PZ Myers

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Overview

PZ Myers (Paul Zachary Myers) is a biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) in Morris, Minnesota, and the author of the popular science blog Pharyngula. He is an outspoken defender of science and rationality, and is frequently attacked by anti-Darwinians and other proponents of anti-science.

He appeared in the creationism movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (which he had been told was to be more of an examination of the controversy than the outright propaganda piece it turned out to be), but in an amusing and unfortunate failure of public relations he was expelled from the local showing of that movie.

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PZ Myers supposedly said:

The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians ... I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It's time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.

...

[D]on't even suggest that we're being too partisan. I am on the side of reason and human rights, and my only failing is that I'm not partisan enough.

Although links to the original essay do not seem to work, PZ has re-asserted those words and stands by them, although he says they are actually "a pastiche of two completely different comments".

This is widely interpreted by anti-science writers and activists as a call for physical violence, when it is clearly intended to be metaphorical – i.e. it is time to stop being polite and start being explicit in one's verbal attacks on anti-science. (This can include working to get people discredited or fired for teaching anti-science as science, but always through legal and ethical means.)

Sources for this quote:

Part of the quote can be found in this archive:

PZ Myers said, in Pharyngula on 2005-08-04 (oft-quoted bits in bold):

Don't tell me to be dispassionate or less unreasonable about it all because because 65% of the American population think creationism should be taught alongside evolution, or that Americans are just responding to common notions of "fairness". That just tells me that we scientists have not been expressing our outrage enough. And yes, we should be outraged that the president of our country panders to theocrats, faith-healers, and snake-oil artists; sitting back and quietly explaining that Bush may be a decent man who is mistaken, while the preachers are stridently condemning all us evilutionists to hell, is a damned ineffective tactic that has gotten us to this point.

I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It's time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don't care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way.

...

Goddamn, but don't even suggest that we're being too partisan. I am on the side of reason and human rights, and my only failing is that I'm not partisan enough.

The remainder of the quote was apparently posted by PZ in a comment on "The Panda's Thumb" blog:

PZ Myers said, on 2005-06-14 (oft-quoted bit is in bold):

Yeah, I’m afraid the “civilized academic debate” was settled about a century ago. Scientists have been engaging in that ideal, non-militaristic fashion for quite some time, and still are — those discussions go on in the pages of the journals. Unfortunately, while we have been doing everything in the proper civilized way, the forces of ignorance have not; they have lied their way into considerable power.

Here I am, a biologist living in the 21st century in one of the richest countries in the world, and one of the two biology teachers in my kids’ high school is a creationist. Last year, the education commissioner in my state tried to subvert the recommendations for the state science standards by packing a hand-picked ‘minority report’ committee to push for required instruction in intelligent design creationism in our schools. All across the country, we have these lunatics trying to stuff pseudoscientific religious garbage into our schools and museums and zoos.

This is insane.

Please don’t try to tell me that you object to the tone of our complaints. Our only problem is that we aren’t martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many schoolboard members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.

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