Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Minnesota Farmers: Blogger PZ Myers Puts Livestock at Risk With Straw Use

The following is a guest blog and has been posted with the full permission of the author.

February 22, 2013
Staff reports


Blogger PZ Myers visits a Minnesota farm to select straw for use in his arguments

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — A spokesman for the Minnesota Farmers Union is concerned about a shortage of straw and
hay available for agricultural purposes around the state—and he is blaming PZ
Myers for the problem.

Myers, a prolific blogger and professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, has been accused of hoarding hay and straw for use in constructing his straw man arguments and logical fallacies. While some of the larger organizations such as the Minnesota Farm Network have been reluctant to criticize Myers out of fear of being targeted on his often-vitriolic blog, others are speaking out.

“Every time he writes something outside of his field [of biology], Myers uses all of the available straw for miles around” to craft his arguments, said Farmer’s Union representative Mike Helms. “I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to buy straw and hay—it’s a free country and all that. But the fact is our farmers and horses need it. He can’t use that much straw [an estimated 3,000 bales per month last year] and not expect it to affect our local ecology and economy. We use straw for feeding our livestock and horses, bedding, and fuel. He’s just using it to make faulty arguments. Where’s the justice in that?”

Helms added that other quasi-famous pundits have been drawn to the area in search of straw for their own arguments (conservative writer Ann Coulter and creationist William Dembksi are
frequent customers), but that Myers is by far the most active.

Hardest hit are the farming communities southwest of Minneapolis and those north of St. Cloud. The regional shortage has caused the price of hay to triple, and additional straw is being brought in from as far away as Nebraska. One area man said he was making $500 per week hauling hay from Omaha and reselling it. But many farming families can’t afford to pay a premium for straw, and grouse that Myers is unfairly cornering the market for his personal projects while their horses and cows go hungry.

Myers, once known for his work as a biologist, has in recent years become most prominent for his strident criticism of religion, skepticism, and almost anything else he disagrees with. In a famous incident in 2009, Myers overheard a young woman mention that she was a staunch vegetarian, to which he immediately responded: “You know, Hitler was a vegetarian… What other Nazi policies do you agree with?” Myers’s blatant logical fallacies have been cataloged by dozens of people including scientist-and-best-selling authors Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins—and most recently by a bored fifth-grader in Duluth who happened to be skimming Myers’s “Pharyngula” blog for a school project.

Despite his dismissive tone and having yet to publish a single book, PZ Myers has attracted legions of fans. In an article in the September 2008 print issue of Movieline magazine, screenwriter Ed Naha acknowledged Myers as an important inspiration for his film Troll and its later sequels. “The special effects may have been kind of cheesy, but the script was so strong because it came from real life,” Naha said. “I’d read PZ’s stuff, and the script wrote itself, it was pure gold. He was one of the biggest trolls, even back then.” Indeed, Myers earned the distinction of being named the “shepherd of Internet trolls” by Sam Harris earlier this year.

Republican political strategists—themselves well versed in straw man fallacies—have long expressed admiration for Myers’s uncanny ability to fabricate controversy from thin air and grossly mischaracterize his opponents. Wilson Moot, a protégé of Karl Rove and the chief writer of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign ads, is a particular fan. One of Moot’s best-known ads took President Obama’s statement “You didn’t build that” out of context (he was clearly referring to national infrastructure including roads and bridges) and claimed that it was instead
an attack on small business owners. “Myers’s ability to twist and spin the facts and misinterpret otherwise clear arguments by others is unparalleled,” Moot said in a recent Washington Weekly interview. “I’m good, but let’s be honest: Myers is in his own class. Up is down, black is white, night is day—if he says it is. If we’d had him on our campaign I really think we could have nailed Obama on that Muslim thing and won the White House.”

Myers could not be reached for comment; a spokesman said he was in Chicago, negotiating the purchase of industrial cranes to assist with assembling even larger straw man arguments later this year. “His goal,” the spokesman said, “is to make a straw man so big and glorious that it blots out the sun.”

Artists rendering of what would occur if PZ Myers ever makes it to the "big city"

Artists rendering of what would occur if PZ Myers ever makes it to the “big city”

Minnesota Farmers: Blogger PZ Myers Puts Livestock at Risk With Straw Use

1 comment:

  1. Might it not be time to move on?

    I don't mean to presume to instruct you on how you should compose posts or run your blog, but I cannot help but feel that the Myers thing has run its course. You have made your refutations of his spurious allegations which is sufficient, maybe even a satire or two but the video - didn't really care for it myself but nothing warranting a flagging - and this are not likely to achieve anything beyond being grist for his mill. Something he can use to gin up outrage and dismissal with the clown posse by highlighting these latter efforts and declaring, "see, see what a hollow vessel he is, just cheap shots and nothing else." That is all referents will see and it may be all they need to confirm the falsehoods being promulgated by that ideologue and not dig deeper. Thus if and when more untruths might be disseminated they will be accepted without question as your card was already marked.

    Plus it is also fodder that he thrives on, feeds his egotistical narrative of heroically battling the scum he imagines infect his precious "movement" because he has foes whose acts can be turned to his gain. One method of depriving these folks of sustenance is to proffer to them as much ignorance for their actions as can be mustered within reason. Of course when they slander and lie they must be refuted - I'd have also sought legal action if at all possible - robustly but once that deed is done and maybe one post charting their descent into irrationality, set them back on ignore. Don't even entertain their, or their clown posses, weaseling refutations as they take off with the goal posts and redefine words on the fly; ignore them. Let them inhabit their echo chambers and trade pious words of sanctimonious rage at all the windmills they tilt at. They'll inevitably fade to their own self-immolating group irrelevant to all but the broken, self-righteous types who flock to these prescriptive, policed for purity ideologies like extreme animal rights, anarchists, Randians etc.