PZ Myers

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About

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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Quotes

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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Writings by

  • 2020-07-27 [L..T] Just an ordinary TERF talking about biology Myers dissects some bizarre arguments from @lissyboops, who is apparently of the TERF persuasion.
  • 2020-07-10 [L..T] Cultivating a British flavor of narrow-mindedness "I saw the same thing in US skeptics, of course. But there was something fundamental going on that is also reflected in the British school of evolutionary biology, represented by Maynard Smith and Dawkins, that totally embraced reductive explanations and adaptationism, vs. the American subset led by Lewontin and Gould, who fiercely opposed eugenics and detested the arrogance of thinking biology could be reduced to a catalog of alleles." .. "Then there's the outcome of all this activity by bigots claiming the mantle of science – some people actually believed."
  • 2015-04-13 [L..T] I guess I'm an MRA now First let me point out that the little tweet I chirped out was because the TERFs were flocking to me — I hadn’t barged into one of their conversations, or invited them to explain to me what makes for a real woman, but there they were, in my space. So she doesn’t get to complain about me violating boundaries.
  • 2015-04-03 [L..T] Fatwah envy, again "Both of these people are committing a kind of rhetorical extortion, using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives. And in that sense both Ali and Cotton are happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices."
  • 2015-02-22 [L..T] Willie Soon is going down "Soon is a dishonest hack, one of the climate change deniers who exploited his prestigiously titled position as a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (Oooh! Sciencey!) to claim authority in attacks on more credible climate scientists, and he’s been very popular on the denialist side of things. [..] Now his own boss is admitting that he violated disclosure principles by failing to reveal his industry connections."
  • 2015-02-18 [L..T] “The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.” "...my only quibble would be with that “now”. You’d have to define "now" as a window of time that encompasses the entirety of my training and work in developmental biology, and I’m getting to be kind of an old guy. Differences in sex development (DSDs) are common knowledge, and rather routine – and coincidentally, I’m giving an exam on sex chromosome anomalies today."
  • 2007-04-20 [L..T] Why, what a vile little man “I speak of Dinesh D'Souza, who seems to have noticed that his creepy and dishonest tirade against atheists won him some attention, so now he has upped the ante, and gotten even creepier and more dishonest.”
  • 2007-03-06 [L..T] What is science? “Unfortunately, "science" is one of those hugely polymorphic terms that carries a tremendous amount of baggage, and any one definition is going to be inadequate. This is one of those subjects where a smart philosopher ... could go on at amazing length, and even then, everyone will argue with their summaries. I'll just charge in, though, and give a couple of shorter definitions off the top of my head.”

Posts by

Filed blog posts by PZ Myers:

 When postedTitle
2015/02/22/Willie Soon is going down22 February 2015Willie Soon is going down
2007-03-06 What is science6 March 2007What is science?
2007-04-20 Why, what a vile little man20 April 2007Why, what a vile little man
2015/02/18/The idea of two sexes is simplistic18 February 2015“The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.”
2015/04/03/Fatwah envy, again3 April 2015Fatwah envy, again
2015/04/13/I guess I'm an MRA now13 April 2015I guess I'm an MRA now
2020/07/10/Cultivating a British flavor of narrow-mindedness10 July 2020Cultivating a British flavor of narrow-mindedness
2020/07/27/Just an ordinary TERF talking about biology27 July 2020Just an ordinary TERF talking about biology