18 Oct – Two More PZ Myers Lies, And Why We Count Some Lies But Not Others

We’re sometimes asked what, exactly, constitutes a PZ Myers lie. Our answer always goes something like this: we document PZ’s verifiable falsehood, we don’t fact-check his opinions. Things like blatant hypocrisy, while interesting to us, don’t count as a lie.

PZ gave us a really good example today of something we don’t count as a lie when he wrote about Trump’s Syria policy – which amounts to pulling US troops back, out of the conflict zone – saying this:

[Trump] sold out the Kurds to protect his Turkish hotel interests, turning a good chunk of the Middle East policy into chaotic shambles and causing the deaths of thousands.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/18/why-arent-we-marching-on-washington-because-we-deserve-this-evil-clown/

Reading that quote, in isolation, might give you the impression that PZ Myers comes down more on the interventionist side of foreign policy debates. He sounds like he wants to see a more muscular US military throwing its weight around the Middle East. Except he doesn’t.

Killing civilians, or anyone for that matter, with nerve gas is a crime against humanity, and something should be done…I just don’t know what, except that wrecking a country with a hail of missiles doesn’t seem to be a very practical way to protect “beautiful babies”. It’s also not just Trump — Obama seems to have killed a lot of civilians with drone strikes, and clearly both parties are blithe about murdering foreigners.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/04/07/another-day-another-war/

PZ’s only common foreign policy denominator appears to be a hatred for Trump. His affinity for interventionist foreign policy solutions appears to stem from which political party – and leader – is doing the intervening. That’s hypocrisy on a massive scale, but it’s not a lie.

This, however, is:

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

It’s astonishing that the governor essentially banned a scientific conclusion from any discussion, especially when the fact of climate change is going to hit the state so hard.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/18/too-little-too-late-too-florida/

Facts:

The governor in question here is Rick Scott, former governor of Florida and now a US Senator. PZ is claiming here that, as governor, Scott banned anyone in his administration from discussing climate change.

That seems like a weird charge, and a weird thing to do in general, but it has some reporting to back it up:

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article12983720.html

Note the source – “former DEP employees.” That turns out to be important. This claim, made initially in 2015, four years after Scott became governor, was widely reported and investigated at the time. Turns out it’s bogus:

[The] investigation involves relying on the claims of former employees, most prominently one who was fired. And, well, it turns out the department says it doesn’t have such a policy. Two different employees denied the claims of the policy. 

Molly Hemingway, the author of the linked piece above, goes on to document how often the terms “climate change” and “global warming” are used on the DEP’s own website:

A search of the Florida DEP web site for the term “global warming” yields, according to the site, 244 results. And, according to the site, another 1,640 for “climate change.”

https://thefederalist.com/2015/03/09/no-florida-state-government-did-not-ban-the-term-climate-change/

In other words, there was no ban. PZ repeated a lie that’s been simmering on the internet for four years.

Analysis:

This is the kind of lie PZ will always repeat and will never, ever try to correct. It appeals directly to his biases against Republicans and their climate-science-denying ways. He once against violates Feynman’s First Principle: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

When it comes to Republicans and politics, PZ Myers will always violate that principle.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

[Trump] is so tone deaf that he tried to stage a reality-show style confrontation between grieving parents and their son’s killer. 

Facts:

The “reality-show style confrontation” is pure hyperbole. Not even the family’s statement suggests that this was their impression of the meeting. In fact, the family says:

President Trump hinted at the end of the meeting, having heard Charlotte’s appeal, that he may look at approaching the problem from a different angle. Notwithstanding the nature of the meeting yesterday, the family would welcome any such further intervention so that this nightmare scenario can be brought to an end. They look forward forward to engaging with the President again as soon as possible.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/Justice4harry

The real lie here is the claim that Trump was so tone deaf that he “tried to stage” the event in the first place. First of all, he didn’t bring the woman who accidentally killed Harry Dunn in a vehicle accident into the room, he simply asked the family if they’d like to meet her. And when asked about the meeting, Trump claimed it was done at the behest of the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Johnson has apparently denied the claim, but the idea that Trump tried to “stage a reality-show style confrontation” is a lie.

Analysis:

A story like this could be an opportunity for PZ to bash Boris Johnson – another politician he hates – but this post was all about Trump. And as a result, the person most forgotten in this whole episode has perhaps been Anne Sacoolas.

At the scene of the accident, Sacoolas, whose 12-year-old son was reportedly a passenger in the Volvo, was hysterical over what she had done. The car had diplomatic plates, but witnesses who rushed to the crash site told Northamptonshire police that Sacoolas immediately took the blame and gave all her details, including her British and American cellphone numbers…When police went to the Croughton base the next day to tell Sacoolas that Dunn had died, she was understandably upset and assured them she had no plans to leave the country. When they came back a second time to get more information, she was lawyered up and assisted by officials from the U.S. Embassy to the U.K..

https://www.thedailybeast.com/anne-sacoolas-american-diplomat-wife-fled-england-after-killing-19-year-old-harry-dunn-with-her-car

This was a bad, bad accident all around. It’s bad for the Harry Dunn and the Dunn family. It’s bad for Anne Sacoolas and her family.

But, the only kind of bad PZ Myers cares about is the kind that makes Donald Trump look bad.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 121 science-related posts, 489 non-science posts.

20% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 153 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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