Tuesday 3 May 2011

P. Z. Myers at TAM London 2010

For many attendees of TAM London 2010 the appearance of "godless liberal" P. Z. Myers would have been one of the anticipated highlights of the weekend. For those who had not previously heard him speak (on podcasts or via YouTube), his relatively mild manner would have been at odds with the surgical invective of his well-trafficked blog Pharyngula. He may have a reputation as the world's most aggressive atheist, but in person he is calm and reasonable. The media tend to focus on specific actions of his that they deem incendiary (the episode known as Crackergate is an example), but they usually — and wilfully — miss the point he's making. (Read his Pharyngula post on the culmination of Crackergate to see an example of such a point.)
We now know that P. Z. is writing a book, and those of us who consider ourselves his fans are eagerly awaiting its publication. His TAM talk was a rallying call to all atheists: he advocates ridicule appropriate to ridiculous beliefs, followed by constructive criticism — purposeful (rather than gratuitous) obnoxiousness.