PZ Myers is the Happy Atheist

Atheists come in many varieties. For example, they can be angry like Greta Christina, or they can be Friendly, like Hemant Mehta, or they can be Positive, like all the Atheists in Minnesota. PZ Myers, it turns out, is The Happy Atheist, and all the other Atheists should be happy that he’s about to publish a book by that name.

The Happy Atheist is more of an anthology of essays than a tome. PZ Myers, mainly on his blog, Pharyngula, writes about biology with emphases on evolution and development, social justice with an emphasis on feminism, politics with an emphasis on secularism, and Atheism with an emphasis on the perils and problems of religion, religions, and religiosity and the positive aspects of non-belief. The essays on the Happy Atheist draw mainly from the second two of these categories, with emphasis on the last.

To many people, including, I think, people first thinking about non-belief, Agnosticism, and Atheism — walking away from a cultural background that involves faith — is troubling. When we want to be funny we can say that the meaning of life if “42” but really, that is a serious question that probably troubles people leaving their religion more than many others, because religion took care of that sort of thing for you. For many, being an Atheist is philosophically hard, even if they are strongly drawn towards non-belief. This is where PZ Myers’ writing excels and is tremendously important; his views on how to be a “Happy Atheist” clarify and inspire.

If you read PZ’s blog you will recognize the themes, and in some cases, the stories, in this book, but rest assured this is NOT a collection of Pharyngula blog posts. On his Blog, PZ does an admirable job, putting us other bloggers to shame, with the level of refinement of his writing. I assume he’s just plain good at first drafts. So, this book is not simply a set of more advanced and refined drafts of his blog posts either. These essays actually have a different feel to them. I sense that PZ wrote most of these essays in a different place, perhaps using different software, maybe with a different mix of caffeinated beverages, at a different time of day, and using different prompts, than he usually uses for his blog. Don’t get me wrong, this book is the real PZ Myers, and if you are a fan you won’t be surprised or disappointed. But, most importantly, if you are a regular reader of his blog, you will want to explore these essays because they are not his blog, they are his book.

I haven’t seen what the final product is going to look like, as I’ve only got a proof copy. But hopefully it will be a pretty little book that will make an excellent summer read when it comes out in August, and a totally appropriate stocking stuffer later on in the year!

Comments

  1. #1 ミッコ
    June 26, 2013

    I do not read his blog and not going to do that

  2. #2 Ray, rude-ass yankee
    June 26, 2013

    I read many blogs, PZ’s among them. I plan to read his book as soon as it comes out. I aspire to be a “Happy Atheist”

  3. #3 JohnnieCanuck
    BC
    June 26, 2013

    Mikko, you are missing out, then. When PZ is on top of his form, he is one of the best wordsmiths I have ever had the pleasure to read. I hope at least some of the book reaches the level I have seen him achieve on his blog.

    That reminds me, it’s about time I went back and reread those serial tales of field anthropology in Africa that I used to consume one after another after another.

  4. #4 Jack Hoffman
    June 26, 2013

    This booklet must be a work of fiction, because Myers doesn’t present himself as “happy” at all. If it was autobiographical, the title would be something like “The Sad and Bitter Atheist”.

    Even though I despise Myers, I’m betting his pamphlet is a better read than Sungudogo.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2013

    It could be, since I wrote Sungudogo over the span of 37 hours (and subsequent editing). I think PZ may have spent more time than that on his book. It will cost more, though.

  6. #6 Ichthyic
    June 26, 2013

    “If it was autobiographical, the title would be something like “The Sad and Bitter Atheist””

    you know you’re projecting, right?

    oh wait…

    well then, let me call your attention to it.

  7. #7 Jack Hoffman
    June 26, 2013

    It could be, since I wrote Sungudogo over the span of 37 hours…”

    LOL, are you sure it was 37, not 36 or 48? Was that split into 3 equal sessions of 12 hours and 20 minutes duration?

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2013

    It appears that you don’t know the story of the SSA fundraiser for which I did this as part of a blogathon.

    I understand that you didn’t like the novel, but what did you think about the ending?

  9. #9 Jack Hoffman
    June 26, 2013

    I don’t know about the ending as I only skimmed the first 19 pages that was available online. I’d forgotten about the blogathon aspect of your effort, which is interesting as it seems that Myer’s book is largely just lifted blog posts from Pharyngula. Btw, did PZ review your novel?

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2013

    Too bad you did not actually read the book you bothered to tell me you didn’t like! I think there is a subset of people, who are actually parodied in the book, near the end, who never did anything other than skim the first 19 pages that are on line for free. Makes me laugh.

  11. #11 crd2
    June 26, 2013

    “Your book sucked.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that, did you read the whole thing?”

    “No.”

    Some people should have their commenting privileges revoked.

  12. #12 Stevearoo
    UK
    June 27, 2013

    Nailed it crd2 #11.

  13. #13 Jack Hoffman
    June 27, 2013

    @ crd2 I guess you never read book reviews before deciding to buy a book then? The first 19 pages were not up to a standard that I would consider “good”, so why would I think that the rest of it would be substantially better? Did Greg intentionally write the first 19 pages badly, saving his best writing for the rest of it?

    Regarding commenting priviledges being revoked, that’s the sort of thing that goes on at FTB, at least Greg published my comments.

  14. #14 casus fortuitus
    June 27, 2013

    “Regarding commenting priviledges being revoked, that’s the sort of thing that goes on at FTB, at least Greg published my comments.”

    Haha, now who’s sad and bitter?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    June 27, 2013

    Jack, actually, everyone who has read the book and told me what they think about it agrees that the first part is not as good as the rest, the middle (and the bulk of the book) is great, a fun read, and while the end is too quick (the three last chapters need to be expanded to about double their size) what happens in the last three paragraphs is rollicking fun, “didn’t see that coming, wow!” sort of stuff.

    So you assumption is incorrect.

  16. #16 Caveman73
    Port Hueneme, CA
    June 27, 2013

    Not interested!

  17. #17 sailor
    June 27, 2013

    Sungudogo may not be great literature but it was fun fast read and and had a funny and appropriate ending. Definitely worth whatever small sum I paid to have it downloaded onto my kindle.

  18. #18 jane
    June 27, 2013

    If PZ Myers is so happy, why did he feel the need a few years back to hurt random Catholics’ feelings by going to special effort to “procure” and desecrate their little wafers? Is he confusing happiness with a temporary sensation of pleasure felt when he looks down and sneers at untermenschen who don’t think like him? There are a few of us out here who are quite certain that the Hebrew tribal deity does not exist but who do not call ourselves atheists because it often carries a connotation of “jerk”, and PZ Myers is one of the reasons why. A person who is truly happy does not have to elevate himself by putting other people down.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    June 27, 2013

    Jane, he actually has a chapter on that, so you can find out!

  20. #20 BWE
    The rainbow connection
    June 27, 2013

    Happy? This is the guy who refused to accept someones apo ogy exclusively because that person was xian and he blogged about how proud he was of that. If hate makes people happy, maybe. But his brand of hate speech goes with “happy” like, well, it doesn’t. Add his lack of academic integrity (he directly lied about and knowingly misrepresenting his academic qualifications without apologizing even though I asked for an apology. He may pick up on worthwhile causes but he pursues them with the integrity of a creationist.

    I just can’t support an academic who lies about his academic acheivements and I can’t support anyone who sees people as only with him or against him.

    I am disappointed that you would give a fraud a podium for his hateful propaganda. Religion spawns many hateful acts but that doesn’t excuse pz for following suit.

  21. #21 Pogsurf
    North WATFORD, Herts
    June 27, 2013

    Does he mention he is a rape apologist, what with all that stuff a rusty porcupine up your arse stuff?

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    June 27, 2013

    He does not happen to mention that he is a rape apologist, probably because this is not a work of fiction.

  23. #23 BWE
    June 27, 2013

    Has he stopped sanctioning rape apologia then? Because last I was there it was great fun to see what interesting objects the locals would suggest insetting into the asses of people they disagreed with.

    There is really nothing redeeming to pz’s public persona. He hates certain groups and encourages others to hate those groups too. Masked in liberal language, it is functionally identical to the fundamentalism which he uses as a metric to decide who to hate the most.

    Leaving him to his own corner of the internet is one thing but endorsing hate speech is pretty much bad form. Add to that his academic dishonesty and the book sufdenly has a different context. Hate speech by a fraud. All those little chuckles you had while reading it, go back and see if you weren’t chuckling at how much he made someone or some group seem lesser in their humanity than the position he assigns himself.

    If you find that you are ok with dehumanizing that group then maybe a little self reflection is in order?

  24. #24 Melanie
    June 27, 2013

    I will probably read PZ Myers’ book eventually but I tend to not read non fiction outside my field or about religion and atheism or anything like that. I am a non-believer, an ex old world style Catholic, but I don’t need to read about it. But, I did read Sungudogo and I loved it. It reminded me of a fictional version of Congo Memoir. (I realize it isn’t.)

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    June 27, 2013

    BWE you should definitely give it a read!

  26. #26 Grim_ungainly
    June 27, 2013

    BWE- out of curiosity, if you belive that PZ is such a hate filled, fraudulent, liberal fundamentalist and rape apologist, how does that make you feel about him, humanity-wise? Would you perhaps place it below your own? If so, perhaps it would be wise to follow your own advice RE: self reflection, because it sure seems as though you’ve derived a number of chuckles from mischaracterizing him.

    http://xkcd.com/774/

  27. #27 BWE
    June 27, 2013

    If it crosses my path I probably will. Did I nail it that the book is basically a list of reasons to hate who pz hates?

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    June 28, 2013

    I would not have described it that way but if that is your bias before reading it and your bias is strong you may conclude that regardless of what is in there!

  29. #29 StevoR
    June 28, 2013

    I’d like to read PZ ‘s book as soon as I can find (& afford) a copy. Cheers Greg Laden.

  30. #30 KZN
    South Africa
    June 28, 2013

    “Because last I was there it was great fun to see what interesting objects the locals would suggest insetting into the asses of people they disagreed with.”

    Never saw this at all at Pharyngula.

    Any citations?

  31. #31 BWE
    June 28, 2013

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=dead+porcupine+site%3Afreethoughtblogs.com%2Fpharyngula

    Also try “fencepost” and “shoved up”. I imagine you will find a fair number there. Many of the recent porcupine references are to gear, also known as swag.

    And, really. Really?

    Also, greg, you would not have described it that way maybe because you are ok dehumanizing the people pz hates? Yes I have that bias. If I will find confirmation then that’s because it’s there.

  32. #32 BWE
    June 28, 2013

    Grim, you asked me an interesting question:
    Grim_ungainly June 27, 2013 BWE-out of curiosity, if you belive that PZ is such a hate filled, fraudulent, liberal fundamentalist and rape apologist, how does that make you feel about him, humanity-wise? Would you perhaps place it below your own? If so, perhaps it would be wise to follow your own advice RE: self reflection, because it sure seems as though you’ve derived a number of chuckles from mischaracterizing him. http://xkcd.com/774/

    while pretty much all of your assumptions here are wrong, I do think it’s interesting that you tried to bring me down to his level in order to justify his academic dishonesty and hate speech. I don’t find it particularly funny either. There is a difference between criticism, pz promotes hatred, and dehumanization, pz is a poopbag who doesn’t deserve compassion because of his being a poopbag who promotes hatred.

    Then there is the matter of his false claims regatding his academic qualifications. That one rubs me pretty raw still. If he apologizes I will let it go but until then,it’s the first order of business. Academics who do not value academic integrity do no services to academia.

  33. #33 jane
    June 28, 2013

    I have not heard of this issue regarding academic integrity; can someone clarify? I do not intend to read about the dead porcupine issue on a work computer. ;-)

  34. #34 BWE
    June 28, 2013

    599. PZ Myers

    It’s been more than a decade since you’ve actually done any science hasn’t it? What kind of conferences still invite you anyway?

    Ah, fuckwits. So boring. Got a publication coming out this fall, got a major grant award, was the keynote speaker at SDB in Hawaii, UNLV White Distinguished Lecture, taught a standard 3/2 load (including developing a new upper level elective), had 35 advisees, have 3 students working with me this summer on a new field project. Now, bwe4, your turn to recite your scientic accomplishments this year. Oh, nothing? You’re just a random asshole passing by who knows nothing about my work, but feels free to invent lies about it? Fuck off. 25 May 2012 at 4:24 pm (UTC -5) 600. niftyatheist 25 May 2012 at 4:27 pm (UTC -5)

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/05/24/there-is-no-blacklist/comment-page-2/#comment-345231

    Not only is every single item on that list other than the misrepresented claims about his job itself (undergrad advisees, summer field project not being research) has nothing to do with science except in that he uses it as a buzzword for atheism. The lectures series was on creationism, etc. look them up. 100% false claims of scientific credentials. And the doosie is the actual lie that he was keynote speaker at the developmemtal biilogy conference. He gave a minor talk, y1d after lunch on the third day about using the internet as a teaching aid.

    The funny thing is that my own list was better than his not least because I didn’t have to lie to make it. He, of course, is free to lie all he wants, but when he tries to use his credentials to intimidate people, it would be a good idea not to make them up. It takes the sting out of them.

    It also demonstrates that he is a soldier for a cause and has sold his integrity to win. Not just petty but also dishonorable. I guess someone could make the case that honor and maybe even integrity is over-rated.

  35. #35 Ragged Clown
    United States
    July 4, 2013

    Random fly-by comment for Greg. I came here via your rather excellent Slate piece on Napoleon Chagnon and Yanomamö.

    I feel compelled to note how impressed I am with the way you respond to negative comments. I noticed it on the Slate article and, multiple times, here on your blog. The charity of your responses is a shining example to us all and my estimation of the goodness in the human spirit just went up four notches.

    Well done and thank you.

  36. #37 birkenstock arizona
    http://www.baccofurore.it/birkenstock-arizona.html
    July 7, 2013

    This is a serious and (perhaps overly) sympathetic novel by the Nobel Prizewinning Vargas Llosa but, admirable undertaking though it may be, my goodness, it a trudge.

  37. [...] See Greg Laden’s review of the book, here.  It has a surprise ending, Laden said, in comments. [...]

  38. #39 Robby Miller
    Sydeny Australia
    December 28, 2013

    Dear Editor,

    An atheist rewrites the ‘life after death’ story: This novel may be of interest to your readers…

    https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/316200#longdescr

    Free copy for review available in all formats on request.

    Regards,
    Robby

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