Dear Carl, You’re Enabling the Demagogue Myers

So, I struck a nerve with Carl Zimmer:

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Is it unfair?   I don’t think so.

First, unlike you Carl, I actually have a very good idea of what Myers accomplished, and failed to accomplish, as a ZFIN scientist.   He truly was not a top-drawer guy and he did fail to thrive once he got away from UO – ION and the incredible lab there.    His ZFIN career is here:  http://zfin.org/action/profile/view/ZDB-PERS-960805-655    If a publication doesn’t have a PubMed reference, it was not considered a worthwhile publication for one of many possible reasons.

Myers has 5 PubMed inclusions in his ZFIN work.   From 1984 through 1997 (14 years inclusive), he managed to make five worthy papers.   That’s as many ‘worthy’ papers my wife has made in the past two years.   My wife is a good, but certainly not ‘elite,’ working scientist.

Second, Carl, Myers is a demagogue and Wikipedia has a good description of demagogue:

A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives.

Anyone who has been around the Skeptic and Atheist communities, as well as the science blogging community at large has seen Mr. Myers in action.   We have Crackergate, Gelato Man, smearing Michael Shermer with third-hand rape allegations, as well as a long and tawdry history of personal attacks against Dawkins, Krauss, and a list of Skeptic/Atheist luminaries as long as my 35″ arms that are far more important and accomplished than him peppering his resume.

Last, is Myers a scientist?   Well, that’s a matter of debate.   My belief is that if you’re not in active research and have not been pursing active research or at least keeping up with your field to get back into active research, you’re (at best) a former scientist.    One could stretch the definition of scientist broader, but I find that difficult because then even I would qualify as a ‘scientist.’   And I’m really not a scientist.

But if you go with the loser definition (training) rather than conduct, sure.   I’ll give you that, Carl.

So, was I out of line?   I don’t think so, Carl.   It was people like you, by excusing or turning a blind eye to his recurrent trollish behavior, who enabled Myers become the ranting demagogue that he’s become.    That you continue to protect him against a very natural and logical consequence (push-back) of his trollish behaviors only serves to make the problem worse.