The Perfect Pangburn

I’ve been reading Travis Pangburn’s personal history of the downfall of Pangburn Philosophy, and wow. I had no idea that a saint was living among us. From the outside, what I saw was an impresario who was busy sucking up to the alt-right, who over-committed himself to multiple big ticket events around the world, and then discovered that Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson only have niche appeal and there were only so many tickets for so much that could be sold. He crashed and burned when he couldn’t pay his ‘talent’, when events collapsed, and when he couldn’t even refund ticket-holders money. What I didn’t know, according to Travis, was that none of it was his fault. It was all the result of a conspiracy by his backstabbing employees, and the faithlessness of the people he was paying big money to to perform.

I think Peak Pangburn was reached when his rage at his staff prompted him to send this email to all of them.

Sneaking around, hiding things from me, recording my voice without my knowledge, absurd questioning of my motives and practice, feeling urges of physical violence towards me, citing things from my past work relationships and using that as fuel for your cowardly motives, long conversations on Facebook to plan to confront me on issues in group think, thinking your have admissions of some kind of guilt from me etc etc etc…….. Some of you came to me to report this insanity, but much too late. You had already contributed your drivel to this failure.

You have all disappointed and failed me. (TD’s) email of demands exposed your callousness and/or cowardice. I have no use for cowards. You will never be forgiven, as far as I can tell, for the stress & pressure you put on me and my family the night before my flight to Dublin. You disgust me in your carelessness. My trust for each of you has reached absolute zero.

Effective immediately:

-All of your current contracts with Pangburn Philosophy are terminated. The contract you had me sign under duress at the Vancouver airport is null and void and was never active.

-Your Pangburn email addresses have been deactivated.

-You have no permission to access any Pangburn Philosophy credit cards, PayPal, social media accounts or anything else owned and operated by Travis Pangburn or Pangburn Philosophy.

-The locks, alarm system & surveillance at the Pangburn Philosophy headquarters have all been changed. You are not permitted on the premises, as you are no longer a member of the Pangburn Philosophy team due to your contract termination. If you have personal items left behind, you can schedule a pickup time with me through your personal email.

-You can send me final invoices from your personal email, that are based on your standard operating contract prior to me being put under duress from Masha’s email of collective demands.

-If you have in your possession anything owned by Travis Pangburn or Pangburn Philosophy, make arrangements to return those items swiftly.

A dim light from this precipice:

Each of you has the opportunity, this Friday, July 20th, to call me to attempt to stay on with Pangburn Philosophy in a lesser capacity. If your reasons for calling are outside of your love for the Pangburn Philosophy or myself, don’t waste my time. If your reason for calling is for the love of working with the speakers or artists I pay for, don’t waste my time.

Do not respond to this email in any way. I have no time for your excuses or explanations.

*Any distribution of this email or any other Pangburn Philosophy communication marked confidential will result in fierce legal action. This also includes any contacts that were shared with you confidentially.

I can’t imagine why his staff detested Captain Queeg…I mean, Travis Pangburn. It wasn’t Trav’s fault, it was all their fault, and they deserved to be fired. Unless they’re willing to crawl back and work for less money.

Also amusing: he blames Sam Harris for abandoning him, but at the same time calls him a “great human being”. The obsequious and loquacious tongue-laving, simultaneously sucking up while seething with resentment, reminds me of another character: EB Farnum from the series Deadwood. He’s a bottom-feeder who relies on the patronage of others more popular than he, who lashes out at his underlings whenever he thinks he is unobserved.

Oh, wait, I forgot — he’s a blameless saint.


  1. DanDare says

    Good grief. Tbere is something deeply wrong with TP. It oozes out of that post like some malodorous pedtilance.

  2. Susan Montgomery says

    This is how every libertarian/Alt-Right type sees themselves. A tin-plated tyrant who has unlimited power over those they see beneath them. When you hear them talking about the virtues of capitalism, this is what they mean.

  3. thelastleftist says

    Hey. Your friendly neighborhood troll here. Last time PZ wrote about Pangburn the man himself showed up in the comments. Here’s to hoping that he makes another appearance. Watching you crazy bunch of malcontentful quasi-religious folks dogpile that silly blowhard was quite entertaining. Stay fresh, Pharyngula.

  4. Badland says

    Well there you have it. thelastleftist hereby decrees any discussion of Pangburn and his website is malcontentful quasi-religious dogpiling. Such authority! Truly they are better than all of us

  5. Matt G says

    I think maybe his parents didn’t hold him enough as a child. Or maybe it was too much. What a pathetic little rant.

  6. Susan Montgomery says

    @3 Travis wants a war of ideas, yes? He’ll get what he wants here – good and hard.

  7. larpar says

    I can think of only one other person who would write an email like that, except he would have tweeted it.

  8. leerudolph says

    Travis wants a war of ideas, yes?

    No, he’s just a slightly poor typist. He is fighting a war on ideas.

  9. says

    That reminds me of when I ran the skeptical student group at UCLA a decade ago. We always wanted to host big speakers, but it was a struggle at every step. We had no money, no hopes of profits, and no experience. Sam Harris was actually at UCLA, but would not waive his exorbitant fee.for us, which was a source of bitterness.

    So, shockingly, I do sympathize with Pangburn. But in the back of my mind, I’m also thinking, we were stupid undergrads, isn’t this guy a professional?

  10. raven says

    Who is Travis Pangburn and why should I care.
    Hmmm, he is nobody and I don’t care.

    So who is Jordan Peterson and why should I care?
    His 15 minutes of fame are long over, and I don’t care, except to make sure he never gets too close to me.
    Peterson hates women and is fascinated by violence, a dangerous combination.

  11. thelastleftist says

    @ #5

    Not at all! I fully support your efforts. He sounds like petty tyrant throwing a fit. Come on, Pangburn. We know you’re reading this.

  12. thelastleftist says


    Travis wants money. He could care less about ideas. Petulant little grifter, that one.

  13. says

    I have to add to #10 that even as stupid undergrads, we at least knew how to take personal responsibility for our failures. Although in retrospect the entire endeavor was foolhardy, and we were just taken in by the cult of celebrity that was the atheist movement. My number one advice to atheist student groups is don’t bother.

  14. bcwebb says

    I don’t want to read this – I’ll wait for the Direct-to-Cable movie.

    Who to play the dashing Travis? Tom Cruise ….. no ….. Van diesel …. no … the Rock. That’s it.

    Directed by Clint Eastwood. or Mel Gibson. needs lots of torture porn.

  15. says

    A couple of years ago, our student group managed to invite Neil Shubin to speak, and he came! The trick is to find the well-known people who are actually decent human beings. Many of the bigger names think their popularity qualifies them to be assholes and make more demands.

  16. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Every time I worry that I’m a fantasist, I read someone like Travis and see how out of touch with reality he is. “You will never be forgiven!” Wow, super professional, man.

    People like him really have live in a world where their petty bullshit has grand significance. It helps explain how he could come here and semi-coherently rant on about warm blankets and movements that contain the entire human race.

    Travis, if you’re still here? It’s commendable to want ideas to be discussed. You show a lack of concern about reality and the consequences of certain speech being seriously considered, but I suppose that’s forgivable (though the arrogance of ignoring the people who actually have to live with the consequences of your JAQing off is less so). But the problem is that you don’t realize that novel ideas are hard to find. Sam may be a smart guy, but what he has to offer on most of the topics he’s talked about publicly are poorly researched and mediocre thoughts. You’re not as important as you think you are. Other people have their own stories and life too. You’ll have a better life and be better able to contribute to the advance of ideas if you abandon the histrionics and start actually really trying to come up with little, small contributions.

  17. Artor says

    Now I’m curious about the contract Pangburn thinks he can unilaterally void at his whim. This sounds like foreshadowing of the next chapter of the saga. Anybody know what that’s about?

  18. says


    What? Of course it does. Otherwise a contract signed with a labor union after a strike would be valid. We all know that labor organizing must be prohibited, after all.

    @Travis Pangburn:

    We all know that the last time you showed up you failed to even address the substantive criticisms that were presented. So I’m gonna snag my Randi $million$ by predicting you show up to demand that all the commenters here read your entire something or other for context which, when read, will in no way change the meaning or significance of the material excerpted by PZ, then flail about without any substance and disappear having accomplished nothing.

    Please. I could so use the money. The only thing that can stop my prediction coming true would be if you’re too cowardly to show up at all. You don’t want to be that cowardly, do you Travis Pangburn?

  19. thelastleftist says


    The funny thing is, that despite being a troll, I am the most sincere person in the pharyngula commentariat on any given day. Every single sentence that I’ve written today is the void of irony or obfuscation. I mean every word of it. That is to say if I believe Travis Pangburn is a reprehensible grifting a******, while at the same time recognizing you lot to be a bunch of politicized discontents with a belly ache that can only be relieved bye tirades of unironic hatred. I hold both of these views. They are not mutually exclusive.
    You’re ( admittedly very funny) response to me indicates that you believe that I have been disingenuous. I say again that I am the most genuine person in this thread.

    Oh by the way, Pangburn if you are listening, why not come out and have a row? Nobody here is stupid, though some of them are contemptible indoctrinates. Give us a show, won’t you?

  20. snarkhuntr says

    What I find particularly amusing about Mr. Pangburn’s screed, aside from the comically inept writing, is that his ego demands that he always depict himself as the supreme worker, able to effortlessly solve all problems and truly the only important person in the company. Thus, in one sentence he explains that he really didn’t need his staff to come to the Dublin event, and then a paragraph or so later is characterizing their refusal to come to it as an action that put him under such duress that he wouldn’t be legally responsible for performing his end of the contracts he was signing.

    You really can’t have it both ways there, Trav. Either you needed them and their refusal to participate put you under duress, or they were just accessories who you were graciously providing with the experience of coming along.


    “My appetite for trusting staff had now fallen to below freezing.”

    Really? I don’t normally mind a mixed metaphor, but that one is pretty bad. Trying to parse it results in a number of humorous ways to misread it. The intended meaning is obvious, but the writing is atrocious.

    This bit is also pretty telling:

    “I initially signed contracts with Sam for these conferences that were based on the largest possible fee for him that could be achieved in an ‘original ticket price’ sell-out which was a mistake. The “dream fee” represented in these initial conversations weren’t ever supposed to be signed to a inflexible contract. The dream fee was an ultimate goal, but needed to be open to reassessment. I did not have a good feeling about signing these contracts but I believed, based on my past experience with Sam, that if we weren’t able to garner enough interest in the conference, he would be flexible and do everything he could to make them happen.”

    Apparently Mr. Pangburn does not understand what a contract is. He seems to believe that the plain words on paper that he’s putting his name to are meant to be supplemented with a whole lot of external context and flexible understandings that are, inexplicably, not important enough to include in the actual contract. No wonder he couldn’t run a business, with this kind of belief system.

    This juvenile misunderstanding of contracts, combined with the continuous use of the passive voice throughout the document really show where the problem lies – with Travis Pangburn. In his mind, people ‘were unable to receive’ refunds, rather than ‘I didn’t refund them’. It’s not his fault that he signed contracts he couldn’t live up to, it’s the fault of the other contractee for not being flexible (ie: not reducing their fee as a response to Travis’s inability to meet his other financial obligations). When Travis has his feelings hurt, he believes that it vitiates his obligation to communicate with the people to whom he owes money, with whom he has contractual relationships. This then becomes entirely the fault of the people who hurt his feelings by saying mean things about him, and thus he’s not responsible for his own actions.

    It is perfectly clear that he has learned nothing at all from his previous abject business failure, and is likely doomed to repeat it in the future if given the chance.

  21. microraptor says

    The real question is why anyone would take any promises made by him seriously at this point.

  22. thelastleftist says


    Oops, it seems I accidentally placed an indefinite article in the sentence. ” the void of irony and optimization”. Lol.
    I share a chortle with you. Hahaha.

  23. raven says

    Dumb troll:
    That is to say if I believe Travis Pangburn is a reprehensible grifting a******, while at the same time recognizing you lot to be a bunch of politicized discontents with a belly ache that can only be relieved bye tirades of unironic hatred.

    OK, we get it.

    .1. You hate everyone.
    .2. You are very stupid.
    .3. You have zero to say that is interesting and worthwhile.
    You are simply insulting everyone in sight because you have nothing better to do.

    You are also very boring and have wasted whole tens of seconds of good people’s lives.

  24. unclefrogy says

    well I am not some kind of know it all nor do I need to pile on nor pick a fight or instigate an argument for kicks.
    I think that Mr. Pangburn is a very good example of the result of faith over reality. You usually find it very strong on the religious community and in politics. People become infatuated with some idea or other and believe it with a total disregard for any idea, fact or evidence which might not fit perfectly.
    In investing people “fall in love” with some stock or sector and subsequently fail to look at the fundamentals and go broke. They fall for “have I got a deal for you”.
    It sounds to me that he took his impressions and his own hype to heart without actually asking real questions. Like he took his skepticism as a new truth whole as given without actually being skeptical enough to ask question about what he is thinking or how he sees the world. He has found “THE ANSWER” if you do not listen you are bad.
    sounds just like any other just new born again christian I have ever met.
    uncle frogy

  25. bcwebb says

    In the Trump business model, this is the point where the Russians step in and bail him out by using his conferences to launder stolen money.

  26. A. Noyd says

    Aren’t contracts supposed to be the magical glue that holds together libertarian paradise? When you think about it, it’s actually pretty brave of Pangburn to so thoroughly put the lie to such a cherished fantasy.

  27. Susan Montgomery says

    @33 Here’s how it works in Libertopia: The most powerful party in a contract may ignore it – wholly or in part – while the lesser parties have to rigidly adhere to it. If the powerful party doesn’t, then the lesser party must seek relief in the courts. After at least a decade of SLAPP suits, procedural delays and appeals (assuming the wronged parties could afford to get this far) they have a 50/50 chance of winning a judgement. Easy!

  28. chrislawson says

    Susan M@34–

    That’s not Libertopia. That’s current libertarianism. Libertopia would dismantle the courts which are just another barrier to one’s personal freedom to screw over the less powerful.

  29. chrislawson says


    When you call yourself a troll and a sincere contributor, one of those lemmas is a lie.

  30. kiki says

    thelastleftist: “the” is the definite article, not the indefinite, and “malcontentful” isn’t a word.

    You should stick to using valid words like, oh, I don’t know, “insufferable”, “pretentious” and “jackass”. Just three random examples that came to mind while reading your posts for some reason.

  31. thelastleftist says

    @30 , Raven:

    I don’t hate anyone. I’m actually quite fond of y’all.
    I’m only KIND OF stupid. Not “very” stupid.

    As far as “wasting people’s time”: get over yourself. Nobody here is it doing anything important.

  32. thelastleftist says

    @38, kiki:

    I know that! I took Latin grammar for years (yes I know there are no articles in Latin). I’m using talk to type. I meant definite article.

    Also, malcontenful should be a word.

  33. William George says

    He’s a bottom-feeder who relies on the patronage of others more popular than he, who lashes out at his underlings whenever he thinks he is unobserved.

    I think I know who the next Republican president is going to be…

  34. wzrd1 says

    I’d want that e-mail printed on the letterhead and signed by him.
    Then, if the position is a paid position, sue him for a fundamental breach of contract, on two admitted counts.

    One thing about contracts, if one has a legal contract with another, neither party may disavow the contract unilaterally. That is a breach of contract and a zero notice abrogation opens the breaching party to litigation for a fundamental breach of contract.
    One has absolutely no faith that the other party will honor any part of the contract, so one can recover losses and punitive damages.

  35. kiki says


    “Also, malcontenful should be a word.”

    Why? ‘Malcontent’ is a noun. It means ‘undesirable person’. A person can’t be ‘full of undesirable people’ – it makes no sense. It would be like me calling you ‘idiotful’.

    Seriously, if you’re going to do this ‘obnoxious asshole with a thesaurus’ schtick, you should really learn how words work.

  36. thelastleftist says


    It’s also an adjective. Which would make the ‘ful’ redundant. Sorta reminds of ‘irregardless’. Another fake word of which I am very fond.

    You seem quite grammar-naziful today.