29 Aug – Highway To The Lie Zone

We re-watched Top Gun for like the 50th time the other night, mainly because we were bored but also, who doesn’t love themselves a bit of shirtless Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer on the beach (while Anthony Edwards, wisely, keeps his on).

As a result, we have that bit of Kenny Loggins genius in our head and decided to use it as our title today. But, it’s not a completely irrelevant reference, PZ Myers has turned on the jets of his lies of late. He just crossed the 100-lie threshold and he shows no sign of stopping, while simultaneously hitting the brakes on any science content. That’s a recipe for more frequent lies than the 1.1 a day rate he’s maintained since the 30th of May.

We’ll see how long it takes for him to get to 200. Before Thanksgiving, perhaps?

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Over in that imperialist undemocratic monarchy across the Atlantic (we can be smug because we got rid of the “monarchy” part), people are wondering how the country got to the point that democracy can be suspended by a buffoon.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/29/but-it-isnt-even-a-question/

Facts:

We dismantled a kissing-cousin of this lie yesterday. PZ seems to think the British Prime Minister can suspend democracy in that country. That’s an interesting claim. We wonder if the Queen is powerless to prevent this from happening. If so, then what’s the point of having a Queen?

In truth, democracy has not been suspended in the UK. The democratic process, as far as Brexit is concerned, has already taken place. The referendum was held three years ago, with the Leavers emerging victorious. And just last year, the British Parliament passed the UK Withdrawal Act, which has been amended twice, extending the exit day, to manage the withdrawal.

The move by Boris Johnson is a parliamentary procedure which has been used in the UK before, most recently 22 years ago by John Major, with the aim of upholding the democratic votes which have already taken place. Once again, PZ isn’t only lying, he’s inverting the truth of this move. Democracy isn’t being suspended, it’s being served in the UK.

Analysis:

This is how partisan political polemicists write, not how a sceptical scientist who uses truth and reason as his guide would write. There are so many things wrong with PZ’s analysis, it’s hard to know where to end. Who listens to someone who argues like this? Who finds this persuasive?

Exactly no one, we suspect.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

There were other irregularities there, too. Let’s not forget the open dishonesty of gerrymandering, either.
It’s funny how the Republicans are fanatical about accusing Democratic voters of fraud and cheating, but they don’t want to fix these basic, obvious problems. It’s almost as if the accusations are a distraction to keep the electorate from noticing how blatantly they are cheating to stay in power.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/29/paper-ballots-everywhere/

Facts:

The title of this post is “Paper ballots everywhere,” and PZ is writing about alleged election irregularities in the last statewide election in Georgia. This is one of many areas where we are in agreement with PZ Myers.

Many on the conservative side of the aisle pine for paper ballots as well. Here is a summary of just one conservative/libertarian site saying many the same things about paper ballots that PZ does here.

But the lies in this snippet focus on two other claims. The first is that only Republicans use gerrymandering to influence the outcome of statewide elections. That is false. Both political parties have used gerrymandering in the past to influence politics in their state. It is a Republican problem, but it’s a Democratic problem as well.

The second lie is the claim that Republicans are “blatantly” cheating in Georgia and elsewhere to gain and maintain power. PZ offers scant evidence of cheating in the post, and no evidence that if indeed cheating did occur it was blatant.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution article PZ links to substantiate this claim says this:

The potential voting irregularities were included among 15,500 pages of documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that have also been turned over to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is looking into Georgia’s elections. The documents, provided under the Georgia Open Records Act, offer details of alleged voting irregularities but no answers.

https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/mystery-missing-votes-deepens-congress-investigates-georgia/

It’s hard to be “blatant” when over 15,000 pages of documents provide no answers.

Analysis:

This is another entirely partisan issue for PZ. He was not at all concerned about voting irregularities when Al Franken was elected to the Senate from Minnesota. And he’s not concerned with partisan gerrymandering in Illinois, to name just one example, because it favors his own progressive tribe.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

It was a sudden, violent act, but there’d been obvious signs and multiple warnings that this guy was going to snap. She survived, with serious scarring and pain, and she sued the Army for needlessly putting her life in danger. Guess what happened next? They have a rule that says the military can’t be sued!

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/29/facts-not-emotion/

Facts:

The United States Army most decidedly does not have a rule saying they can’t be sued. If PZ had read a little further down the page of the article he cites, he would have found this:

On April 18, 2019, the Army denied Blanchard’s claim for damages, citing the Feres Doctrine — a 1950 Supreme Court precedent which bars service members and their families from suing the military for injury or death brought on by their service. 

https://taskandpurpose.com/katie-blanchard-feres-doctrine

The Supreme Court held, unanimously in that case, the following:

The United States is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to members of the armed forces sustained while on active duty and not on furlough and resulting from the negligence of others in the armed forces.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feres_v._United_States

1LT Katie Blanchard, the military officer in question in this case, has said she will fight to reform the doctrine, which we take to mean a willingness to either bring this case before the Supreme Court again or force Congress to enact changes to the Federal Tort Claims Act. We wish her well in that endeavour, but the sheer difficulty of the fight she has ahead of her underscores the magnitude of PZ’s lie. This isn’t a “rule” that can be changed on a whim. This is well-established law that was decided unanimously by the highest court in the land.

Analysis:

All of this information was available to PZ Myers if he had taken the time to look for it. But, when he has a point to make, he can’t let silly things like facts get in the way.

He is so well entrenched in the lie-zone – yes, we’ve still got Kenny in our head – it’s difficult for us to see a path for him back to the truth. What would he write about if he refrained from lying about politics every day?

Science?

Nah…he wouldn’t do that.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 90 science-related posts, 299 non-science posts.

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

Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 105 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

28 Aug – Does PZ Myers Care About Freedom?

PZ spends a lot of time discussing freedom in the pages of Pharyngula, but you can never really be sure where he stands on the issue because it depends entirely upon his definition of the word, and that definition is nebulous. He likes abortion freedoms, of course, but he hates the freedom to own guns. He likes the fact that gay people have the freedom to marry, but he hates the fact that rich people can spend money the way they choose.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

The system is broken. When we’re dependent on the generosity of billionaires to get any science done, that skews the outcome — your funding is no longer coupled to any measure of merit, but on your skill at schmoozing and pandering to fat cats, and on your association with over-hyped organizations like Harvard. Taking money away from scientists does not fix the system. What we need to do is take that power away from the billionaires, and nothing in this solution is going to discomfit the unearned prestige and influence of the criminally wealthy.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/28/as-long-as-you-rely-on-billionaires-for-funding-you-are-participating-in-a-criminal-enterprise/

Facts:

PZ makes a specific claim here, that the “system” of science funding is “dependent on the generosity of billionaires to get any science done.” Is it true?

No.

Data from ongoing surveys by the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that federal agencies provided only 44% of the $86 billion spent on basic research in 2015. The federal share, which topped 70% throughout the 1960s and ’70s, stood at 61% as recently as 2004 before falling below 50% in 2013.


The sharp drop in recent years is the result of two contrasting trends—a flattening of federal spending on basic research over the past decade and a significant rise in corporate funding of fundamental science since 2012. 

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/data-check-us-government-share-basic-research-funding-falls-below-50

$37.8 billion is not a small amount of money, and that is what public, government sources spent, according to this source, on just basic research in 2015. This article from 2013, from Scienceogram UK, an organisation which claims to make sense of science spending, goes into more depth about the funding sources of science. And assuming we’ve read their data correctly (we think we have), only a minuscule amount of science funding comes from billionaires like Jeffrey Epstein, making this another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

We will admit to being a bit dumbfounded as to why PZ Myers thinks the way he does about this issue. So Harvard accepted millions of dollars from someone who was later convicted of sex crimes? So what?

We’re not sure we see the issue with Epstein donating money to science projects even after his conviction. Are convicted pedophiles to be completely shunned from all society? Are they not allowed to spend money how they wish? To the extend his donations to science-related projects bought “influence,” we don’t think it amounted to any more influence than a normal billionaire would have (although Epstein wasn’t quite worth a billion, in the end).

Our view is we should let pedophile billionaires give all the money they want to science, and whatever organisations they fund should be laughing all the way to the bank.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

That’s just weird. I thought Southern conservatives were all about states rights and opposing federalism, but here they are, trying to interfere in another state’s politics. OK then. Can Minnesota urge the immediate expulsion of Moscow Mitch from the Senate? I wouldn’t mind that at all.
I could also mention this bizarre move by Boris Johnson to suspend parliament in order to prevent anyone from stopping by democratic means his grand plan to sunder Britain from the EU.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/28/conservatives-dont-understand-this-democracy-thing/

Facts:

Two lies in this snippet. The first is PZ’s use of the term “federalism.” Conservatives in general support the idea of “federalism,” that states are sovereign and serve as a check on the power of the federal government. Progressives like PZ Myers oppose federalism because they prefer more centralised government power to solve problems. We’ll give that one to PZ, because it feels like a typo (one he won’t fix, nonetheless).

The other lie is more egregious. He claims Boris Johnson is suspending Parliament in order to “prevent anyone from stopping by democratic means his grand plan to sunder Britain from the EU.”

PZ has this exactly backwards.

Britain had a democratic referendum on the question of Brexit, and the Leave side came out victorious. The Remainers have been trying almost any means at their disposal to overturn the outcome of that referendum. Johnson, over three years after the referendum, plans to make good on the democratic choice Britain made to leave the EU. The people have voted. Johnson has vowed to honour that vote. It’s people like PZ Myers who want to use anti-democratic means to force Britain to remain.

Analysis:

Things like this serve to illustrate how shameless PZ is about his lies. He knows about the Brexit referendum, of course, he blogged about it at the time and has made it quite clear in the years since that he doesn’t approve of the outcome. But, to claim that leaving the EU is Boris Johnson’s plan alone and not the result of a fair, democratic referendum is frankly amazing.

He does it, we think, because he knows the commenters on his website will let him get away with it. If you cross PZ Myers by, say, correcting his lies, he gets cross and bans you from the site. As a result, he’s created a sycophantic echo chamber where even lies as fantastical as this are allowed to stand.

But they won’t stand here as long as we’re standing and still have the stomach to read PZ Myers every day.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 5 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 90 science-related posts, 295 non-science posts.

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

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 102 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.