3 July – Three Lies! And How Not To Think Skeptically, Brought To You By PZ Myers

We found skepticism over a decade ago. Before, we considered ourselves skeptical without really knowing what it was. We were intrigued by events like Bigfoot and UFO sightings, but were always inclined to believe in a rational explanation. Natural contrarians, we challenged authority and wanted to know how things worked and why. Once we learned about skepticism and science-based-rationalism, we were armed with a tool set that helped shape our initial skeptical impulses, with perhaps the most important tool being: follow the evidence.

If the evidence leads you to a conclusion different from the one you had in your mind, there is only one option: change your mind.

Not only is there nothing wrong with changing your mind after reviewing the evidence, we think of it as the hallmark of skeptical thinking.

PZ Myers does not.

PZ railed against Michael Shermer yesterday on Twitter for doing exactly that: changing his mind after being presented with new evidence.

If it sounds incongruous for a skeptical atheist like PZ Myers to blast someone for following the evidence, that’s because you’re not as well acquainted with PZ as we are. We know Myers isn’t skeptical about anything related to politics. In that arena, his mind is granite, inflexible, immovable, and unchangeable no matter what data you throw at him. It allows us to predict, generally, what he’s going to say about any given issue. It’s how we knew he would lie about Antifa and continue his efforts to rehabilitate the group’s reputation after they seriously injured a journalist covering their march.

It’s also how we’re able to predict what he will say tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. It’s supposed to be a celebration of America, the founding, and freedom, among other things. PZ has never thought much about America, and has written before that it should be a “national day of mourning.” Expect more of that tomorrow, but with a twist.

Antifa has been in PZ’s mind lately, and in just the last few weeks he’s gone from pretending progressive activists never get violent to embracing Antifa’s violence on the streets of Portland. We expect he will call them “patriotic” tomorrow.

There will be a 4th of July spectacle in the streets of the nation’s capital, and in writing about it, PZ should compare it to both Nazi Germany and Tiananmen Square. He’ll call Trump an autocrat, and then he’ll say that violent groups like Antifa are necessary to resist the coming right-wing tyranny. Indeed, it will be the only patriotic thing to do, in his mind.

That’s our prediction for what’s in store tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy a few lies about Michael Shermer and Nazis, all of which we think are setting up the post he’s going to write tomorrow.

PZ Myers Lie:

Yeah, right. As we’re seeing in the American concentration camps today, German Nazis didn’t have a monopoly on evil. 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/03/shermers-disgrace-continues-apace/

Facts:

PZ is responding to a tweet from Michael Shermer which says:

The best books I’ve read on Nazism are Ian Kershaw’s Hitler trilogy, Vol. 2 especially. As tempting as it is to analogize groups we don’t like today to the Nazis, Nazism was unique, and uniquely evil.

https://i1.wp.com/freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/files/2019/07/shermerstupidity.jpg?ssl=1

We’re going to ignore the concentration camp lie from here on out. Given its usage in social media and popular culture today thanks to a certain Congressperson from New York, it’s impossible to precisely define the term anymore. It now means only what people on opposite sides of the isle who use it want it to mean.

But, we did identify another lie. PZ claims Shermer said Nazis had a monopoly on evil, but Shermer made an entirely different claim. He said Nazi evil was unique to Nazism, meaning its hard to equate Nazi evil with any other kind of evil. We think that’s a self-evident, if rather banal, observation nobody should have much of a problem with. Nobody except PZ Myers, of course, who feels the need to lie about it.

Analysis:

PZ is fond of comparing generic Republicans – before and after Trump entered the political scene – with Nazis, so it’s no surprise to see him tear into Shermer for calling Nazi evil unique. But we think he has a bigger purpose in mind. If Trump were, in fact, leading an authoritarian Nazi party, it would be both virtuous and necessary to resist that party using force. After all, you can’t wait until tanks are rolling through city streets (like they will be on the 4th) because it will already be too late. See our analysis opening this post. PZ is setting the stage here for tomorrow.

PZ Myers Lie #2:

Shermer had even more to say, though, including this astonishing canard: Good to remember that Nazi=National Socialism. Not far right but far left. Do we really need to debunk this exercise in naive etymology anymore?

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/03/shermers-disgrace-continues-apace/

Facts:

While it is true that fascism has been characterized by many as a right-wing ideology since WWII, opinions on this question are changing. In 2008, Jonah Goldberg wrote the book Liberal Fascism which makes the following claim:

…both modern liberalism and fascism descended from progressivism, and that before World War II, “fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement with many liberal and left-wing adherents in Europe and the United States.”

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

The book received mixed reviews, as detailed at the Wikipedia link, but we’ve read the book and believe it makes a persuasive argument. Lots of the people at Quora think so, too, although some of the arguments get a bit muddled.

But it none of this matters, because the argument that Nazism was left-wing is not, as PZ claims, an “exercise in naive etymology.” Every argument we’ve read relies not on the Nazi use of the word “socialism,” but on the actions of Hitler and the Nazi party. The debate is not etymological, but historical, and that makes this another PZ Myers lie.

Analysis:

Nazis have to be right-wing mainly because PZ Myers identifies as left-wing. This is another one of those areas where no matter what evidence is presented to PZ, he will never, ever warm up to the notion that Hitler’s ideology was left-wing in nature. Republicans are the Nazis, which is why Antifa has to resist them, with violence if necessary.

PZ Myers Lie #3:

Also, in case you didn’t get the memo, Nazis were not atheists, but were generally Lutherans and Catholics. 

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/03/shermers-disgrace-continues-apace/

Facts:

This is an interesting one. We internally debated not calling this a lie, because it’s not clear whether he’s speaking about the Nazi leadership or the rank and file. But if we assume he is talking about the religious leanings of the Germans who would eventually make up the Nazi Party, then the point he wants to make about Nazi ideology makes no sense. Sure, people might have been Lutherans or Catholics before Hitler took power, but what did Hitler intend the Nazi party to do with religion?

Interestingly enough, we have an answer [bolded for emphasis]:

Christianity remained the dominant religion in Germany through the Nazi period, and its influence over Germans displeased the Nazi hierarchy. Evans wrote that Hitler believed that in the long run National Socialism and religion would not be able to coexist, and stressed repeatedly that Nazism was a secular ideology, founded on modern science. According to Evans: “Science, he declared, would easily destroy the last remaining vestiges of superstition.” Germany could not tolerate the intervention of foreign influences such as the Pope, and “Priests, he said, were ‘black bugs,’ abortions in black cassocks.'”

During Hitler’s dictatorship, more than 6,000 clergymen, on the charge of treasonable activity, were imprisoned or executed. The same measures were taken in the occupied territories; in French Lorraine, the Nazis forbade religious youth movements, parish meetings, and scout meetings. Church assets were taken, Church schools were closed, and teachers in religious institutes were dismissed. The Episcopal seminary was closed, and the SA and SS desecrated churches and religious statues and pictures. Three hundred clergy were expelled from the Lorraine region; monks and nuns were deported or forced to renounce their vows.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Nazi_Germany#National_Socialist_attitudes_towards_Christianity

Analysis:

Read the Wikipedia analysis above and then ask yourself again why Nazism is considered a right-wing ideology. Hitler was all about science! Sounds a little too close for comfort to our favorite Biologist, but we’re not yet ready to call PZ a fascist. He is, however, definitely a liar.

Final Tally:

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

Since 30 May 19: 41 science-related posts, 97 non-science posts.

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

Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 44 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

17-18 June – PZ Is Back With Another Lie!

PZ’s visit to the American Arachnological Society, is over, and so is our respite from his lies. His very first post back showcases a lie in the title – a first since we’ve been keeping watch here, so let’s get right into it.

PZ Myers Lie:

“You aren’t owed admission to Harvard, Kyle”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/18/you-arent-owed-admission-to-harvard-kyle/

Facts:

PZ is commenting on a story about Kyle Kashuv, who was admitted to Harvard beginning in the fall term. That admission decision was reversed after some of Kyle’s message board posts containing the n-word were made public. Kyle wrote an apology for those posts and asked Harvard to reconsider, but at no point did he ever state that he was ‘owed’ admission to Harvard. This is another PZ Myers Lie.

Analysis:

If there’s anything PZ dislikes more than an adult conservative, its an adolescent one. A few months back he took the opportunity to slander the Covington kids for something they didn’t do, even though there’s no evidence they were all conservative. Here, the recent high school graduate is an admitted conservative with ties to an activist group called Turning Point USA, and that’s more than enough information for PZ. He brings Michael Shermer into the mix at the end of the post, but we think it was probably Shermer who alerted PZ to the story to begin with. PZ probably hate-reads Shermer, trolling for blog material, and this time it netted him a lie.

Final Tally:

Today: 1 science-related posts and 4 posts on other stuff.

Since 30 May 19: 19 science-related posts, 58 non-science posts.

25% 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. There have been precious few posts on anything else having to do with science. When the spider initiative 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: 22 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

31 May 2019 – Two More Lies and Still No Science

When we saw Michael Shermer’s name pop up on Pharyngula today, we knew there had to be at least one lie somewhere in the post.

We were right.

PZ Myers Lie #1:

“So this is what skepticism has become, Michael Shermer interviewing racist bigot and cult leader Stefan Molyneux.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/05/31/as-long-as-shermer-is-a-respected-skeptic-movement-skepticism-will-be-an-embarrassment/

 Facts:

We had no idea who Stefan Molyneux was, and given PZ’s propensity to lie about his political opponents we thought there was a good chance Molyneux was neither a racist nor a cult leader, so we looked him up. His Wikipedia page describes him as someone “who promotes scientific racism and white supremacist views,” but after a cursory look at the footnotes to those claims, about the only thing we can see for certain is that Molyneux argues in favor of a link between race and IQ. In any event, this isn’t the part of PZ’s claim that interests us. We’ll stipulate Molyneux holds, at the very least, racist views, while being open to having our minds changed if more evidence comes to light or if we’re ever actually interested enough to take a closer look. That aside, the part of PZ’s claim that interests us is the “cult leader” charge.

Molyneux’s Wikipedia page goes into the ‘cult accusations’ made against him in some detail. Basically, the charge goes something like this: Molyneux encouraged some people to disconnect from their families, which is one sign of cult behavior. Molyneux has responded to the charge, saying “If I advised a wife to leave an abusive husband, there would not be articles about how I am a cult leader.”

Without endorsing Molyneux or any of his beliefs, we’re going to side with him here and say PZ does not have enough evidence to call him a cult leader.

Analysis:

PZ will argue until he’s blue in the face that IQ tests are less than worthless, so it’s not surprising to see him take issue with someone like Molyneux, who appears to rely on them to buttress a number of his arguments. We take no position on the issue, but will note that if someone is already a murderer, there’s no need to falsely call him a rapist. But, we also don’t think sliming Molyneux was PZ’s goal. He wanted to slime Shermer by association. PZ doesn’t care whether or not Molyneux leads a cult, the point is to make Shermer look as bad as possible.

Which leads us to our second lie of the day.

 PZ Myers Lie #2:

I’ve done a few interviews in my time, and I always look into the other person ahead of time, if, for nothing else, to have some idea of what topics would provide a good discussion. No, not Shermer! He knew nothing and did zero prep. I don’t believe him, but if I did, that would tell me his podcast has to be total crap…I trust him to do that about as much as I trust him to honestly vet the people he interviews on his podcast.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/05/31/as-long-as-shermer-is-a-respected-skeptic-movement-skepticism-will-be-an-embarrassment/

Facts:

PZ is responding to a tweet from Michael Shermer which says:

“My publicist booked me on this show I’d never heard of @StefanMolyneux and did zero prep for the interview. He was perfectly cordial to me and came across totally reasonable. I knew nothing about his. Opinions on race/IQ, white supremacy, disconnecting from parents, etc.”

https://i2.wp.com/freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/files/2019/05/shermerexcuse.png?ssl=1

It’s clear from Shermer’s tweet that he went on Molyneux’s show, not the other way around. A quick look at Shermer’s YouTube page shows no interview with Molyneux, and neither does his Podcast page. In fact, the interview doesn’t show up immediately on Molyneux’s YouTube page, either, we had to go looking for it.

You want to know why?

Because the Molyneux interview of Shermer is over two years old.

So why, two years later, is PZ claiming Shermer’s podcast must be total crap because he didn’t do any preparation before going on someone else’s YouTube show? We’ll discuss in the analysis section below, but first, let us clearly label this as PZ’s second lie of the day. The whole point of PZ’s commentary was that he didn’t believe Shermer failed to prep for his own show, a point which doesn’t make sense if Shermer had actually gone on someone else’s show, which he appears to have done.

Analysis:

We suspect the one word Shermer used in his tweet that really ticked PZ off was “publicist.” Shermer has one.

PZ doesn’t.

PZ has long claimed to not mind that he’s not more well-known and respected, but we don’t really buy it. He often talks about others — Shermer, Sam Harris, and Jordan Peterson are three of his favorite targets, and he mentions two of them in this post — who are ‘rich and famous’ in a way that makes us suspect he’s jealous. Earlier today, in fact, PZ posted a story about a map showing a city’s most Wikipedia’ed residents. We think he probably went looking for his own name hovering over the small town of Morris, Minnesota, and came up empty (Morris isn’t on the map). But, it turned out to be a good opportunity to bash a couple Republican politicians, which is one of PZ’s favorite pastimes.

We’re not clinical psychologists and can’t diagnose PZ in any meaningful way, but we suspect this is a theme we’ll return to often here at PZWatch. PZ doesn’t like other atheists, particularly ones who disagree with him on political issues, who are more popular and respected than he.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related, 2 posts on politics and 1 post on the new Godzilla movie.

Since 30 May 19: 0 Science-related posts, 8 Non-science posts

Today: 2 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 4 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.