Animal Rights

PZ and Me

| by Dr Ray Greek

Per my last blog, I have been engaging in an email conversation with Dr PZ Myers. The discussion is to the point that I think I should share.


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I posted on the NIO is doomed now comments and others responded but I see today that my comment has been removed. I received an email from David Gorski explaining I would no longer be allowed to post on his blog and can only assume that you feel the same way. If this is (or is not) the case, please advise. If I do not hear back from you I will assume the reasons you are not allowing my posts are the same as Gorski's and will post such on my blog.

I assume you have not read that copy of Animal Models in Light of Evolution that Shanks and I sent. You have not joined in the straw man arguments that others are making about the book and I appreciate that. If you do decide to comment on our position I would further appreciate it if you read the book first. More than happy to defend what we actually claim.


I think that was a reasonable request and reasonably worded. I then wrote my blog and sent an email to him to notify him that I referred to him.

Me again:


Dr Myers then replied to the first email:

The problem is that you were chatting on a thread discussing terrorist threats from NIO, and what do you do? You post a link to an article freely discussing Orac's identity. That's either an attempt at intimidation or an indication that you are completely oblivious to the severity of the problem NIO represents; either way, you aren't welcome.

Dr Myers again (in response to the link above that I emailed him):

And there you go again! Dismissing the concerns of individuals as mere paranoia when lunatics are throwing around threats of car-bombings is egregiously idiotic. I can't believe you are that blind and stupid, so I have to assume you're being malicious.

Me responding to the above:

See my comment at

I look forward to your engaging in the prediction discussion but doubt you will. I bet you do the same thing that everyone else does and toss around ad hominems and avoid the actual science of our position. But if I am wrong and you want to actually discuss the science, read the book first so I don't have to point out all the straw man arguments you will make.

Like the one in your last email. Everybody already knew who Orac was. Don't blame me for his sloppy scholarship that set him up for others to discover his identity and the fact that everyone at TAM and other meetings and podcasts freely discuss his identity. I assure you the AR extremists (who I condemn regularly) are much better at Internet searches than I am.

Dr Myers:

There is no point in discussing the science with you when your response is to politely wave to the bomb-throwers and hand them Orac's contact information. Repeatedly. Intentionally.

I don't care that the information can be found by someone searching about through the internet -- what matters is that in a discussion about terrorists, you pointedly recite Orac's identity and not only make it easy for them, but actually highlight the target for them. 

As I said before, I don't know whether you're stupid or malicious, but the fact that you can't stop repeating yourself in spite of repeated comments that point out the nastiness of what you're doing suggests to me that you are intentionally trying to spotlight a target.

I consider this conversation closed. You've been banned from my site, I will not be responding to future email from you. I do not associate with people who accommodate terrorists.

So, I:

“wave to the bomb-throwers and hand them Orac's contact information;”

am “stupid or malicious;”

am “banned from my site;”

I “accommodate terrorists;”

AND there is no sense in discussing science with me.

Well, there might be just a couple of problems with all that.

1. As I have said in previous blogs, everyone knew who Orac was. Anyone that thinks he was adequately masquerading his true identity is on the same emotional and intellectual level as an infant. The fact that he was even using a pseudonym was a running joke among many in the greater skeptic community. (I am not a spokesperson for that community, I just have ears and can read.) One other minor point, some in the AR community originally brought him to my attention, not the other way around. The only people that did not know Orac was Gorski did not want to know. But hey, if you don’t have the facts on you side, throw in a red herring and always attack character.

2. Screaming “they are all trying to kill us” simply does not hold up to scrutiny. I condemn car bombs and all illegal and or violent activities but there is not exactly an epidemic of vivisector murders in the US or elsewhere. I bet I have had as many death threats as any of the more vocal vivisection activists and I am not posting under a pseudonym like Orac or most of the vitriol-spewing extremists (pro-vivisection extremists) that post on Respectful Insolence or Pharyngula. For the record, I think anyone that posts vitriol under a pseudonym is a coward. That goes for both sides.

3. Won’t discuss the science because I talk about Dr Gorski / “wave to bomb throwers.” WOW! That statement lacks cognitive content. If Dr Myers' claim is indeed the case, then there is no need for the creationist to discuss the science because they have the verbally-inspired, inerrant Bible to rely on, and the antivax people have diseases that are temporally related to the vaccines, and the CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) people have testimonials. Everyone has an excuse for not discussing the science. He might as well say that there is no sense in discussing science with me because I am ____; fill in the blank: white, male, over 50 years old. All are true just irrelevant to the point. The “I don’t discuss my differences with those people” argument has been refuted by antivivisectionists and animal experimenters alike as well other thinking individuals and groups. (BTW, got any video of that waving or my posting Dr Gorski’s address, picture or anything else on the Internet or sending such information to all my secret contacts in the bombing camp? No? Didn’t think so.)

There is an otherworldly aspect to all this. The position that animal models can predict human response to drugs and disease is at odds with verifiable reality. (See our article Are animal models predictive for humans? that was published in the same peer-reviewed literature that Dr Gorski and others refuse to take this disagreement to.) Vivisection activists like Dr Gorski try to make it appear that the animal modeler is the rational purveyor of science and that I am dogmatic in my position. They also portray me as presenting an either/or argument: animals are useful or they are not. They then refute this straw man by pointing out similarities between humans and other species. This argument is disingenuous as I have said numerous times that animals can be useful in science just not as predictive models. The reason for their dishonesty is that society’s belief that animals can be predictive is why society supports and funds animal models. (See our article Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable? that was published in the same peer-reviewed literature that Dr Gorski and others refuse to take this disagreement to.)

Similarly animal modelers broadly define animal experimentation to mean any use of animals in any form of science. Having baited the audience they then switch to a very narrow definition by using examples of animals as heuristic devices or as spare parts to justify their use as predictive models. This bolsters their claim that we are antiscience as it is obvious that animals can be used successfully in a number of different ways. The slippery way animal modelers use logic and portray the facts is necessary for them because they cannot refute our argument that animals cannot be used as predictive models.

Representatives of special interest groups (see National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) and its not-for-profit division, the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), RDS, Americans for Medical Progress, and The American Physiological Society) can think of many dishonest yet ingenious way to convince the public that their clients/members need to be the object of special solitude. In the case of animal-based research, they start their arguments with appeals to emotions then proceed to personal attacks of those who disagree. They do not justify their claims scientifically but since the public hears the emotional appeals so frequently they eventually believe the rhetoric. The special interests can afford to hire public relations experts and spin masters that can convince people of things they would otherwise think as nonsensical. I cannot.

When forced to present something that at least sounds scientific, vivisection activists or their representatives flood the argument with charts and graphs that actually prove nothing but that overwhelm the nonscientist who says: “There is so much data what they are saying must be true.” Then they parade animal modelers who testify to the validity and importance of the very practice that pays their mortgage.

The moral infirmity the position that states that animal models are predictive for human response to drugs and disease is that people are actually being harmed by this use of animals. People are dying because of this. I do claim the morally superior position in this debate!

It is impossible for me, in a few words, to disprove the myriad lies the special interest groups have been propagating for decades. When I do disprove specific cases the animal modelers react by calling me anti-science and uninformed and accuse me of wanting to bring back iron lungs. As I have said to numerous vivisection activists including Drs Gorski and Myers, if you want to understand our position read Animal Models in Light of Evolution. If understanding science is not a high priority for you then just keep setting up straw man arguments, banning me from websites, and ignoring the facts.

I think the exchanges with Drs Gorski and Myers is illuminating. You can make up you own mind.