Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Profile - PZ Myers

Difficulty: 0

>> INTERVIEWER: I'm so glad that you accepted to be on Profile, and welcome. And first of

all these are some questions we ask pretty much everybody that comes on the show. Were

you brought up in a very religious household?

>> PZ MYERS: No. I was brought up as a Lutheran and for many years I thought I had been raised

up in a religious household, but once I got to know some real religious people I realised

that no, [laughs], I was in a pretty secular house.

We went to church as a matter of formality but we really didn't believe, and so it's

kind of this weird mix thing. I was thoroughly exposed to religion. But there was no pressure

to accept it, no reason to believe and so really I never actually believed in god or

Jesus or any of those things, ever.

>> INTERVIEWER: And were you ever, like, forced to go to church, or...?

>> PZ MYERS: No, I liked going to church, that's the only reason I went to church, because

I enjoyed it [laughs]. No, I was in a small liberal Lutheran church and I liked the people

there. I adored my Sunday school teacher. She was a sweet lady and I had friends there.

And for me, going to church was just a friendly social event. It was only when I went through

confirmation they told me that there was a price to be paid for this social event and

that was that you had to believe in some utter bullshit and then you are a member of the

church. And that's when I left.

>> INTERVIEWER: And when you left was there any big revelation or it was slowly, or, how

did it happen?

>> PZ MYERS: No, it was a very slow thing, it was when I was about 13 years old that

I left church. And it wasn't that I suddenly became an atheist, it was that I realised

I don't believe in the doctrines of this church, and I can't accept this stuff. You know, it

was pretty fundamental I didn't believe in god, I didn't believe in Jesus, but I really

was still a bit indoctrinated so would not have said I was an atheist. It was probably

when I was oh, 19, 20 years old that I finally fessed up to myself, "Oh that's what I am.

I am an atheist."

>> INTERVIEWER: And you're married?

>> PZ MYERS: Yup

>> INTERVIEWER: And you have kids?

>> PZ MYERS: I have 3 kids

>> INTERVIEWER: Yes, 3 kids. And... did you indoctrinate them into atheism?

>> PZ MYERS: [Laughs] No, exactly the opposite actually. When they were growing up, you know,

we thought it was important that our kids fit in with people in the community and that

they did things together, and we did not take them to church, we did not put pressure to

go to church, but we told them that if their friends invite them sure, go ahead, learn

about it.

And the nice thing about that, of course, is that they went to many different churches

and had some eye-opening experiences. I mean my kids went to, you know, the more mainstream

religions, but they also went to a mormon church, they went to a charismatic church,

you know, people rolling around the floor [inaudible at 03:53], that sort of thing.

And that was a pretty good inoculation against religion.

So we didn't have to tell them don't believe in religions and stuff we just said, just

go go see, just see what they're saying. And that did it.

>> INTERVIEWER: Tomorrow will be December 2012, and as you know as everybody knows it's

the end of the world, right? It's the end of the world as you, as we know it. Do you

feel fine?

>> PZ MYERS: [Laughs]. Why yes, I'm feeling pretty good. I have absolutely no concerns

about the end of the world coming in this next month or so. It's ridiculous that we're

even arguing this but it's, it's a game.

>> INTERVIEWER: I don't know if you knew that, but apparently atheists have better sex. Do

you know that?

>> PZ MYERS: [laughs] Of course I know that!

>> INTERVIEWER: Do you have an evolutionary explanation for this?

>> PZ MYERS: [Laughs] No, I do not, and the reason is that the criteria for good sex are

not the same as the criteria for good reproduction. Evolution is going to be about the reproductive

events and you could have utterly joyless sex and still make babies - no problem at


So this this is a cultural thing, is that, you know, what we've done is we've taken the

bare bones, the simple cake of sex, and its yummy nutritious value to our evolutionary

success, and we can freely add all kinds of fancy frosting to it which makes it taste

really good [laughs].

>> INTERVIEWER: We'd like to ask you if you think that the time is right today for a commercial

atheist TV channel.

>> PZ MYERS: What do you mean? It was, the time was right ten years ago! You're behind

the times, get to work! [laughs]

>> INTERVIEWER: [laughs]

>> PZ MYERS: No. This has been the big decade where atheists have come out loud and proud

and have really grown rapidly. Just the fact that all of a sudden there's all these atheists

coming out and unashamedly, unabashedly telling their stories, doing things like what you're

doing with Atheism TV and the response has been terrific. You know, it's a real steam

roller here where we're getting lots of people joining in.

So yeah, I think the time is always right to take the next big step. I mean, it's always

a gamble. But I think the odds are in favor that this is going to grow. Atheism is doing

this [gestures upwards], it's not doing that [gestures level], it's doing that [gestures

upwards again]. So get on the roller coaster now while it's going up.

Oh [aside] there's always the implication that it will come down. But no, no, this is

never going to be, this is going right up [gestures upwards]. Atheism will reach fixation

in the population, [gestures upwards] that's the plan.

>> INTERVIEWER: Oh that's good!

>> INTERVIEWER: Is Barack Obama the right man for the job?

>> PZ MYERS: Oh, ohh, what a question! Ok. He is the better man for the job, I'll say

that compared to his opponents. I don't think Barack Obama is the' man yet. He's, he

might be setting the stage but what we need is a man or a woman who's able to come out

and unabashedly, and without compromise, stand up for liberal secular principles.

And I'll go even farther. It's time for the United States to give up its addiction to

this extravagant capitalism we've got. I'm one of those Americans who says it's time

for us to be socialist. So that's what I'm looking for.

>> INTERVIEWER: I already see the people starting to, like the christians, starting to propagate

this idea everywhere that you're really communist and that atheism always leads to communism.


>> PZ MYERS: Oh, of course it will, especially in the United States where we've got that

Cold War mentality that afflicts everything. And you know, I'll say it right up, communists

were kind of idealistic. I don't consider them bad or evil or enemies. Just the fact

that they're communist doesn't make them enemies.

That they're also idealistic to the point of being impractical, and I think what I want

is not a strictly communist state, but a state with some appreciation for the inequities

that exist, that wants to correct them, that provides a social safety net for everyone,

that really fulfils the promise of the US's Declaration of Independence, where we actually

treat everyone as equal rather than some as exploiters and some as exploited.

>> INTERVIEWER: So basically you're saying you'd like the USA to be more like Canada?

>> PZ MYERS: [Laughs] Yes in many ways I would.

>> INTERVIEWER: [Laughs]

>> PZ MYERS: The health care, we ought to have that. There ought to be things that we

just simply take for granted that everyone is able to get. It's kind of ridiculous. My

own kids have gone through this when they graduate from college, they no longer have

insurance - they can't go to the dentist!

Isn't it that ridiculous? That here you've got somebody who's got promise as a contributor

to the community, who's just graduated from college, is a regular involved member of the

civic community. They can't afford to get their teeth fixed! This is, this is ridiculous.

>> INTERVIEWER: Teeth are an absolute luxury!

>> PZ MYERS: Yuh, yuh, and good health is a luxury and all these other things. But it's

something that we should all strive for.

>> INTERVIEWER: People seem to love drama.

>> PZ MYERS: Yes

>> INTERVIEWER: Sometimes I feel like, you know, YouTube is this big soap opera

>> PZ MYERS: Uh huh

>> INTERVIEWER: And people seem to be attracted by these things and they just jump right in

>> PZ MYERS: Right

>> INTERVIEWER: And why do you think that is, why do people like this drama so much?

>> PZ MYERS:: Oh... ah ... this. This is going on YouTube, I'm going to get people so mad.

The comments at YouTube are cesspit, they really are. And the problem is that there's

no accountability and no responsibility anywhere in the system, that it's set up so you can

make the most flagrantly idiotic comments with no, no attachment to your identity at

all. And I think that's a terrible mistake.

You know I'm thoroughly in favour of pseudonyms, I think they're fine. I think having a pseudonym

with a consistent identity is a perfectly acceptable position to take, but the abuse

of anonymity is just disgraceful on YouTube.

I made YouTubers very upset a while back because I made the decision to turn off comments in

all my YouTube videos.

>> INTERVIEWER: Right, right

>> PZ MYERS: and, you know, I want feedback. I want to hear from people. I don't mind people

criticising my views. But I want them to do it with some thought and with some accountability.

And you don't get that on YouTube, so what I do on my YouTube videos from now on is I

put them up there to all for comments and I include a redirect link back to my blog,

and a thread where you can leave comments there

And I know people say, Oh well that just means you'll censor it.' No, it doesn't, it

just means you'll have to go there with a name and an e-mail address and you'll have

to say something sensible. And I do not ban people for criticising me. You can go ahead

and say all these things but no, the torrent of scatalogical abuse you get on YouTube,

it's just not worth it.

>> INTERVIEWER: On the Atheism TV channel, of course, we get lots of fans. But we also

get a lot of, for example, christians, even muslims sometimes, they come on the site and

they criticize us or, you know, they tell us what, how bad people we are and so forth.

And you're right, it's tough. But what happens is, we have a lot of fans...

>> PZ MYERS: Yuh

>> INTERVIEWER: ... so these fans come in and they very often they rectify things. They

put responses and they explain how the other person is wrong. And that's how the back and

forth goes across.

>> PZ MYERS: Yes. And, you know, the same thing happens on my blog, that one

of the reasons I can leave the blog comments open for people to converse is that there

is a community there that will come in and address complaints. And talk about them, and

sometimes make their own complaints, but that's a different story.

>> INTERVIEWER: [laughs]

>> PZ MYERS: But I don't have that on YouTube. You know I don't have a major presence on

YouTube and what it means is that whenever I put up something it will be random drive-by

flamers who come by and scream and shout and yell, and it's

just absolutely pointless. Maybe if I had a bigger community I could afford to turn

them back on, but I'd rather see something like YouTube giving us an option other than

no comments' or comments' with not accountability.

If, for instance, you could say ok, I want comments but I only want comments from people

with a Google+ ID, they could do that. I would turn them right on in a flash if that would

happen. Because then you have some way to go back to this individual and talk to them

on their own channel or their own pathway of speaking. And that's kind of useful.

>> INTERVIEWER: And how about video ratings, are you willing to turn that on?

>> PZ MYERS: Er, I have a problem with ratings [laughs]. It's, there is, on my blog we have

this thing where I often, we call it phyrangulating polls. A rating system is an online poll and

they're not reliable, they're not scientific, they mean absolutely nothing other than that

you've recruited a number of people to a particular reason.

That's what I do when I go at these polls is, I'm not trying say, "Oh we've got to change

this poll so it gives the answer I think." It's, "We've got to change this poll to show

these people it's not useful." And YouTube ratings are pretty much the same thing. I

don't see the virtue there.

For a while we were talking about, people on my blog wanted to have a system where we

could, for instance, click a like or dislike button on a comment. Same thing: I refuse

to do that, 'cause I don't want it to be a popularity contest. I want people to talk

about the ideas, not click on a like button. That's so shallow, so pointless.

>> INTERVIEWER: You work all day then you go back home and you, ah....

>> PZ MYERS: Work all night

>> INTERVIEWER: You work all night? You don't, like, turn on TV and watch a show or...?

>> PZ MYERS: Oh, sometimes, yeah...

>> INTERVIEWER: What do you watch?

>> PZ MYERS: Oh let's see what do I watch? What do I do? Well, usually what I do is I

turn on the TV while I'm working [laughs]. I like a little background noise, so that's

often what I'm doing is I'm creating papers or I'm blogging or something and I'll have

the TV on in the background. The kinds of things I like to watch, I avoid commercial

television because commercials just make me furious, and I can't stand them - although

lately I have been watching The Walking Dead.

>> INTERVIEWER: [whispers] Me too

>> PZ MYERS: Yeah, I'm getting kind of peeved with it.

>> PZ MYERS: Yeah, Rick is an arsehole

>> INTERVIEWER: [whispers] Don't tell me!

>> PZ MYERS: No, I won't tell you. I'm just finding it kind of regressive and weird and

it's getting a little, you know, somebody needs to slap Rick, wake him up. He's screwed


But otherwise I quite like science fiction and fantasy. Can't stand the sci-fi channel,

that's not science fiction, but I'll tune in on Netflix and watch those. The last movie

I watched something my daughter recommended called Rubber, it was bizarre. If you've got

Netflix though, look it up. It's about a tyre that comes alive and has psychic power to

blow things up. Seriously. It's very weird. And it's constantly breaking the wall between

audience and... It's a strange movie, but it was fun to watch

>> INTERVIEWER: What would it take for you and Thunderfoot to be friends again?

>> PZ MYERS: [laughs]

>> PZ MYERS: Oh what a weird one! Because here's the thing: I'm the guy who invited

Thunderf00t to join our network. And I regarded him as a friend and do not regard him as a

personal enemy. What I regard him as now is as a misguided asshole [laughs]. Basically.

You know, there has never been any doubt in my mind that Thunderf00t does quality work,

when he's going after creationists, when he's talking about science. He can do that stuff

but as far as social issues go, as far as feminism and women and minorities and all

these other complicated issues that are out there, I think he's a raging Neanderthal and

that's what he needs to correct.

Because I think this, you know there's no bridges that have been burned as far as I

am concerned He may think so. I don't think so, and all it needs is for him to wake up

and realise that he's part of a world that is changing right now and it's not going to

be a male-dominated atheism any more. It's going to be this diverse interesting wider

community where us boring white guys are no longer just the dominant force. It's going

to be everyone speaking out.

I'm kinda looking forward to it. I like the idea of new ideas and different perspectives.

So I just wish he could have come round to that the same view.

>> INTERVIEWER: You know about the Atheism Plus forums?

>> PZ MYERS: U-huh. Yuh

>> INTERVIEWER: Do you play a big role in there?

>> PZ MYERS: No. This is another one of these really strange things. There are a lot of

people who claim that Atheism+ is my baby and I control it, or that I represent it in

some way and no, this is not true.

I have written a number of things before Atheism+ came along where I have said that modern atheism

has to do more than just the anti-theism and science side of things, that we also have

to broaden our scope to include significant social issues. And I see Atheism+ as just

another avenue for exploring ideas behind that.

So I think they're great. They have my full approval. Keep going! For a long time I haven't

been a member on the forum. I recently joined and joined in a few conversations but it's

not a big part of my life. I would hope it would take off and succeed well. But the alternative,

I think, is if atheism embraced more humanist ideals, which is quite possible, then Atheism+

becomes superfluous.

But what I don't understand is the people who are so furious and upset at the existence

of a group of people who say they are both atheist and interested in socially progressive

issues. That shouldn't be a problem.

The Description of Profile - PZ Myers