The ignominy

I’ve told you before that the content I made on Scienceblogs years ago has been hijacked — the site was bought up (legitimately, I can’t do anything about it) by a conservative asshole who simply uses it as a vehicle to host ads. It’s a shame, but at least all that stuff I wrote didn’t disappear into the ol’ bit bucket. But now I have learned that they’ve added insult to their legally sanctioned theft.

“pharyngula” (at least they spelled that right) by…who??!?

Man, I ought to give up and have my name legally changed to PZ, just PZ. They couldn’t misspell that, could they?

Oh yeah, they could. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been called PJ.

Every Intelligent Design debate ever

I’ve been in a few. I hate ’em. Here’s how they work: the ID proponent declares that the thesis of the debate is “Everything is Designed” and launches into his argument:

Cars are designed by intelligent agents. Shoes are designed. Computers are designed. iPhones are designed. My right hand is designed. Therefore, everything is designed.

The scientist who got suckered into this engagement begins to unlimber their long list of counter-examples. “We have natural mechanisms that generate complex forms without the need for a designer…wait, did you say your right hand is designed?”

Sure. It’s made of cells, and cells are designed, so of course it’s the product of design.

“You can’t just declare that everything you don’t understand is designed. That’s the whole point of contention here; you have to address the evidence for your position, not just announce by fiat that everything is designed.”

I’m ready to discuss all of the evidence.

“OK, I begin again. So Tiktaalik…”

Designed. Clearly designed.

“The entire fossil series illustrating tetrapod evolution…?”


“The citrate metabolic pathway?”


“Cells are…”

Great example. Cells are complicated, with lots of fiddly bits, therefore implying a Fiddler. Shall I throw some big numbers at you to show you how complicated cells are?

“No, that’s OK. I know how complex cells are. You don’t get to simply decide that all complex things have to be designed. Again, that’s what we’re debating! If I show you something of unknown origin, or even something with a well-documented history of natural evolutionary history, you don’t get to just greedily snatch it up and put it in the “Designed” category!”

Yes, I do. The burden of proof is on you, and I can refute everything you propose by pointing out any one thing that could have been designed, and that is sufficient to make it designed.

“By a mysterious invisible intelligence that operated for billions of years before the origin of intelligent life on Earth.”

Now you’re getting it! By the way, welcome to my proof for the existence of my God.

I bring this up because I listened to another Intelligent Design debate, this time between James Croft and the reliably ridiculous Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute. It was interesting because I’d be one of those guys who brings a catalog of biological counter-examples to the debate; as a philosopher, Croft ignores all that and drills right down to the logic of the argument the creationists are making. I think that’s a smart approach, even if Meyer is only capable of a different flavor of evasion.

I’ve queued it up below at the start of James’ argument, because all the politeness and niceness in the introduction turned my stomach.

He starts by summarizing Meyer’s position:

Note: Meyer has turned that simple statement into three long-winded, tedious books now. If you can grasp that simple summary, there’s no reason to read any of his books, since they don’t provide any further evidence for his position.

Point 1 is false. Meyer exercises a kind of studied neglect of the actual state of the evidence in biology that allows him to pretend there aren’t any adequate explanations for evolutionary phenomena. Croft focuses on the link between 1 and 2, that Meyer is making an abductive argument while failing to support his primary premises. He points out three problems with the logic of Meyer’s claims which I won’t get into — watch the video. It’s not as painful as it looks: Croft begins at the 14 minute mark, and wraps up at 25 minutes, so the interesting part is only 11 minutes long. The rest is Meyer making noises with his mouth and frequently interrupting Croft, and then there’s the interminable period of the two of them telling each other how nice they are and what a worthy and interesting this conversation was. That bit was aggravating: Meyer is his usual pompous self, pretending that Croft’s annoyingly congenial, smiling manner was an affirmation that there was something of substance to his pretentious bullshit, completely oblivious to the fact that the cheerful fellow with the British accent has effectively torpedoed him below the waterline. He is unconcerned; he’s just going to sail off and write another tendentious, wordy tome repeating his 3 points over and over again.

I don’t find this BS soothing, either

I’m up at 4:30, and I don’t even have the excuse of going fishing. I’m just a jangly ball of stress right now, and also, we’ve got the bathroom taps open a little to prevent freezing, so all night long it’s drip-drip-trickle-gurgle, and it gets to you after a while. So I gave up trying to sleep and got up to get some work done and check my email.

Oh boy, the Noah’s Ark/DNA guy sent me more email about his “theory”.

On Rosh
Dear PZ Meyers,

A few weeks ago, I sent you a copy of my theory on human genetics and Noah’s Ark. Today, I am sending you a second part to my theory that gives special attention to the Scythian Horse Riders that I believe descend from Rosh the son of Benjamin. The theory will only take a few minutes of your time and could dramatically alter your view of the world. Next week, I plan on uploading my theory to youtube and I hope that it will get a lot of views.

This is what he sent me.

Sorry, I’m not going to bother uploading the “figures”, which seem to be random images extracted from various publications. This is not a theory. This is a guy plucking something out of Bin A, the Bible, and something out of Bin B, various scientific publications he barely understands, and declaring “Ha ha! They fit!” even if they don’t.

My view of the world continues on unaltered, my idea that there are a lot of loons out there sadly unperturbed. Confirmed, even.

He might actually succeed and get a lot of views on YouTube, since the YouTube algorithm is undiscriminating, except in the sense it seems good at launching talentless hacks into bewildering heights of popularity.

Yeah, I’ve told the Noah’s Ark/DNA guy to go away and stop sending me his lunacy, but another property of the deeply delusional is that they can’t imagine you wouldn’t be interested in their ravings.

Arguing with evangelicals is like wrestling with a bollard

I hope you all have some fun with this conversation between the Knechtle evangelical group and some radical materialist named “Meyers” or “Meyer”.*

They were congenial enough, but I kept slamming up hard against their presumptions about what an atheist must think. No headway was made. I’m pretty sure that they’ll continue to assume that every atheist they meet is an amoral robot or is secretly imbued with the spirit of Jesus.

*I surrender. I have totally given up on correcting people misspelling or mispronouncing a name that is only 5 letters long.

My name is not Ernst Haeckel

It’s also not “Meyers”. As promised, Kent Hovind has uploaded his “Whack An Atheist – PZ Meyers” video to YouTube, and I’m so disappointed, since he didn’t whack me at all. He spends the whole time ranting and raving about Ernst Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law, insisting that any mention of pharyngeal structures in embryos is a lie, and that embryology does not support evolution. There are more than a few problems with his argument.

  • I am not Ernst Haeckel. He died before I was born.
  • I do not accept the Biogenetic Law, and no biologists do anymore.
  • The only way I teach the Biogenetic Law is as an example of theory that was shown to be wrong. I try to get them to understand that labeling something “theory” does not mean it’s infallible.
  • Conflating “gill slits”, a colloquial term for the non-respiratory pharyngeal structures of the embryo, with “gills”, is Hovind’s error, not that of any biologist. I’ll agree that “gill slit” is confusing term, but I haven’t seen it used in the scientific literature lately, so who cares.
  • That Haeckel’s explanatory theory is wrong does not invalidate the embryological observations of homologous structure in the pharynx of embryos. They’re there. Accept it.
  • The similarities in embryos are real, and constantly having to deal with creationists who think that they aren’t because one 19th century embryologist exaggerated and misinterpreted them is tiresome.
  • The similarities do constitute evidence in support of evolution. Again, interpreting them to imply a sequential, linear pattern of progressive change is erroneous. That would be a creationist flavor of historical change, rather than an evolutionary one.

Throughout, Hovind repeatedly challenges me and others to a debate. There’s a reason I’m not going to do that: Hovind relies entirely on strawmanning me, and I’d have to spend most of the “debate” trying to explain how he doesn’t understand evolution, embryology, or me.

Also, charmer that he is, references the fact that evolutionary biology is taught at Kent State, says “we all know what happened there”, and explains it away as thanks to the students being taught that “they were animals”. That would be the moment in any debate where I’d have to dither, trying to decide between walking off the stage or kicking Hovind in the balls first, then walking off the stage. It’s the eternal dilemma when engaging someone as vile as Hovind.

If he wants to debate anyone, apparently he really wants to engage Ernst Haeckel. Go to Jena, Germany, where he died in 1919. Bring a shovel.

Ho-hum, Comma again

I leave town for a few days, and crackpots start dunning the university’s lawyers for petty information. Comma has been at it again. This email went to the university board of regents and general counsel.

Demand For Administrative Investigation Into Willful Refusal To Comply With MGDPA Over PZ Meyers Data, Fraudulent Bills, And Informed Consent Form Of Nemmers’ Subject Data

David J. McMillan, Chair U of M Board of Regents (612) 625-6300 & Douglas R. Peterson, U of M General Counsel (612) 624-7569:

Chapter 13 data request – Please email/file share me the following readily available, free, electronic, public data in its original searchable pdf format pursuant to 13.03 Subd 3(e):

1. I am demanding an administrative investigation into the University of Minnesota’s willful refusal to comply with my Chapter 13 data requests. I’ve attached the UM’s fraudulent bills (UM_Fraudulent_Bills.pdf) for readily available readily available, free, electronic, public data. I have reason to suspect the motive is to prevent your Class of 1985 UMM graduate from receiving damning facts about the corrupt UM and the corrupt UMM and their corrupt personnel. The fraudulent bill is for a tape of the University of Minnesota-Morris police during interviews in regard to the vandalism and the theft Northstar newspapers. First of all, I never requested an audio tape but the original DSS file. I have reason to suspect that the audio files have been tampered with prior to being placed onto the audio tape. Second, I’ve attached a March 22, 2011 bill for the UMM’s contract with Stevens County Sheriff for Law Enforcement Technology Group Computer Aided Dispatch and Electronic Records Management software which allows for the electronic transfer of DSS files but not audio cassettes. Second, the data that I received was not in the required searchablable format but had been maliciously converted to scanned pdf format. Third, I’ve included to BCA’s software deployment report that indicates that your corrupt UMM Police have been electronically transmitting DSS audio files since 2011.

[This is a bone he won’t drop: I was accused of stealing newspapers, with no evidence. The police asked me if I’d done it, I said no. That’s as far as it can go.]

2. I’m also making a data request for all my subject data from 06-24-2014 until today’s date. See attached signed informed consent form.

3. I’ve attached my 03-12-17 Chapter 13 data request entitled: “Chapter 13 data request – personnel data – grants for The Aurora Center.” This data is currently being illegally withheld from your Class of 1985 UMM graduate.

[I have no idea what any of that is about.]

4. Chapter 13.43 Personnel Data for Paul Myers Associate Professor Ph.D., University of Oregon B.S., University of Washington, Seattle Expertise Developmental Biology Neurobiology Email: Phone: +1 3205896343 Campus Location: Science 2390 Please email me University of Minnesota, Morris Associate Professor Paul “Logical Fallacy” Myers’ (Myers is an inciter Of Violence & Freethoughtblogs CEO, isn’t he?) current employment contract, actual gross salary for year 2017-2018; Educational Background, Professional Certifications, Teaching Areas, Health Care Interests, Research Interests, Current Projects, Publications, Awards, Curriculum Vitae, and work-related continuing education for the years 2008-2018. Why am I asking for that data? I want to know if PZ “Logical Fallacy” Myers received a degree to diagnose, don’t I? Why? Didn’t you know that PZ “diagnosed” me as a ‘kook,’ ‘local loon,’ ‘wacky,’ and last but not least a ‘demented Sovereign Citizen’? Has PZ deluded himself into thinking that he’s a licensed doctor or did he just pull a fake sheep-skin out of a box of Cracker Jacks? Hmm? Inquiring minds want to know, don’t they?

[Comma is such a nosy fellow. He can write to the University of Washington and the University of Oregon if he wants confirmation of my degrees…but, you know, when I was hired here the university required that I give them verifiable evidence of my degrees. I think they’re confident my degree didn’t come out of a box of Cracker Jacks.]

5. Since the statute of limitations has run out on my Chapter 13 data request for the 13.82 Subd. 7. Criminal investigative data for the theft and vandalism of the UMM Northstar’s newspaper I am making a brand-spanking new request. Email me the incident reports in searchable pdf format, handwriting samples, audio files in original DSS format and corresponding transcripts, Digital images of crimes scene and vandalized newspapers, and the signed letter declining prosecution.

[That’s nice.]

Terry Dean, Nemmers (320) 283-5713

P.S. Hey did you know that I helped cost PZ’s corrupt buddy Steven County Attorney/Morris City Attorney Aaron Jordan not one but two judge jobs? Did you know that the Committee for Judicial Selection doesn’t like to receive clear, precise and unquestionable evidence of their candidates willfully refusing to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act?

[I never heard of Aaron Jordan.]

P.S.S. You want to listen to my audio recorded conversations with your corrupt UM cops and your corrupt UMM cops?


In case you’re curious about how the general counsel replied, it was with a terse suggestion that he visit the Data Request Center and fill out a form…which anyone can do, you know.

I’m getting tired of dealing with loons. I’m sure they are, too.

Rebecca Watson tells it like it is

Here we go again.

She’s exactly right on this, and her account of the Buzzfeed article matches mine: they researched that thing for months, and there was a point in the middle where I was expecting it to come out at any time that the reporter contacted me and told me it was on hold a little longer while they nail down a few more points. This was not some quick hatchet job.

It’s telling, too, that the critics of the article keep circling around the same ad hominems.

I keep seeing the same thing over and over again. We’re not supposed to believe the article because Rebecca Watson is cited in it (as is this mysterious awful person, PZ Meyers). A lot of people also jump on the fact that Melody Hensley is in it.

That really pisses me off — it’s a circular argument. Shitlords on the internet grabbed a picture of Melody from the internet, slapped the words “TRIGGERED” on it, and then used that meme to argue that she has no credibility. I’ve also seen them cite the odious Thunderf00t’s terrible video on her — which really was a cheap hatchet job — that implied that only soldiers ever get PTSD (wrong!) to say that her diagnosis of PTSD was a lie. And now, because she was harassed right off the internet and out of her job, they claim that she experienced no trauma at all, which makes no sense. It’s a contemptible argument.

It also makes me wonder what they think motivates Rebecca Watson and Melody Hensley. Neither of them have gained a thing from speaking out about harassment, other than more harassment, hate mail, death threats, and reputations smeared by assholes, all while the skeptic/atheist movements sail merrily along, changing nothing, pretending that all is well.

Oh, and here’s another comment that confirms what the women have been saying all along. It’s some of the conference organizers who are a significant part of the problem.

I had to point out to this guy that maybe the reason he doesn’t see any criticisms is that his bias is shining out brightly, and it’s quite likely that the women know better than to talk to him — he’ll just deny, deny, deny, and then turn around and call them a Crazy Woman. So he doubled down.

A True Skeptic, that. I guess I’m not who I think I am. And once again, the fact that a mob of jerks hounded Melody into a stressed-out retirement from the movement is used to discredit Melody, rather than the mob.

I’ll also mention that this conference organizer, who had not heard any complaints about his speakers in 7 years, then turned around and claimed that he’d heard from dozens of women that I’d sexually harassed them when I spoke at his conference. That’s the level of dishonesty we’re dealing with here — that’s the amount of disrespect atheist conference organizers deal out to the women attendees. And then they wonder why women and minorities show less interest in organized atheism.

I guess it’ll be another IMDB credit for me

I was informed yesterday that I am the ☆STAR☆ of yet another movie, a movie that I was not told about and just sort of stumbled into. I’m losing all respect for movie celebrities, though: apparently, the way a movie star works is to have some guy with a camera record you talking for a bit, and then they all go away, and you don’t even think about it for five years, and then suddenly this thing is available online and you see it and say “Oh crap, I was in that piece of shit?” and you never get paid. I’m beginning to wonder how those other movie stars can afford their beach houses in Malibu.

So here, you can watch my fabulous movie, Origins of the Universe: The Great Debate on Amazon Prime.

Oh, yeah, they also misspell my name, because of course they always do.

You don’t really want to watch it.

As I was watching it, I remembered the circumstances. I think it was a conference in Winnipeg; this guy asked me nicely if I’d answer some questions on camera, and I said sure, so I end up in this oddly lit hotel room with a stranger (I hate how that happens) and he starts firing questions at me, for about an hour. I had no idea it was a debate, but I guess that after the fact, it was. And then I literally went away and completely forgot about it.

The interviewer, Todd Cantelon, then spliced me in with other footage of such luminaries as Ken Ham and Terry Mortenson and David Menton and Jason Lisle and Georgia Purdom and PZ Meyers (oh, wait, that was me). It’s weird to be retroactively ganged up on, but I’m unconcerned, they were all idiots.

There’s also a woman named Mary P. Winsor who was interviewed, so I wasn’t alone on my side. She’s a historian of biology, and has written criticisms of Mayr’s claims about pre-Darwinian essentialism. I don’t know much about her work, but if she’s been opposing some of the ahistorical BS that Ernst Mayr spent a long lifetime injecting into the discourse, she and I are on the same side.

Anyway, it’s a long boring set of spliced-together clips of me saying a sentence or two, then Ken Ham babbling out his fallacious canned spiel about “observational science” and then more creationists talking, then another sentence or two by me or Mary Winsor followed by more nonsense from creationists.

Also, to spice it up, the creationists were recorded at the Creation “Museum” in some place where dinosaur roars and honks occasionally drown them out. Todd Cantelon pretends to be a moderator, but all of his segments were filmed in some spectacular red rock canyon somewhere. It’s kind of unfair that all I got was a grey Winnipeg hotel room.

I’m sure there’s a connection between Trump and fossilized soft tissue

I went down the rabbit hole for a little while this morning. It started here: I was sent a link by Trey Smith about the TRUMP: the COMING LANDSLIDE. ~Ancient Prophecy Documentary of Donald Trump. With a click-bait title like that, I had to start watching the video. And then Trey Smith is mesmerizingly weird: his technique is to stick half his face right into the camera, and make lots of hand gestures with a computer screen in the background. It was effective at first just because his tics and odd movements and emphatic phrasing were engrossing, but I didn’t last long, because there’s no substance there. He seems to think Trump is destined to be president, but his main argument is numerology and ‘because the Bible’ with lots of finger stabbing at the video screen behind him.

So I switched to some of his other videos, and of course he’s a Young Earth Creationist, and he’s very impressed by something that has become a veritable obsession with YECs in the last decade or so: preserved soft tissue in fossil dinosaur bones. And that led him to Mark Armitage.

[Read more…]