.@pzmyers smears Michael Shermer, and I have a hunch why

It appears that PZ Myers, long a bomb-throwing, shit-stirring sort of atheist, has decided to just smear Michael Shermer with allegations that Mr. Shermer is a rapist. As the above video explains quite well (and within the first three minutes) the entire story just smacks of falsehood. And even if it is true, why is Myers publishing it on his blog and not going to the police?

The video implies that the reason is for more pagehits, which I cannot deny is some motivation. PZ has been losing credibility and steam in the world, and like any attention whore he needs new marks. But I don’t think that’s all of it.

Michael Shermer is one of the leading atheists in the world, Founding Publisher of Skeptics Magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society. But Michael Shermer is also a libertarian. I don’t agree with him on everything–he took a decidedly leftist view on guns after the Newtown tragedy–but overall the man is libertarian.

PZ Myers, on the other hand, is most decidedly not libertarian. He is a progressive at best, a socialist at worse. (He calls himself a “godless liberal biologist” on his Twitter bio, but that’s because he doesn’t really know the meaning of liberal.) As I’ve noted before, PZ is behind the creation of “Atheismplus,” or “Atheism+,” which is sadly not some sort of atheist social networking site but is rather a sociopolitical movement designed to sneakily convert all of atheism over to left-wing progressives. Under PZ’s view, unless you take his positions on politics, society, and just about everything else, you can’t be an atheist. It was a handy way of trying to become the spokesman for atheism, however, that move backfired horrendously. As far as I am aware–which is actually limited, because unlike many atheists I do not spend a whole hell of a lot of time focusing on atheist bitchfests–Atheism+ sort of fizzled. Well, actually, it tore the atheist movement apart, created a lot of needless melodrama, and a whole lot of arguments, then fizzled. A lot of it had to do with McCarthy-esque witch hunts hunting down supposed misogynists, but it was really another attempt at using left-wing style politics to silence political opponents, this time in the (supposedly homogenous) atheist community.

I have no doubt that Myers’ baseless accusations, backed up by no evidence whatsoever, are caused by politics. Sure, he may be wanting to get more attention after A+ severely damaged his reputation, but this will not help him. It only makes him look more like a scumbag.

What I find most interesting about all of this is that there is a lot of disgust towards PZ Myers, the Atheism+ movement, and stuff like this happening. Reading about what happened to A+ makes me feel better about atheism in general. For a long time I thought atheism was overrun with socialists, progressives, and “statheists,” but apparently I was wrong. Thank goodness.

In more immediate details, Shermer has filed a cease and desist order against Myers. The post is still up, and PZ has sought legal assistance from Ken White at Popehat. That makes me a bit worried; I like Ken, and he offers pro bono legal help to bloggers facing libel and defamation suits. That’s a good thing, but he should steer clear of this one. This is just straight up, well, defamation, really, without any facts or evidence, calculated to cause reputational damage to someone, likely because of political differences. That’s not really something you can defend in court, but Ken is the lawyer, not me. Still, I would hate to see someone like Ken tarnished by being associated with this.

In short: PZ Myers is a turd. He will defame people, destroy them, if he disagrees with them, and wants to label any atheist he disagrees with him as “not-atheist.” He’s pretty low (and apparently also a misogynist himself.)

This is what happens when you go down that road of “progressivism.”

  • “randomly smear”

    Well, right there, in the very first sentence, you lose all credibility for the rest of your piece. Right or wrong, true or untrue, it is abundantly clear that PZ Myers thought long and hard before making that post, and fully understood the potential ramifications to his own reputation before pushing the button. He clearly believed the woman making the accusation, and to claim that he targeted Shermer because of “political differences” is simply absurd.

    As for going to the police — again, the original post made it perfectly clear that the woman was talking about something that happened a couple of years ago, and would have no chance of being investigated by the police at this juncture. Date rape (which is what this accusation seems to be about), even in the immediate aftermath is tough enough to get the police to take seriously (and even tougher to prove), that many victims choose not to report it and have to face the public trial that entails.

    It seems from this posting that it’s you who has a political axe to grind, not Myers.

    • jdkolassa

      I took the “randomly” out, as you’re right, this wasn’t random, but nothing else I’ve said (as far as I can determine) has taken away any credibility. (And that really didn’t either.)

      As for “it is abundantly clear that PZ Myers thought long and hard for making that post,” the jury is still out. He can write what he wants, there, but then that’s just his word. We have no corroboration or any sort of validation of that.
      “He clearly believed the woman making the accusation–” Does this woman actually exist? That’s the question I want answered. I don’t need to know her name, or her identity. I just want to know if she actually exists or not. The way I see it, this is some sort of concoction from PZ Myers’ head.
      “As for going to the police–” this victim, if she exists, should still have done that. There are procedures in place to hide a victim’s identity. The criminal justice system is designed to find the truth and extract justice. Is it perfect? No. I will be the first to admit that. But what PZ is doing, by publishing this accusation on his blog, years later, instead of going to the police with this information, is not finding the truth. It is not extracting justice. It is merely smearing another man and using the attention to drive up his page hits. If he is trying to protect women, he is failing miserably and in the process is hurting someone else. These things need to be tried in a court of law to find the truth, not the court of public opinion.
      As for political axes, why would I have an axe to grind against PZ? I’m not committed to destroying people like he seems to be.

    • Shane Phillips

      PZ has turned himself into a social justice warrior, it helps him spread his FUD if he can produce real world cases, as it might help uneducated fools believe his (and the skepchick bloggers) assertions of rampant sexism within Atheist communities. I’m sure he does want to believe it, it helps him further his own ends.

      However narcissists like PZ never act without a plan. I’m sure he did have a plan when he decided to publish the post, but what is most telling is not only did PZ publish the post, he has worked actively to censor anyone daring to point out the fundamental principles of social justice being the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” (If you don’t believe me, look at thunderf00t’s blog, he archived a lot of comments that were censored).

      Regardless of what your personal position is on the voracity of the allegations, you cannot just go around randomly posting defamatory and salacious remarks about a person without providing a lick of corroborating evidence for your claims, sexual assault is an incredibly serious matter and people have their lives ruined by false rape claims. Posting such allegations is at the least irresponsible, and in my opinion actually borders on evil. Social justice is worth nothing if you have to trample all over other people to try and achieve it.

      • jdkolassa

        I just want to say thank you and well said. I don’t get how this is so opaque to some folks.

  • Chris Ho-Stuart

    I can understand being critical of PZ. But what you are doing here is wilful misunderstanding. That’s no basis for credible criticisms.

    It’s not random. Myers chose to publish; but he didn’t choose the target, or the nature of the accusation. That was given to him, and then he had to decide what to do with it. Lots of issues there for consideration; you missed them by making up counterfactuals.

    Cheers — Chris

    • jdkolassa

      I removed “randomly” from the post because you are correct on that front.
      However, as for “didn’t choose the target, or the nature of the accusation,” well, call me a cynical bastard, but I have a hunch that this accusation is bogus. We have no verification that this is true. So I’m inclined to think that yes, PZ did choose the target, and the nature of the accusation.
      If we’re going to be reason-embracing skeptics, we need to use reason to base our decisions upon. So far, there’s not a lot to support this accusation.

      • Chris Ho-Stuart

        OK. Thanks for the fix.

        We’ll disagree on the rest. In my view, the dispassionate reasonable skeptic position leaves a high likelihood on the report having a foundation on actual events, but not sufficient to spell out the events in full detail. And therein lies the most credible basis for some caution in accusations.

        The notion that the whole thing was just invented from the whole cloth seems pretty silly at this point. In principle it may have been invented by the person who described those events and was quoted in PZ’s blog. But the idea that –>PZ<– choose the target is out in the stratosphere — downright delusional, to be blunt. It's just silly.

        • jdkolassa

          “In my view, the dispassionate reasonable skeptic position leaves a high likelihood on the report having a foundation on actual events, but not sufficient to spell out the events in full detail.”

          No, the dispassionate reasonable skeptic looks at this and realizes there is absolutely no grounds to believe any of this, that it is extremely unlikely, and then dismisses it.

          “The notion that the whole thing was just invented from the whole cloth seems pretty silly at this point.”

          Unless there has been some change in the situation…not at all. It seems likely.

          “In principle it may have been invented by the person who described those events and was quoted in PZ’s blog.”

          A distinct possibility that cannot be ruled out.

          “But the idea that –>PZ<– choose the target is out in the stratosphere — downright delusional, to be blunt. It's just silly."

          No, not really. Particularly after witnessing the Atheism+ episode from afar.

          • Chris Ho-Stuart

            “no grounds”?There may not be sufficient grounds for conviction in a court of law; but to make the “no grounds” claim you are simply dismissing out of hand the quoted email.

            The reason why you can be pretty sure this unlikely to be invented out of the whole cloth is that we *do* know other people involved in bring the report (Carrie Poppy) and she is not someone with any history of association with PZ Myers. The invented out of whole cloth notion is an outside possibility, but would require a somewhat bizzare and highly awkward set of machinations. You’d have a slightly more rational basis for the invention hypothesis if you propose that Carrie invented this or cooked it up with the anonymous source — that they decided to use PZ as their dupe. Not particular credible either bit still a bit better better than your notion.

            The relevant of Atheism+ escapes me entirely. It reads a bit like an open admission of bias on your part, which I guess is not what you intended; and so I’m honestly a bit lost on why you bring it up. Atheism+ wasn’t about false or invented accusations; and your final sentence just cements the essentially irrational nature of your whole criticism and speculations.

            You don’t like Myers. I get that; I understand it; I even sympathize with it. But you are letting that get in the way of your basic applied reasoning here. (Added to which, Myers wasn’t actually much involved in atheism+. Having followed it, you know this, right?)

            The reason you can be almost 100% positive that it wasn’t PZ who selected Shermer as a target is that we know Carrie Poppy was involved before Myers was.

            Feel free to tell me to drop this if you’d rather not keep talking about it. I’m not just trying to be difficult; I do think this is a genuinely interested example to consider how reason ought to apply to considering possible alternative for how this report came to be published.

  • ThePrussian

    That’s Myers in a nutshell alright. Well done – it’s actually surprising how many people do not get that Myers has only ever wanted one thing: to make skepticism and reason a handmaiden of what he calls “liberalism”.

    Well said! Hope you’ll favour me with a drop-by sometime.

    • jdkolassa

      Sure! What’s the URL for your blog? I’m not seeing it in your profile. (I think we can put those things in a Disqus profile…)

  • Eric Holp


  • mark young

    After reading the anti-PZ commentaries across many blogs on the accusation issue I’ve concluded this is far more about PZ’s politics and alliances than the accusation itself.