6 Sep – One Lie, Dammit

We really wanted a day off. It’s a beautiful night, we’re full of hope and optimism, and the last thing we wanted to do is wade into yet another thing PZ Myers gets wrong on the reg. But, here we are.

It is our (volunteer, unpaid) job, but that doesn’t mean we always like coming in to work.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

One other thing: I’ve already seen people complaining about the title of the Mother Jones article. Why can’t we do both? We can plant trees and explore Mars, but I think it’s a dig at the billionaires who are aspiring to escape Earth’s problems and build imaginary colonies on Mars. That’s not going to work, and it’s an excuse to shirk responsibilities to this planet.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/06/plant-trees/

Facts:

In a post about the benefits of planting trees to combat climate change, PZ rips off this little ditty near the end. His claim is simple: billionaires are planning colonies on Mars to “escape Earth’s problems” and “shirk responsibilities on this planet.” Is it true?

No.

Elon Musk, one of the billionaires investing money in this area, laid out his reasoning fairly simply when he announced the project three years ago.

I really think there are two fundamental paths [for humans]: One path is we stay on Earth forever, and some eventual extinction event wipes us out….I don’t have a doomsday prophesy…But history suggests some doomsday event will happen…The alternative is, become a spacefaring and multi-planetary species.”

https://www.wired.com/2016/09/elon-musk-colonize-mars/

We’ve heard Musk talk about this before, the Wired article was just the first one we found on the internet. The underlying logic is simple: at some point in the future, humans will be at risk of becoming extinct if we choose to remain only on planet earth. An asteroid could do it quickly, climate change could do it slowly, or something else we haven’t thought about could happen. If it does, that’s it. There is no backup plan for the human race if we’re all wiped out on this planet. So Musk wants to invest his own – and his investor’s – money to try to create that backup plan. He’s not trying to shirk whatever responsibilities PZ Myers thinks he has, he’s trying to fulfill them.

Analysis:

The juxtaposition of Musk and Myers’s words serve to illustrate how small PZ’s thinking really is. Musk is talking about big ideas, and PZ’s criticisms seem inconsequential in comparison.

All, while it’s impossible for a prediction to lie, for some reason Myers is convinced the idea of a Mars colony won’t work. Once again, he suggests that a biology professor at a small college in the Minnesota state system knows more about the feasibility and economics of space travel than one of the few people on the planet actually doing it.

We wonder if Elon Musk is reading PZ’s post and rethinking his life choices.

Probably not.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 5 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 100 science-related posts, 322 non-science posts.

24% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 113 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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