PZ Myers smears Steven Pinker

Via a post by Jerry Coyne, I learned of an egregious smear by PZ Myers of Steven Pinker. PZ posted the following on his Facebook page:

He is referring to the following remarks by Pinker.  Watch this clip — the entire clip —  and ask yourself, as I did: How could any honest and rational person view this and then paint Pinker as “a lying right-wing shitweasel”?

What the hell has happened to PZ over the years?  Wasn’t he rational at one point?

64 thoughts on “PZ Myers smears Steven Pinker

  1. Everything in the news is exaggerated. Decades ago the local paper (food section) did a story on gingerbread houses, which at the time, were not common. They came to the house, took pictures, and printed an interview that was pure fiction. Not negative, just fabricated. I’ve had a few similar experiences when I was a witness to something.

    So I assume that other stories have problems.

    I went to a college that invited controversial speakers as a policy. I have no sympathy for colleges that allow speakers to be blocked.

  2. petrushka: But I’m glad I’m not attending college now. I would not survive a week. I have nothing but contempt for the safe space movement. I really don’t care about the details. A university that limits political speech is rubbish.

    That’s not at all how this works.

    Safe spaces are places of socialization where LBGT people, Black and Latinx people, transgendered people etc. can interact without anxiety, fear, intimidation — whether real or imagined. For some people, that’s crucial to their support mechanisms.

    That has nothing to do with what kinds of political discourse are permitted or forbidden.

  3. petrushka: I went to a college that invited controversial speakers as a policy. I have no sympathy for colleges that allow speakers to be blocked.

    The actual data on this are interesting. FIRE has compiled the number of disinvitation attempts, the majority of which are unsuccessful. In 2017, out of the approximately 4,700 colleges and universities in the States, there were 29 attempts to disinvite a controversial speaker.

    There is a closer analysis of FIRE’s data set here (part 1) and here (part 2).

    It seems that the left is much more likely to attempt a disinvitation, but disinvitations from the right of the speaker are slightly more successful than disinvitations from the left. However, the left is much more likely to disrupt a talk if the disinvitation is not successful.

    (Note: left and right are defined relative to the speaker and his or her position on his or her issues, e.g. Alan Dershowitz would be ‘left’ if talking about civil liberties in the US but ‘right’ if talking about Israel.)

  4. petrushka: That’s fine, but a classroom does not qualify, nor does an auditorium.

    Are classrooms being used as safe spaces? More precisely, are there incidents of a class being disrupted because it was not a safe space? I mean, what’s the claim here?

  5. Kantian Naturalist: That’s not at all how this works.

    That’s exactly the way I’ve seen it working. The intention might be different, as you nicely point out, I’m all for that kind of safe space, but the reality is that it becomes mistaken for aggressive political correctness, where any perceived violation is yelled at.

    Kantian Naturalist: Safe spaces are places of socialization where LBGT people, Black and Latinx people, transgendered people etc. can interact without anxiety, fear, intimidation — whether real or imagined. For some people, that’s crucial to their support mechanisms.

    I think that the problem here is protecting people from imagined discrimination. That’s an impossible goal, and can only result in the exaggerations that get people yelled at for asking whether we could talk about differences among human groups.

    Kantian Naturalist: That has nothing to do with what kinds of political discourse are permitted or forbidden.

    Unfortunately, it ends up having everything to do with what kinds of political discourse are permitted or forbidden. It permeates even the most innocent jargon in a course, like calling some flowers male or female, or some flower structures male or female, for fear of offending. These should not be an issue, and people should stop pretending that everything is about them, about insulting them, about discriminating them. It’s like when creationists label Darwin as racist because he used a language that wasn’t politically incorrect in his cultural context, like the word “race” in the title of “The Origin.”

    Anyway. I don’t think this discussion will go well.

  6. I’m confused about the concept of intimidation. I’ve been a misfit all my life. I mostly just keep my mouth shut. There really isn’t any hope that I will find a safe space. I share with Dershowitz, not his intellect, but his ability to find the wrong side of any issue. Some people are gay, some trans; I have a compulsion to be contrary in any discussion.

  7. KN said:

    Safe spaces are places of socialization where LBGT people, Black and Latinx people, transgendered people etc. can interact without anxiety, fear, intimidation — whether real or imagined. For some people, that’s crucial to their support mechanisms.

    Isolating people where they don’t have to face the diversity of ideas and views in society is not, IMO, “socialization”, but rather the opposite. It’s not like groups of people cannot gather on their own as they see fit, according to race, sexual preferences, etc., on campus or off. Of course they can.

    What safe spaces are designed to do is to give those groups power over spaces and others that do not fit their preferred status, where they can eject those not of their race, sexual preference profile and have all materials and people removed on the basis of their emotional and psychological whims.

    Essentially, so-called “safe spaces” endorse and legitimize the idea that it is okay and even healthy to shut out and shut down other races, sexual preferences, and political ideas based on your emotional reaction to them.

    Where KN sees a “support system”, I see a system of enablers working to agree to, validate and empower a class of people that think it is completely okay to forcibly exclude others on the basis of race, sexual preference or ideas. A true support system, IMO, would be one that works with those students not to “safe space” their inability to successfully socialize with those who are different from them, but rather to solve those emotional and socialization problems. Providing safe spaces where imagined intimidation (as KN said) is treated as if it is real is just feeding a self-destructive fantasy.

    “Get out of our safe space, we don’t want to hear what you have to say” is a blueprint for creating unbridgeable divides between people and breaking down the social construct. IMO, of course.

  8. Does anyone still take PZM seriously nowadays? Didn’t Thunderf00t take him and FTB down a couple notches many years ago?

  9. There is no such thing as poltical correctness. Thats a word invented to fight left wing conclusions that the establishment imposes on the people with the use of pwer.
    It’s just old time thought/speech control.
    The remedy is for the people to demand they have not consented to be governed by These left wing conclusions. Regardless of establishments and media and Hollywood.
    This includes the right to truth, and so freedom of thought and speech.
    These universities are just thge upper classe kids seeking to govern because they believe the ubniversity people will govern the masses from the positions they attain by going to these universities.
    The universities are to persuade those leaders and then the masses.

    Pinker didn’t do a good articulate job.
    He is from Canada and importantly he is jewish.
    he had a youtube where he argued jews were smarter then non jews. lIkewise he had a youtube where he argued Men were smarter then women.
    THEN he had trouble and then associated with other people who had trouble.
    He hides this in this youtube. He is afraid.
    The universities teach that all ethnic/sex gropups are intellectual equal and will equally have the jobs and wealth in the nation.
    He says, , this is not the future.
    So he sees the universities demanding obediance to wrong conclusions.
    so he says, HMMM, to allow free speech WELL if you censor you will provoke the racist and sexist elements. Instead of proving them wrong by cold facts

    Actually instead of the black crime/Irish Catholic crime facts he just needed to show how men always did the evil crime in the stats. not women.
    so why not draw conclusions on mens character or deny drawing conclusions.
    likewise its a poor thing and these ethnic groups are in the poor elements.

    Anyways this all shows a prediction from the right wing.
    The left wing dictators, like the French revolution, are now turing on everyone and making a mockery of any claim to free thought and speech and freedom and self government.
    Where is it going?
    into tyranny as usual and then resistance to tyranny and a overthrow of the left wing. jUst as in international affairs(commis soviets0 and economics (Reagon) the final mop up of the wicked and stupid left wing in America.
    Pinker is hurting his own side because of pet projects.
    Why does he matter more then others anyways/ for the reason the universities do!
    They say they matter more on governing the nation.
    They don’t1 They are ruining there claim to superior intellectual experstise. all of them.
    As predicted.
    What is Alt-Right!!?? I don’t want to know. just stupid profiling of historic forces in history.
    What is a safe zone? Outside the zone i guess they accuse one is not safe?
    Got a hunch it means they are not controlling the countryside.
    like an invading army.
    Its all conclusion contentions. the bad guys always seek dictatorship because they will lose otherwise.
    they are right.
    I predict the soon demise of the left wing.

  10. Oh, wow keiths

    You and I are on the same page here! P Z Myers is WRONG WRONG WRONG and has no justification for such libel!

    I suspect that Myers’ gorge rose at the 3:15 to 3:24 mark. Myers must have fixated and listened no more.

    Too bad – because from 3:24 to 4:00 and from 6:29 to 7:55; Pinkers’ statements could just as easily have been made by Left-Wing Ideologues.

    Pinker did make some incorrect generalizations with dangerous implications which I happen to disagree with.

    For example, 4:17 to 4:38 could be misconstrued when considering race & IQ… to paraphrase Stephen Jay Gould; racial equality when considering IQ is a contingent fact and not a necessary fact. Properly controlled experiments, in fact have been done AND have indeed proven there is no basis for claiming race differences or overlapping curves when considering correlations of skin melanin deposition and IQ. So Pinker’s generalization is incorrect when claiming that facts and data cannot/do not bear on such moral/societal issues. Facts and data have in fact, disproven racist suggestions.

    But to give Pinker his due – let’s get real here: he was giving an 8-minute sound-bite and never addressed that particular question.

    Pinker’s take on Islam’s so-called enlightened history is… well… Pollyanna IMHO, but that particular quibble argues for Pinker’s side and against Myers’ objections.

    Myer’s reaction has in fact, inadvertently butressed Pinker’s thesis by demonstrating exactly the failures of arc-reflex Campus-Leftard nonthinking typical of campuses, which Pinker was attempting to describe.

    Myers just proved Pinker’s point!

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