The page formerly known as: Frequently Asked Questions
Who is PZ Myers?
Wikipedia answers the question in the following way: Paul Zachary Myers (born March 9, 1957) is an American biologist who founded and writes the Pharyngula science-blog. He is associate-professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) where he works in the field of developmental biology. He is a critic of intelligent design (ID), the creationist movement, and other pseudoscientific concepts.
This description is, like many things in the PZ Myers orbit, only partly true. For starters, Pharyngula isn’t primarily a science blog. PZ sometimes posts science-related items there in a straightforward manner, but our suspicion is that a majority of his posts intersect with politics in some way or another. To see if we’re right, this is one of the metrics we’ll keep track of on PZWatch: # of science posts vs. # of non-science posts.
The other thing this description leaves out is PZ’s partisan political leanings. Farther down the page, Wikipedia quotes Myers’s own description of himself as a “godless liberal.” While we at PZWatch agree with the first word in that description – PZ’s atheism is not a matter for serious debate – we think the second radically understates the fervent, evangelical leftism which overrides his critical reasoning faculties and prevents him from stating the truth when that truth undercuts his a priori ideological biases.
Seriously, who the hell is PZ Myers?
He’s a biology professor at a small college in Minnesota nobody’s heard of who was big in the Skeptic and Atheist communities a decade ago.
Why should we care?
You shouldn’t. There’s soooo much more worthwhile content on the internet. Or here’s an idea: shut off the internet. Grab your partner’s hand and have a chat, or make love, or read a book, or talk to your kids. Social media makes people mean. We don’t want to add to that here, which is why we’ll try to populate this website as much as we can with humility and humor.
Why do you care?
We got into the Skeptic world during the time PZ’s star was on the rise. Growing up Catholic, we’d never looked at the world through the lens he offered, but once we heard what he was saying we started to cast a more critical eye at the church. PZ and the skeptic movement helped bring reason and truth into our lives, but the more he spoke and wrote about topics other than Atheism, the more we began to distance ourselves from him. It started with us thinking, “that’s not quite right,” when we read something PZ wrote about politics, and after a period of time the level of cognitive dissonance required to read his blog was so bad we were forced to leave. Several years later, we heard PZ referenced during a GQ debate with Dr. Jordan Peterson, and we thought to ourselves, “He’s still around?” So we fired up a web browser and learned, disappointingly but unsurprisingly, that he’s as bad or worse than we’d remembered. We spent some time commenting on Pharyngula in an attempt to get him or his followers to acknowledge his many errors, to no avail. After being banned for like the twelfth time for nothing other than pointing out his bullshit – we decided to create this site.
Do you have a life?
Would you like one?
This is one of many projects we’re working on at the moment and, in all honesty, it doesn’t take up much of our time. Facts don’t matter to PZ – except narrowly within his own discipline – so factual errors on political and other topics are easy to spot.
Is UMM a real school?
Apparently. We grew up in the Twin Cities area, went to college two hours away, and until we heard of PZ Myers we had never heard of the University of Minnesota Morris.
Do you hate PZ Myers?
Then why are you doing this? You must be a [insert racist, sexist, or Nazi slur here].
What is the meaning of life?
People use too much ketchup.
This is a self-licking ice cream cone, right? If PZ stops lying you’ll just shift the goalposts and start attacking him for something else.
While predictions, especially about the future, are hard, we plan to keep our focus here at PZWatch extremely narrow: documenting PZ Myers’s verifiable falsehoods. If he starts telling the truth, he puts us right out of a (volunteer, non-paying) job. We think this will happen around the time the Minnesota Vikings win the Super Bowl: never. We’re confident this tiger is incapable of changing his stripes. Like a cult leader whose predictions of eminent doom are overcome by real events, we predict PZ – assuming he ever acknowledges our existence, which is unlikely – will double-down when confronted with his falsehoods. He will never admit an error, even on the most trivial of matters, if admitting that error somehow undercuts his evangelical progressive ideology. But, in the unlikely event that does happen, we will give credit where credit is due and the next day withdraw all of our money from the bank and put it on the Vikings to win.
What is your comment policy?
Go for it.
PZ is not a fan of comments which correct his errors or challenge his ideas. He actively curates the comments on his site and bans anyone who doesn’t show sufficient fealty to him. In contrast, we believe in the marketplace of ideas and this site will adhere as closely as possible to the First Amendment principles outlined in the US Constitution. If your speech crosses any legal line, we will be obligated to take action. And we will, of course, remove any spam comments. Aside from that, there are no restrictions.
What are your guiding principles?
The principles below may sound a lot like the Washington Post’s Fact Checking principles, because why re-invent the wheel?
We are a fact-checking operation. We are not in the business of checking PZ’s political opinions. When examining the roots of a PZ Myers lie, we may discuss how his evangelical ideology influences that lie, but we will never criticize a political position he holds.
We will focus on the biggest, most important lies. We won’t nitpick every detail. We understand PZ is human, and humans make mistakes. We won’t ever play “gotcha.” While our preferences are aligned with PZ on many political issues, we won’t pretend there aren’t areas of disagreement. If we do our (unpaid, volunteer) job correctly, our biases won’t matter and our content will stay in the realm of verifiable facts, where it belongs.
We will never attack PZ personally. His ideas, however, are fair game.
We will use the “reasonable person” standard to determine the accuracy of PZ’s claims, but we anticipate most of the time the truth will be incontrovertible. The Washington Post says the “burden for proving the accuracy of a claim rests with the speaker,” and in our mind’s eye we imagine PZ cackling maniacally at the thought of us – or anyone else – asking him to prove the accuracy of one of his claims, but he is more than welcome to contact us at any time (@ email@example.com) in an attempt to correct the record.
You accuse PZ of lying, but isn’t this entire FAQ section a lie? Nobody’s ever asked you any of these questions, and they certainly haven’t asked any of them frequently.
Point taken. We’ve proactively purchased watchingPZwatch.com in anticipation of a future demand for a fact checking site to check the site checking PZ Myers’s facts.
Why are you harassing PZ? Stop it! Leave him alone!
PZ and those of his oeuvre tend to level this charge with some regularity, so we thought we’d clarify what we will and will not do here at PZWatch.
What we will do: (1) Publish a post on a daily basis (unless we’re on holiday or otherwise just need a break from reading PZ Myers). (2) Post links and quotes on social media – Twitter and Facebook. (3) Respond to questions, queries or comments.
What we will not do: (1) Email PZ Myers directly, register for his site or post comments there. (2) Tag him on social media. (3) Try to engage him in conversation. (4) We will do our best to keep our criticisms of PZ firmly grounded in facts and the truth.
None of this is harassment in our book, but we can certainly understand why a liar would seek to claim they were being harassed by people pointing out their lies. The liar is in an uncomfortable place and wants to silence those speaking the truth.
How can I contact you?
To send in a tip about a PZ Myers lie we haven’t covered, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have an issue with one of our posts? email@example.com
Having issues at home and want to talk to a real person? firstname.lastname@example.org
To complain that we don’t offer a vegan or keto alternative: email@example.com
For technical issues: firstname.lastname@example.org(don’t bother, all they will tell you to do is turn your device off, then on again).
To have your trash picked up: email@example.com
For PZ Myers’s use only: firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out if someone will actually read an email sent to any of the addresses above, send an email to: email@example.com