Misdirection

Over at his blog, PZ Myers posted about “The J-F Gariépy/Epstein connection.”  Myers writes:

One among the long list of “scientists” sponsored by Jeffrey Epstein was, to my initial surprise, Jean-François Gariépy, but then after I thought about it, I realized they were perfect for each other. If you’re unfamiliar with JF, as he’s called, his RationalWiki page is informative. He’s one of those alt-right YouTubers with an extraordinarily creepy history — he’s a Jew-baiting advocate for a white ethnostate, and he has a thing for sexual relationships with young women with severe intellectual disabilities. He’s just a terrible, horrible person all around.

But he also has some science credentials — he was a post-doc in a neuroscience lab.

Sounds like he has more credientials than Sam Harris, who never did a post-doc.  Anyway, back to Gariépy.  Myers points out that Gariépy took funding from Epstein to make a series of YouTube videos, further implying Epstein as a significant force behind New Atheism.

Myers then notes that Gariépy wrote a book, described as follows:

The Revolutionary Phenotype is a science book that brings us four billion years into the past, when the first living molecules showed up on Planet Earth. Unlike what was previously thought, we learn that DNA-based life did not emerge from random events in a primordial soup. Indeed, the first molecules of DNA were fabricated by a previous life form. By describing the fascinating events referred to as Phenotypic Revolutions, this book provides a dire warning to humanity: if humans continue to play with their own genes, we will be the next life form to fall to our own creation.

And then tries to connect creepy Gariépy to Intelligent Design:

It’s an interesting combination. He’s clearly endorsing some kind of Intelligent Design, so maybe the Discovery Institute would like to take him on as a Fellow. He sounds exactly like their kind of guy.

Of course, we’re dealing with PZ think here.  Y’know, the type of thinking that relies on straw men to make scape goats.  Surprisingly, he let a reader make a comment that completely discredits this attempt to pin the blame on the Discovery Institute:

 

Someone nameed alkisvonidas responds to the claim, “He’s clearly endorsing some kind of Intelligent Design,”:

He’s clearly not. Obviously, you didn’t even bother to have a look at the free preview on Amazon; you’d then find out that by “previous life form” he’s simply referring to RNA molecules – in extremely sensationalist language, admittedly:

“It is a fact that DNA-based life was created by another life-form. The ancient life form was called RNA. Some time after the creation of DNA, the RNA organisms lost control over it and could do nothing to stop its takeover.”

Sensationalist, anthropomorphic language, yes; Intelligent Design, no.

Even before I took a look, my guess was that he was referring to the Clay hypothesis which, although not a proven fact, is rather uncontroversial speculation on abiogenesis. Richard Dawkins discusses it at length in The Blind Watchmaker, also musing about a possible AI takeover in the future (briefly and cautiously, though).

Ouch.  Sorry PZ, but Gariépy sounds exactly like your type of guy.  Like you, he believes the planet was once covered by an “RNA world.”  But more importantly, you forgot to mention one tiny thing about Gariépy – like you, he’s a fellow atheist:

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4 Responses to Misdirection

  1. Isaac says:

    When a Palestinian woman was honor-killed by her Muslim brother, Rep. Rashida Tlaib sent a tweet out blaming exactly two entities: Toxic Masculinity and Jews.

    Just replace “Jews” with “theists” and “Islamicist” with “atheist” and you get PZ Myers. There’s so much they share.

  2. Dhay says:

    alkisvonidas > “Even before I took a look, my guess was that [Jean-François Gariépy] was referring to the Clay hypothesis which, although not a proven fact, is rather uncontroversial speculation on abiogenesis. Richard Dawkins discusses it at length in The Blind Watchmaker …”

    Dawkins’ ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ was first published in 1986; in 2004 he again expounded the “Clay” hypothesis of Graham Cairns-Smith in the penultimate chapter, ‘Canterbury’, of his ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’. Clearly it’s an idea Dawkins has very much liked for a very long time, so long I doubt he has yet relinquished it as his favoured theory of abiogenesis (though he also discussed the popularity of “RNA World” hypotheses.)

    Although PZ Myers can claim that …

    Anybody could look at what I’ve been doing for over 40 years now and see that yeah, I’m about as qualified in developmental biology as you can get.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/03/dont-play-theological-games-with-the-scientific-evidence/

    … it’s evident that Myers knows less about where DNA might have originated than do Gariépy, alkisvonidas, Dawkins, or the many thousands of lay-people who have read ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ or ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’. Or in other words, Myers has shown himself to be clueless on the subject.

  3. Dhay says:

    Or if we conclude that PZ Myers must surely know about the various theories of abiogenesis, how could he not … then we are back with wilful misdirection.

  4. Dhay says:

    Isaac’s reply above got me thinking about bigotry. If a person were to almost never say a bad word about White people, almost never a good word for any Black person or Black people … you’d call that person a bigot, wouldn’t you.

    I have observed over a long period that Jerry Coyne almost never says a bad word about Jews or Israelis, nor about the Israeli government and its policies; nor ever has a good word for any Muslim or Palestinian.

    If my parallel example is indeed a bigot, why isn’t Jerry Coyne equally a bigot.

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