After long trial separation, PZ Myers divorces skepticism 17


PZ Myers, a biologist who used to blog about science, announced he is “officially” divorcing himself from the skeptic movement. This is good news for people who want to promote scientific skepticism, because Myers doesn’t promote skepticism anyway.

The reaction he expected at this announcement:

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The reactions he gets:

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Myers, like many other FreethoughtBlog bloggers, has been spending most of his time fueling internet drama that most people don’t know/care about. I’m glad he’s making it clear that what he’s doing isn’t skepticism.


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17 thoughts on “After long trial separation, PZ Myers divorces skepticism

  • Sergio

    I think he is still an skeptic, it’s not something you can quit, it’s something you do. He is just skeptic about religion too. This should be standard among skeptics, I cannot see what is the big deal with that, don’t scare the believers, or what?

    • MosesZD

      Or maybe he really wasn’t as fully skeptical as you believe. I know many skeptics who won’t accept many claims without some sort of evidence, but will accept some of the stupidest conspiracy crap you can shake a stick at. And will trot out their fallacious arguments at every opportunity.

  • Martin

    So then do you agree with the idea that there are sacred cows that skepticism isn’t allowed to touch, like religion?

    I actually disagree with PZ. I think atheists should definitely hold on to the mantle of skepticism, and take it back from the people who say “But you can’t be skeptical about that!”

    • Sara E.M. Post author

      His mistake is that skepticism places certain claims out of bounds. If your claim about the existence of god is testable, then it’s within the realm of science/skepticism.

      But PZ, Skepchicks, FTB, and A+ want to apply value judgments to skepticism; like their chosen political and social views. It’s important that skepticism be free of other ideologies (like feminism, anti-theism, libertarianism).

      His skeptic Strawman is a reaction to the idea that there is a distinction between beliefs that are value judgements and beliefs that are testable claims; atheism tends to not care about the difference.

      That’s why I guide my values with humanism.

  • Martin

    If your claim about the existence of god is testable, then it’s within the realm of science/skepticism.

    This is exactly what PZ is saying, in criticism of Jamy Ian Swiss saying the opposite, so I’m not sure what your beef is.

    I’m not sure what you mean by calling things like feminism a “value judgment.” Feminism, for instance, was borne out of a skeptical rejection of cultural patriarchal values, most of which walk hand in hand with religion. When every attempt to legally deny women legal control of their own uteruses is coming from Christian conservatives who are mostly men, then atheism and skepticism, most of whose adherents believe in things like human rights and equality, will find its values and goals to be simpatico with those of feminism. It doesn’t mean they’re the same thing, only that they can share goals in common and work together for the betterment of humanity.

    Attempts to characterize this as some kind of Faustian bargain are baffling to me, and clearly appear to come from either misunderstandings or deliberate distortions.

  • The Devil's Towelboy

    @Martin – sacred cows? Just try asking Myers what evidence exists for supposed “atheist misogyny”… Or try criticizing Becky Watson’s perpetual boot-in-mouth – and see what happens.

  • Karmakin

    @Martin: Then maybe, just maybe, the whole modern flare-up of the “war on women” isn’t actually about women in the first place?

    My take on what’s going on there, is that religionists are trying to throw their weight around and prove that they’re still relevant in the face of increasing secularism in our society. This is actually a form of privilege claiming, where the religionists demand to be treated as a primary, authoritarian source on these moral issues.

    (As an aside, why abortion? It’s the social issue with the easiest sell. Not because of misogyny, but because of the “pro-children” nature of our society. Everybody just LOVES the babiez!!)

    The problem, in other words, is the privilege(claiming). The problem, and why we can’t all just get along (even though I’d say that most skeptics are pro-choice) is that we see this same form of privilege claiming coming from feminists such as PZ Myers. He wants an authoritarian role in these matters, or at least he wants those who share his ideology to have an authoritarian role. And it’s never enough, because they have to constantly prove their moral relevance/superiority.

    Even if I agree with 90% of the stated aims and goals of feminists, I strongly disagree with the movement as a whole. And it’s because of that privilege claiming…which is no different than the privilege claiming coming from religionists.

  • Yuley

    Ambidexter – cite specific examples of misogyny on the The Slymepit.
    The constant claim that the Slymepit is misogynyst by the bleating followers of the FTB cult leaders is nothing but a smear campaign.

    “Amazing” that someone always shows up in threads like this across the net to provide links to the B&W-thinking blog, almost like they’re trolling for hits using the drama. Sorry, exactly like it.

  • BunsRus

    Ambidexter, you are full of it.
    If you make bold claims, you need to pack some bold evidence for your claims. Otherwise people are going to come and tell you jus this:

    Nonsense.

    You are just spreading rumors and trying to see if it catches like wildfire. Unfortunately YOU have to provide evidence. It isn’t enough to say ‘go read you stoopid’.

    If you provide no evidence you can be dismissed without anyone caring anymore about you or your nonsense.

  • KiwiInOz

    Ambidexter – my reading is that the SlymePit is what pharyngula used to be, before it became holier than thou.

    YMMV

  • harrystarkus

    His never ending search for a label that properly describes his holy clique of saints goes on …
    Why doesn’t he just get on with and form a cult :)

  • Stephan Brun

    Of course, using Sherlock to illustrate is excellent. It’s just the thing he would say. The Disney figure expression isn’t half bad either.
    (Can’t remember which that one is, though ….)