26 Oct – PZ Myers Falls For An Internet Hoax

UPDATE: See below. Mikhalia Peterson confirms the hoax.

There used to be a time, way back in the early 2000s, when PZ Myers was a sceptic. He used to revel in spotting and ferreting out hoaxes that might seem perfectly reasonable to ordinary people.

That day has long since past. Now, his ideology has blinded him to one of the most obvious hoaxes we’ve ever seen. Behold:

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I read a curious book last night…well, more like skimmed an odd and repetitious assortment of short transcripts… It’s bad. The cover is a hint. It’s a poor Photoshop with sloppy layout, the kind of thing you’d see on a self-published romance novel with the smiling heroine in front in her best bikini, and in the background the brooding, rich Heathcliff she’s going to win over…except, oh dear, that’s her father in the swim trunks. Seriously, Dr Peterson, you’re rich enough to hire a graphics pro to do the design. Chuck Tingle could have done a far better job, and would have at least thrown in a few dinosaurs and a sentient physical manifestation or two… The second issue is that every chapter in their book is a repetitive recital of the same damn things: the same two people describing their complaints and their history, in nearly the same words, in public broadcasts over and over. If you repeat the same anecdote 11 times, it doesn’t magically transform into empirical data.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/25/weinstein-cancelled-right/

Facts:

There’s more in this vein, but you get the idea. PZ Myers presents this book as if it is actually written and published by Jordan & Mikhaila Peterson. The only problem is – they had nothing to do with it.

We’ve asked Mikhaila Peterson for comment, but in the meantime we’re 99% sure this book is a hoax.

The “editor” of this book is a guy by the name of Johnny Rockermeier. Mr. Rockermeier has several other “books” for sale on Amazon.com, in English and German, all of which are “translations” Dr. Peterson’s lectures that can be found online. Each book contains a voucher or coupon for websites Mr. Rockermeier operates, all of which try to monetize Dr. Peterson’s publicly available work.

In other words – it’s a scam. The Petersons were not involved in the creation of this book and are not profiting from it.

Analysis:

This is kind of a sad day for us, and may actually mark the beginning of the end of PZ Watch. Is it possible for us to continue to fact-check someone so oblivious to a hoax this obvious? What would be the point? There is either something seriously wrong, or PZ Myers is so blinded by partisan hatred of Jordan Peterson that he will literally believe anything anyone says about him.

The signs are all there. The cover is atrocious. The blurb for the book contains this:

This book contains the most important Information Nuggets by Dr. Jordan Peterson and his daughter Mikhaila Peterson regarding their carnivore diet – or their “lion diet”.
For every paperback sold, Mikhaila and her father Dr. Jordan Peterson will receive 1 $ directly.

https://www.amazon.com/Jordan-Mikhaila-Peterson-Depression-Transcripts-ebook/dp/B07YL4RCS1/

This is such an obvious fake, it’s hard to believe anyone – much less a once prominent sceptical atheist – took it seriously. But, it does illustrate just how obsequious his readership is – no one, either on Twitter or in the comments section of his blog, called this for what it is, a hoax. They all went along with it.

Very sad stuff.

UPDATE:

In a series of tweets, Mikhalia Peterson vehemently denied being involved in the production of the book.

She also posted a link to this article from The Post Millenial:

While Mikhaila has been vocal about her support for a thoroughly carnivorous diet, this book transcribes comments, interviews, and YouTube videos of the two Petersons and puts it together as a collection. It had no approval from either of the listed authors, no proceeds are heading their way, and fans have been fooled into buying the fake book with a horrendous, amateur photoshopped cover.

https://www.thepostmillennial.com/jordan-peterson-and-daughter-plagued-by-fraudulent-books-on-amazon/

So…what will PZ Myers do now that the hoax he helped perpetrate has been exposed? There are two options:

  1. Nothing. This is the most likely. In fact, he has so insulated himself from opposing views that it’s possible he may never passively hear about this (i.e., it may never hit his Twitter or Facebook feed).
  2. Double down. The book may be fake, he’ll argue, but it still contains Peterson’s words and those are horrible enough. It won’t matter that almost all of PZ’s criticism stems from editorial decisions made by the grifter who hawked the book on Amazon.

If you think PZ will come out with an apology and a retraction, we have some Viking’s Super Bowl tickets to sell you for their upcoming trip in February.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 2 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 123 science-related posts, 518 non-science posts.

19% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 168 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

24 Oct – Three Classic PZ Lies

We’ve been accused of being weirdly “obsessed” with PZ Myers. We usually say three things in response:

a) Guilty as charged

b) Dedicated is another word for obsessed

c) The only thing we’re really obsessed with is the truth, and we just happened to pick perhaps the least truthful person on the planet (aside from Donald Trump) as our subject.

Besides, if you want to witness a weird obsession, look no further than PZ’s infatuation with Mikhaila Peterson, the daughter of Jordan Peterson, and what the father and daughter eat.

We’ve heard Jordan Peterson tell the story of how he and his daughter came to find this diet, and it’s an amazing tale. Mikhaila was very, very sick for most of her life and doctor’s couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. She, through a system of trial and error, figured out her troubles were diet-related and essentially cured herself, then passed the diet along to her father who also saw benefits from it.

That this specific diet has worked spectacularly well for these two people is not disputed by anyone except for PZ. He is so weirdly obsessed with the father-daughter pair, he has to lie about them.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

A diet of nothing but meat is something that no human society has ever tried, so you know that it’s not something we’re well-adapted to…but lots of individuals have tried all kinds of wacky combinations.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/24/classic-nutritional-quackery/

Facts:

In his zeal to proclaim Peterson’s diet an aberration, PZ completely passes over the Inuit diet, which was almost entirely meat.

Traditional Inuit diets derive approximately 50% of their calories from fat, 30–35% from protein and 15–20% of their calories from carbohydrates, largely in the form of glycogen from the raw meat they consumed.

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

If that wasn’t enough, in one of our favourite PZ Myers lies of all time, he denigrated the Paleo Diet without having the first clue how the diet actually came into existence:

I keep hearing about this imaginary paleolithic diet, and I wonder how they know, and also find it strange that there was apparently one people a [sic] 100,000 years ago, and they all ate the same things. Everything about it seems wrong.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/10/what-paleo-diet/

The answer, of course, was everything PZ said about the diet was wrong:

After studying the diets of living hunter-gatherers and concluding that 73 percent of these societies derived more than half their calories from meat, [Loren] Cordain came up with his own Paleo prescription: Eat plenty of lean meat and fish but not dairy products, beans, or cereal grains—foods introduced into our diet after the invention of cooking and agriculture.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/evolution-of-diet/

In other words, if PZ is actually interested in a diet our bodies are “well-adapted to,” he should be looking at something like the Paleo – or Peterson’s – diet.

Analysis:

The only problem is PZ isn’t interested in finding a diet the human body is “well adapted to.” He’s only interested in poking his finger in Peterson’s eye.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

What’s really horrible about it are her exaggerated medical claims. It seems to cure just about everything. She hasn’t yet gone on to claim that it cures cancer, too, but give her time.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/24/classic-nutritional-quackery/

Facts:

Mikhaila Peterson doesn’t make any generalised medical claims about the diet. In fact, in a disclaimer at the bottom of her website, she says this:

The information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.

https://mikhailapeterson.com/

The medical claims Peterson makes are specific and anecdotal: as a result of her diet, she went into complete remission from severe autoimmune arthritis and depression. She does claim the diet will help other people, but what she never does is make specific health claims for anyone but herself and her father – something we’ll cover in the next lie.

Analysis:

Wait for it – there’s one more lie to go.

PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:

She claims to have “cured” him of all kinds of problems… Sure. His emotional problems are all gone now.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/24/classic-nutritional-quackery/

Facts:

Following this snippet, PZ inserts a video snippet of Jordan Peterson having an emotional reaction to the way some people have responded to him on social media. He uses that video as “evidence” Peterson has “emotional problems.”

In between the three sentences in this snippet, PZ inserts this quote from Mikhaila Peterson:

My dad suffered from a number of health problems too. Not like me, but the same depression and similar fatigue and weight gain. Gum disease and skin problems and GERD. He’s fixed too. He lost 50 pounds in the first year on this diet. For anyone who watches his videos, you can see the difference from December 2015 to now.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/24/classic-nutritional-quackery/

Note that she never says all her father’s emotional problems are gone, nor does she ever claim her diet has or will stop him from having an emotional response ever again. PZ simply makes this up.

Analysis:

There are plenty of good reasons to criticise the Petersons, but how their bodies react to food is not one of them. PZ wants them to be quacks, but he comes off like the deranged quack instead.

We’re often left wondering this about PZ – if the people he criticises are so bad and so wrong, then why can’t he counter their arguments without lying?

Could it be that they are more right than he wants to admit?

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 122 science-related posts, 511 non-science posts.

19% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 166 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

22 Sep – When Is PZ Myers Going To Lie Rehab?

He absolutely needs to fine-tune his veracity, and could use to time away to deal with it.

Instead, Jordan Peterson is in rehab to try to help him deal with an addiction to a specific prescription drug, and PZ Myers wants to crow about it. Always one to celebrate the foibles of those he considers intellectual enemies (we don’t think Peterson considers PZ at all), we predict he’ll bring this subject up every time he mentions Peterson moving forward. When he’s not lying about Peterson, he’ll be reminding people about this stint in rehab to try to score points.

Today, he did both.

I liked this angle on the story: going into rehab was the right thing for Peterson to do, and he is to be commended for reaching out for help. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of those tedious self-help gurus, a conservative version of Oprah, who is always telling people that their attitude is the problem, that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, when there are systemic problems that require social cooperation to accomplish real change.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/22/a-good-take-on-jordan-petersons-rehab/

Facts:

“Tedious self-help guru” is a pejorative way to describe a clinical psychologist who used to teach at Harvard, but PZ Myers has always shown a bit of flair for the unnecessary ad-hominem personal attack. While not technically a lie – Peterson did write a book called Twelve Rules For Life – it’s dancing all over the line.

The lie is later on in the paragraph – constituting the entirety of the blog post – when PZ describes what Peterson says. Accurately characterizing his opponents’ arguments is always a problem for him, and this is no exception.

We’ve listened to some of Jordan Peterson’s lectures and read parts of his book – we didn’t get through all of it – but we’re confident he has never said, nor would he ever think that someone’s attitude is “the” problem. Sixth among his twelve rules is this: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” In other words, there are issues in the world to criticize, but before you do that you should make sure you’ve taken a good look at yourself. He does say there are things you can do to improve your life – he is a clinical psychologist, after all, it would be a surprising for him not to say that – he never denies the fact that there are problems in the world requiring social cooperation. In fact, we’ve heard him speak often on the need for social cooperation, just not quite in the way PZ Myers might think of it.

Additionally, in PZ Myers’s world, the phrase “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” is an insult that suggests poor people are poor because they don’t work hard enough. That is another sentiment we’re confident Peterson has never expressed. In fact, we’ve heard him say exactly the opposite.

All of which makes this yet another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

Peterson speaks often of the need for balance between ‘chaos’ and ‘order’, writ large. PZ blithely calls him a ‘conservative’, and while we suppose that’s mostly correct it also misses Peterson’s real message.

He thinks it would be a disaster if one side were to win.

PZ can’t wait for the “revolution.” He wants his side – the progressives – to win and would love to see conservatives eradicated from the face of the earth.

Peterson thinks that would be a disaster (and so do we). According to him, we need the left and the right to maintain a certain sense of balance between chaos and order. When one side – either side! – gets too powerful, the results are devastating.

That’s not a typical “conservative” or “progressive” sentiment, but then again the vast majority of what Peterson talks about has nothing to do with politics, which is one of the reasons we’re pretty sure PZ Myers has spent almost no time listening or reading what he has to say.

Which, come to think of it, makes Peterson just like every other person PZ criticizes on Pharyngula.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related post, 4 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 109 science-related posts, 386 non-science posts.

22% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 124 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.