27 Aug – Lie #100!

Jam packed day here at PZWatch. PZ Myers gave us reason to celebrate by writing his one-hundredth lie since we began this website, and that’s really the main event of the day, so we’ll blow through this lie about David Koch and get right to it.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

I would also add that even their good donations were tainted by an agenda. They funded a major exhibit on human evolution at the Smithsonian, but one of their goals was to play up how climate change affected human evolution. Why, we wouldn’t be here if not for climate change! Therefore, it’s all good for you.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/27/rich-people-using-charities-as-a-way-to-whitewash-their-crimes/

Facts:

The link PZ uses to substantiate this claim goes to a Pharyngula post from 2010, which goes into more detail about this lie. It’s not our (volunteer, unpaid) job to retroactively fact-check PZ Myers’s blog posts – if it was, we’d never leave the house – but, in this case we can do both at once, since he essentially repeats the same lie in both places.

I suppose it wouldn’t leap out at an evolutionary biologist because it is true: there have been temperature fluctuations and long term changes that have hit our species hard, and nobody is denying it. However, it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that we should therefore look forward to melting icecaps and flooding seaboards and intensified storms. 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/10/07/so-thats-why-koch-funded-a-maj/

Now, having set the stage with PZ Myers’s claims, let’s see what the exhibit has to say:

This exhibition is based on decades of cutting-edge research by Smithsonian scientists, and is the result of an international collaboration with over 60 research and educational organizations and over 100 researchers from around the world. The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins offers visitors an immersive, interactive journey through 6 million years of scientific evidence for human origins and the stories of survival and extinction in our family tree during times of dramatic climate instability…Explore actual archaeological field sites at interactive snapshots in time, examine over 75 cast reproductions of real skulls from around the world, engage with an interactive family tree showcasing 6 million years of evolutionary evidence from around the world, and address pressing questions and issues surrounding climate change and humans’ impact on the Earth in the “One Species Living Worldwide” theatre and the “Changing the World” gallery.

http://humanorigins.si.edu/exhibit

We haven’t been to the Smithsonian since this exhibit opened, so we have no first-hand knowledge of what it does or doesn’t say, but then again, neither does PZ Myers. He gives no indication of having visited the exhibit, relying instead on evidence from ThinkProgress – a decidedly biased source of information.

However, based on what we read above, exhibit appears to address the issue of human-caused climate change head on, and not in a way that suggests it will be “good for you” it something to “look forward to.” It is highly unlikely that anyone would walk away from this exhibit thinking that we should look forward to melting icecaps and flooding seaboards. In fact, it’s hard for us to conceive of a world in which the Smithsonian, in conjunction with 100 researchers around the world, produces an exhibit claiming catastrophic climate change is “good for you.” That claim is, most decidedly, a lie.

Analysis:

PZ Myers gets a lot of mileage out of taking conservative Christians to task – rightly so – for their creationist beliefs. Here, he excoriates a conservative for funding and exhibition at one of the most prestigious museums in the world focusing on the science of evolution! PZ’s original post on this amounts to hand-wringing that, while the science was right, it suggests a conclusion he doesn’t like.

And that’s the real issue. It suggests PZ doesn’t really care about science that doesn’t support his evangelical political positions. It suggests he doesn’t care about truth unless it somehow supports his agenda. It is, in other words, the opposite of what a rational, science-based person should do.

Which may explain all the lies…

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 90 science-related posts, 290 non-science posts.

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

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie

Since 30 May 19: 100 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

23 Aug – PZ Celebrates a Death, Then Lies About That Person’s Life

The Koch brothers, both together and separately, have represented a particular kind of bugaboo for PZ Myers. The idea that someone could have both money and the courage of their convictions to invest that money to make their political ideas turn into reality isn’t a foreign one to him. Both George Soros and Tom Steyer are examples of people on the progressive left with whom PZ doesn’t take much issue. But the Koch brothers represent, for an evangelical progressive like PZ Myers, the Devil incarnate.

What does a good progressive do, then, when the Devil dies? Celebrate, that’s what.

But, if you’re PZ Myers at least, you have to lie about it, too.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

One down. David Koch is dead. One more malignant, poisonous criminal whose sole contribution to history is bringing the end of civilization a little closer is gone.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/23/one-down/

Facts:

David Koch’s sole “crime” was having some political ideas that clash with the ideas preferred by PZ Myers. As we’ll see, they shared quite a few ideas and values.

PZ supports his claim that Koch is a “malignant, poisonous criminal whose sole contribution to history is bringing the end of civilization a little closer,” with a long quote from Jane Mayer about the supposed power Koch and his brother wielded to dissuade Congress from passing cap and trade legislation to regulate carbon in the US economy.

That’s an interesting take, to say the least, to suggest that the failure to pass cap and trade almost a decade ago has caused the end of civilization to advance just a little bit closer. PZ hasn’t, to our knowledge, established that the end of civilization is eminent at any point on the horizon. We have some plans to make if that’s the case, so we’d be interested to know the details.

Additionally, we suspect any contributions Koch makes to history will be as a result of his philanthropic endeavors:

In February 1991, Koch was a passenger on board USAir Flight 1493 when it collided with another aircraft on a runway at Los Angeles International Airport, killing 35 people. Koch survived and said in an interview in 2014 that it helped change his life and prompted him to become “tremendously philanthropic.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koch#Philanthropy

A partial list of his donations is also documented on his Wikipedia page here:

Koch said his biggest contributions go toward a “moon shot” campaign to finding the cure for cancer, according to his profile on Forbes. Between 1998 and 2012, Koch contributed at least $395 million to medical research causes and institutions…In 2015, he committed $150 million to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to build the David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care…From 1982 to 2013, Koch contributed $18.6 million to WGBH Educational Foundation, including $10 million to the Public Broadcasting Service(PBS) show Nova. Koch was a contributor to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., including a $20 million gift to the American Museum of Natural History, creating the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing and a contribution of $15 million to the National Museum of Natural History to create the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which opened on the museum’s 100th anniversary of its location on the National Mall on March 17, 2010. He also served on the executive board of the Institute of Human Origins. In 2012, Koch contributed US$35 million to the Smithsonian to build a new dinosaur exhibition hall at the National Museum of Natural History.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koch#Philanthropy

Interesting little tidbit here about Koch’s political activism:

In July 2015 David Koch and his brother were commended by both President Obama and activist Anthony Van Jones for their bipartisan efforts to reform the prison system in the United States. For nearly ten years the Kochs together advocated for several reforms within the criminal justice system which include reducing recidivism rates, simplifying the employment process for the rehabilitated, and defending private property from government seizures through asset forfeiture. Allying with groups such as the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Coalition for Public Safety, and the MacArthur Foundation, the Kochs maintained the current prison system unfairly targets low-income and minority communities at the expense of the public budget

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koch#Prison_reform

In other words, PZ gets David Koch exactly backwards. Not only is he not a malignant criminal, but he is a huge supporter of science, medical research and many of the same political policies PZ professes to prefer.

Analysis:

PZ has been on an open borders tear recently, but so was David Koch. He and his brother were huge proponents of immigration and spent a lot of time and money working with immigrants. This is yet another issue – the Koch brothers, that is – which demands a nuanced, skeptical treatment anathema to what PZ Myers does nowadays. He’s an unskeptical evangelical partisan shill, and his next lie illustrates this especially well.

PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:

They’re millionaires, by definition they’re contemptible parasites who have exploited others to obtain their excessive wealth.  

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/08/23/maybe-we-need-to-think-more-deeply-about-the-ethics-of-science-funding/

Facts:

PZ was off to the races here in a long rant about science funding (in the context of Jeffrey Epstein, of course. We idly wonder sometimes if PZ would ever avail himself of a cure for cancer if he found out its discovery had been funded by the billionaire pedophile).

He’s gone on a variation of this rant before, but limited his criticism to billionaires. This time he lowers the bar by a factor of a thousand. We know this is a lie because PZ Myers has never called the following people “contemptible parasites who have exploited others to obtain their excessive wealth”:

  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Barack Obama
  • Joan Gabel

The first three names are recognizable. We’ll get to the fourth in a minute.

Sanders and Warren are PZ Myers’s preferred Presidential candidates. He’s endorsed Sanders in the past, and this time around he says he prefers Warren.

Both of them are millionaires.

Sanders is relatively poor, by comparison, at a mere $2 million net worth. Warren is doing much better, sitting at between $6 and $11 million.

Former President Obama is doing better than both of them combined, however. He and his wife Michelle just bought a Hampton’s estate valued at $14.85 million to go along with their Washington D.C. residence valued at $8 million.

We have never seen PZ Myers claim that any of these three politicians are contemptible parasites who have exploited others to obtain their excessive wealth.

The fourth name on the list is a little bit closer to home for PZ. Joan Gabel is the President of the University of Minnesota, the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota system which includes PZ Myers’s own institution, the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Just last December, the University of Minnesota unanimously approved Gabel’s salary: $640,000 a year. Gabel is contracted for five years which means, assuming she remains at the University for the entirety of her contract, she will make $3.2 million dollars.

A search of PZ’s website shows that he’s never written about Joan Gabel, therefore it’s safe to say, just like the other three people on our list, he’s never called her a parasite who has exploited others.

Analysis:

When is PZ Myers most incoherent, is a question we ask ourselves quite often. The answer might just be anything having to do with economics. The idea that someone who has made any amount of money in their lives has, by definition, exploited someone else is so foreign to textbook economic theory in addition to reality in everyday life that it approaches the incoherence of a religious belief. PZ abhors those beliefs in another context. Why can’t he see the fact that his thinking is infected in a similar manner? We have no idea, but it does make for some interesting reading.

And some astounding lies.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 88 science-related posts, 276 non-science posts.

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

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 98 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.