My skin is at stake!

The Stiefel Foundation is backing a huge charitable donation: they want to give $1,000,000 to cancer research. They need godless atheists to join in, though, to show the world that we care and we can get things done, so Todd Stiefel has started a recruiting drive on Reddit to bring in donors and participants in a charity walk. We need 5,000 more people to sign on this week to meet the goal. And we’re volunteering our flesh and, umm, hair to motivate you. Let’s get some Pharyngula people involved!

our goal this week is to go from 400 to 5,400 people on the Foundation Beyond Belief international team raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We need your help. Please join our team at Please encourage your friends and local freethought groups to join as well. If we make this viral, we can hit this stretch goal!

If we are able to add 5,000 people before the end of Saturday, July 14, I will shave to a mohawk while at Camp Quest South Carolina next week. Additionally, PZ Myers and Hemant Mehta will get tattoos. (Watch their blogs today for proof.) Yeah, they are more braver than I am.

I also want you to know that while Hemant was trying to decide what sacrifice to make, I came forward with my plan to get a tat if we reach 5,000, and then he succumbed to his competitive instincts. Hey, Hemant, if I said I was going to jump off a cliff…?

But heck yeah, I will go through with it — in a tasteful, discreet way — if enough people step up and sign up for this endeavor.

(NO, you have absolutely no input on where or what tattoo I get. I’m not brain-damaged.)


  1. Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare says

    Who gets to design your tattoo? What squidcredible creation will it be?

  2. Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare says

    Seriously–you want to increase the pot, put the design up for grabs, too.

  3. csmiller says

    Are you going to tell us what you plan on having done, to entice us to pony up our money?

  4. says

    Oh, geez. How did you get suckered into this??

    At least one of those “shave your beard” bets would have been temporary.

  5. 'Tis Himself says

    I’m not brain-damaged.

    Is there something about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary proof?

  6. gregpeterson says

    I do not think that one would have to be BRAIN DAMAGED to think that a tat of cthulhu rising out of your butt crack in tramp stamp splendor would be just about the spiffiest design possible. If only Carl Zimmer had not already published his “Science Ink” book…that would have made a terrific addition.

  7. andusay says

    Well, my donation depends on the style and location of this tatoo. Cthulhu rising out of butt crack? $100. Kitten on right upper arm? $5. We need details!

  8. says

    He’s got the most money.

    What I might do is, as the numbers rise, start dropping hints about what the tattoo will be.

  9. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Hyperdeath – please accept this freshly baked internet. And then buy me a new monitor because mine is covered in bees!!! pepsi.

    A tattooed PZ is enough for me to donate. Doesn’t matter what the tat is, just as long as he joins the Inked Tribe.

  10. lynnwilhelm says

    My daughter will be Camp Quest SC next week. I hope she’ll get to see Todd sport that mowhawk!

    By the way, we are grateful to all the Stiefel Foundation has done to get Camp Quest going in our area. My daughter is super-excited about going.

  11. montyburns says

    Will you do like comedian Steven Wright did and get a tattoo of yourself, only bigger?

  12. says

    I suggest you get ‘Hammer of God’ tattooed across your cock. Jes’ Sayin.

    “No, that’s just all you can see right now. It actually says ‘Ed Steinwasser’s Tool, Die and Hammer of Godfrey, Illinois — serving the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area since 1948’.”

  13. carlie says

    Do not try for a portrait of Mary. I’ve seen enough ugly tattoo websites to know how that kind of thing ends up.

  14. Loqi says

    Laughed out loud at work. People in adjacent cubes think the voices in my head are telling me jokes. Thanks.

  15. gregdavies says

    Even though you say we get no input on the design of the tattoo, I must also say that a Cthulhu tramp stamp is the obvious choice.

  16. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Pretty please PZ – say that you’ve put in some research and though about the artist…

    Any old local scratcher is a bad idea.

  17. ButchKitties says

    You should get a nice, Biblical tattoo. May I suggest a tattoo reading: Leviticus 19:28?

  18. Brownian says

    Just remember that Sturgeon’s Law applies to tattoos as well as everything else.

    I suggest having something like “Yolk Braker”* in Gothic lettering across your shoulders. When people ask what it means, say that they’re English characters that mean free thought, “a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by religious or cultural authority, tradition, or other dogmas”.

    When they say that they don’t, ask “You can read English characters?! Why, what do they actually say?”
    *Yoke Breaker**
    **I may be trying too hard to twist this tendency in a way that still lampoons the same people.

  19. John Horstman says

    PZ, get your tattoo done by this ironically blasphemous tattoo parlor next time you have cause to visit Minneapolis:

    I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but it seems WAY too appropriate.

  20. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    “tramp stamp”

    guffaw chuckkle snort. Yeah cuz bitchez with tattoos on their backs are total sluts, amirite? They’re asking for it!


    I don’t want to encourage anyone to get a tattoo.

    Why? They’re awesome and beautiful (if you pick a good artist and aren’t a dumbass picking something dumbassy).

    Sure, it hurts a little bit, but not enough to avoid them.

  21. John Morales says

    So the point is to motivate people who will donate for the prospect of tattoos and a mohawk on some celebrities, but not otherwise.

    (People are petty)

  22. Hammer of dog says

    Forcing people to do things they don’t want to do, i.e. get a tattoo, is reason for me not to participate. A mohawk, at least, will grow out, no biggie. How about getting one of those fancy manicures with tiny squids on each nail?

  23. hbart says

    Dear PZ,

    Getting a tattoo is super-exciting and I’m really happy for you, and for the great cause that you’re helping out. I don’t know if this will be your first tattoo or not, but in case it is, may I offer some advice?

    1) Have an idea that you love, and that you’re not afraid for everyone to see and know that you love. It sounds like you’ve got a good idea already so I’ll truncate this point.

    2) Do your research! I’m sure you’re no stranger to research, but first-timers often have the idea that black and grey photorealism is the best style. It’s not, necessarily. There are so many other styles, like Traditional American, Neo-Traditional, Traditional Japanese, New Skool (graffiti-influenced with perspective bending and right cartoony colours), as well as total outliers that aren’t easily defined (e.g. Spend as much time as you can researching styles to see what you like best.

    3) Having decided on a style, do more research and compare portfolios to find the best tattooist working in your preferred style. There’s no reason to stay in your town, state or even the US if the person you want is elsewhere. That being said, you have a plethora of remarkable talent in the US. If you have to travel, and also generally take a family holiday, why not holiday where the tattooist you want works, and work the appointment into the holiday? Depending on the size, it might take you only a few hours.

    4) Don’t be afraid to take your time, even though you get the tattoo in response to donations. I personally would be tempted to panic and try and get it done asap to avoid accusations of shirking, but it wouldn’t be best. If you were to post a series of updates as you research, plan and book your tattoo, people would at least know that you were moving towards fulfilling your forfeit, and you would be able to take your time to be comfortable

    To get you started researching, linked is one of my favourite tattoo blogs, which frequently showcases styles, artist and interviews with them

  24. says

    Hammer of the dog @53, it seems to me that if PZ was really completely unwilling to get a tattoo, he would have chosen a different forfeit. Forfits in this kind of thing aren’t supposed to be something you genuinely find appalling, just something that’s noticeably outside your normal comfort zone.

    For me, seeing that he takes this project seriously enough to put his skin on the line for it caused me to re-evaluate my own vague discomfort about hitting people up for funds and my general unwillingness to be a joiner, and conclude that this event is important enough to the freethought community that I ought to get involved. I’m not slavering to make PZ do something he doesn’t want to do, just trying to do my small part to match his commitment.

  25. lcaution says

    Seems to me that if Stiefel is willing to sport a Mohawk, a tattoo of a cephalopod is not an equivalent sacrifice. I suggest a kitteh, in a prominent, visible location. I believe that PZ can find a few subjects on which to base the tattoo among the FTB bloggers … although I suppose it might start a kitfight (sorry) over which one deserves the honor.