30 Sep – 2 Oct – No, We Haven’t Quit, And Neither Has PZ

The good part about taking a few days off is getting away from it all and relaxing. The bad part is the work still manages to pile up while you’re away. This is one of several project we’re working on currently, and because it is volunteer, unpaid work, it gets pushed to the back burner when there are more important – paid! – things to be done.

We don’t think we can stress this enough to our readers, few though you may be. We fact-check PZ Myers on our free time. It’s not hard, and it’s certainly not a full time job. Finding and documenting his lies is relatively easy. It’s also a little sad, but that just means we should probably re-evaluate our life choices at some point.

Not today, however. We have 3 lies to cover. Onward!

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

O’Fallon has obsessions about Marxism, about the Holy Mother Church, about George Soros (call that what it is: anti-semitism), about post-modernism, about retaining the privileges of class and race.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/30/oh-richard-dawkins-no/

Facts:

PZ is writing here about Michael O’Fallon, who founded an organization PZ doesn’t like. O’Fallon is clearly a conservative, and has views that are clearly at odds with those of George Soros, but is O’Fallon or his organization anti-semetic?

No.

As evidenced by the stories posted to the Sovereign Nations website PZ references, neither O’Fallon nor his organization are at all anti-semetic. To the contrary, with titles like, ” It is Not Surprising to See an Increase in Jew-Hatred in Western Europe,” and ” Why Postmodern Intersectionality Imperils Israel & Jews,” they appear to be allied with Jewish interests.

Analysis:

It must be so freeing to be PZ Myers. You can throw around claims like this without any evidence whatsoever, knowing that no one who reads your website will say word one about it.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

Furthermore, this is a “conference” with just 3 speakers, Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose, who have a deplorable reputation as bad scholars who make up shit in their crusade against post-modernism, just like Peterson, while not having the vaguest notion of what it is.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/30/oh-richard-dawkins-no/

Facts:

Boghossian, Lindsay and Pluckrose are the people behind the “Sokal Squared Hoax.” Their purpose was to “make up shit” and submit it to respected, peer-reviewed journals for publication. Here are their results:

By the time of the reveal, four of their 20 papers had been published, three had been accepted but not yet published, six had been rejected, and seven were still under review. One of the published papers had won special recognition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grievance_Studies_affair

PZ infers that “making shit up” contributed to the perception that the three were bad scholars, but in fact it was integral to the execution of the hoax. How else to expose a faulty peer-review process than to submit made-up papers? What was their alternative, to submit real research? What point would that have proven?

Additionally, PZ intimates that the trio has no knowledge of post-modernism, but that is belied by the success of their hoax. They were able to fully integrate the language of post-modernism into their papers, enabling them to not only be published but to win an award!

Analysis:

This may be our favorite PZ Myers lie of all time. We literally fell off our chair when we read what he had written. Before this, we would have thought a lie this brazen, this comically bad, would never have made it through whatever malfunctioning lie-detector circuits he has in his brain.

We resolve to never again be surprised by anything this man writes. It’s a truly stunning sight to behold.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

Jeffrey Epstein loved evolutionary psychology because it was used to justify rapey behavior and abuse of women — it’s good for the species, don’t you know, rich abusers wouldn’t exist if they didn’t have an adaptive advantage. So Epstein threw money at helpful apologists like Robert Trivers and Martin Nowak (boy, did he throw a lot of money at him), and they obliged by rationalizing the worst activities of men. Meanwhile, other hangers-on [Steven Pinker] who did not even like, let alone get paid by him, were still well-pleased by the chauvinism of EP [evolutionary psychology], and heaped praise upon it without even requiring any quid pro quo. I don’t know which is worse.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/02/evolutionary-psychology-the-favorite-discipline-of-old-white-men-everywhere/

Facts:

There are two lies in this snippet. First, the idea that Steven Pinker was a “hanger-on” of Jeffrey Epstein is simply untrue, and PZ knows it. After the most recent allegations against Epstein came to light, Pinker offered a defense/explanation of his relationship with Epstein in light of pictures that were circulating around social media. The short version is, there was no relationship. Their paths intersected on occasion, but he never took any money from Epstein and certainly never tried to cultivate a relationship with him.

Second, the idea that Pinker is “well pleased by the chauvinism of EP” is absurd. PZ offers no support for that claim, and we highly doubt he could produce any quotations from Pinker’s published works or speeches or podcasts supporting it. Here is a more likely explanation for PZ’s dislike of EP, and a more thoughtful and nuanced explanation of Pinker’s thoughts on it.

Analysis:

At the Why Evolution Is True website, Jerry Coyne has this to say about opponents of EP: “Second, it’s pretty clear that the opposition to evolutionary psychology from these quarters is ideologically rather than scientifically motivated. “

That is PZ Myers in a nutshell. Anything he writes about, apart from the science of his particular field (and we’re not even sure about that, to be completely honest) is more ideologically than scientifically motivated. That is why PZWatch exists. And it’s why we find it fascinating that a man so seemingly devoted to rationality and the truth lies with such regularity.

Final Tally:

30 Sep – 2 Oct: 1 science-related posts, 18 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 113 science-related posts, 424 non-science posts.

21% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

30 Sep – 2 Oct: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 130 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

5 Sep – Biased Sources, Motivated Reasoning, And Two Lies

Today, PZ Myers continued his abject lesson in how to be entirely un-self aware by accusing someone else – Michael Nugent – of using biased sources and motivated reasoning.

And PZ would know a bit about each of those things because he uses them extensively. They nicely complement his lying.

We detail two lies today, one about Michael Nugent and another about perpetual PZ punching bag Jeffrey Epstein. Let’s get right to the action.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I am not going to address most of it, because I think the perspective most needed here would be that of actual trans people, not another cis het man. It is intrinsically offensive that a couple of guys would meet for lunch and decide what should be done about the LGBTQs, and another guy chiming in doesn’t help matters.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/05/biased-sources-motivated-reasoning-and-blithe-assumptions-the-terf-story/

Facts:

PZ does, of course, chime in, but wants to get credit for at least saying he shouldn’t. And what a way to start! He lies about the very first paragraph in Nugent’s post:

Since my recent lunch with my friend Graham Linehan, I have been learning more about the issues of biological sex and socially-constructed gender. Thank you to everyone who contacted me with constructive comments. In this article I am sharing my current opinions on the following topics:

https://www.michaelnugent.com/2019/09/02/sex-and-gender/

PZ’s version of this paragraph is exactly the opposite of what Nugent says actually happened. Instead of deciding what to do “about the LGBTQs,” at the lunch, Nugent left and decided he needed more information. He’s learned more about the issues since and solicited comments from others as well.

Analysis:

It’s not just this snippet, PZ misrepresents Nugent’s entire post, just not in a way we could classify as a lie. Reading PZ alone, you would get the idea Nugent is a transphobic bigot trying to deny the existence of people who don’t neatly fit into one of two binary biological sex “boxes.” But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Nugent appears to be genuinely wrestling with the issue in a thoughtful, respectful manner.

The problem is he doesn’t agree, totally and wholeheartedly, with PZ Myers. That’s more than enough to get you banned from commenting at Pharyngula, and it’s also enough for PZ to lie about you.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

Negroponte just got up and admitted that all the great things that benefited all the lucky people at MIT were the product of unclean hands, and that he’d happily take any money from anyone, no matter how they acquired it.
I guess ethics isn’t one of the scholarly disciplines MIT is known for.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/05/butbutthats-the-whole-goddamn-problem/

Facts:

PZ is writing about this article from Technology Review, and we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he read it before it was updated. The original article made it sound like Nicholas Negroponte would have encouraged MIT Media Lab director Joichi Ito to take money from Jeffrey Epstein even if he had known Epstein was a sex trafficker.

But, for the purposes of this lie, it doesn’t matter what version of the story PZ read, because the very paragraphs he quoted expose the lie. These two are reproduced in the post:

Negroponte said that he prided himself on knowing over 80% of the billionaires in the US on a first-name basis, and that through these circles he had come to spend time with Epstein. Over the years, he had two dinners and one ride in Epstein’s private jet alone, where they spoke passionately about science. (He didn’t say whether these occurred before or after Epstein’s 2008 conviction.) It was these interactions, he said, that warmed him to Epstein and made him confidently and enthusiastically recommend that Ito take the money.
It was at this point that Negroponte said he would still have given Ito the same advice today. Different people in attendance had conflicting interpretations of his statement. Some understood him to mean he would act the same way even knowing what he knows now about Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking. But Negroponte told the Boston Globe that in retrospect, “Yes, we are embarrassed and regret taking his money.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/05/butbutthats-the-whole-goddamn-problem/

In other words, Negroponte did not say “he’d happily take any money from anyone, no matter how they acquired it. And he most definitely did not admit “that all the great things that benefited all the lucky people at MIT were the product of unclean hand.”

Once again, PZ just makes this stuff up out of whole cloth.

Analysis:

Negroponte might have been trying to make a similar point to the one we made a few days ago, but the backlash was so swift and severe that he walked it back pretty quickly. Our question still stands: are pedophiles irredeemable? Should they be banned from participating in life after serving time for their crimes?

If your answer is yes, then the real issue is with the criminal justice system and pedophilia sentencing guidelines. If your answer is no, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to give their money away to science?

PZ will never explain. Taking money from Epstein was bad because he says so. End of story.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 99 science-related posts, 317 non-science posts.

24% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 112 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.

11 July – PZ Approves of Science, When it ‘Exonerates’ antifa

Three disparate lies today. It might sometimes seem as if PZ Myers is a broken record, repeating the same lies over and over again, but he really does have a wide range.

Today it was more antifa image rehab (they’re really the good guys! Avert your eyes from the journalist they almost killed, because the real story is they couldn’t have mixed cement with milk shakes), private prisons (founded by Republican politicians, except don’t actually check that accusation because it’s not true), and a little ragging on Jeffrey Epstein and Harvard.

Our docket is full here at PZWatch, so let’s get right to it.

PZ Myers Lie:

The Adams County facility is run by CoreCivic, the largest such organization in the country, and which was founded by — hold on to your hats — a group of Republican politicians and lobbyists.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/11/ice-abhors-a-vacuum/

Facts:

PZ links to the Wikipedia page for CoreCivic, which lists three founders: Thomas Beasley, Don Hutto, and Robert Crants. Of those three, Thomas Beasley is the only easily identifiable Republican politician, serving as the chair of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Robert Crants (whose given first name is “Doctor,” really) does not appear to have had any political ties when he founded CoreCivic. He graduated from West Point and served two tours in Vietnam before going into the real estate and cable television businesses.

T. Don Hutto appears to be the only one of the trio with any correctional experience prior to founding CoreCivic, and there also doesn’t appear to be much politics in his background. He was, however, named as director of corrections for the state of Arkansas by Dale Bumpers, a Democrat.

In summary, the group that founded CoreCivic included one Republican politician, one apolitical businessman, and a correctional professional appointed to a state post by a Democrat, making PZ Myers’s claim – that they were “a group of Republican politicians and lobbyists” – a lie.

Analysis:

Ironically enough, this is one of the many issues where we agree with the general thrust of PZ’s criticism. While we stop at suggesting the country might be fascist because of the incarceration rate (yet another reason we need antifa, we suppose) we do think the over-criminalization of drug offenses is a serious problem. It’s one place we think people like PZ and the Trump administration could find common ground. But PZ trying to find common ground with Trump will happen around the same time as he stops lying and the Vikings win the Super Bowl: never.

PZ Myers Lie #2:

One of the arguments Lawrence Krauss used to try to dissuade me from criticizing Jeffrey Epstein was that he gives so much money to so many scientific enterprises. He’s a friend of science! He donated to Krauss’s Origins Project at ASU. He was dropping millions of dollars on various universities. Look at Harvard, they were happy to take cash from a child rapist.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/11/the-entanglement-of-science-with-money-and-crime/

Facts:

Jeffrey Epstein donated $6.5 million to Harvard in 2003, three years before allegations against him became public. Harvard has taken no money from him since that time. The Harvard Crimson reported on the story in 2006, quoting a Harvard spokesman as saying “The University is not considering returning this gift.”

PZ would have been on firmer ground had he claimed Harvard was “happy” to keep Epstein’s donation, but instead he falsely claims the University knew he was a child rapist at the time he made the donation.

Analysis:

PZ wants to use the Epstein case to smear a bunch of people he doesn’t like, Donald Trump, Alex Acosta, Lawrence Krauss and Steven Pinker among them. He quotes a long Twitter thread by Nathan Oseroff-Spicer alleging, among other things, a sleazy relationship between Epstein and Pinker. The problem? Steven Pinker says, “I have no relationship with Epstein & have taken no funding from him.”

As for Trump, the jury is still out on exactly what his relationship was with Epstein, however he did apparently kick Epstein out of Mar-a-Lago after Epstein assaulted a girl there.

And then there are the concerning Bill Clinton ties, but PZ won’t linger on those because Clinton is a Democrat.

PZ Myers Lie #3:

I approve this use of the scientific method to debunk the Portland police. They fed this stupid rumor that antifa was mixing quick-setting cement into milkshakes to do more harm to the fascists they were protesting. There was no evidence of such behavior, but it quickly became a right-wing talking point.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/11/sciencing-the-accusations-against-antifa/

Facts:

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s police liaison, Robert King, explained during a media call after the event:

A Portland Police Bureau lieutenant “saw a powdery substance that appeared to cause some irritation [when in contact with skin].” The lieutenant also said the milkshake smelled similar to wet concrete, a smell they were familiar with from “having worked with concrete before.”

https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2019/07/01/26734870/mayors-officer-portland-police-acted-responsibly-by-sharing-cement-milkshake-rumor

Additionally, the Portland Police received an anonymous email containing a recipe for the milkshakes.

It turns out the police were wrong. There have been no confirmed cases of antifa protesters mixing quick-drying cement into their milkshakes, but that doesn’t mean there was no evidence of such behavior, or even that it didn’t happen. There was first hand evidence in the form of testimony from a police lieutenant and there was hearsay evidence in the form of an anonymous email. Both of which make this yet another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

PZ doesn’t want to dwell on the fact that antifa almost beat a journalist to death, but he does want to spend as much time as he can talking about this because it’s something he thinks he can use to malign antifa’s critics. He also wants people to think its silly that antifa would put cement in their milkshakes, but we’re not sure why this is so. We think people who wear all black, hide their faces, don hardened gloves, and assault journalists in broad daylight would be easily capable of something like that.

It’s weird. On one hand, PZ excuses and even advocates for violence coming from groups like antifa. On the other, when police say they have evidence antifa mixed cement into their milkshakes, PZ thinks it might be a right-wing plot. In our opinion, if their had been irrefutable evidence members of antifa did mix milkshakes with cement, PZ would be finding a way to excuse it anyway.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 44 science-related posts, 119 non-science posts.

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

Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 53 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.