12-13 Aug – A Conspiracy of Lies!

We were away for a day working on another project and we came back to find…

…a sensible, skeptical post from PZ Myers.

On the off chance you’ve been digitally detoxing for the last few days, we’ll recap the news. Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell in New York City from an apparent suicide. That’s the bland, vanilla version. Conspiracy laden versions have everyone from Donald Trump to Bill Clinton to Vladimir Putin paying off the guards and sending hitmen into Epstein’s cell.

PZ rejected all of those theories, saying “plausibility is not evidence, nor is your conviction that someone is a villain.”

That was the first post we read upon our return, and it filled us with hope.

Short-lived hope.

His very next post embraced a conspiracy theory we’ll cover in our first lie today, and a few posts later he embraced a conspiracy theory about Epstein, but only if it makes Republicans look bad:

If you want a conspiracy theory, you can have one…but it should revolve around the right-wing demonization of drugs and mental illness, the proliferation of for-profit prisons, and the awful people who run prisons as punitive pits for the unwanted.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/13/the-best-explanation-for-the-death-of-epstein/

Annnnnd he’s back. We knew the measured, skeptical PZ Myers couldn’t last long.

And we’re back! Covering three lies and one conspiracy theory today.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

Joseph Grendys is…the underserving owner of big chicken processing plants, an enterprise desperate for cheap labor and loaded with terrible working conditions. One of the reasons they hire undocumented workers is because they can be paid little and compelled to work under inhumane, dangerous connections [sic], so that people like Grendys can make more money.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/12/eat-less-chikin-its-made-from-the-blood-of-labor/

Facts:

If you clicked on the sole link PZ provides as evidence for this post, you’d come away wondering where the charge of inhumane working conditions comes from. We don’t know, either. We think PZ made it up. There have been, according to this Reuters article, allegations of labor abuses spanning the years 2004-2008, which were settled by the company, but there were no charges of dangerous or inhumane working conditions. We did find one article from last year published by the notoriously left-wing SPLC describing the death of a worker in a poultry processing plant, but that appears to have been the fault of the worker for failing to turn a machine off before deciding to clean it. In other words, the charge that Joseph Grendys “compels” people to work under “inhumane, dangerous” conditions is a lie.

Analysis:

This lie is probably the result of PZ being lazy. He has a playbook when it comes to dealing with employers like Grendys which includes charging them with forcing people to work in dangerous conditions. No evidence is necessary as far as PZ is concerned. But there’s another part of this post that interests us, and that’s the conspiracy theory PZ advanced:

And, as it turns out, this raid occurred after the plant was penalized for harrassment, and after efforts to unionize. We here in America have a fine tradition of brutal union-busting, how convenient that the federal government provides thugs at no cost to the owner.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/12/eat-less-chikin-its-made-from-the-blood-of-labor/

PZ suggests that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids were payback for the workers’ efforts to unionize and for the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the company.

Except this charge makes no sense.

As this Reuters article makes clear, Grendys’s plant is just one of five targeted in the ICE raids last week. And the EEOC lawsuit which resulted in a $3.75 million settlement was over complaints spanning the years 2004 to 2008. If the raid was payback of some sort, Grendys is an evil genius indeed. He managed to cover his tracks by waiting a decade and then making sure four other plants were included in the raids.

It’s amazing PZ was able to figure it out. It just goes to show the power of skeptical thinking!

#sarcasm

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

Poultry processing has become a sinkhole of unfair, criminal labor practices. All I can say is…stop eating chicken. It’s cheap protein where the filthy rich can degrade worker’s lives in its production, because it is poorly regulated.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/12/eat-less-chikin-its-made-from-the-blood-of-labor/

Facts:

Between his rant about Joseph Grendys and this lie, PZ went on a tangent about a group called Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery who, according to the two-year-old article he cites, has done some shady things in the past. CAAIR is a relatively small outfit in rural Oklahoma working hand-in-hand with the criminal justice system to rehab drug offenders to keep them out of prison. The article quotes a professor at UCLA saying there is “a very strong 13th Amendment violation case,” but nowhere in the article do they charge that their labor practices are criminal.

Similarly, Joseph Grendys’s operation has been thoroughly investigated by the EEOC for multiple years and they did not find any evidence of criminal labor practices. PZ just makes this claim up out of whole cloth.

And in neither of these cases do lack of regulations appear to be the issue. Again, in Grendys’s case, his plant has been investigated by not only the EEOC but ICE as well. And the CAAIR program exists only because judges in the criminal justice system of Oklahoma and neighboring states assign people to work there and oversee its execution. Both cases are evidence of the fact that this industry appears to be well, not poorly, regulated, making this yet another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

PZ is generally incoherent when he’s ranting about labor or economics or the rich, so it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what his issue is Joseph Grendys or the poultry industry as a whole. He’s pro-open borders. He wants to let anyone and everyone into the United States, but he’s also pro-union. And those two positions don’t mix, which is why Bernie Sanders (a Presidential candidate PZ has endorsed in the past) once said open borders was a libertarian Koch brothers’ plot.

But, we don’t get paid to check PZ’s opinions or coherence level. We don’t even get paid to check his facts, but that is all we do here at PZWatch.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

Daniel Povey gathered a group of like-minded conservative thinkers who weren’t affiliated with the university, grabbed some big ol’ boltcutters, and assaulted the protesters late one night. Punches were thrown. Povey and his friends were thrown back. He’s calling it a “counter-protest”, but protest movements don’t involve planned violence, and usually involve peaceful non-violence training, rather than angry mobs…I’ll spare you all the long defense of Nazi Germany in which he argues that Hitler might have been “a little bit triggered” by all those rich Jews. You can read it if you want. You probably don’t want to, not recommended.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/13/oh-dear-daniel-povey-has-been-fired/

Facts:

PZ helpfully links to Povey’s letter, which explains his actions and why he took them. Povey helpfully includes a link to the letter Johns Hopkins sent to him, and between those two descriptions of the events of that night you can get a sense of what happened.

PZ banks on the fact that his loyal followers will not read any of the underlying source material, however, because in this passage he lies twice about what it says.

Povey didn’t plan for violence to occur that evening, as confirmed by both his version of events and Johns Hopkins. To the contrary, Povey claims he did do non-violence training with the people who accompanied him into the building, telling them they should not retaliate even if they were attacked.

The second lie is easy enough to spot if you’ve read PZ Myers for any length of time. Would anyone in this day and age – who isn’t a nut – actually defend Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews? Of course not, and neither did Daniel Povey. He says the following:

It’s the same as if a gay Jew were to join the Nazi party and begin endlessly apologizing for his ancestors having lent money to Aryans at too-high rates of interest; and agreeing that he needs to recognize his “problematic Jewishness” and “toxic homosexuality”, stop talking, and make space for Aryan voices to be heard.

http://danielpovey.com/leaving

Povey was trying to make the point that fascist Nazi ideology demonized people in much the same way that proto-fascist progressive ideology demonizes people today. We take no position on whether or not this argument is valid, we’re simply pointing out that it’s the opposite of what PZ Myers portrays it to be, making it his third lie of the day.

Analysis:

We love the lies that are refuted by the actual source material to which PZ links. It’s as if he’s almost daring people to call him out as a liar, while knowing simultaneously that they won’t. The ones that do get banned. We know. We’ve been there.

And we’ll be here again tomorrow.

Maybe. We did skip yesterday.

Final Tally:

Last Two Days: 1 science-related post, 9 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 86 science-related posts, 233  non-science posts.

27% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Last Two Days: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 87 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

21 July – More Incoherence about Economics From a Biologist

PZ Myers reminds us with some regularity that having a PhD in one discipline doesn’t mean you know anything about an entirely unrelated discipline. It’s a shame PZ doesn’t seem to understand that himself. Today he tried to explain the economics of asteroid mining to…well, the billionaires who have studied asteroid mining extensively and are planning to do it. How does that work?

Easy, he lies about it.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

That’s Bezos. He seems to have a superficial understanding of the fact that we’re wrecking our home, but his excuse is that we can go get stuff from space to reduce our drain on the system, which is nonsense. There’s no oil in space. Mining is always going to be more difficult, expensive, and dangerous on asteroids. The kinds of resources that drive the material development of society are going to be more destructive to the environment if we haul in more of them.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/21/stop-talking-to-billionaires-start-listening-to-climate-scientists/

Facts:

PZ is regrettably vague in the mechanism by which these resources will be “more destructive to the environment,” however his choice of the title for the post and the fact that he lets a climate change scientist have the last word strongly suggest he is talking about greenhouse gasses here.

And it’s a lie.

A recent study from the University of Paris-Saclay calculated the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by a platinum mining operation on earth and the amount that might be emitted by an asteroid mining operation. Here are the results:

…economies of scale from large asteroid-mining operations could lower this to about 60 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of platinum. That needs to be compared with the emission from Earth-based mining. Here, platinum mining generates significant greenhouse gases, mostly from the energy it takes to remove this stuff from the ground. Indeed, the numbers are huge. The mining industry estimates that producing one kilogram of platinum on Earth releases around 40,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide. “The global warming effect of Earth-based mining is several orders of magnitude larger,” say Hein and co.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612311/asteroid-mining-might-actually-be-better-for-the-environment/

Analysis:

Topics like this are why we like to call PZ Myers an “evangelical progressive.” There is a religious quality to his beliefs. He would likely dismiss this evidence out of hand and still maintain that asteroid mining would be worse for our environment than continuing to mine in our current fashion.

He gives up the game near the end of the post, when he says, “If you’re serious about saving Planet Earth, work to end capitalism and build sustainable, renewable institutions.”

Ending capitalism is the real goal. All the rest is just window dressing. It’s freedom, and free markets, that really bother PZ Myers. Which, for a scientist, doesn’t make much sense.

We wonder sometimes if he would rather be the richest person in the world 100 year ago or if he’d prefer to live near the poverty line today. His answer, we think would be revealing. In almost every way, those living in a first-world country near the poverty line today are far better off than the richest person in the world was in 1919, and almost every bit of that is due to capitalism.

We came across an old quote from PZ, which says:

If you’ve got a religious belief that withers in the face of observations of the natural world, you ought to rethink your beliefs — rethinking the world isn’t an option.

PZ Myers

His quasi-religious belief in socialism (or marxism, or anything other than the free market) withers in the face of the last 100 years of observations, but he’s not rethinking his world.

We find that curious.

Incidentally, we love the part where PZ tries to explain to the three billionaires who have invested millions of dollars in asteroid mining that what they’re doing doesn’t make economic sense. We’re sure none of them ever thought to crunch the numbers on this one, but they’ll certainly do so now, after reading PZ Myers’s insightful analysis.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 2 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 56 science-related posts, 149 non-science posts.

27% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 62 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

8 June 2019 – Is PZ Myers Undermining Capitalism? No, But He Is Lying

PZ is at his most incoherent when he’s ranting about economics. We have no reason to doubt his expertise in the field of biology, but outside that field his level of knowledge drops precipitously. And when it comes to economics, we think he has something like negative knowledge – what he thinks he knows, he actually has backwards. Reading his posts on the topic will make you dumber in a whole host of ways. Today we’ll highlight just one, from a post he did on capitalism and food.

PZ Myers Lie:

“One of the ways we’re undermining capitalism, at least, is that we avoid prepared foods even more. I’ve been getting hunks of raw vegetables and doing all the cooking myself.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/08/stop-eating-now/

Facts:

The first thing we should do is highlight PZ’s choice of verbs. He wants people to think he’s “undermining capitalism,” but he doesn’t want to say that he’s “buying” something in the very next sentence – you know, actually using the capitalist system he wants to denigrate to purchase goods – so he uses the verb “getting” instead. We assume he’s not stealing these hunks of raw vegetables, or conjuring them out of thin air, which means he’s buying them on the free market.

And if he’s buying his vegetables, then PZ is most definitely not undermining capitalism, he’s practicing it, which makes this a PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

For those of you who think PZ might have his tongue firmly planted in his cheek here, and that there’s no way he thinks he’s going to undermine capitalism, consider the last two sentences of his post: “…you can stop exploiting animals right now as a step in the direction of the ultimate overthrow of capitalism, but we have a long way to go yet. Don’t give up just because we haven’t achieved perfection.”

He wants capitalism overthrown! To be replaced by…what? PZ’s not telling, but you can be sure he’ll never admit it is a system like those currently tearing apart Venezuela or Cuba.

We once equated capitalism with freedom in the comments section of Pharyngula, and you might have thought we’d said the world was flat. We got more pushback for making that point than almost any other point we made during our time there. But, the comments section of Pharyngula is where debate goes to die, and there’s really no debate about this: capitalism is all about freedom and choice. PZ can choose to follow whatever type of diet he likes because of capitalism, not in spite of it.

We want to reiterate this point: PZ is practicing capitalism, not undermining it. His refusal to buy meat or other items from his local supermarket sends them a small signal to drop the supply of those goods by a fraction. If enough people do that – try to ‘undermine capitalism’ like PZ and don’t buy meat/processed foods – companies would respond by putting less of those items on the shelves.

That’s capitalism/the free market.

We read a great piece this week by an economist named Don Boudreaux called Capitalism. Is. Working. We recommend it to you and anyone who reads PZ Myers on a regular basis.

We’d recommend it to PZ, but he wouldn’t care. We have no idea what alternative to capitalism PZ has in mind, but we pretty sure it wouldn’t work as well. Nothing else has.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post and 3 posts on other stuff.

Since 30 May 19: 8 science-related posts, 32 non-science posts.

20% of PZ’s posts on a “science blog” have been about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 16 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

30 May 2019 – No Science and Two Lies

Welcome to PZWatch! We were so excited to get the ball rolling we decided to start cranking out content a day early. Think of this as a trial post that gives us a chance to work out the format, which is shaping up to look a little like this:

Introduction

PZ Myers Lie

Facts

Analysis

Rinse. Repeat.

We’ll tally up the scores at the end of the post, including the total number of lies (you can see a running tally on the sidebar to the right) and the number of science vs. non-science related posts (Nature describes Pharyngula as a “science blog”).

Let’s get started!

Our first lie might sound like sarcasm and/or hyperbole at first, but we’ll explain why it’s actually important below.

PZ Myers Lie:

“Conservatives don’t think at all, they just assume their prejudices are true, and demand that you accept them, too.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/05/30/yes-tomi-lahren-i-do-think-dont-you/

 Facts:

If we wanted to be pedantic, we could say there are actually three lies in this sentence — 1. Conservatives don’t think, 2. they assume their prejudices are true, and 3. they demand you accept those prejudices — but since we’re just warming up here at PZWatch we’ve decided to score it as a single. Like many of PZ’s lies, we don’t need to spend a lot of time on a refutation. He smears an entire subset of the population, suggesting their political beliefs aren’t grounded in facts or reason. And before you argue that PZ is joking here and doesn’t really mean it when he says Conservatives don’t think, bear with us while we get into his head a little bit.

Analysis:

Conservatives, in PZ’s world, are evil. We’ll spend a lot of time documenting this moving forward. Evil people cannot have a point. Evil doesn’t think rationally. The evil that is conservatism is an unthinking, unfeeling, capitalist machine squashing people to bits in its gears. And we completely understand that, at this point, all of the above is an assertion on our part, but one we will return to time and time again as additional evidence comes in.

PZ will never, ever admit conservatives have an actual argument, much less a valid one.

 PZ Myers Lie #2:

“The boy in this ad is not a teenager, he’s a young man, capable of thinking for himself.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/05/30/yes-tomi-lahren-i-do-think-dont-you/

Facts:

PZ is responding to a tweet from Tomi Lahren which says:

“The new @Gillette ad features a transgender boy shaving for the first time. It’s a little much to normalize and promote high-school-aged kids undergoing hormone therapy and gender reassignment. Don’t ya think?”

https://twitter.com/TomiLahren/status/1133506356885872642

Lahren doesn’t use the word ‘teenager’ in her Tweet, so PZ’s formulation is a bit clunky. We think he equated ‘high-school-aged’ with ‘teenager’ in his head and just went with that. For our purposes it doesn’t matter, it’s the second part of the sentence we’re interested in. Lahren doesn’t assert that the transgender person featured in the ad is incapable of thinking for himself. She’s clearly concerned with normalizing and promoting high-school aged kids undergoing hormone therapy and gender reassignment [Edited, see update below]. So what’s going on here?

This is classic PZ doublespeak. In the very next paragraph, he writes, “We should normalize the decision to be a trans person. It does no one any harm and it does help some individuals.” PZ has completely shifted the goalposts. Gone is Lahren’s concern about ‘hormone therapy and gender reassignment.’ PZ now criticizes her for something she did not say.

Of note — Lahren’s tweet isn’t entirely truthful, either. The Gillette ad says nothing about hormone therapy or gender reassignment. The best one could argue is that the ad infers those things. She inserted those issues into the argument to fit her own political purposes. But, we’re not named Lahrenwatch.com and we’d need a much bigger staff to keep up with her lies as well as PZ’s, so we’ll let it slide.

Analysis:

PZ Myers will never agree with anything Tomi Lahren writes, so her appearance on Pharyngula is of no consequence except as a useful foil to give PZ a chance to voice his support for the trans agenda and shout down anyone else who voices concerns. For PZ, there is no debate about whether or not adolescents benefit from puberty suppression. He will always and everywhere claim that the evidence is clear and straightforward in favor of hormone therapy and gender reassignment, even if there is an ongoing scientific and philosophical debate. See here for a short scientific introduction to the issues:

https://www.endocrineweb.com/professional/gender-identity/transgender-youth-benefit-puberty-suppression

This was a short post, but PZ also manages to take a cheap shot at capitalism at the end, saying:

“I look forward to the day that Tomi Lahren realizes that social attitudes are being manipulated by capitalism, and tweets out her rejection of capitalist values.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/05/30/yes-tomi-lahren-i-do-think-dont-you/

We’ve little idea what PZ is talking about here. Capitalism isn’t doing anything; Gillette is trying to sell razors. But this is another common theme on Pharyngula: Capitalism = bad. That’s about as deep as PZ ever gets on the subject. We’d be surprised to see him actually lay out a coherent anti-capitalist argument, but we’ll be sure to share it with you here if he does.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post used some sloppy language when describing Tomi Lahren’s tweet. The sentence originally read, “She’s clearly concerned about the effects of hormone therapy and gender reassignment on high-school-aged kids.”

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 4 posts on politics and 1 post on Steven Pinker (a fave PZ punching bag).

Since 30 May 19: 0 Science posts, 5 non-science posts

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.