3 June 2019 – No Lies, No Science, and Three Close Calls

We were very tempted to call one or all of the items below a PZ Myers Lie, but we want to maintain a high threshold for the use of that word on PZWatch. Only when PZ’s lies are incontrovertible will it appear. When he gives himself some lie-wiggle room, we’ll call it a near miss like today.

Almost Lie:

“the reservations in Washington state are in many ways isolated, populated with poor people, but at the same time penetrated with highways and outsiders are encouraged to visit to buy cheap cigarettes or gamble, so some of the worst people from the outside are cruising through the place…Colonialism isn’t over yet, it seems – it’s still exacting a toll.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/03/the-indian-wars-never-ended-they-just-changed-tactics/

Analysis:

PZ’s post is all about “raising awareness of the wave of crime against Indian women,” and it’s safe to say he places the blame squarely on the shoulders of ‘Colonialism,’ even though our short dive into the numbers showed a much muddier picture. But that’s not where we part ways with PZ. What almost landed PZ in the lie column was this: “outsiders are encouraged to visit to buy cheap cigarette or gamble.”  Yes, they are indeed encouraged to do both of those things…by the Native American tribes themselves!

PZ maligns these casinos, but they’re actually a boon to the economies of the tribes who run them. Here’s what the American Economic Association had to say:

Research shows that casino operations are correlated with declines in obesity, smoking, and heavy drinking, and increases in employment. The cash payouts that some tribal governments have disbursed to tribe members have been shown to boost school attendance and degree attainment in the poorest households. Overall, real income per capita for American Indians living on reservations increased nearly 50% in the twenty years from 1990 to 2010, far outpacing growth for Americans generally during this period.

https://www.aeaweb.org/research/has-tribal-gaming-been-a-boon-for-American-Indians.php

Something is going on in Native American reservations, and a lot of women are getting hurt as a result, but it isn’t the case that the Colonialist American government forced casinos and tobacco shops on these tribes. These tribes are doing it themselves and benefiting from it greatly.

Almost Lie #2:

He was a co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, that data analysis firm that scraped the scum off the Facebook barrel to skew elections.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/03/it-always-sounds-fancier-in-latin/

Analysis:

PZ takes some time out of his busy schedule to throw some shade on Steve Bannon today. In the sentence above he insinuates that Cambridge Analytica used the Facebook data it (improperly, it appears) received from a scientist to somehow inappropriately bias the 2016 Presidential election. That’s what a plain reading of the sentence suggests to us, but PZ doesn’t come right out and say it so we won’t call this a lie.

What Cambridge Analytica did was try to identify the most persuadable voters and target them with advertisements. That’s a reasonable thing for an election campaign to do, and Trump’s team wasn’t the first to use big data to gain insights into the electorate. Barack Obama’s team did some of the pioneering work in this field.

PZ doesn’t care about data analytics and doesn’t even really care about Facebook data being used toward that end. His beef is that a Republican team was successful in this endeavor.

Almost Lie #3:

So getting pregnant means it’s not your body anymore?

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/06/03/somebody-explain-this-to-me/

Analysis:

Some precocious student at UMM made the mistake of putting a pro-life flyer somewhere PZ Myers would see it, and that’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

PZ can’t not comment.

The result is almost complete bullshit. Throughout the whole post he pretends not to understand the flyer or what it’s trying to say, and in the quote above he’s talking about an image of an arrow clearly pointing to a pregnant woman’s belly with the words “Not your body, your responsibility” above it. The flyer’s author quite obviously wants to make the point that the fetus/unborn child is in and of itself a person with a body that the pregnant woman has a responsibility to protect.

(Incidentally, some of us agree with PZ here when he asks, ” Where’s the man from the left picture? It’s not his responsibility? But we digress)

The entire pro-life/anti-abortion argument revolves around identifying the specific point human life – life worthy of being granted human rights – begins. Is that point conception? Birth? Viability? Somewhere in between?

This is another case where PZ cannot and will not grant that his political opposition even has so much as an argument. To him, the debate above doesn’t exist. It’s been settled and because of that he tries to be funny and feigns ignorance.

He’s full of it, but it’s not a lie we can clearly pin on him so it stays out of that column.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related, 4 posts on political topics.

Since 30 May 19: 3 Science posts, 17 non-science posts

Today: 0 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 8 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.