“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Interesting Libel Suit Against PZ Myers

Author Stuart Pivar filed a libel and slander law suit last year against PZ Myers. The suit centered around Myers calling Pivar a "crackpot" on his blog. The lawsuit was dismissed by plaintiff Pivar less than two weeks after it was filed.

But here are some interesting tidbits from the filing:

First, how nasty some of the Board of Directors (as stated in the filing) to the parent company, SEED MEDIA GROUP, are/were that hosts the Myers' blog:

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein in June was sentenced to 18 months in prison and now is registered as a sex offender.
James Watson, whose extreme "culture of death" views I described in a previous post, and whom had to step down from Long Island's Cold Spring Harbor Science Lab for racist statements.

But here is something that speaks more to the issue of PZ Myers. The complaint says Myers receives a monthly stipend for having his blog on scienceblogs.com (pg. 6 #26). So when he was presumably posting all those times during his 3-hour science labs while he was supposed to be teaching, he may have been moon-lighting, and making money. This also brings up many questions of conflict of interests if he is doing both of these at the same time. Which job gets his priority and attention?

Moreover, now it appears Myers is an employee of SEED MEDIA GROUP while blogging, so this corporation can be brought into this mess.

Finally, my Irish grandmother in her brogue would frequently say there is always something in life to laugh at.

The University of Minnesota claims Myers' anti-Catholic postings are soley his personal business. Apparently, it might be anything but that. (Again, UMM's inability to have any clue as to what is actually going on).

There is a possibility that he is collecting two salaries from two employers at the same time while posting. First, if he does post during that 3-hour science lab, as his posting times would make us think, he is collecting an university salary. In addition to this possibility, he would be collecting a salary from SEED MEDIA GROUP at the same exact time if the lawsuit information is accurate. Maybe Myers is not that dumb.

13 comments:

2-D Man said...

Umm, no. It doesn't. The interests of the university do not run into conflict with the interests of Seed Media Group.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

Um, yes it does.

When he is receiving a salary from two people at possibly the same exact time, which employer gets preference?

Alycin said...

Someone pays him to write stuff in his blog? Was there a time when it wasn't mostly garbage?

Anonymous said...

A new lead to persue. Surely they cant ignore you know! Lets see if it goes anywhere?

Anonymous said...

And actually his science blog is excellent. Rated number one by Nature no less!

cg said...

Is that a typo? Seed Media, or Seedy Media. The ladder appears more appropriate.

Just checking.

2-D Man said...

Umm, no. It doesn't because Myers isn't on an hourly wage. White collar jobs don't work like that. When on salary, you attempt to accomplish the employer's goals, you do not need to "put your time in".

UMM's goal is that he teach biology, doing whatever is necessary to get the message across and they trust him to accomplish that. SMG's goal is that he generate blog hits and they trust him to accomplish that.

If Myers feels that posting during a laboratory session will not negatively impact the effectiveness of said session, then the onus is on any interested party to show otherwise. This requires showing that a) he is posting during these laboratory sessions (which you have failed to do), b) said posting reduces the effectiveness of said sessions and c) he is profiting from posting (which has been shown).

A Voice in the Crowd said...

Anonymous-

It must be number one, rated by one magazine.

In 2006, Time magazine listed me as man of the year, or you as man of the year. This must be so. And Time is more legitimate than Nature.

And here is something you should think about it. If Myers' blog is number one, which I will argue, but if it is... these last few weeks have dropped it considerably on the list as Myers' lost his professional respect by tons of his contemporaries. Read my blog. Atheist Denounce, Scientists denounce, Chancellor Johnson denounce...etc..

A Voice in the Crowd said...

2-D,

There is so much flawed thinking in your post, I don’t even know where to begin.

I will start at your biggest goof. It is not up to Myers to determine whether his posting affects his performance, as you unbelievably cite, it is up to his employer, who probably didn’t know about this double-duty until last night around 11PM :). Otherwise, employees all over America would be spending their day at the beach, and stating, “this doesn’t affect my job performance...”

Secondly, salary employees are not supposed to take extreme advantage of the fact they are salaried by taking liberties that would never be tolerate with hourly workers. When Myers posts during a time when he is specifically supposed to be teaching a class (to students who have paid a ton in tuition to be taught) one post, any post, is taking away time these students have paid for. Yes, professors are actually on the clock when they are teaching a class at a specific time and putzing around are grounds for discipline or dismissal.

If regard to proving that he posts during class times, 334 entries during university hours speak for themselves. If you saw my data, you would be the only one, other than Myers, who would not say at least some of these posts were posted during class time.

2-D, you are always welcome at VCR; I just don’t understand why you spend so much time here when considering your views. I can't see your end game.

Anonymous said...

Voice in the crowd-

I dont know where you get the idea Time magazine is more legitimate than Nature, whatever that means. Nature is simply one of most highly regarded science journals in the world, and scientifically speaking far more authoritative and respected than Time. I think your're letting your personal biases get in the way here, Myer's science blog is simply excellent, I have learnt a great deal reading it. Also, any assumed drop-off in readership may be more your wishful thinking than anything else. The scientists I have spoken to on this issue, including some Catholics, were entirely supportive of Myers. Your mileage may vary of course.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

I was drawing a comparison, when small editorial boards of large magazines vote for something anything can happen.

I launched a web site some years back. It was very rudimentary; typo’s, broken links, half-finished, not professional at all.

I sent out a press release to quite a few media outlets trying to launch the site. One morning, I woke up checked my traffic and I had 10,000 unique visitors before 7AM. The Wall St. Journal voted my site the best in a category. They were completely snowed, not on purpose; it is just what happened. The WSJ is a very prestigious paper.

I am a baseball historian. The Sporting News released a list of the Greatest Players of last century. The St. Louis Cardinal players seemed to be listed higher than warranted. The Sporting News is based in St. Louis.

Small editorial boards… large papers.

I love the quote, “I have spoken to Catholics, and they support Myers.” Sounds like, “Some of my best friends are African-American.” Please stop. If they support the sacrilege of Myers, they are not practicing Catholics, most likely fallen-away Catholics, and their opinions are worthless.

And please understand my point. I am not saying it will drop in readership. Everyone slows down for a car wreck, I am saying it will drop in prestige after his non-professional, void-of-educational-worth rants.

Time will tell if Myers’ bigotry will hurt his standing in Academia. I think it will. Dr. James Watson was the DNA god (small g) until he made racists statments. Now he is the person who discovered the structure of DNA and a bigot. This is where PZ Myers' will end up. Even if those in your society don't say it verbally, they will be thinking it.

Time is the great justifier and argument settler. We will see.

Anonymous said...

Many universities require faculty to file conflict of interest notices every year or every semester. Faculty report whatever activities might be considered conflict of interest (e.g., earning income from a blog, textbook reviews, speaker honoraria) and their supervisors approve or disapprove it. Presumably UM has not found Myers' blog to be a conflict. An argument can be made that his blog enhances the goals of the university (insofar as it has a good reputation with reputable science publications such as Nature).

Even with potential conflicts vetted/approved, in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict, many faculty will donate outside earnings to their universities. I do this myself--textbook royalties earned at my univ are donated to a fund that sponsors public talks by outside scholars noted in my field. I wonder if Myers does something like this? He should consider it, anyway.

Blog posts can be set to appear at any time. I regularly set my own blog posts to appear at odd times (e.g., 12:03 rather than 12:00) because I have assumed they would appear less "canned" that way. Apparently this strategy works. :)

A Voice in the Crowd said...

There is a difference between telling a university you are being compensated by a blog, and telling a university you are being compensated by a blog that you work on when you should be helping your students with their lab projects. I doubt Myers told the university he is being paid. A deflection tactic for the UMM would be to tell Catholics to complain to SEED MEDIA, Myers’ employer. They didn’t because they did not know.

I don’t think anyone in the management of the University would say Myers’ blog enhances the goals of university lately. Unless the goal is to look anti-Catholic, have thousands of calls demanding you fire a bigot, alumni withdraw their support as we have seen in some published letters, and being associated with a employing a whackjob who deliberately goes out of his way to offended 40 million people in America. They are two people in the mgmt. of the Univ in particular that wish they never met Myers or heard of his blog.

As far as making the times “less canned”. It is incredible, when he publishes short posts after a previous post, the “canned time” is only a few minutes after the first post. When he publishes long posts after a previous post, that “canned time” apparently is a longer time that is reflective of the length of a post.

There are certain times in the week when “canned times” don’t appear and there are reasons for it.