Search Results for: pz myers

PZ Myers: The One-Man Brand

When National Geographic acquired ScienceBlogs a few months ago, NG executives and editors immediately faced a problem: How could they justifiably showcase PZ Myers — the marquee talent at ScienceBlogs — when Myers spends much of his time taunting and vilifying religious people?

PZ Myers

(From Myers’ atheistic hymnal: “Fuck God.” People of faith are “batshit insane” and “self-righteous pricks” who should “grow the fuck up.” And other nastiness which, for National Geographic, is a bit “off brand.”)

The answer was this compromise: PZ’s blog posts about science still appear at NG’s ScienceBlogs site, but what you might call PZ Unplugged — his science posts plus everything else he wants to write, including his religion rants — are available at a new network called Freethought Blogs.

Given this choice, where do PZ Myers’ fans now go to get their PZ fix? Are they remaining loyal to ScienceBlogs where they can read PZ’s thoughts on cuttlefish? Or have they opted for PZ Unplugged — cuttlefish plus his meditations on public hand jobs — over at Freethought Blogs?

We don’t have access to the traffic data for PZ’s two blogs. But using comments as a rough proxy for traffic, we did a quick comparison. We looked at 19 recent blog posts that were simultaneously published at ScienceBlogs and at Freethought Blogs — same content, different sites — and compared the number of comments per post.

Here’s what we discovered:

Comment comparison, Monday, September 12, 2011 @ 11:50pm

It’s early still. Freethought Blogs is just a few months old, and National Geographic hasn’t yet brought its full marketing muscle to promoting ScienceBlogs. But the initial returns suggest that PZ Myers will find his audience, with National Geographic’s help — or without it.

Big media brands: They’re not what they used to be.


Postscript: It’s worth noting that PZ provokes his biggest reactions at Freethought Blogs when he plays the provocateur on religion:

What is she doing? (on what PZ suggests is the biblical justification for public hand jobs):  112 comments*

It made my skin crawl  (on biblical marriage): 224 comments*

Ricky Gervais in the New Humanist  (on atheism & being offensive):  310 comments*

Seems like Dr. Myers popularity has very little to do with his thoughts on cephalopods.

* total as of 10:30am on September 13, 2011

PZ Myers: The Compromise

PZ Myers

Remember PZ Myers, the biologist & blogger who taunts religious people by saying stuff like “Fuck God”?

PZ is the marquee talent at ScienceBlogs, which was recently acquired by National Geographic. Problem is, managing a stable of bloggers that includes PZ Myers is rather awkward: How can NGS showcase a guy who says religious people are “batshit insane”? That sort of bile seems rather “off brand.”

PZ told us via Twitter in early June that he was “negotiating” with NGS. Today he announced the compromise. In short: PZ’s blog posts about science will still appear at ScienceBlogs, but what you might call PZ Unplugged — his science posts PLUS everything and anything else he wants to write, including his religion rants — will be available at a new blogging network called Freethought Blogs.

Here’s a longer version from PZ, posted yesterday (July 31, 2011):

… NatGeo and I have worked out an acceptable compromise. This site on Freethoughtblogs is mine and only mine, and none of the content is in any way associated with National Geographic. Yay freedom! I can say whatever I want here! At the same time, whatever I write that I feel is compatible with the more conservative ethos of National Geographic will also appear over there — so less liberal, more religious readers can read the sciencey stuff without getting their staid world rocked. One qualifier: anti-creationism is well within the NatGeo brief, so  young-earth creationists and intelligent design cretins aren’t going to like either site. There are limits, you know.

So, if you liked the old Pharyngula exactly as it was, this is the place you want to be: update your blogrolls, change your bookmarks, redirect your RSS feeds. Other than the address, nothing has changed. This is Pharyngula Unfiltered, double espresso Pharyngula.

If you’ve been wishing Pharyngula was a little less rude and offensive, if you were constantly annoyed by the challenges to your cherished and foolish religious dogmas, do nothing at all and stick with the old site.  That will be Cool Menthol Pharyngula, or de-caf Pharyngula.

We applaud PZ & NGS for hammering out a compromise.

We also look forward to seeing what happens next: Will PZ’s huge audience move to his new site or will they stay put?

The answer will raise an even more interesting question: Are the people who have been reading PZ’s posts — and who have, as a result, made ScienceBlogs such a success — fascinated by PZ’s insights on cephalopods? Or do they love hearing him call religious people “self-righteous pricks“?

Because if they’ve congregated to watch PZ the Profane Pugilist beat up people of faith, then our Society just acquired a blogging network that’s about to lose a ton of traffic — and advertising revenue.

We’re also curious who decides which of PZ’s posts go where. For example, he posted this bit on “kooks” and “politics” at ScienceBlogs tonight:

Why is this included in what PZ calls “the NatGeo brief”?

The Worldview of Nat Geo blogger PZ Myers (cont’d)

PZ Myers is the voice of Pharyngula,
part of the ScienceBlogs network,

which is operated by the National Geographic Society.


Dear John,
Your silence is deafening.

Will National Geographic let PZ Myers keep this up?

Another peek inside the mind of PZ Myers,
who is the marquee blogger at ScienceBlogs,
now a National Geographic property.


Dear John,
Your thoughts?

Discussion & debate, PZ Myers-style

After the recent coverage in USA Today (and here) of National Geographic’s acquisition of ScienceBlogs, PZ Myers — who runs SB’s most popular blog — responds in his trademark fashion:

Working blue

Category: Administrative • Stupidity
Posted on: June 8, 2011 5:45 AM, by PZ Myers

PZ Myers

Stop writing to me about Mairson and [USA Today reporter Cathy] Grossman. I have no respect for their opinions at all. …

Bugger ’em.*

My policy has been and always will be to write as I will, to say without reservation what I think, and to have a damn good time while doing it. I will not mute the way I express myself because a couple of delicate little flowers wilt when a blog does not have the same formal tone as a long-established magazine, and I will categorically reject the criticisms of idiots who look at what I say and see only shrill, rabid, militant, screaming, hysterical, obscenities — that is a slanderous mischaracterization that immediately calls into question their capacity for critical thought. …

So to all of you who’ve been pestering me with Grossman and Mairson’s ginned-up non-controversies and bluenosed fussings, don’t worry. Nothing is changing for me. Web servers might change, blog software can shift, different paymasters might try to borrow my pages, but I am completely free: I write what I write because it is what I want to write, not because I am obligated to put myself in a straitjacket to please an advertiser. And I am especially not constrained by a pair of prissy, shallow whiners who have no association with me, no input into what I say, and absolutely no relevance. [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing here.

It’s worth noting that the concerns we’ve expressed here at Society Matters — and that Ms. Grossman shared with her readers at USA Today — are not “ginned up non-controversies.” The editors at National Geographic are already worried about the rhetorical style of Myers and some of his fellow Sciblings (as the bloggers at ScienceBlogs are known). From Retraction Watch:

One of the issues that is likely to be contentious — and certainly was for Myers, who is no stranger to invective — was that of standards and practices. Braun [David Braun, vice president of news and editorial service at National Geographic Digital Media]:

It is important to debate freely and robustly. National Geographic has a gold standard reputation for quality. National Geographic values and standards apply to all of our content, wherever and however it is received. With our respect for freedom of expression, we are also sensitive to the way we communicate. We are sensitive to our worldwide audience’s expectations of our brand. So we avoid unjustifiable offense and are sensitive to generally accepted standards.

The subject later came up in a question from Scibling Ed Brayton, who noted that he posts an item called “Dumbass Quote of the Day” and does not shy away from sharp words on politics. Braun responded that material has to run through their standards and practices:

I don’t want to sit here and comment on a case-by-case basis but I do want to work with you to work this out. We do stand for freedom of expression. We want to aim for a higher level of debate that is respectful and doesn’t offend in an unjustifiable way.

We suspect this will be an issue as Scienceblogs is integrated into Nat Geo.

We suspect the same thing.


* Ed. note:
bugger |ˈbəgər; ˈboŏg-| vulgar slang chiefly Brit.
verb [ trans. ]: penetrate the anus of (someone) during sexual intercourse; sodomize.


8 June 2011 @ 12:15pm:

PZ Myers, in the comments section of his own blog:

Somebody slap Alan Mairson, please. He’s been whining at me constantly lately about my “profanity-laced diatribes” and how I dare to dismiss the faith of billions as lunacy. He’s a prim, prudish bluenosed wanker who has appointed himself the politeness police over an organization which no longer employs him. Which makes him a disgruntled former employee who seems resentful that his former organization might possibly have an independent contractor who doesn’t have a stick up his ass like he does.

He does seem to have found a like-minded censorious colleague in the odious Grossman. The company he keeps does not reassure me that he’s a serious critic — just another whiner about ‘tone’.


“Self-righteous pricks piss me off.” – PZ Myers

It won’t be easy for National Geographic to bring ScienceBlogs — including Pharyngula, the popular blog written by biologist PZ Myers — into the NGS editorial orbit. Especially when Dr. Myers insists on posting stuff like this:

(Ed. note: Kirk Cameron is an actor & an evangelical Christian.)

Myers’ original post is here.


Dear John:
Your thoughts?

PZ Myers: A new voice for National Geographic

A special welcome to all new visitors arriving from USA Today.
Like you, we’re curious about PZ Myers’ arrangement with National Geographic, but John Fahey, NG’s CEO, won’t answer our questions.
He refuses to give us — and virtually every other journalist — an interview.
But you can help.
If you believe the National Geographic Society — a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization — should encourage civil discourse about religion and be more transparent about its publicly subsidized operations, then please help us crowdsource our interview request by clicking Recommend, below. (Or: Click the Like button in the Dear John: Let’s Talk widget, at right). We’re anxious to bring up the PZ Myers issue (and many other concerns) with John ASAP.
Thank you.

All of the Abrahamic religions
are patriarchal horrors.

Just more bullshit from a muslim doofus.


PZ Myers

PZ Myers is the marquee blogger at ScienceBlogs,
which National Geographic now runs.


Dear John,
Why do you think Dr. Myers
deserves the support of the National Geographic Society?

“National Geographic has its good name attached to this garbage?”

I’ve had my differences with PZ Myers, who is one of the marquee bloggers at ScienceBlogs.

But I’ll give him this: He doesn’t mince his words.

Here’s his take on a recent public poll that asked voters which presidential candidate they thought would handle a UFO invasion best. The poll was conducted by National Geographic, which owns and operates ScienceBlogs… and which pays PZ Myers:

{ Read the whole thing here. }

Then again, maybe there’s a method to this apparent madness: National Geographic dreamed up the poll… paid for it… publicized it… reaped the rewards of that publicity… and then criticized it on web pages featuring ads for the new Toyota Prius  — and it all came out of one shop.

In other words: National Geographic has managed to monetize a conflict of its own creation. (See also: the ongoing controversy about Meet The Hutterites.)

This build the fire, feed the fire strategy is a staple at Fox News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the National Geographic Channel.

Which makes me think that Rupert Murdoch is a lot like fight promoter Don King, but with far more media clout — and a lot less hair.


Dear John: Monetize the network, not the content

{ Read the whole interview here. }

Dear John,

A blog network? Really?

With all due respect, blog networks run by National Geographic haven’t done well. Exhibit A: Last year, our Society bought and assumed day-to-day management of ScienceBlogs, which was then considered among the best in class.

A few months later, PZ Myers, who is one of ScienceBlogs’ marquee writers, announced a new arrangement. He’d post his straight-up science material at ScienceBlogs; he’d also cross-post that material — along with what is arguably his most popular content (his rants about religion) — on a new & independent network called FreethoughtBlogs, which launched last summer (mid 2011).

Here’s some data that compares the performance of the two sites (via

It looks like National Geographic’s ownership and day-to-day management of Scienceblogs has hurt more than it has helped.

Or as we suggested last year in Battle of the Brands: National Geographic vs. PZ Myers (& friends) is actually a contest.

There’s another problem with trying to build a blog network with only a few thousand contributors: Billions of people have camera-equipped mobile phones. Which means we can’t possibly cover “the world and all that is in it” even after you tell employees to blog & you recruit thousands of park rangers to the cause.

Think about it: What are the odds that a National Geographic blogger will produce clips as good as this (wildly popular) amateur video:

Or this one:

Someone will capture equally compelling moments in the future, but the odds it’ll be someone in our network are slim to none. The world is just too big.

Then again, John, you could improve your odds of capturing the next Battle at Kruger by activating an existing network that’s massive but dormant: National Geographic Society members, still 4+ million strong. Why not give the millions of people who are still paying attention to NGS — and still paying annual dues — the ability to do something together that they’ll never be able to accomplish alone? Give them a good reason to stay — and to recruit their friends.

Monetize the network, not the content. Why? Because our membership network — its size, its affluence, and its loyalty — is unique to National Geographic. What other organization is so fortunate?

Elephant pictures, on the other hand, are everywhere… and they’re free.

“Bugger off, deluded fool.”


Dear John,
Do you think PZ Myers is a good online ambassador
for the National Geographic Society?


NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.