PZ Myers

From Issuepedia


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.



Filed Links

version 3

  • 2009-07-18 [L..T] Today's Question When do we get to stop defining smart, passionate women by the most powerful men in their circle?
  • 2008-07-11 [L..T] HYSTERIA MARKS MYERS AND HIS ILK "Yesterday, Catholic League president Bill Donohue issued a news release calling attention to the plea that Paul Zachary Myers made on his blog: he solicited the Communion Host for the express purpose of desecrating it. Donohue now responds to the reaction he has received from the University of Minnesota Morris professor, as well as others:"

version 2

  • 2009-07-15 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers vs. ''[[Unscientific America]]'': Part III § M&K respond to 2 final areas of disagreement with PZ Myers's reviews of their book Unscientific America, under the headings of "Bigotry" and "The Trouble With PZ Myers".
  • 2009-07-14 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers vs. ''[[Unscientific America]]'': Part II § M&K respond to 4 further areas of disagreement with PZ Myers's reviews of their book Unscientific America, under the headings of "American Anti-Science", "Root Causes", "Science in the Entertainment Industry", and "Solutions".
  • 2009-07-13 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers vs. ''[[Unscientific America]]'': Part I § M&K respond to 4 areas of disagreement with PZ Myers's reviews of their book Unscientific America, under the headings of "Getting Personal?", "Pluto", "What the Book Actually Says", and "Carl Sagan".
  • 2009-07-13 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers vs. ''[[Unscientific America]]'': Summary § “Myers did not write a balanced review, an indifferent review, or even a negative review. Rather, he misrepresented our book, got its arguments wrong, assaulted its authors ("their hypocritical and ignorant paean to mealy-mouthedness"), and finally ended by concluding that our labor of over a year is "utterly useless."”
  • 2009-07-09 [Talk|Index] Classic Quote from PZ’s Blog, vs. Classic Quote from RealClimate § “That’s why we're quite confident that people who are ready to stop blaming the public or the religious, and start working with them to try to change things, will like our book. And indeed, we have plenty of evidence of that.”
  • 2009-07-08 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers' Review of UA… § “If you want a take that throughly trashes the book, well then this is it. But of course, that's not surprising, given that the book not only criticizes Myers but, indeed, identifies him as part of the problem.”
  • 2008-07-29 [Talk|Index] Catholic Clergy Call for Reparation in Response to Communion Desecration § [2]“The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy .. respond to the sacrilegious and blasphemous desecration of the Holy Eucharist by asking for public reparation. We ask all Catholics of Minnesota and of the entire nation to join in a day of prayer and fasting that such offenses never happen again. .. We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional. His flagrant display of irreverence by profaning a consecrated Host from a Catholic church goes beyond the limit of academic freedom and free speech. .. The same Bill of Rights which protect freedom of speech also protect freedom of religion. The Founding Fathers did not envision a freedom FROM religion, rather a freedom OF religion. In other words, our nation's constitution protects the rights of ALL religions, not one and not just a few. Attacking the most sacred elements of a religion is not free speech anymore than would be perjury in a court or libel in a newspaper.” A very interesting interpretation of the constitution. Commentary: Pharyngula
  • 2008-07-26 [Talk|Index] He's Just a Frackin' Adolescent Ass § “There are dozens of reasons to criticize the behavior of that blogger, perhaps the most salient of which is that it's never OK to gratuitously attempt to hurt the feelings of large groups of people, with no other reasonable end but to hurt their feelings, but I think the most tragic consequence of said blogger's behavior is that it pretty much cuts off any discussion of the real issues, and diverts the attention to him.”
  • 2008-07-24 [Talk|Index] P. Z. Myers Must Be Fired § [2]“Instead, P. Z. Myers surreptitiously obtained and then desecrated something that is held most sacred by numerous individuals. He went out of his way to offend, to provoke the most deeply held sentiments of others, and he did so in full knowledge of what he was doing, as witnessed by the fact that he complains repeatedly on his blog about all of the outraged complaints he has been receiving from Catholics via e-mail. .. In desecrating what Catholics hold most sacred--and what Muslims hold sacred as well--P. Z. Myers has fundamentally compromised himself as an educator. .. He has made himself unsuitable for employment as an educator.”
  • 2008-07-24 [Talk|Index] Myers Desecrates the Eucharist § “It is important for Catholics to know that the University of Minnesota will not tolerate the deliberate destruction of the Eucharist by one of its faculty. Just as African Americans would not tolerate the burning of a cross, and Jews would not tolerate the display of swastikas, Catholics will not tolerate the desecration of the Eucharist.”
  • 2008-07-24 [Talk|Index] August 2008 is Officially "Pray for PZ Myers Month" § “I will encourage you to make August a month of prayer for PZ Myers. But let's not just pray for his conversion. Let's be a little more daring. Let's pray that he will become our next St. Paul – not an the Apostle to the Gentiles, but an Apostle of the Eucharist.”
  • 2008-07-24 [Talk|Index] Anti-Catholicism Finds a Home at University of Minnesota § [2]“What does offend him is that a large number of people have emailed him to protest and denounce him. He also says he has been threatened physically. If so, shame on anyone who did so. Even threats of that sort are against Christian teaching, not to mention stupid and possibly illegal. .. However, I have been threatened for far, far less--just expressing dissenting views on evolution. .. Words physically weigh less than the consecrated Host. They are "nothing". And yet words that offend Myers and his fellow Darwinist apparatchiki can drive them to deeds of vigorous punishment. Restraint and scholarly good will are for other people. The mere words that Darwin doubters have raised in schoolrooms and lecture halls incite P. Z. Myers to call for punishments of flunking for students, expulsion for graduate students and firings for professors. .. So words apparently matter in those cases. What gets thrown in the trash then are normal rules of civilized discourse, followed by people's careers.” Wrong, but eloquent and persuasive. Where are all these evolutionist threats documented? What's wrong with "expelling" people for teaching bad science?
  • 2008-07-23 [Talk|Index] No action to be taken against professor who threatened to desecrate Eucharist, university says § [2]“In her statement, Chancellor Johnson said: “I deeply regret that the postings have been so upsetting to so many people and that this has, in turn, caused some individuals to question the values of civility, respect, academic inquiry and critical thought that are the hallmark of this institution.” ... “There’s been no official response from the Catholic Church and I would make a deal here, that I would return these wafers to the nearest Catholic church if the Church would come out and disavow the tactics of Bill Donohue and the people who have threatened my job and have threatened my life,” Myers said.”
  • 2008-07-23 [Talk|Index] Concerning Eucharistic Desecration § [2]“Myers then decided to blow away the last shreds of pretense that his blog Pharyngula was about science and give full vent to his demented hatred of Jesus Christ by urging his throng of equally demented followers to steal some hosts so he could desecrate them and put the whole thing on his blog. The Catholic League got involved (rightly, in my view), and Catholics, as is our custom, have been arguing about it ever since, pursuing a range of responses from complete pacifism to some rather over-the-top reactions including (you guessed it) death threats against Myers.” A rather inaccurate, emotionally-charged, and vituperative account of the situation (e.g. calling PZ "evil"). Also makes the same absurd comparison John Pieret did, i.e. desecrating a Eucharist cracker is like breaking into someone's house and stealing their children's artwork. Commentary: West Coast Catholic
  • 2008-03-28 [Talk|Index] Darwinist Biologist P.Z. Myers’ “Nice Feedback Mechanism”— “Greater Science Literacy…Is Going to Lead to the Erosion of Religion” § [2]“In the midst of a furious national debate about intelligent design, Darwinism, and metaphysical bias and indoctrination in science education, one has to wonder why Dr. Myers would state plainly that the agenda of Darwinists is to advance atheism in the classroom. Why would Dr. Myers state unequivocally on film that a fundamental goal of science education is the suppression of religious belief? .. The most parsimonious explanation is that he means it.” The DI gets it more or less right for once, if you remove the filter of the religionist-speak: science education aims to teach kids how to think, which leads inevitably to increasing rejection of religious dogma and thereby a better world.
  • 2008-03-23 [Talk|Index] PZ Myers: The Elvis Presley of atheism? § [2]“The Information Age must be frightening to parents who wish to keep their children insulated from the scary outside world. All a child has to do is type the word “atheism” into a search engine, and they’ll find millions of pages dealing with the subject. For young people who subscribe to the stereotype of the atheist as the unhappy, god-hating local crank who tries to get nativity scenes removed from people’s lawns, the internet probably does a lot to shatter some myths about atheism. .. To counteract all this information, some religionists have taken to Defending the Faith by shooting the messenger, so to speak. Why bother refuting atheism or providing evidence for Intelligent Design when it’s so easy to attack a biology professor in Minnesota?”
  • 2007-04-22 [Talk|Index] You're No Suffragist § [2]“It's difficult, at this point, to say anything other than, "Are you kidding me?" Watching white, middle-class, mostly ex-Protestant males (the dominant new atheist demographic) compare themselves to feminists, labor movements, gay and civil rights activists, or the members of any other persecuted group fighting for their social, political, and economic lives is just plain surreal. Or worse, as Trinifar notes, it's just plain manipulative. It does, however, reinforce my armchair psychoanalysis of the new atheists: members of a privileged class who decided to create an identity simply to justify their own persecution complexes.”
  • 2006-11-03 [Talk|Index] Myers 1, Cordova/McGrew 0 § [2]“We have seen this sort of jaw-droppingly brazen dishonesty previously from the creationists and ID folks. In this essay I documented William Dembski's refusal to correct his blatant misuse of a statement from paleontologist Peter Ward. In this one I showed how Dembski's co-blogger-in-chief, Denyse O'Leary, was duped into repeating blatantly false charges about the views of Stephen Jay Gould. Even after the error was pointed out, she refused to offer any correction. .. Shame on them, of course. And shame on any respectable scholar who persists in believing that ID should be treated with respect.”