21 Oct – How Does Truth Emerge At Pharyngula?

Apologies in advance to those Pharyngula readers who came here looking for an actual answer to the question we pose in the title of this post – we don’t really have one.

We do have a good idea how the “approved wisdom” emerges, however, which is a much different thing. The truth has boundaries. It may be hard sometimes to distinguish truth from lies, but there is a mechanism for going about it – one that we follow here at PZWatch. But “approved wisdom” is much more amorphous. It emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, like fog on a cool autumn’s morning, and is just as impossible to displace.

We see this effect – in microcosm – in the case of Tulsi Gabbard. A relatively new politician on the national scene, she has had the fortune – or misfortune – of being mentioned on Pharyngula only thrice. In the first mention, in February of this year, PZ says this:

I shall consider each candidate, be they Bernie, Kamala, Amy, Kirsten, Pete, Cory, Julian, Elizabeth, yea, even Tulsi, on the merits of their policies as presented in the primary campaign,


In the second mention, PZ defends Tulsi, saying this:

The final article is about how Tulsi Gabbard is bad because she wants is to reduce military aid to to Israel and withdraw from Middle East hotspots, and that under it all she’s just another far left Democrat like Bernie Sanders. [SATIRE!] He almost convinces me to support her!


(We’ll ignore, for the moment, the fact that PZ and crew actually want more US involvement in the Middle East now that Trump has decided to pull back trooops.)

In the third and final mention, PZ lies about her:

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

She was never a serious challenger, she’s got a bizarre homophobic/racist background, she only seems to be supported by right-wingers, and yes, recently she had a freaky meltdown about being indirectly accused of being a Russian agent. Don’t care. She’s done. She was never going to get the Democratic nomination. All the attention being paid to this irrelevant distraction is meaningless, except as a tool to get you to ignore the slimeball-in-chief.
In every election, there is always an assortment of fringe kooks who make noise for a while, get the backing of some other fringies with money, and then melt away as the campaigning gets serious. She’s one of them. Move on.



Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Tulsi has a background as a racist and homophobe. Are there any facts to support this charge?

Not at Pharyngula, and PZ provides no links to support his claim that Gabbard has this type of background. A little internet searching leads us to this Huffington Post piece:

[Gabbard’s past] returned in the form of homophobic remarks the congresswoman made over a decade ago. At least twice the Hawaii Democrat publicly called the LGBTQ community and supporters of same-sex marriage “homosexual extremists.”


Gabbard was testifying, as a 22-year-old state representative, against a bill that would legalize same-sex civil unions.

Or, in other words, she held a similar position on gay marriage to Barack Obama at the same time in 2004. It’s not exactly “woke,” but it would be a lie to call it homophobic.

As for the racist charge – your guess is as good as ours. We don’t have a clue. The closest thing we could find is this Washington Examiner article basically wondering the same thing.

The final claim PZ makes is perhaps the most interesting. He claims Gabbard had a meltdown after being “indirectly accused of being a Russian agent.”

If you haven’t seen this news, get ready for a shock. Gabbard wasn’t indirectly accused of anything – Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic nominee for President, directly claimed Gabbard and Jill Stein are “Russian assets.”

That makes three different lies in this single snippet. But, giving PZ the benefit of the doubt, we’re only going to count it as one.


Pay careful attention to the language PZ uses. Gabbard is “bizzare.” She had a “freaky” meltdown. He’s “othering” her, signalling to the lemmings in the comments section that she can no longer be considered an acceptable alternative to Trump. Not for any policy reasons – not even when he explicitly said he would consider her policy positions – but because someone had spoken. It may have been Hillary, it may have been someone else. At this point it doesn’t matter. Like the fog that rolled in while you were asleep, there’s no use questioning how it got there in the first place. It just is.

And so it goes in PZ Myers’s world. Things just are. No explanation needed. No facts necessary. No truth required. Your agreement with this new accepted wisdom, however is mandatory.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

I did quickly discover that the author was a “nutty” science denialist who rejects the evidence for climate change and misrepresents the positions of those lobbying government to address climate concerns. OK, way to put your credibility worst foot forward, guy.



This lie is about a freelance journalist who writes under the pen name Lance Welton for the website vdare.com. Welton wrote a piece titled “Extinction Rebellion’s Emily Grossman Is A Type—As Nutty As You Would Expect.” Immediately after the lie above, PZ quotes Welton saying this:

These “rebels”—motto: “Rebel for Life,” because, they claim, based on falsified climate science data, that a “mass extinction” will begin in twelve years—have vowed to continue their insurrection until their demands are met.


PZ claims this is a misrepresentation of the group’s position. Is that true?

If we’re asking, you already know the answer. Welton is right and PZ is lying. This is from the Extinction Rebellion’s own website:

Extinction Rebellion is a movement made up of people from all walks of life. It started in response to the IPCC report that we only have 12 years to stop catastrophic climate change and our understanding that we have entered the 6th mass extinction event. 


If anything Welton understates the position of Extinction Rebellion, who say we’ve already entered the 6th mass extinction. Welton quotes them as saying we have 12 years.

Also, there’s no support for PZ’s claim that Welton is a “science denialist who rejects the evidence for climate change.” The only thing Welton rejects is the idea that a mass extinction event either will occur or is occurring.


This is a weird one. We would think a biologist, under normal circumstances, would be all over the claim that the earth is presently experiencing a mass extinction event. What are the claims? What are the facts? Where does PZ fall on this debate? We don’t know, because he simply ignores the claim altogether. That leads us to believe the Extinction Rebellion doesn’t really have all the facts on their side, because if they did, PZ would do a thousand words on it.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

I guess he hasn’t considered yet that many people choose their partners on the basis of love, and kindness, and mutual interests, rather than the grasping calculus of capitalism. But that wouldn’t fit with his thesis, that rich Jews are acting to destroy society.



There’s not much to say about this. It is plainly not Welton’s thesis that rich Jews are acting to destroy society. This is simply an unsubstantiated smear by PZ.


One of the benefits of having a well-cultivated, adoring readership is never having to answer questions about a smear like this. Like the received wisdom of the day about Tulsi Gabbard, Welton is an anti-semite because PZ Myers says he is.

No evidence required.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 3 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 121 science-related posts, 499 non-science posts.

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

Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 156 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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