13 Sep – Two Unfortunate Lies

This is one of those days when it sucks to be a fact-checker.

We agree with much of the thrust of PZ Myers’s criticism of Ken Ham today. But he was angry, and angry people sometimes say things that aren’t true.

We can’t chalk all 119 of his lies up to anger, of course. His reasons for lying are varied and complex. Being mad at Ken Ham is a sentiment with which we can sympathize, but it’s our (volunteer, unpaid) job to sniff out the falsehoods.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Ken Ham is a man who lies to children about the simplest concepts in science, and he was handed hundreds of millions of dollars to build a stupid fake boat in the middle of Kentucky. He’s a liar and a con artist, and he is economically rewarded to a degree most of you are not (definitely more than I am).

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/13/ken-ham-and-the-spiders/

Facts:

The city of Williamstown, Kentucky did issue bonds to subsidize the building of the Noah’s Ark park, but only in the amount of $62 million. Even assuming the most generous interpretation of all government actions taken in relation to the park – including highway improvements which may or may not have been done otherwise – the number still comes in at well below $100 million, and is nowhere close to the multiple hundreds of millions of dollars PZ claims.

Analysis:

His heart was in the right place, but he got the magnitude of the subsidies wrong. If PZ had any humility whatsoever, he could make a simple correction and move on. But he won’t.

It’s also interesting to note the tinge of envy here. This has become a common theme with PZ – he will reliably take note of, and compare himself to, people with either more notoriety or more money. Almost every mention of Jeffrey Epstein contains a reference to how PZ Myers doesn’t get donations from billionaires. Almost every mention of Sam Harris notes how much more popular Sam is.

This is another reason we think PZ will never publicly acknowledge either our existence or our critique of his writing – we’re nobody, with almost no scholarly credentials and a small, but growing, audience. We have no power, in other words. It doesn’t matter whether or not what we’re saying is true. Truth has no currency for PZ Myers unless it can be used in furtherance of his evangelical political preferences.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

After stumbling through some transparently stupid evolution denial, he moves on to equally stupid arguments against climate change…”Some scientists” and “sunspots.”Goddamn you to hell, Ken Ham. You’re a liar for Christ, you contemptible, shallow little man.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/13/ken-ham-and-the-spiders/

Facts:

Someone unfamiliar with the PZ Myers Method of Lying might skip over these two sentences and never click on the link he provides. But, we are very familiar with him, so we did.

We’re going to compare what PZ quotes Ken Ham as saying with what the Scientific American article PZ cites as evidence says.

First, Ken Ham:

Are these storms (such as Hurricane Dorian, the storm that devastated the Bahamas and parts of the United States in recent weeks) really the result of man-made climate change? Well, climates do change—that is observational science. But the cause of climate change isn’t straightforward. Some scientists have suggested that it may be dependent on the sun and cycles of the sun (such as sunspots), with humans only playing a very minor role.

https://answersingenesis.org/environmental-science/climate-change/angry-spiders-climate-change/

And here is a snippet from the article PZ cites:

Many climate scientists agree that sunspots and solar wind could be playing a role in climate change, but the vast majority view it as very minimal and attribute Earth’s warming primarily to emissions from industrial activity—and they have thousands of peer-reviewed studies available to back up that claim.
Peter Foukal of the Massachusetts-based firm Heliophysics, Inc., who has tracked sunspot intensities from different spots around the globe dating back four centuries, also concludes that such solar disturbances have little or no impact on global warming. Nevertheless, he adds, most up-to-date climate models—including those used by the United Nations’ prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—incorporate the effects of the sun’s variable degree of brightness in their overall calculations.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sun-spots-and-climate-change/

Two things make this another PZ Myers lie: Ham is not arguing against climate change. He explicitly says climates do change. He is suggesting the effect of human activity on climate change may be relatively minor. And what Ham says about solar activity turns out to be correct. The Scientific American article PZ cites says almost the same thing word for word. Ham isn’t lying, as PZ claims, according to the very evidence he uses to back up that claim.

Analysis:

PZ could have made a scientifically accurate, nuanced argument outlining why solar activity likely plays an overall minor role in climate change, but he was angry with Ham and decided to lash out instead.

We do think it’s interesting that PZ called Ham a liar multiple times throughout the post – it shows he does care, at least superficially, about the truth. If he cares about it that means he can – perhaps! – be shamed into actually telling the truth himself.

We’d like to live to see that day.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 103 science-related posts, 347 non-science posts.

23% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 119 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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