicans or anything else. We care that he tells the truth.

Too bad he doesn’t.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#10

The most damning thing about antifa is that we have photographic evidence of them mixing up lots of milkshakes — it’s so pathetic that the fascists had to make up a lie about them adding quick-set cement to them, just to make it seem like maybe they were a little bit dangerous.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/16/antifa-we-have-a-missile-gap/

There are two lies in this one passage, but we counted it as one. The “most damning thing,” when PZ wrote this, about this violent progressive group was the fact that they beat a journalist so bad he suffered a brain hemorrhage. We go over this in more detail in Lie #1 below – lies about antifa are well represented on this Top Ten list.

The second lie is easy to refute. The fascists – whoever they are, PZ never says – didn’t make up a lie about antifa adding quick-set cement to their milkshakes. A Portland Police lieutenant based that assertion on direct evidence he observed.

A Portland Police Bureau lieutenant “saw a powdery substance that appeared to cause some irritation [when in contact with skin].” The lieutenant also said the milkshake smelled similar to wet concrete, a smell they were familiar with from “having worked with concrete before.”

https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2019/07/01/26734870/mayors-officer-portland-police-acted-responsibly-by-sharing-cement-milkshake-rumor

The Police never, to our knowledge, found independent confirmation of cement being added to any of the milkshakes produced that day, but it is nevertheless a lie to say “fascists” (again, who are these people?) made up that charge.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#9

I keep hearing about this imaginary paleolithic diet, and I wonder how they know, and also find it strange that there was apparently one people a 100,000 years ago, and they all ate the same things. Everything about it seems wrong.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/10/what-paleo-diet/

Everything about the diet seems wrong to PZ because it is wrong. Every single part of his description of the paleo diet is wrong. Here’s National Geographic describing the origins of the diet [emphasis added]:

After studying the diets of living hunter-gatherers and concluding that 73 percent of these societies derived more than half their calories from meat, [Loren] Cordain came up with his own Paleo prescription: Eat plenty of lean meat and fish but not dairy products, beans, or cereal grains—foods introduced into our diet after the invention of cooking and agriculture.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/evolution-of-diet/

In other words, Cordain didn’t study people 100,000 years ago and didn’t assume there was a single monolithic people who ate a single monolithic diet.

PZ lied about it.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#8

I first publicly criticized Jeffrey Epstein in 2011, and I didn’t even know him and have never met him! What took Pinker so long?

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/12/pinker-speaks-up-at-last-about-epstein/

We can find no record of PZ Myers publicly criticizing Jeffrey Epstein by name in 2011. The above quote most likely references this post, in which he criticizes Epstein’s crimes, but never names him publicly. In fact, we can find no record of PZ Myers publicly criticizing Jeffrey Epstein by name until 2015.

There’s another interesting thing about this lie. Epstein’s crimes became public in 2006. PZ criticizes Steven Pinker for waiting until 2019 to repudiate him, but what was PZ doing waiting until 2015 (or even 2011, as he claims)? PZ, by his own logic, should have denounced Epstein In 2006. Why did he wait 5-9 years?

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#7

If you [sic] a filthy rich billionaire who has some liberal goals (you’re not going to be promoting leftist/progressive goals, because you’ve already demonstrated a life-long commitment to stealing from workers), I have a different suggestion: run for president on the Republican side. 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/09/another-billionaire-leaps-into-the-presidential-race/

Tom Steyer, the billionaire referenced above, is a known person with known business career and known philanthropic endeavors PZ could have examined.

But he didn’t. So we did.

Steyer made most of his money because he founded an investment firm called Farallon Capital Management. Part of Farallon’s portfolio involved:

…finding distressed international companies and helping the businesses restructure. In 1999, Farallon bought a direct stake in an Argentine shoe company, which it helped stabilize to profitability as Argentina recovered from an economic crisis. And in 2002, Farallon bought control of Bank Central Asia (BCA), an Indonesian financial institution, for $531 million. At the time, many of Indonesia’s banks were on the verge of collapse because of bad loans made during President Suharto’s leadership and the country was seen as dangerous for foreign investment. Over the next four years, Farallon installed a new chairman and made necessary reforms. After Farallon sold its stake for a profit in 2006, many other institutional investors began to look to Indonesia for returns. In the year before Farallon’s investment in Indonesia, $286 million flowed into the country as foreign direct investment. After Farallon exited, that number grew to $1 billion in 2007 and $4 billion in 2008. According to Council on Foreign Relations economics fellow Sebastian Mallaby, “Farallon’s investment was a blessing for Indonesia.”

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

In sum, Farallon invested in companies that might otherwise have gone bankrupt and destroyed the jobs of all their workers. Far from “stealing from workers,” Steyer blessed his most vulnerable workers with a purpose and a steady income. PZ’s not only lying, he’s inverting the truth. Tom Steyer has helped more workers than PZ Myers could ever dream of doing.

But wait, there’s more! Steyer has also been involved in many charities throughout his business career and he and his wife have pledged to “give at least half their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetime.” So not only is he not “stealing” from workers, he will ultimately give back half of what he’s earned to people less fortunate than he.

PZ Myers + Economics = Lie. Like the Einstein field equations, this appears to be a fundamental law of sorts in the Pharyngula universe. It’s always been amazing to contemplate the number of things a flat-earther or a creationist must believe in order to conclude their theory is correct. Likewise, the number of things PZ has to lie about to believe capitalism (or just making money, especially in the way Tom Steyer did) is somehow an evil endeavor is astounding. It’s one of the reasons we find reading him constantly fascinating.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#6

We had Ben Shapiro give a talk at UMM, and if that dishonest twerp can get a platform here, you’ve got no grounds to claim that conservatives are censored.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/28/free-speech-is-the-new-religious-excuse/

Of course there are numerous grounds to claim conservatives are “censored” on college campuses. FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, keeps a running database of speakers who have been disinvited from giving a talk on campus. According to that database, twice the number of disinvitation attempts have been targeted at right of center speakers than have been targeted at left of center speakers, illustrating a clear bias against conservative ideas. Additionally, although we don’t consider Breitbart to be an unbiased news source, they have kept a running list of acts of violence and harassment against people who hold right of center views. The phenomenon has also been illustrated in the book The Coddling of the American Mind.

Even more interesting: as we were researched this lie, we had a vague memory of PZ being caught up in a free speech controversy of his own a few years back. So we looked it up. The College Fix has a good summary. We particularly liked this part:

The professor [PZ Myers] encouraged local readers back then to throw away copies of the NorthStar, comparing it to Ku Klux Klan flyers: “Treat their scattered papers as hate-filled trash and dispose of it appropriately.”

https://www.thecollegefix.com/atheist-activist-professor-tells-conservative-student-paper-fck-off-die/

NorthStar is a conservative student newspaper, and what PZ did sounds a little bit like an attempt to censor conservatives. Especially when you consider he is a professor – not an activist. He is paid to teach students, not tear them down. 

We also found another juicy nugget in our research for this lie. From earlier in 2019:

Students and even student workers [at the University of Minnesota Morris] have taken to stealing and vandalizing College Republican flyers and poster displays which support pro-life values and civil dialogue.

https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11977

PZ regularly updates his readers on the goings-on in Morris so we were surprised that we had not heard about this incident, which apparently resulted in criminal charges. 

Then we remembered who we’re dealing with: PZ Myers, that’s who. And if there is a news story which reflects badly on his chosen tribe, he would not cover it even if you put a gun to his head. 

So – to sum up – not only are conservatives more likely to be disinvited from a campus speaking engagement, PZ himself has encouraged people to dispose of a college Republican newsletter and fails to mention the fact that just a few months ago, conservatives were being silenced on his own campus.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#5

That’s Bezos. He seems to have a superficial understanding of the fact that we’re wrecking our home, but his excuse is that we can go get stuff from space to reduce our drain on the system, which is nonsense. There’s no oil in space. Mining is always going to be more difficult, expensive, and dangerous on asteroids. The kinds of resources that drive the material development of society are going to be more destructive to the environment if we haul in more of them.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/21/stop-talking-to-billionaires-start-listening-to-climate-scientists/

A recent study from the University of Paris-Saclay calculated the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by a platinum mining operation on earth and the amount that might be emitted by an asteroid mining operation. Here are the results:

…economies of scale from large asteroid-mining operations could lower this to about 60 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of platinum. That needs to be compared with the emission from Earth-based mining. Here, platinum mining generates significant greenhouse gases, mostly from the energy it takes to remove this stuff from the ground. Indeed, the numbers are huge. The mining industry estimates that producing one kilogram of platinum on Earth releases around 40,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide. “The global warming effect of Earth-based mining is several orders of magnitude larger,” say Hein and co.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612311/asteroid-mining-might-actually-be-better-for-the-environment/

We love how PZ tries to explain to three successful entrepreneurs who have invested millions of dollars in asteroid mining that what they’re doing doesn’t make economic sense. We’re sure none of them ever thought to crunch the numbers on this one, but now, after reading PZ Myers’s insightful analysis, they’ll surely scrap their plans.

Except, that’s not his real goal. He gives up the game near the end of the post, when he says, “If you’re serious about saving Planet Earth, work to end capitalism and build sustainable, renewable institutions.”

Ending capitalism is his real goal. All the rest is just window dressing. It’s freedom, and free markets, that really bother PZ Myers. Which, for a scientist, doesn’t make much sense. 

We wonder sometimes if he would rather be the richest person in the world 100 year ago or if he’d prefer to live near the poverty line today. His answer would be revealing. In almost every way, those living in a first-world country near the poverty line today are far better off than the richest person in the world was in 1919, and almost every bit of that is due to capitalism. 

We came across an old quote from PZ, which says:

If you’ve got a religious belief that withers in the face of observations of the natural world, you ought to rethink your beliefs — rethinking the world isn’t an option. 

PZ Myers

His quasi-religious belief in socialism withers in the face of the last 100 years of observations, but he’s not rethinking his world.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#4

…the reservations in Washington state are in many ways isolated, populated with poor people, but at the same time penetrated with highways and outsiders are encouraged to visit to buy cheap cigarettes or gamble, so some of the worst people from the outside are cruising through the placeColonialism isn’t over yet, it seems – it’s still exacting a toll.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/03/the-indian-wars-never-ended-they-just-changed-tactics/

PZ is correct about one thing in this paragraph, outsiders are encouraged to visit to buy cheap cigarette or gamble…by the Native American tribes themselves!

PZ maligns casinos, but they’re actually a boon to the economies of the tribes who run them. Here’s what the American Economic Association had to say:

Research shows that casino operations are correlated with declines in obesity, smoking, and heavy drinking, and increases in employment. The cash payouts that some tribal governments have disbursed to tribe members have been shown to boost school attendance and degree attainment in the poorest households. Overall, real income per capita for American Indians living on reservations increased nearly 50% in the twenty years from 1990 to 2010, far outpacing growth for Americans generally during this period.

https://www.aeaweb.org/research/has-tribal-gaming-been-a-boon-for-American-Indians.php

PZ’s original post spoke to an epidemic of Native American women who have either been murdered or gone missing in recent years – an epidemic he hasn’t spoken about since, by the way – and we agree that something is going on and a lot of women are getting hurt. But, it isn’t the case that a Colonialist American government forced casinos and tobacco shops on these tribes. These tribes are doing it themselves and benefiting from it greatly.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#3

I feel like Saini could have just said “Quillette!” in 144 point bold Impact font, it’s the same thing. They try desperately to pretend that they hold a legitimate scientific position, when they’re just the Daily Stormer with a facade to shield them from hate crime status.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/31/devious-racists-are-experts-at-hiding/

PZ has had his eye on Quillette almost since they were founded. We’re not quite sure why, but it may be that they’ve positioned themselves to be a forum for ideas that evangelical progressives, like PZ Myers, refuse to discuss, and they’ve attracted some attention from people who still do identify as liberal or progressive.

Whatever the reason, this possibly libelous smear is beyond the pale. He offers no evidence that the founder of Quillette or any of the editors hold any racist positions whatsoever. This is pure, despicable name calling, that should be beneath anyone who claims to value free-thought, reason and evidence. PZ should be ashamed of himself.

But he’s not.

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#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/

This was a lie when PZ wrote it. It’s an even bigger lie today.

The link he 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/

Additionally, the date of the FiveThirtyEight article matters 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 was, back when we first wrote about this lie, 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 PZ’s sleight of hand. 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 USSF — then 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/?utm_term=.a7f7eb9aa54a

But it gets better.

US Soccer recently (after PZ wrote his post) released an open letter addressing the charges of unequal pay made by the members of the World Champion women’s team. They were right, they are definitively not being paid the same as the men.

They’re paid more.

At my request, U.S. Soccer staff conducted an extensive analysis of the past 10 years of U.S. Soccer’s financials.  Based on this analysis, we’ve produced the following fact sheet, which has been reviewed by an independent accounting firm…


Over the past decade, U.S. Soccer has paid our Women’s National Team more than our Men’s National Team.  From 2010 through 2018, U.S. Soccer paid our women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million—not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women’s players receive but which our men do not.

https://www.ussoccer.com/governance/board-of-directors/us-soccer-president-carlos-cordeiro/open-letter-july-29-2019-finding-common-ground

Top Ten PZ Myers Lies

#1

If you google “Heather Clark antifa” you will find lots of right wing sites crowing triumphantly over the young woman getting seriously injured. Some of the same sites are now aghast that Ngo has been injured. I guess there’s a peculiar asymmetry at work here — punching antifa is heroic, but punching fascists is bad

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/01/if-antifa-has-no-recourse-but-violence-how-can-you-condemn-them-for-taking-action/

This is the fifth lie in a six-lie spree PZ went on to justify the antifa beating of Andy Ngo, journalist and editor at Quillette.

Ngo is the fascist in PZ’s lie above. Earlier, PZ called him a faux-journalist, which was also a lie, but here he has to make the switch from faux-journalist to fascist in order to justify the beating. Antifa, you see, can do no wrong. They’re not violent unless their target is a fascist. It’s a No True Scotsman fallacy of the highest order and any skeptic worth their salt would spot it a mile away.

In the space of a little over a month, since just before we started PZWatch, PZ Myers went from claiming, falsely, that progressive groups are entirely peaceful to embracing the violence antifa demonstrated on the streets of Portland.

At no point during his rant does he condemn the Antifa attack against Andy Ngo.

At no point does he say there antifa should be peaceful and not dish out blood or broken bones.

PZ wants antifa to start the revolution that will “erase this stain [the United States of America].” And it doesn’t matter how many lies he has to tell to get it done.

Analysis:

We try to imbue this site with as much humor as we can – even if it’s bad humor most of the time – but, there is nothing inherently funny about a prominent skeptical atheist lying so freely and so often. It’s bad for everyone involved, and we wish it would stop.

That’s our true goal – to make truth and reason integral to discussions on these topics. This country is already divided on issues where we’re in agreement on the underlying facts. When we’re not in agreement, when someone advocating for one side lies about the underlying facts, there is truly no hope of a productive discussion.

We can’t accomplish our goal en mass. There’s no way to get ten thousand partisan voice stop lying at once. But there might be a way to get one voice to do it.

If we assume that voice has principles. And we assume one of those principles is adherence to truth, and another is a love of reason. And if we assume that voice is capable of adjusting their belief system to more closely match the observations of the real world. In other words – that voice must have skeptical values.

That’s a big ask, especially of our subject, but it’s not impossible. We’re natural optimists.

And, perhaps, fools.

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