PZ Myers vs. The New York Times: Blog fight!

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PZ Myers doesn't meet the New York Times oh-so-high standards
University of Minnesota evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist PZ Myers just doesn't cut the mustard, as far as the New York Times is concerned. His offense: Daring to call out corporations for seeking to influence scientists and science journalists.

Outside of class, Myers (profiled here in 2005) has turned the promotion of evolution and the lampooning of religion into a minor career from his perch atop the hugely popular Phrayngula blog. His site is hosted by ScienceBlogs, and he was among a handful of prominent bloggers there who forced the site to dump a corporate sponsorship deal with Pepsico -- the soft drink giant wanted to host a space for nutrition writing.

That little insurrection caught the eye of Virginia Heffernan, TV critic at The New York Times.

Heffernan also pens a column called The Medium, in which she turns her eye on pretty much anything except television. Last week that meant the ScienceBlogs brushfire -- and Myers -- where she thought she had found a bunch of navel-gazing scientists who needed to get out of their ivory towers, get over themselves and accept the fact that money is an occupational corrupting hazard in the realm of non-fiction writing. And God Darwin forbid they put a little personality into their writing and vent their frustrations.

Over at Pharyngula -- which often ranks in the Top 100 blogs on the Internet-- PZ Myers revels in sub-"South Park" blasphemy, presenting (in one recent stunt) his sketch of the Prophet Muhammad as a cow-pig hybrid excited about "raping a 9-year-old girl."

That's not science, Heffernan snarked.

Clearly I've been out of some loop for too long, but does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the "skeptical community" go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers?

To which Myers shot back via Pharyngula, "Could Virginia Heffernan possibly be more wrong?"

That would be tough. She's written a diatribe in the NY Times on the Pepsico debacle, and it isn't just that she doesn't like many of the scienceblogs (including yours truly), but that she gets the facts wrong.

Oh, and Heffernan suggests that those looking for real science -- the boring kind -- should point their browsers at a climate change denier. Not good.

Here's an earlier taste of Myers, on how to cope with anti-science know-nothings.

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