28 June – When is PZ Myers Most Incoherent? Answering an Age Old Question

We started our original draft of this post with the words, “PZ is at his most incoherent when…” But we stopped once we realized we’d written those words before – twice before, actually – in the month we’ve been open.

PZ Myers would podium at the Incoherence Olympics without breaking a sweat, but we started to wonder which topic consistently drives him the most insane? Is it economics? Immigration? Free speech?

We think one way to measure might be the total number of lies for each category. So if PZ were to lie fifteen times about capitalism in a six month period, for example, but only lie ten times about immigration, we might have an answer. But the severity of the lie could be another measure. And what about his Great Big Lies?

We haven’t decided yet how we’re going to make that determination, but if you have any suggestions, please send them to us at tips@pzwatch.com.

The topic PZ lies about today that generated all this debate is free speech. We do a deep dive on his lies, take a ride in the way back machine for a little PZ Myers history, and much more below.

PZ Myers Lie:

“We had Ben Shapiro give a talk at UMM, and if that dishonest twerp can get a platform here, you’ve got no grounds to claim that conservatives are censored.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/28/free-speech-is-the-new-religious-excuse/

Facts:

PZ is riffing on an piece written by Martha Gill about the threat to free speech on campus in America. He makes the claim that as long as Ben Shapiro can speak at UMM, that no one can claim “conservatives are censored.”

Of course there are numerous grounds to claim conservatives are “censored” on college campuses. FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, keeps a running database of speakers who have been disinvited from giving a talk on campus. According to that database, twice the number of disinvitation attempts have been targeted at right of center speakers than have been targeted at left of center speakers, illustrating a clear bias against conservative ideas. Additionally, although we don’t consider Breitbart to be an unbiased news source, they have kept a running list of acts of violence and harassment against people who hold right of center views. The phenomenon has also been illustrated in the book The Coddling of the American Mind, which is one of the things Gill’s piece responds to.

In other words, the claim that conservatives have no grounds to say their views are censored on campus is a lie.

Analysis:

As we were researching this lie, we had a vague memory of PZ being caught up in a free speech controversy of his own on campus a few years back. So we looked it up.

The College Fix has a good summary. We particularly liked this part:

The professor encouraged local readers back then to throw away copies of the NorthStar, comparing it to Ku Klux Klan flyers: “Treat their scattered papers as hate-filled trash and dispose of it appropriately.”

https://www.thecollegefix.com/atheist-activist-professor-tells-conservative-student-paper-fck-off-die/

That sounds a little bit like an attempt by PZ to censor conservatives. Especially when you consider he is a professor – not an activist. He is paid to teach students, not tear them down. If he were not the despicable man he is, that would have been a good opportunity for PZ to sit down with the College Republicans and have a chat, maybe change a mind or two. But he chose to hurl invective at them instead.

We also found another juicy nugget in our research for this lie. From earlier this year:

Students and even student workers [at the University of Minnesota Morris] have taken to stealing and vandalizing College Republican flyers and poster displays which support pro-life values and civil dialogue.

https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11977

PZ regularly updates his readers on the goings-on in Morris, Minnesota so we were surprised that we had not heard about this incident, which apparently resulted in criminal charges.

Then we remembered who we’re dealing with. PZ Myers, that’s who. And if there is a news story which reflects badly on his chosen tribe, he would not cover it even if you put a gun to his head.

So – to sum up – not only are conservatives more likely to be disinvited from a campus speaking engagement, PZ himself has encouraged people to dispose of a college Republican newsletter and fails to mention the fact that just a few months ago, conservatives were being silenced on his own campus. That’s an impressive record for a single PZ Myers lie.

THE GREAT BIG LIE:

“You want to go on a college campus and argue for a white ethno-state, or that trans people are perverts, or that life begins at conception, or that evolution is Satan’s religion, you can do that — I’ve heard all of that.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/28/free-speech-is-the-new-religious-excuse/

Analysis:

Here is where PZ Myers performs the big switcharoo. Until this point in the post, the only names mentioned have been mainstream thinkers and writers: Jonathan Haidt, Jordan Peterson, and Ben Shapiro. And with the exception of “life begins as conception,” which Shapiro ascribes to (the others don’t) none of those people think or espouse any of the things on PZ’s list.

He wants you to think Ben Shapiro wants a white ethno-state, when he wants nothing of the kind and actively fights with alt-right personalities online. PZ wants you to think Jordan Peterson thinks trans people are perverts, when Peterson, who a clinical psychologist, knows the opposite is true.

This is the Great Big Lie at its most profound. PZ smears an entire corpus of ideas that he doesn’t want to engage with on their merits.

There is so, so much more in this post, like this tidbit:

Don’t worry, though: even as they rake in the cash from obliging conservative think tanks, they’ll keep on whining that they get no respect at the universities.
There’s a reason for that lack of respect, too

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/28/free-speech-is-the-new-religious-excuse/

So which is it, PZ? Should conservatives not whine because they are respected? Or is there no respect, therefore their whining is justified?

We don’t know, and we don’t think PZ knows, either. He was riffing, logic and truth go out the window when he riffs. But not here, which is why we’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of PZWatch.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 36 science-related posts, 85 non-science posts.

30% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 33 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

13 June 2019 – Science and a Lie! What Is It About Jordan Peterson?

You might think a popular university professor whose lectures get millions of views on YouTube, had written a bestselling book based on his background as a clinical psychologist, and thinks the racist alt-right is wrong and tries to reach out and reform individual members would get some love on Pharyngula.

You’d be wrong.

If that same university professor also things the far left is wrong and speaks out forcefully on the subject, you can be sure PZ will have that professor in his rhetorical crosshairs.

PZ has a special dislike of Jordan Peterson, and since its hard to attack him for things he actually says, PZ almost always has to make something up.

PZ Myers Lie:

“Long-windedness won’t help, although I am not surprised that Peterson thinks rambling on and on is the same as erudition.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/13/now-i-know-for-sure-that-jordan-peterson-is-delusional/

Facts:

PZ is referencing a story written about a podcast Peterson did with Joe Rogan in which Peterson announced the launch of a site called Thinkspot (once again, PZ won’t cite the source material he wants to criticize, he cites a friendly article about that source material). The story references an attempt by Peterson to balance the principles of free speech with the need to control trolls and quotes Peterson as saying “If minimum comment length is 50 words, you’re gonna have to put a little thought into it…Even if you’re being a troll, you’ll be a quasi-witty troll.”

Peterson does not say a long-winded comment is “the same as erudition.” Quite the opposite, actually. He suggests trolls will be forced to put some thought into any comment they try to leave on the site, so they might not be completely worthless. Far from thinking length = wisdom, Peterson predicts the rules will deter people from being stupid. Whether or not that will actually happen remains to be seen – Thinkspot is not yet open to the public – but in the meantime we can quite clearly label this another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

Yesterday, we covered two blog posts where PZ Myers lamented content control in one form or another. We said they have a word for that in Texas: cajones, and PZ has some huge ones. They’re growing bigger by the day because today we find PZ saying, “All this is going to do is reinforce the majority view. Actual dissenting voices will be swiftly downvoted into oblivion. It sounds like a formula for building the most sanctimonious and stupefyingly maundering heap of trollery ever.”

Where, you might ask, are the dissenting voices on Pharyngula? They don’t exist, because PZ deletes their comments or bans them entirely.

PZ doesn’t care about free speech (often mocked on the site as ‘freeze peach’). But he does care that Peterson cares about free speech, and wants to use this as an opportunity to mock him. The interesting thing about this particular lie is he didn’t have to do it. He could have mocked Peterson without lying about what he said, but once PZ finds a theme he hits it over and over again, and one of the themes he brings up constantly about Peterson is his supposed ability to be long winded.

The thing is, PZ himself can be fairly long winded when he’s writing about science – as he did today in a wonderful post. But while we’ve never found PZ to be particularly self-aware, we have found him to lie incessantly.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 15 science-related posts, 49 non-science posts.

23% of PZ’s posts on a “science blog” have been about science. 

Note: Most of PZ’s posts on science since 30 May have been dedicated to a spider data gathering initiative he’s running. There have been precious few posts on anything else having to do with science. When the spider data gathering is complete, we’ll take a look at the numbers and parse out how much other science content he provides.

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 20 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.