pz myers

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Escalation paralysis.

How can we possibly lobby for bird-safe glass on a stadium when the wetlands in Minnesota are drying up? How can we campaign for the wetlands when the arctic ice is melting? How can we worry about the arctic when the oceans are warming? Dammit, how can I get up in the morning and drink a cup of tea when the WHOLE PLANET IS DYING??!?

–PZ Myers on escalation paralysis.

Speaking of “Dear Muslima” arguments…

Myers’ point here is obviously that you can care about “small” issues even when large ones still exist. Not to mention attempts to trap people into a state of paralysis over the problems they can’t fix are a form of distracting them from the problems they can. Be wary of it.

2017-07-17T11:13:30+10:0012th May, 2015|Tags: culture, pz myers|

Freeze peaches… online edition!

There are two objects: gags and earplugs.

If I get a gag and stuff it in your mouth, I am violating your right of free speech. That is bad. It would restrict your free speech. I wouldn’t do that.

If you are yammering at me and being generally annoying, for any reason whatsoever, and I get a pair of earplugs and stuff them in my ears, I am not restricting your right of free speech in any way. In fact, it would be an imposition on my autonomy if you insisted that I don’t have a right to use earplugs.

It is also not authoritarian if someone comes along with a big bag of earplugs and hands them out for free to anyone who is tired of hearing, for instance, ranting libertarian assholes.

–PZ Myers on blockbots.

Man anti-progressives sure do get pissy about people blocking them on social media. Myers attempts to make a simple analogy even they can understand, but I’m afraid the gesture may be futile.

2017-07-17T11:13:30+10:0010th May, 2015|Tags: culture, pz myers, social media|

Lest we forget.

The strange thing is that all of the veterans I’ve known — my grandfather, my father-in-law, various uncles — did not gloat about war, ever. My father-in-law didn’t have an ounce of brag in him, and would never have tried to threaten or intimidate anyone. Actually, he’d only reluctantly talk about his experiences in the war, and they’d be more likely to make him teary-eyed and sorrowful than blustery. He had a closet full of medals, and what he’d talk about instead of glory was how his friends died.

–PZ Myers on veterans.

My grandparents were like this, too. Pa was never deployed overseas because he was too valuable to the air force back home as an instructor. He trained pilots to fly those teeny tiny planes they used over the Pacific in WWII. Most everyone else he knew from those days were shot down, and he never forgave himself for not joining them.

Nanna volunteered as a nurse at around the time Darwin was bombed. She tended to the men who’d returned home injured. If the soldiers’ wounds couldn’t kill them, then the hospice’s cholera certainly would. All Nanna could really do was watch.

Granny was a young woman when British soldiers entered Lienz and forced the men into trains, to be returned to Russia and to death. There was a riot. Granny tripped and fell. The only reason she wasn’t trampled to death was because someone threw her through a barracks window. Before they left, the British told the camp’s remaining women and children they’d be back tomorrow for the rest.

Peetie-Pa did scutwork for every army in Europe. He liked the Americans the best because they gave out free chocolate and bubble gum. He liked the Nazis the least, when they chased him and a friend through the snow one night with guns and dogs. Peetie-Pa managed to escape the work camp they were fleeing. His friend didn’t.

I never heard any of these stories from my grandparents themselves. So I never knew why Pa wouldn’t walk into an RSL or why Nanna still feared the Japanese, so many decades after the war had ended. Peetie-Pa would only talk after half a bottle of White Heather, usually long after I’d been sent to bed. Granny kept her story on a faded piece of typewriter paper, covered in corrections from where she’d submitted is as a essay to her ESL teacher.

The war had hurt them, all of them, and they didn’t want to relive that, not even to be told they were heroes. They traded agony and glory alike for bland late 20th century Sydney suburbia, hoping desperately their children and grandchildren would never have to go through what they did.

We didn’t, but other people’s children have.

2017-07-17T11:11:47+10:0025th April, 2015|Tags: pz myers|

Frozen peaches.

In one corner, Person A is screaming their contempt, urging one and all to mob Person B and hound them into silence. In the other corner, Person B is trying to write about their own experiences, explain their view of life, and ignore as best they can the lunatic who is calling them fascist Nazi Communists who wants to kill babies and destroy Western Civilization. Yet somehow there will be people who look on that scene and think A has every right to call down hellfire on B, and B is the guilty party who must adapt. They are the ones who shape the nature of the arena we all have to live within.

–PZ Myers on silencing.

2017-07-17T11:11:46+10:0027th March, 2015|Tags: culture, pz myers|


There is the great disappointment. The movement, whose whole premise demands a sweeping change of the culture, has discovered that it is far easier to defend the status quo than to change it. We’re willing to ask other people to think long and hard about their beliefs, to question and change, but all that other stuff that our culture planted in our heads, like beliefs about the sexes and races, like the rigid gender binary, like the suitability of women to thinking critically, like the automatic conferral of status by wealth, like the dehumanization of people who look like they might have had different great-grandparents than us, like the utility of simply killing people who disagree with us…oh, no, don’t ask us to change. We’re just here to promote atheism! One thing at a time! Once we’ve cleared away the deadwood of religion, then maybe we can think about encouraging a rational world that will have those nice things you’re talking about. […]

Well, I’ve got news for the atheist movement: it all matters. […] You won’t get your philosophical atheist utopia at all if that utopia considers the dignity of all human beings to be a secondary matter.

–PZ Myers on movement Atheism.

I am, technically, an atheist in the “godless heathen” sense of the word, but nowadays it’s just too embarrassing to call oneself a “capital-A Atheist”. Not to mention it seems to get more and more painfully obvious every year that “movement Atheism” doesn’t give two shits about me beyond use as a kind of abstract weapon to bludgeon religion with.

Well… fuck that shit.

I think Myers is correct when he muses that the number of people identifying as religiously “none” will increase but that this won’t translate to a corresponding increase in the number of people identifying as atheists. Not when movement atheism has staked out its turf with the exact same traps and tropes many people are fleeing organised religions to avoid.

Atheism, in other words, had its chance to not degenerate into a toxic cesspit of chauvinism and blew it.

Same as it ever was, and all that.

2018-09-05T13:28:52+10:0020th November, 2014|Tags: atheism, pz myers|

Meat robots.

When I woke up this morning, what I had to deal with were biological impulses. Gotta pee, thirsty, gotta drink: ooh, ankle feels a little creaky this morning, what’s with the mild backache? Hair’s a mess, gotta wash my face, get the crud out of my eyes. Then there were the external demands: cat wants her breakfast, email is beeping, oh, look, laundry needs to be sorted and put away. Internal obligations: gotta write up the notes from yesterday’s long meeting, gotta blog.

You can’t generate a human-like intelligence without all the human-like stimuli. An AI is a chip in a box on a rack. You aren’t going to get something like us out of it without also somehow simulating all the messy, sloppy, gooey biological bits, and why should you? We’ve already got lots of human-like intelligences walking about, and they come ready-equipped with all the organic concerns tacked on.

–PZ Myers is a meat robot.

His point here is that, while artificial intelligence is likely achievable, the mistake everyone makes is thinking it will be anything at all like “meatspace intelligence”.

2017-07-17T11:07:22+10:004th November, 2014|Tags: pz myers|

Precisely tailored.

If ever you accidentally put your underwear on backwards, you’ll discover how precisely it is tailored to human anatomy, and acquire a new appreciation for the garment industry.

–PZ Myers leans life lessons.

2017-07-17T11:07:22+10:0022nd October, 2014|Tags: pz myers|

Cooperation is an evolutionary strategy.

I also have to laugh every time some oblivious multicellular animal announces that evolution is all about competition, and that all that matters is how many progeny you produce. Do you realize that your existence is entirely a product of cooperation? Your parents were made up of trillions of cells, almost all of them dedicated to specialized, non-reproductive functions, all in support of a tiny minority of cells that can produce gametes. And of all those gametes, only two combined to make you — the great lumbering mass of agglomerated metazoan cells that were your parents then dedicated themselves to cooperatively nurturing the little zygote that was you (and which was not genetically identical to either) into a roughly similar lumbering mass.

Further, if that’s too abstract for you, consider this: you’d most likely be dead right now if scientists hadn’t collaborated to make vaccines against childhood diseases, if doctors and family hadn’t worked to keep you healthy and educated. Imagine all those carpenters who built your house and plumbers who put in the pipes and electricians who wired it up; imagine the vast combines that work to deliver fuel for heating and food for eating. Everything that you think is important about you was created by cooperation.

If you think otherwise, go masturbate into a mud puddle and hope that some of your offspring can make it without any assistance.

-PZ Myers on cooperation.

2017-07-17T11:07:22+10:0021st October, 2014|Tags: pz myers|

“The zombie plague was a dud.”

PZ Myers tells a zombie story.

Is that… scratching I hear in your walls?

(Also, the first two paragraphs of this remind me a bit of Mira Grant’s Feed, which is an awesome book y’all should go read.)

2017-07-17T11:05:53+10:002nd October, 2014|Tags: fiction, pz myers, sff, zombies|


When you are making an intentionally emotive argument […], you lose the privilege to complain that your opponents have an emotional reaction. [S]ome subjects are inherently threatening and are appropriately dealt with using a strong emotional component…not to reject logic, but to recognize the motivation that drives the importance of the topic.

–PZ Myers embraces emotion.

2017-07-17T11:05:52+10:0026th September, 2014|Tags: pz myers|