Pharyngula

It’s been a very long and busy day here in Los Angeles — I’ve had a tour of USC, I ate a King Torta, I sat around for a long time in very warm black robes, I had a wonderful dinner with some of the faculty here, and oh, yeah, I gave a commencement speech. These events are always fun…I’m not a big fan of ceremony and ritual, but commencement is one of those events where the students can’t keep themselves from smiling, and families are all there whooping and cheering.

So, anyway, I’ve got to get some sleep, and then it’s an early morning off to the airport to fly back home, so I’m just putting my little speech below the fold.

I am genuinely honored that the students of this university have asked me to speak at this important event in their lives. I heard that last year, standing here at the lectern, the previous class had a Nobel prize winner giving the commencement address. I apologize for my lack of stature, but look on the bright side: he talked for almost an hour, while I promise considerably more brevity. But, unfortunately, I also have to explain a little bit about who I am.

I am a biologist at a small liberal arts university in the midwest. I do a little research on developmental biology, and I do a lot of teaching. A LOT of teaching. Of course, even a lot of teaching means we only turn out 30 or 40 biology graduates a year, so I’d be surprised if any of you here have ever taken a class from me. I’m better known because I also run a rather popular weblog and write articles for magazines and newspapers where I do a couple of things: as an extension of my teaching, I try to communicate the excitement of science to a lay audience, and as a public intellectual, I take great pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. Some think I perhaps take a little bit too much pleasure in not just slaughtering, but the long, slow, brutal vivisection of the sacred, but that’s just who I am.

And the responsibility of the public intellectual is what I want to say a few words about to you. You are about to receive a diploma that gives you the potential to be one of us, too.

A public intellectual is the modern equivalent of the court jester — the wise fool who could say anything to the king, because no one would ever take him seriously as a rival for the throne. If the concept is too medieval for you, look at 21st century America, where the best news commentary on television is offered by a couple of comedians on a small cable network. It’s the same principle: people on the edge of the herd, whether it’s the mass media or the general electorate, are unconstrained by the group norms and are given greater freedom to speak out and express themselves. The weirdos, by their very nature, have more latitude, and we also institutionalize the principle in ideas like academic freedom.

Did I just call you all weirdos? I’m sorry, yes I did. You’re all receiving advanced degrees from USC, and that automatically makes you all a bunch of nerds. You should be proud.

Now wait just a minute, you may protest, this is serious business. You’ve been working hard. You’ve been extracting the secrets of life, the universe, and everything. You may have accumulated a lot of debt. You have a mission, and you are thinking about the lab or the clinic or both right now. Your plan may be a life of sober scholarship, solid contributions to your field, and professional dignity, and maybe a little prosperity and security — and that diploma is a key to all of that.

That’s all true, too. The door has opened for you to cloister yourselves within your disciplines and do all that you’ve been trained to do, and I hope you succeed at that.

But there’s something more. You are also the lucky few, the ones with talent and discipline and the fortunate opportunity to pursue science and medicine, and you have acquired another kind of debt: you have been granted this privilege, and now you owe society repayment. We need you to make the world a better place. To quote a comic book character, with great power comes great responsibility.

Power? That diploma may not give you political power, or the ability to beat up criminals, and it may not even guarantee you a job, sorry to say, but it does represent something significant: it’s intellectual capital. You will have acquired some small measure of authority and credibility with that acknowledgment of your accomplishments, and I’m here to tell you to spend it.

I’m not going to tell you specifically how to spend it. Many of you may disagree with how I personally use my academic freedom, and that’s fine — I’m a strong believer in stochastic processes, and while individuals may go off in directions we don’t like, I’m confident that the aggregate activity of large numbers of smart people expressing themselves in public will end up making the world a better place.

So let me just give you a few general guidelines.

- Create more smart people. The best thing you can do for the future is to encourage and enable more people to follow you, by teaching, mentorship, example, or support. This is basic: you all know that science is a collaborative enterprise, so you should have had this dunned into your head by now. I should also warn you that your alumni association will be contacting you regularly from now on to remind you of your duty.

- Here’s another one you may take for granted, but I assure you, much of the world outside your circle of nerds does not: Criticize. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the scientific toolbox, and self-criticism and constant testing and evaluation of our ideas is how we make our understanding greater. If you haven’t gotten out of the lab much in the last few years, you may be surprised at how much shock and dismay you can generate with the simple words, “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why.” Don’t be shy about using them!

- Go ahead, be offensive. I’m offensive all the time, and I’ve got reams of hate mail to prove it. I say that women should have the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, and are just as good at science as men, and the angry mail streams in. I say that gay people should have the same rights as straight people, and I have offended a vocal horde right there. I say that all religion is foolish tosh and an affront to reason and the dignity of humankind, and boy, do I get outraged letters. And it’s all good. You don’t have to agree with everything I say, because the role of the public intellectual is to spark the argument and provoke change, not to dictate it. Do it.

- More generally, communicate. All these years of training have stuffed your brains with arcane knowledge — you know amazing things that few other people understand. You already know about the expectation that you will write your knowledge up in the form of arcane articles for even more arcane journals, but you should also feel an obligation to explain it all to everyone else. I don’t mean this as an excuse to be a deadly bore at parties, but that you should put serious effort into explaining the significance of what you do to people like your grandmother, or the readers of your local paper, or the president of the United States.

– One final admonition. What is going on here is a small miracle. You are all going to be receiving a nearly identical piece of parchment that says you are all graduates of the Keck School of Medicine. Yet, did you notice, you did not have to sign a loyalty oath to enroll here? There is no USC Dogma you are expected to adhere to. Some of you may have immersed yourself in such different specialties that you scarcely understand what your equally specialized peers say about their work, or you may disagree with each others’ positions. You have different politics, different religious beliefs, different cultural backgrounds, and I think you can even go so far as to decide to root for the UCLA Bruins, and they won’t revoke your degree. I look out at you all sitting there in your identical black uniforms and ridiculous hats, and am amused at the incongruity, because the one thing I can know about you all is that you are intellectually diverse and independent.

You are graduates of in institution that has encouraged you to think for yourself. I want you all to continue doing that.

And what’s more, I want you all to think very loudly, so the rest of us can hear.

Thank you all, and congratulations.

Comments

  1. #1 Tercel
    May 14, 2009

    Good speech. If you get an invite from the University of Rochester, you should come here. You can make jokes about the snow. We’ll laugh, I promise:)

  2. #2 wazza
    May 14, 2009

    Fantastic, but you forgot to tell them to wear sunscreen

  3. #3 DocAmazing
    May 14, 2009

    A very stirring speech, but I want to hear more about the King Torta.

  4. #4 HenryS
    May 14, 2009

    From the perspective of an MD, that was an excellent address.
    I have forgotten who told me this when I graduated from Med. School many years ago: “He said, You have received a “007″ degree.” What’s that?? That degree gives the holder a license to kill. Pretty weird comment but at a basic level, it is true.

  5. #5 Intelligent Designer
    May 14, 2009

    And what’s more, I want you all to think very loudly, so the rest of us can hear.

    Ok, I will.

  6. #6 Jedemy
    May 14, 2009

    Wow
    I wanna hear something like that when I get my MD

  7. #7 Paguroidea
    May 14, 2009

    Great speech, PZ! Lots of food for thought. I wish I could have heard you give it.

  8. #8 Nicolas Keller
    May 14, 2009

    wonderful speech :)

  9. #9 Wowbagger, OM
    May 14, 2009

    ‘Intelligent’ designer wrote:

    Ok, I will.

    I wish I could believe that, Randy.

  10. #10 Beth B.
    May 14, 2009

    Slightly off topic, but this reminds me of the loyalty oath I *did* have to sign over here at UCLA. Fucking McCarthy-era holdovers…

  11. #11 Arabiflora
    May 14, 2009

    What– No platitudes? Good on you!

    Very nicely done, PZ

  12. #12 JeffS
    May 14, 2009

    Nice speech. If I ever graduate, I hope to hear one as good. I’m sure the students appreciate the brevity without sacrificing content.

  13. #13 Intelligent Designer
    May 14, 2009

    You are graduates of in institution that has encouraged you to think for yourself. I want you all to continue doing that.

    Ok. I will.

  14. #14 PZ Myers
    May 14, 2009

    Oh, get stuffed, Stimpson. You don’t think, period.

  15. #15 dreikin
    May 14, 2009
    You are graduates of in institution that has encouraged you to think for yourself. I want you all to continue doing that.

    Ok. I will.

    Didn’t set theory already address that particularly conundrum? Something to do with a guy named Bertrand Russell, I believe…

  16. #16 bobxxxx
    May 14, 2009

    Another great quote for my list of favorite quotes:

    all religion is foolish tosh and an affront to reason and the dignity of humankind

    – PZ Myers

    PZ, I hope you publish all your future speeches here.

  17. #17 Pyrrhonic
    May 14, 2009

    @ 1

    The people of upstate NY may laugh at you when you make a snow joke, but if you’re from the South, we secretly hate you and make plans to flood your economy with skilled labor!

    Nice address, PZ. When I received my B.A., an old Kennedy speech writer delivered an hour address–it was made much longer by the parents in the crowd hissing and booing at its anti-war message–but I liked it. It was neat to watch, and I stood in solidarity with him in the end.

    When I earned my M.A., one of the speakers–an Oklahoma judge of some kind–told us that most of us were going to grow old and be mediocre, some would die losers, and a few stragglers might make a difference. While probably technically true, it was rhetorically stupid. Thou Shalt Know Thy Audience!

    On a weird note, when I graduated high school, the valedictorian gave a speech about Johnny Quest. I love J.Q., but I hated the speech. It was weak.

    But I am waiting for the speech when I get the PhD. Maybe it will be as good as this was. Maybe…

  18. #18 Intelligent Designer
    May 14, 2009

    I think you’re wrong PZ and here’s why.

  19. #19 Pyrrhonic
    May 14, 2009

    Oh, the /evil laugh/ “tag” I used at the end of my first paragraph didn’t show up. I wonder what the program thought it was when it swallowed it. Maybe it will get burped back up later.

  20. #20 dreikin
    May 14, 2009

    s/particularly/particular

  21. #21 PZ Myers
    May 14, 2009

    You’re being inane, Stimpson. Want to get banned? Stay out of this thread, or you will be.

  22. #22 wazza
    May 14, 2009

    I think you’re wrong Randy and here’s why.

  23. #23 CSBSH
    May 14, 2009

    That was indeed a very good speech. I guess I won’t hear anything remotely as good as that when, or if, I graduate.

  24. #24 Matt Snodgrass
    May 14, 2009

    Great speech. I wish I’d been there too.

  25. #25 Falyne
    May 14, 2009

    *stands and applauds*

    Seriously, Professor, good speech. :-)

  26. #26 Jadehawk
    May 14, 2009

    awesome speach, AND it included a spiderman reference (among other things) :-D

  27. #27 Dr. P
    May 14, 2009

    Posted by: Intelligent Designer | May 14, 2009 1:28 AM

    And what’s more, I want you all to think very loudly, so the rest of us can hear.
    Ok, I will.

    You miss the point completely; The intellectual iconoclast says” I think you’re wrong and here’s why”, not “I think you’re wrong and…uhhh.YEAH! Pwnd!”. The first debates fact, the second is basically an iconoclast nowhere but in their own pointed little heads.

  28. #28 Timothy
    May 14, 2009

    I think you’re an idiot Randy and here’s why.

    Great speech, PZ. Any chance that there might be a video floating around?

  29. #29 JMk2
    May 14, 2009

    Excellent speech! I’m afraid that I’ve got to be rather cynical of speeches made by administrators – rather than working scientists – at University ceremonies and meetings, but that one would have made me sit up and listen, and then cheer.

    I’ve just been reading John Gribbin’s book “The Fellowship” about the natural philosophers of seventeenth century Britain who founded the Royal Society (of London, for the advancement of science), and their determination that knowledge should be solidly grounded in experiment, and the progress that came about because of this. They had to cope with a lot of objection from creative idiocy not founded in observation then, too.

    (Yes, I remember Gribbin’s “Jupiter Effect” wobble of 1974. He seems embarrassed by it now!)

    The relevance? “Nullius in Verba” – the Latin motto of the Royal Society. Apparently from “Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri? meaning ?I am not bound to believe in the word of any master?. No sacred cows.

  30. #30 Happy Tentacles
    May 14, 2009

    Inspiring speech!

  31. #31 Parsnip
    May 14, 2009

    Did you get any tacos while you were out there? The tacos are but a few of the great treasures of the west coast.

  32. #32 Clemens
    May 14, 2009

    Were there any shocked gasps when you told them about religion being foolish tosh? :D

  33. #33 MadScientist
    May 14, 2009

    I hope you offended some god-naggers.

    Have an uneventful flight home.

  34. #34 Helioprogenus
    May 14, 2009

    So this is the kind of impassioned speech I would have heard had I stayed the course, and went on to Med school? Unfortunately, some proteins came calling, and I ended up becoming a molecular biologist, listening to the worst possible commencement speech within this galactic sector, and because of a freak May shower with no umbrella, I was completely drenched. Still, it’s all worth it…I think.

  35. #35 Tom
    May 14, 2009

    Professor Myers,

    1) Nice balance in your approach to the speech; 2) Leave Intelligent Randy alone. He can’t help himself, and it reminds us that there, but for the grace of me, go we; 3) I’m still waiting for your response to the Gurgle Gurgle incident. Mike Judge must pay.

  36. #36 Ichthyic
    May 14, 2009

    fuck the tacos and tortas, did you visit the Natural History Museum?

    I heard it was completely redone a few years back, but never got a chance to see it after.

  37. #37 Bob Evans-aka Metsguy
    May 14, 2009

    If ever there was a more discombobulated commencement speech delivered at an institution of higher learning, Professor Myers, it has escaped my pervue. At best, in my estimation, your address was the very height of modern day sophism . Press reviews, I’m sure will bear me out here.

    Early on, in your address to the graduating students at Keck School of Medicine, you described yourself as, “…a public intellectual…” Who or whom was it, I yearn to know, that bestowed that descriptive upon your stunted public countenance? Or, is that merely a personal designation, spawned from your self-absorbed delusions of grandeur? Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and, it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?” In fact, increduously, you twice more, in your address, alluded to your standing in the academic community as that of an intellectual.

    In the course of your “address,” you also said this: The weirdos, by their very nature, have more latitude, and we also institutionalize the principle in ideas like academic freedom.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…in ideas such as academic freedom?” Later on, you said: “…or you may disagree with each other’s position.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…with one another’s position?” And then you said: “…because the one thing I can know about you all is that you are intellectually diverse and independant.” Isn’t that two things?

    And, “stochastic processes?” How many days ago did you come upon that word in the dictionary? Did you expect most of the kids in your hearing to be familiar with that word?

  38. #38 Bob Evans-aka Metsguy
    May 14, 2009

    If ever there was a more discombobulated commencement speech delivered at an institution of higher learning, Professor Myers, it has escaped my pervue. At best, in my estimation, your address was the very height of modern day sophism . Press reviews, I’m sure will bear me out here.

    Early on, in your address to the graduating students at Keck School of Medicine, you described yourself as, “…a public intellectual…” Who or whom was it, I yearn to know, that bestowed that descriptive upon your stunted public countenance? Or, is that merely a personal designation, spawned from your self-absorbed delusions of grandeur? Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and, it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?” In fact, increduously, you twice more, in your address, alluded to your standing in the academic community as that of an intellectual.

    In the course of your “address,” you also said this: The weirdos, by their very nature, have more latitude, and we also institutionalize the principle in ideas like academic freedom.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…in ideas such as academic freedom?” Later on, you said: “…or you may disagree with each other’s position.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…with one another’s position?” And then you said: “…because the one thing I can know about you all is that you are intellectually diverse and independant.” Isn’t that two things?

    And, “stochastic processes?” How many days ago did you come upon that word in the dictionary? Did you expect most of the kids in your hearing to be familiar with that word?

  39. #39 JohnnieCanuck
    May 14, 2009

    Bob, they may have educated you, but I see little to convince me that it did you any good, and even less as to how it may have benefited the rest of us.

  40. #40 Bob Evans-aka Metsguy
    May 14, 2009

    If ever there was a more discombobulated commencement speech delivered at an institution of higher learning, Professor Myers, it has escaped my pervue. At best, in my estimation, your address was the very height of modern day sophism . Press reviews, I’m sure will bear me out here.

    Early on, in your address to the graduating students at Keck School of Medicine, you described yourself as, “…a public intellectual…” Who or whom was it, I yearn to know, that bestowed that descriptive upon your stunted public countenance? Or, is that merely a personal designation, spawned from your self-absorbed delusions of grandeur? Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and, it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?” In fact, increduously, you twice more, in your address, alluded to your standing in the academic community as that of an intellectual.

    In the course of your “address,” you also said this: The weirdos, by their very nature, have more latitude, and we also institutionalize the principle in ideas like academic freedom.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…in ideas such as academic freedom?” Later on, you said: “…or you may disagree with each other’s position.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…with one another’s position?” And then you said: “…because the one thing I can know about you all is that you are intellectually diverse and independant.” Isn’t that two things?

    And, “stochastic processes?” How many days ago did you come upon that word in the dictionary? Did you expect most of the kids in your hearing to be familiar with that word?

  41. #41 Bob Evans-aka Metsguy
    May 14, 2009

    If ever there was a more discombobulated commencement speech delivered at an institution of higher learning, Professor Myers, it has escaped my pervue. At best, in my estimation, your address was the very height of modern day sophism . Press reviews, I’m sure will bear me out here.

    Early on, in your address to the graduating students at Keck School of Medicine, you described yourself as, “…a public intellectual…” Who or whom was it, I yearn to know, that bestowed that descriptive upon your stunted public countenance? Or, is that merely a personal designation, spawned from your self-absorbed delusions of grandeur? Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?” In fact, increduously, you twice more, in your address, alluded to your standing in the academic community as that of an intellectual.

    In the course of your “address,” you also said this: The weirdos, by their very nature, have more latitude, and we also institutionalize the principle in ideas like academic freedom.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…in ideas such as academic freedom?” Later on, you said: “…or you may disagree with each other’s position.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…with one another’s position?” And then you said: “…because the one thing I can know about you all is that you are intellectually diverse and independant.” Isn’t that two things?

    And, “stochastic processes?” How many days ago did you come upon that word in the dictionary? Did you expect most of the kids in your hearing to be familiar with that word?

  42. #42 rainonn
    May 14, 2009

    very cool sir, (echoing similar comments) would love to here a speech here at UCSD!

  43. #43 Rorschach
    May 14, 2009

    spamming dick @ 37,38,40,41,

    Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and, it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?”

    Got any actual argument to make?

    And PZ,what’s a tosh?

  44. #44 tyler j. hutchison
    May 14, 2009

    Oh wow PZ this was a great speech! I really wish you had given the commencement speech at Morris when I graduated. Instead I had to sit through some sort of forgettable Minnesota politician who was basically just stumping for votes and completely neglected the fact that he was delivering a commencement speech.

    @ Bob Evans-aka Metsguy #38

    And, “stochastic processes?” How many days ago did you come upon that word in the dictionary? Did you expect most of the kids in your hearing to be familiar with that word?

    I am positive that anyone who has a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Math, Physics or really any sort of science is going to know exactly what stochastic process means – but clearly this does not apply for people who majored in being a twit.

  45. #45 The Ridger
    May 14, 2009

    Sheesh, Bob – “stochastic”? Those “kids” just finished medical school. They’d better know that one.

  46. #46 MadScientist
    May 14, 2009

    @Ichthyic: Do *what* to the tacos and tortas? You haven’t been watching “American Pie” have you? A good heapin’ helpin’ of Tabasco sauce in the tacos and tortas should cure that priestly habit.

  47. #47 Keenacat
    May 14, 2009

    Either, Bob Evans-aka Metsguy was planning to spam this thread with his stoopid comment, or he simply lacks an important ability: patience.
    This might also explain why he doesn’t dig deeper into the important stuff but keeps nagging on grammar.
    Bob Evans-aka Metsguy, would you at least try and back up your claims regarding the “correct” and “intellectual” grammar?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

  48. #48 JohnnieCanuck
    May 14, 2009

    Four times a fool. A zero is not increased by adding it to itself, or don’t they teach that to BA candidates?

  49. #49 'Tis Himself
    May 14, 2009

    Good speech, PZ. Short, free of platitudes, to the point. What a commencement speech should be. Oh, and did I mention it was short?

  50. #50 Ryan
    May 14, 2009

    Wow, Bob. You criticize PZ’s excellent speech on nothing more than an accusation that he’s not an intellectual and grammatical nitpicking.

    1. You’d understand that PZ is an intellectual if you’d understood the point of his speech.

    2. You nitpick grammar when yours is way, way worse. You also try to sound intelligent by using words you think are impressive.

    3. 1 and 2 just make you look incredibly retarded.

  51. #51 Pimientita
    May 14, 2009

    Hey Metsguy…it might behoove you to figure out this complicated thing called the “interwebs” before you chastise someone else about their intellectual status. Or their grammar. Or whatever else got up your ass enough to make sure that we all got it 4 times in a row.

  52. #52 Emmet, OM
    May 14, 2009

    Bob, if you’re going to criticise someone else’s writing, you ought to at least try to do it without misspelling, malapropism, and grammatical error. Your pomposity and ineptness are amusing? the flooding, not so much.

  53. #53 Rod
    May 14, 2009

    Bob, before implying that PZ is using expressions such as “stochastic processes” he doesn’t really understand, may I respectfully draw your attention to the following.
    According to my Shorter Oxford Dictionary “discombulate” is a verb that means “upset, disturb, disconcert.” Would you explain in what way PZ’s speech was disturbed, upset, or disconcerted?
    I think you’ll find that “pervue” is in fact spelt “purview.”
    While I’m being pedantic, “Who or whom” is grammatically incorrect, “whom” cannot be the subject of a sentence, “descriptive” should be “description,” “miscomprehension” should be “incomprehension” and “incredulous” should be “incredible.”
    I wouldn’t expect “kids” to know what a stochastic process was, but graduate students?
    The English language is a marvellous instrument. It’s such a pity you appear to be deaf to its subtleties.

  54. #54 Rorschach
    May 14, 2009

    PZ,
    in case you read this from the airport or so,SB now actually manages to halt/near crash my Firefox,whereas the last few days it just slowed to a crawl,esp with the waiting for chartbeat.net/com.

    And yeah,if the noble prize winner’s speech was an hour,yours looks pretty short !
    How did they react to the “religion is foolish” bit?

  55. #55 damitall
    May 14, 2009

    Evans, it’s not “pervue”, it’s “purview”

    And yes, I would expect those graduates to be familiar with the meaning and use of tHE word “stochastic”

    Furthermore, as far as I can see,PZ’s uses of “it’s” are correct

  56. #56 Raimund
    May 14, 2009

    Bob Evans: you sir, are an asshat. I don’t generally feed the trolls, but your putrid excretion demands an immediate and venomous retort. First of all, it’s and its are interchangeable – you heard me INTERCHANGEABLE – in a verbal address. Unless you can hear a difference in cadence or some sort of accent between the two, it was a typo which changes the speech not one bit and your pointing it out is merely a grasping at straws. You may be an english guru, or you may not, but there is nothing at all wrong with the phrases you cite, save that you don’t personally appreciate the style. You also misquote PZ when you say “with each other’s position” which IS grammatically incorrect, though the original is right. Finally, yes one would expect med-school students to be familiar with “stochastic processes” BUT that is NOT a word – it’s a phrase. If you’re going to criticize such things, you might at least make an effort to have a care about your own accuracy or you will only expose yourself as the pretentious simpleton you apparently are. What really is your trip anyway? Were you passed over and looking to vent your frustration that you could have delivered a more grammatically precise speech? If that’s the case, next time do everyone a favor and cry into a pillow and spare the rest of us your unpalatable bile.

    And PZ: great speech! I agree with you that the scientifically literate among us need to do more to inform everyone else. You’re an inspiration to innumerable masses of people. Keep up the very good work!

  57. #57 Douchey France
    May 14, 2009

    Hey, Public Intellectual: I don’t think “dunned” means what you think it means.

  58. #58 Fred the Hun
    May 14, 2009

    I want you all to think very loudly, so the rest of us can hear.

    Clap! Clap! Clap! Great Speech Dr. Myers

    Maybe you could forward a copy of these links to all of the graduates so they can begin to contemplate the true magnitude of their priviledge and consequently their immense responsibility.

    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/48895

    On Thursday, March 12, the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore hosted the world?s first gathering devoted to Peak Oil and Health, with support from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. These are two of the nation?s most prestigious institutions in the fields of public health and health education, and about a hundred people attended in person, with a larger number tuning in to the simultaneous web-cast. The audience was offered a wealth of information about the many ways in which today?s health care services rely on infrastructure and practices that depend upon petroleum. The most likely impacts of peak oil on public health were discussed, along with opportunities for public health professionals to prepare for the roles they will play in a post-peak oil world.

    And if you really want to welcome them to reality give them this.

    http://www.wakeupamerika.com/PDFs/On-American-Sustainability.pdf

    On American Sustainability?Anatomy of a Societal Collapse (Summary)
    The Real ?Inconvenient Truth?

    Most Americans believe that we are ?exceptional??both as a society and as a species. We believe that America was ordained through divine providence to be the societal role model for the world. And we believe that through our superior intellect, we can harness and even conquer Nature in our continuous quest to improve the material living standards associated with our ever-increasing population.

    The truth is that our pioneering predecessors drifted, quite by accident, upon a veritable treasure trove of natural resources and natural habitats, which they wrested by force from the native inhabitants, and which we have persistently over exploited in order to create and perpetuate our American way of life. The truth is that through our ?divine ordination? and ?superior intellect?, we have been persistently and systematically eliminating the very resources upon which our way of life and our existence depend.

  59. #59 Rorschach
    May 14, 2009

    I think Bob Evans’ contribution was just a drive-by shooting,stupid in content but not spamming,its not very difficult to post 2 or 3 in a row with the current SB meltdown,done it myself.

  60. #60 Robin
    May 14, 2009

    The best graduation speech I’ve heard was that of high school valedictorian. She thanked one individual for all the lessons he had taught her: Randy, our custodian. It was true too. Randy was a great human being. I would have liked to watch everyone’s face while they listened to you. But I do feel a little left out. Can I be a weirdo too? Even though I’m just an elementary school teacher?

  61. #61 Anonymous
    May 14, 2009

    “…a public intellectual…” Who or whom was it, I yearn to know, that bestowed that descriptive upon your stunted public countenance?

    The English language bestowed it on him when Seed and the Guardian hired him as public intellectual. “Public intellectual” is not some grand claim about one’s intelligence; it’s just a job title. Someone employed to discuss ideas (especially ideas coming from academia) in the public arena simply is a public intellectual in as simple a way as someone employed to write reviews is a critic.

    Also, LOL at your pseudo-sophisticated prose.

  62. #62 Greg
    May 14, 2009

    Rod @#53 Bravo

    Bob, @#37, 38, 40 etc. It is some trick to be able to insert both feet into your mouth at the same time. Verbosity does not hide idiocy.

  63. #63 Alan Kellogg
    May 14, 2009

    On The Speech

    …long, slow, brutal gleeful vivisection of the sacred…

    Corrected it for you. :)

    On Bob Evens

    When considered as a thing nothing is accumulative. Four reiterations of the same vacuity means a greater vacuity, and thus a greater nothing. Think of it as a double negative where the second negative is used to reinforce the first. What Evans was doing was demonstrating that math is not always directly translatable to fields outside of math.

  64. #64 Kinzua Kid
    May 14, 2009

    Nasty case of the trolls today.

    Nice, short and to the point address. Here’s to hoping more than a few of them actually exercise the gray matter. I’m sure it’ll be on YouTube by the end of the week. ;)

  65. #65 Kitty
    May 14, 2009

    And PZ,what’s a tosh?

    Tosh = nonsense. A lovely old English slang term which I’m glad to see PZ has picked up and is using. I would use it in the context of “what a load of old tosh!”.

    While we’re looking at word meanings does anyone know where the use of “commencement” comes from? To me it means “beginning” but here it is used to mean “passing out” or “ending” in the way we would use “graduation”.
    Isn’t language grand?

  66. #66 hyperdeath
    May 14, 2009

    Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and, it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?”

    Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of “its” and “it’s” before having the gall to correct others? Where are these mistakes? Every instance of “it’s” is correctly used as a contraction of “it is” or “it has”, whilst “its” doesn’t appear at all.

    Also, can you try to write normally? Your clumsy, pompous and overblown style doesn’t impress anyone.

  67. #67 Anonymous
    May 14, 2009

    From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

    commence:
    1314, from O.Fr. comencier, from V.L. *cominitiare, orig. “to initiate as priest, consecrate,” from L. com- “together” + initiare “to initiate.” The academic sense of commencement “action of taking a full degree,” is in M.E.

    PZ as a priest! Father Myers …

  68. #68 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 14, 2009

    I ate a King Torta

    That’s one way to get him to sign a treaty.

  69. #69 Azkyroth
    May 14, 2009

    Early on, in your address to the graduating students at Keck School of Medicine, you described yourself as, “…a public intellectual…” Who or whom was it, I yearn to know, that bestowed that descriptive upon your stunted public countenance? Or, is that merely a personal designation, spawned from your self-absorbed delusions of grandeur? Shouldn’t you first remedy your miscomprehension as to the usage of, “its, and, it’s” before having the gall to describe yourself as an “intellectual?” In fact, increduously, you twice more, in your address, alluded to your standing in the academic community as that of an intellectual.

    An “intellectual” here is not a title that needs to be bestowed, as it is a label, demonstrably appropriate for PZ, referring to a person who is noted in some relevant circle on the basis of their publicly disseminated thoughts, conclusions, scholarship, and mental effort. IE, the additive inverse of yourself.

    In the course of your “address,” you also said this: The weirdos, by their very nature, have more latitude, and we also institutionalize the principle in ideas like academic freedom.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…in ideas such as academic freedom?” Later on, you said: “…or you may disagree with each other’s position.” Shouldn’t that have been: “…with one another’s position?”

    *snicker*

    And then you said: “…because the one thing I can know about you all is that you are intellectually diverse and independant.” Isn’t that two things?

    No.

    And, “stochastic processes?” How many days ago did you come upon that word in the dictionary? Did you expect most of the kids in your hearing to be familiar with that word?

    When your only tools are a hammer and yourself, everything looks like a nail.

    PS:

    If ever there was a more discombobulated commencement speech delivered at an institution of higher learning, Professor Myers, it has escaped my pervue.

    You mean “purview?”

  70. #70 Mahatma Coates
    May 14, 2009

    Bob Evans–I had breakfast at your place once,
    near Cleveland OH, I think. It was OK.

  71. #71 NewEnglandBob
    May 14, 2009

    You don’t have to agree with everything I say, because the role of the public intellectual is to spark the argument and provoke change, not to dictate it. Do it.

    This is the heart of your speech. Thanks PZ.

  72. #72 Denis Alexander
    May 14, 2009

    Fantastic speech.

    Another guideline for Medicine students: speak up the role of animals in biomedical research… If you can root for the Bruins, you can surely come to our rescue when we are being firebombed by the ALF. So far, it has all been silence.

  73. #73 JJWFromME
    May 14, 2009

    A public intellectual is the modern equivalent of the court jester — the wise fool who could say anything to the king… If the concept is too medieval for you, look at 21st century America, where the best news commentary on television is offered by a couple of comedians on a small cable network.

    I’ll definitely give you credit for that.

    This is a good commencement speech.

    As for the President, these are the two best explanations I’ve found for how things got so screwed up:

    http://www.kzoo.edu/polisci/dlipson/105/shogan.pdf

    http://www.aei.org/event/1550 (This commentary by Jim Sleeper is a bit breathless, but read the first several paragraphs and it’s a pretty good liberal translation of Tanenhaus’s speech to a conservative audience: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2007/12/06/american_conservatisms_origina/ )

    Nerds of the world, unite! David Brooks is very scared of you:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/23/opinion/23brooks.html

  74. #74 Randy Owens
    May 14, 2009

    Even before Bob Evans brought the phrase to everyone’s attention, I wanted to commend the use of “stochastic processes” in this. It’s (that’s a contraction for “it is”, Bob, no matter what you’ve been told) a concept that seems to be underappreciated in its (that’s a possessive pronoun, Bob) application to the social sciences.

    As for the bestowing of descriptives (I’ll give him that much, “descriptive” is a valid substantive; it needn’t be “description” there), I think it sounds like Bob is itching to show off a scan of a Mensa card here, to show us who (or whom?) bestows such descriptives.

  75. #75 Boudicca
    May 14, 2009

    Thanks for posting this, PZ. I will play your speech in my head when the cliched fundie woo of my own commencement ceremony becomes too much to bear.

  76. #76 Kausik Datta
    May 14, 2009

    Someone up there has already asked: Is there by any chance a video available of this fabulous, crisp and succinct speech? I would like to share that with some of my friends at USC who did not get to go to the Commencement address.

  77. #77 Ranger_Rick
    May 14, 2009

    PZ,
    Beautiful.

  78. #78 catherinep
    May 14, 2009

    Great address, and much appreciated. I received my PhD (in immunology) from a medical school last year, and the commencement address focused solely on the MDs. It completely ignoring us lowly PhDs, not to mention the students getting degrees in nursing, radiology, etc. The official photographer even left after the MDs were announced, before they hooded the PhDs. I left regretting that I had even gone to the ceremony. It makes me glad to read an address that acknowledges both. Thanks PZ!

  79. #79 LisaJ
    May 14, 2009

    That was very inspiring, PZ. So many thoughtful words in such a concise speech, I’m impressed.

  80. #80 BobbyEarle
    May 14, 2009

    I am sure that most of us here would be shouting, and stomping for an encore!

    Excellent speech.

  81. #81 Marc Buhler
    May 14, 2009

    Is Bob Evans the new John Kwok?

    (Oh – Nice address, PZ, as well.)

  82. #82 JackC
    May 14, 2009

    When my wife graduated from the local college (SUNY New Paltz), I was forced to listen to some New Jersey politician (Thomas Kean)- at least he rated a student Protest!

    Two FRAKKING years before – they had……. Aiden Quinn.

    Damn

    I would probably have to suddenly become related to someone graduating locally should I ever find you speaking at a commencement in our area.

    JC

  83. #83 AJ Milne
    May 14, 2009

    Ver’ nice.

    (Holds lighter aloft, makes metal/devil sign w/ fingers…)

  84. #84 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    Bob Evans–I had breakfast at your place once,
    near Cleveland OH, I think. It was OK.

    hahaha

  85. #85 Bill Snedden
    May 14, 2009

    Robin @ 60: “Even though I’m just an elementary school teacher?”

    There is no such thing as “just” an elementary school teacher or “just” a teacher of any kind. Teachers get such short shrift in our society and they are in fact so crucial to its success. Real teachers are rare and wonderful people. Please don’t ever think or speak of yourself as “just” an elementary school teacher! In life, as in so many other things, momentum can be of supreme importance and your contribution to a child’s life at such a critical point may be the factor that opens him or her up to a whole universe of possibilities. So, no more of this “just an elementary school teacher” if you please! :)

    And PZ: great speech!

  86. #86 Sven DiMilo
    May 14, 2009

    My brother went to Pervue, but thought West Lafayette was kind of a crappy town.

  87. #87 charley
    May 14, 2009

    This message nicely counters the conservative stereotype of intellectuals as effete, elite and out of touch.

  88. #88 la tricoteuse
    May 14, 2009

    Poor Bob. Not only is he confused about every single zinger he tried to deliver, he also appears to be confused about the definition of “intellectual.”

    Even if your fervent, pedantic wankfest hadn’t been wrong in every way, you’d still be a giant sack of fail.

    This is why: perfect grammar and a large vocabulary are NOT synonymous with intellectualism. They certainly help one give the APPEARANCE of being an intellectual (to the ‘untrained eye,’ so to speak) , but they are by no means the substance. At best, they are icing to an intellectual’s cake.

    Cake is still damn tasty without icing (though arguably not AS tasty) but eating spoonfuls of icing alone is inadvisable under any circumstances.

  89. #89 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    The cake is a lie.

  90. #90 'Tis Himself
    May 14, 2009

    Is Bob Evans the new John Kwok?

    We have to find out where Bob Evans went to high school before making that determination.

  91. #91 Carlie
    May 14, 2009

    Cake is still damn tasty without icing (though arguably not AS tasty) but eating spoonfuls of icing alone is inadvisable under any circumstances.

    I must vehemently disagree with that statement. There are few circumstances that could not be improved upon by the addition of spoonfuls of icing.

  92. #92 la tricoteuse
    May 14, 2009

    Carlie: You make my teeth hurt.

    Rev: Your mum’s cake is a lie.

  93. #93 DJ
    May 14, 2009

    An enjoyable speech, thanks for the good read. Quoted my favorite part below.

    I’m confident that the aggregate activity of large numbers of smart people expressing themselves in public will end up making the world a better place.

    Good stuff.

  94. #94 Reginald Selkirk
    May 14, 2009

    One final admonition. What is going on here is a small miracle.

    EXTRA! EXTRA! PZ MYERS PROCLAIMS BELIEF IN MIRACLES!

  95. #95 Billy C
    May 14, 2009

    I am so jealous. Our spring commencement address was given by a former governor and U.S. Torture Czar who once lost an election to a corpse. And if you think that gives you a hint about how bad it was … you have no idea.

  96. #96 PZ Myers
    May 14, 2009

    Actually, I got a lot of nice comments from people afterwards.

    One thing: don’t take the “religion is tosh” comment out of context. Commencement speeches are for the students and families, so I wasn’t trying to antagonize anyone — so it was said in the spirit of “here are some things I believe that some people dislike, I want you all to be unafraid to say what you think, no matter what”.

    One thing that concerned me a little bit was that there was an older couple front row and center who were particularly enthusiastic during all the prior bits where a prayer was said and the star-spangled banner was played — almost certainly regular believers. I was hoping I wouldn’t ruin the day for them, but they applauded even more enthusiastically when I was done and the fellow complimented my speech as we walked by on the way out.

  97. #97 flaq
    May 14, 2009

    Great speech. Criticize. Think loudly so others can hear. Excellent.

    And if hell existed, there should be an especially cruel corner reserved for people who make a big blustering noise about someone else’s grammatical errors. Such a feeble way to try to provoke an argument.

    Bob Evans on hearing Lincoln’s Gettysburg address:

    Man, what a lousy speech. What is this “all men are created equal” crap? Doesn’t he know it should be “equally”? God, Lincoln is such a Moran.

  98. #98 MartinDH
    May 14, 2009

    RevBigDumbChimp @#89:

    The cake is a lie

    No, no! The cake is deliciously moist!

  99. #99 Rey Fox
    May 14, 2009

    Oh could we stop piling on poor Bob already? I think 100 comments is enough to get the point across.

  100. #100 flaq
    May 14, 2009

    But can’t we just kick him a couple more times? Just a little? What if I poke at him with this very small stick? No?

    Oh, fine.

    *pouts and shuffles away*

  101. #101 'Tis Himself
    May 14, 2009

    Rey Fox never lets us have any fun. <snivel>

  102. #102 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 14, 2009

    PZ, good speech. A nice continuation of your “question everything” lesson. I think just saying get out an do something, without specifying what, got you off the hook with the ideologues out there. After all, they could follow their ideology. Short speeches are nice.

    Did they give you an honorary degree for your talk?

  103. #103 Hank Fox
    May 14, 2009

    Magnificent speech, PZ.

    Next time you do this, get someone to videotape it and put it up on YouTube. I’d love to have seen it.

  104. #104 PZ Myers
    May 14, 2009

    It was taped, and someone is going to try and get it on youtube soon.

  105. #105 Lauren
    May 14, 2009

    @ Tercel: We have to laugh at the snow. What the heck else are we going to do with it, paint? But hey, at least it’s lilac season!

  106. #106 Steve_C
    May 14, 2009

    He’s apparently a Mets fan too. What a loser.

  107. #107 Kim Hannula
    May 14, 2009

    Great speech.

  108. #108 Kausik Datta
    May 14, 2009
  109. #109 rrt
    May 14, 2009

    This was a triumph. My sincere congratulations.

  110. #110 Matt Heath
    May 14, 2009

    One thing that concerned me a little bit was that there was an older couple front row and center who were particularly enthusiastic during all the prior bits where a prayer was said and the star-spangled banner was played — almost certainly regular believers. I was hoping I wouldn’t ruin the day for them, but they applauded even more enthusiastically when I was done and the fellow complimented my speech as we walked by on the way out.

    YAY for this!

  111. #111 rrt
    May 14, 2009

    Bah. I botched that reference.

    But there’s no use crying over every mistake.

  112. #112 Sven DIMilo
    May 14, 2009

    He’s apparently a Mets fan too. What a loser.

    Oh? And who, sir, is on top of the NL East at the moment, having won 8 of their last 10? Hmmmmm?

  113. #113 norm!
    May 14, 2009

    You are about to receive a diploma that gives you the potential to be one of us

    I shudder. I have been reading and commenting on Pharyngula unqualified. I merely hold a bachelor of science degree, and it’s from the University of Much-Maligned Texas. Can I still help crash polls?

    Seriously, I expect PZ’s detractors will mine this line from the speech.

  114. #114 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    Oh? And who, sir, is on top of the NL East at the moment, having won 8 of their last 10? Hmmmmm?

    Not for long if they don’t solve their starting pitching issues

    /ducks

  115. #115 Anonymous
    May 14, 2009

    Bill Snedden@85 “There is no such thing as “just” an elementary school teacher or “just” a teacher of any kind.”

    I certainly agree. But this reminds me of a gag Michael Feldman often uses on “Whadya Know?” He’s admonish the guest who described herself as ‘just a housewife,’

    “Don’t say ‘just.’ Say ‘merely.’”

  116. #116 Robert
    May 14, 2009

    Given that I am one of the few here who is not a member of the cult of AssProf PZ, I am also one of the few capable of giving an honest assessment of the speech (the same principle that was fairly successfully conveyed by AssProf PZ in his speech).

    It was pretty good.

    Its strengths are (1)Its relative brevity (no mean feat for AssProf PZ), (2)The subdued optimism (always preferable to the more common soaring optimism), and (3)The jokes were fine.

    Its weaknesses are (1)Too much self-referentiality, (2)That weird thing about “I take great pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. Some think I perhaps take a little bit too much pleasure in not just slaughtering, but the long, slow, brutal vivisection of the sacred” that made the graduates and people in the stands say, probably: “Ewww, weird and gross and sadistic–this is a graduation ceremony, buddy; Granny’s here; don’t brag about your inability to be appropriate”, and (3)Too much presumption, but that is the nature of the Beast who wrote the speech.

  117. #117 Robert
    May 14, 2009

    Given that I am one of the few here who is not a member of the cult of AssProf PZ, I am also one of the few capable of giving an honest assessment of the speech (the same principle that was fairly successfully conveyed by AssProf PZ in his speech).

    It was pretty good.

    Its strengths are (1)Its relative brevity (no mean feat for AssProf PZ), (2)The subdued optimism (always preferable to the more common soaring optimism), and (3)The jokes were fine.

    Its weaknesses are (1)Too much self-referentiality, (2)That weird thing about “I take great pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. Some think I perhaps take a little bit too much pleasure in not just slaughtering, but the long, slow, brutal vivisection of the sacred” that made the graduates and people in the stands say, probably: “Ewww, weird and gross and sadistic–this is a graduation ceremony, buddy; Granny’s here; don’t brag about your inability to be appropriate”, (3)Too much presumption, but that is the nature of the Beast who wrote the speech, and (4)It didn’t close with “Finally, for this graduating class I pray that God bless you and keep you all the days of your life,” which I wouldn’t expect, but is the proper way to close one of these speeches.

  118. #118 Anonymous
    May 14, 2009

    Thank you for your assessment, Robert. You may now crawl back under your rock.

  119. #119 Robert
    May 14, 2009

    Given that I am one of the few here who is not a member of the cult of AssProf PZ, I am also one of the few capable of giving an honest assessment of the speech (the same principle that was fairly successfully conveyed by AssProf PZ in his speech).

    It was pretty good.

    Its strengths are (1)Its relative brevity (no mean feat for AssProf PZ), (2)The subdued optimism (always preferable to the more common soaring optimism), and (3)The jokes were fine.

    Its weaknesses are (1)Too much self-referentiality, (2)That weird thing about “I take great pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. Some think I perhaps take a little bit too much pleasure in not just slaughtering, but the long, slow, brutal vivisection of the sacred” that made the graduates and people in the stands say, probably: “Ewww, weird and gross and sadistic–this is a graduation ceremony, buddy; Granny’s here; don’t brag about your inability to be appropriate”, (3)Too much presumption, but that is the nature of the Beast who wrote the speech, and (4)It didn’t close with “Finally, for this graduating class I pray that God bless you and keep you all the days of your life,” which I wouldn’t expect, but is the proper way to close one of these speeches.

  120. #120 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    One more time robert

  121. #121 Robert
    May 14, 2009

    Sorry that it kept posting over and over; it just told me that it had been unable to process my request so I resubmitted.

  122. #122 AJ Milne
    May 14, 2009

    Given that I am not one of the many here who think ‘Robert’ is pretty much a waste of oxygen, I am in a position to assess his comment, here…

    And my assessment is: it needed more sex.

    No, I wouldn’t have expected that either. But it’s about the only thing that might have redeemed it in any way.

    (/Actually, it mighta helped PZ’s thing too, come to think of it… But his was pretty good anyway.)

  123. #123 Sven DIMilo
    May 14, 2009

    Dude, we all know the message you got, and, unlike you, we’ve all read what it says. Explicity, and in bold type: do not resubmit.

  124. #124 AJ Milne
    May 14, 2009

    Addendum: I feel it is important to clarify a critical typo in the above:

    I do in fact concur with those who feel ‘Robert’ is a waste of oxygen. The ‘not’ was in error.

    And while I do not by this mean to imply anyone should actually stop his continuing the use of this valuable gas which might otherwise go into important industrial processes, or, say, into the anaerobic breakdown of compost, &c, any positive endorsement of his continuing to do so was not intended…

    (/And is deeply regretted.)

  125. #125 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    Sorry that it kept posting over and over; it just told me that it had been unable to process my request so I resubmitted.

    Had you taken the time to actually read the message you would have known that was exactly the wrong thing to do.

  126. #126 NewEnglandBob
    May 14, 2009

    Why don’t people LOOK before they RE-POST?

    It is a simple thing to do, on error – go ‘back’ and copy what you wrote, then back again and forward or refresh and LOOK TO SEE IF THERE!

    I have made it a policy of mine that when I see something posted multiple times, I read none of the copies.

  127. #127 Patricia, OM
    May 14, 2009

    Very nice PZ!

  128. #128 AJ Milne
    May 14, 2009

    Why don’t people LOOK before they RE-POST?

    And seriously, it seems pretty much guaranteed once you see that ‘do not repost’ message that it has, in fact, arrived, and will probably appear in a minute or two. Even if it’s still churning its way through the DB. I’ve yet to see otherwise.

  129. #129 Lee Picton
    May 14, 2009

    I just have to pile on here, PZ, to commend you for a lovely (and succinct) speech. I even read a portion of it to the husbeast, who is gradually beginning to appreciate you. He used to make fun of my enthusiasm for this satisfying blog; he doesn’t do that any more. And I will be looking for this on YouTube so I can see it and enjoy it again.

  130. #130 Robert
    May 14, 2009

    We have witnessed a tragedy: the brilliant content of my comment has been lost on all of you simply because you’re annoyed it was twice re-posted.

  131. #131 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 14, 2009

    No Robert, you will only show intelligence when you stop trying to be funny with PZ’s title, and/or stop posting here. Otherwise, you appear to be a idiot without a sense of humor.

  132. #132 Anonymous
    May 14, 2009

    the brilliant content of my comment has been lost on all of you

    I beg your pardon. I read your post and responded, quite appropriately, in my post #118.

  133. #133 Anonymous
    May 14, 2009

    Post #132 is mine. Damn TypeKey.

  134. #134 Emmet, OM
    May 14, 2009

    Had you taken the time to actually read the message?

    Rev., You might as well expect a skunk to squirt Chanel and shit rubies.

  135. #135 James
    May 14, 2009

    Robert,

    Referring to someone as “AssProf PZ” in a criticism pretty much discredits whatever your point may have been. Just saying.

  136. #136 'Tis Himself
    May 14, 2009

    Let’s try this again.

    Posts #132 and #133 were written by me.

  137. #137 Sven DiMilo
    May 14, 2009

    But whose is #133?

  138. #138 Sven DiMilo
    May 14, 2009

    Damn…too late!

  139. #139 Jon Cantwell
    May 14, 2009

    Note how it’s only the trolls that post more than once? Do they think it has any result other than scrolling down through the page?

  140. #140 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    the brilliant content of my comment has been lost on all of you

    Nope. I saw nothing particularly or even generally brilliant about it.

  141. #141 Matt Heath
    May 14, 2009

    We have witnessed a tragedy: the brilliant content of my comment has been lost on all of you simply because you’re annoyed it was twice re-posted.

    Poe?

  142. #142 AJ Milne
    May 14, 2009

    Re #141, well, yeah, not only did I take it as sarcasm, I’d even go so far as to say I found it kinda funny…

    (I’m still, on balance, finding in favour of the compost, tho’.)

  143. #143 Michael W Simpson
    May 14, 2009

    The UCLA comment actually cracked me up, since after attending a few dozen USC football games, a “UCLA sucks” cheer from the students and alumni ends most games.

    Disclosure: I am not, nor will I ever be an alumnus of USC (especially being a passionate Syracuse alum and fan). My girlfriend, who had several degrees from USC, dragged me to the games.

  144. #144 MalthusX
    May 14, 2009

    Robert,

    You are annoyed that PZ Meyers speech didn’t end with a god bless you? I’m surprised at your advocacy of hypocrisy. Also, what was he presuming? That that new doctors were smart intellectuals? That may be a presumption, buts its a reasonable one.

    Also, your comment was not ‘brilliant’. The term AssProf is not funny or clever. If you are going to insult someone, at least have the decency to try.

  145. #145 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    Rev., You might as well expect a skunk to squirt Chanel and shit rubies.

    *Scratches skunk trapping off the list of things for the weekend

  146. #146 John Beall
    May 14, 2009

    One further comment about Bob that shows he is just out of touch with science. “stochastic processes” is a term I understood even though the first time I heard it used was high school chemistry (Jamestown, ND) and the last time was in college (St. Olaf). For him to snear at its use just shows how ignorant he is.

  147. #147 John Beall
    May 14, 2009

    One further comment about Bob that shows he is just out of touch with science. “stochastic processes” is a term I understood even though the first time I heard it used was high school chemistry (1968, Jamestown, ND) and the last time was in college (St. Olaf). For him to snear at its use just shows how ignorant he is.

  148. #148 John Beall
    May 14, 2009

    One further comment about Bob that shows he is just out of touch with science. “stochastic processes” is a term I understood even though the first time I heard it used was high school chemistry (1968, Jamestown, ND) and the last time was in college (St. Olaf). For him to snear at its use just shows how ignorant he is.

  149. #149 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    *whistle

  150. #150 Patricia, OM
    May 14, 2009

    Snear – sneer… good to see that this new CRAPPY formatting has not been able to kill the cootie. :p

  151. #151 James F
    May 14, 2009

    Well done, PZ. “Public intellectual” sounded conceited to me at first, but after your explanation in the speech I get it.

    And this one goes out to everyone making multiple postings.

  152. #152 ???
    May 14, 2009

    So are there any private intellectuals out there?

  153. #153 QDA
    May 14, 2009

    @ #134:

    James, you said: “Referring to someone as “AssProf PZ” in a criticism pretty much discredits whatever your point may have been. Just saying.”

    Using the premise that calling someone names while critizing them is discrediting, it pretty much discredits 90% of the religion-bashing comments on this blog. I’m encouraged by your admission. Just saying.

    Save for PZ’s inflated ego and self-indulging words, it was a good speech.

  154. #154 oriole
    May 14, 2009

    Could we have more comments from that witless buffoon Bob Evans? I could use another good laugh. Is it possible he’s set some sort of record among Pharyngula commenters for the most grammar, spelling and syntax errors in a comment? Of course, what made it really funny was that he was trying to dress down PZ (who did not make any mistakes with it’s/its by the way) and trying to use high-flown language that he obviously does not understand.

    More nitwit comments, Bob! And try to be even more idiotic next time, although you’ve set yourself quite a high bar.

  155. #155 chewy
    May 14, 2009

    It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday, Dr. Myers. I didn’t make it to your speech because I was stuck in lab and am very glad that you posted it. GREAT SPEECH! I wish I had heard it live. Heck, I wish we hadn’t asked you to speak at commencement this year, but instead in a few years when I get to walk. I’m selfish like that. :P

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but Bob Evans, you are an idiot. Enough said.

  156. #156 oriole
    May 14, 2009

    From Robert: “Given that I am one of the few here who is not a member of the cult of AssProf PZ, I am also one of the few capable of giving an honest assessment of the speech”

    Robert, if you want to masturbate, why don’t you do it alone, in front of your mirror, staring at your beloved self? No one else is interested in watching. At least Bob Evans provides entertainment value; you’re just a pompous, self-important ass.

  157. #157 Sven DiMilo
    May 14, 2009

    “AssProf” is also stupid in that it fails to capture the crucial distinction between Assistant Professor (untenured) and Associate Professor (usually tenured).

    As for PZ’s ego, there’s nothing new about that observation. You do not build and maintain a blog this big and successful without one. It gives me a little eye-roll when it pokes out, but that’s not very often.

  158. #158 Michael W Simpson
    May 14, 2009

    When I saw AssProf, I just assumed that PZ was a colorectal surgery attending at University of Minnesota Medical center in Duluth. I guess I misread it. I’m such an idiot.

  159. #159 Celtic_Evolution
    May 14, 2009

    You might as well expect a skunk to squirt Chanel and shit rubies.

    I HAD a skunk like this once. I killed it hoping to get my hands on all the rubies. Apparently didn’t learn much of a lesson from my poor, poor golden goose.

    Oh well. He still smelled pretty.

  160. #160 Nikhil Chopra
    May 14, 2009

    That was a very nice speech and I am glad that that you came to USC for commencement and since being there last year as well, I loved the way you started the speech

  161. #161 Michele
    May 14, 2009

    A King Torta? From King Taco? mmmmm

  162. #162 ventana
    May 14, 2009

    Some think I perhaps take a little bit too much pleasure in not just slaughtering, but the long, slow, brutal vivisection of the sacred

    Agggh! Straw EVERYWHERE!

  163. #163 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2009

    Agggh! Straw EVERYWHERE!

    Exactly how so?

  164. #164 BAllanJ
    May 14, 2009

    “So are there any private intellectuals out there?”

    Yup….Me.

    Drat, now I’ve gone public with that I guess I’m not anymore.

  165. #165 AJ Milne
    May 14, 2009

    So are there any private intellectuals out there?

    Mind your own business.

  166. #166 BeccaTheCyborg
    May 14, 2009

    That was beautiful, PZ. Very moving.

    I am reminded of how much my graduation sucked. Everybody but me got sunburned as we roasted in the noonday sun while a priest droned on.

  167. #167 JBlilie
    May 14, 2009

    Robin @60

    Even though I’m just an elementary school teacher

    Bill @ 85

    There is no such thing as “just” an elementary school teacher or “just” a teacher of any kind. Teachers get such short shrift in our society and they are in fact so crucial to its success. Real teachers are rare and wonderful people. Please don’t ever think or speak of yourself as “just” an elementary school teacher! In life, as in so many other things, momentum can be of supreme importance and your contribution to a child’s life at such a critical point may be the factor that opens him or her up to a whole universe of possibilities

    I agree with you Bill. Great teachers change lives. Almost everyone has at least one in their life. I haven?t taken any classes from PZ; but I?d bet he?s one of those teachers.

    PZ: Very nice speech. I sent the link all over for others? appreciation.

  168. #168 la tricoteuse
    May 14, 2009

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand why acknowledging one’s own excellence is considered a negative thing by some people.

    I’ve always felt quite the opposite.

    If you excel at something, and fail to acknowledge it, you’re either completely oblivious to your own greatness, or you’re employing false modesty, and I don’t consider either of those to be a virtue. False modesty, in particular, I find extremely distasteful.

    There’s no reason not to be proud of your intellect, or talent, or achievements, if they’re formidable, and within reason, of course.

    (This is mostly in response to the criticisms of PZ calling himself an intellectual, accusations of arrogance and ego, etc, but I’ve seen and been perplexed by this attitude elsewhere.)

  169. #169 Raynfala
    May 14, 2009
    The cake is a lie

    No, no! The cake is deliciously moist!

    Grief counseling and cake will be available at the end of the thread.

  170. #170 la tricoteuse
    May 14, 2009

    Will there be icing?

  171. #171 'Tis Himself
    May 14, 2009

    You are annoyed that PZ Meyers speech didn’t end with a god bless you?

    Did somebody sneeze at the end of the speech?

  172. #172 octopod
    May 14, 2009

    You should’ve met with Don Prothero while you were there! :)

    I like the speech. You should’ve stuck around for our performance of “Galileo” next weekend at Caltech; it’s not performed very often these days.

  173. #173 Randy Owens
    May 14, 2009

    So are there any private intellectuals out there?

    Private Intellectual, reporting for duty, SIR!!!

  174. #174 Seabhag
    May 14, 2009

    PZ, thanks for sharing that with us. I walk the line tomorrow to receive my M.S. in Chemistry and I know that we’ll more than likely get some platatudes about god and country or some other rubbish like that. I’ve copied your speech to my phone where I can read it again if my worst fears about the speaker come true.

  175. #175 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 14, 2009

    GODDAMMIT (so to speak) PZ!!! Why couldn’t you have been the one to give the speech in 2005 when I graduated???

    I couldn’t tell you who addressed us at the ceremony. But I can tell you we ate a ton of seafood at a Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park afterwards.

  176. #176 Nessa
    May 14, 2009

    I get my MD in 6 weeks! I want a speech from you now :P Except that none of my classmates would understand it.

  177. #177 Allen
    May 14, 2009

    Here is an excerpt from Ben Stein’s speech, gained through psychic powers:

    “And teh lawd done comed down and smoted thuh evil darweenies with his mighty rath!!11!!
    Come see mah moovie, it’s the best movie ever made!!11!!”

  178. #178 fly44d
    May 14, 2009

    PZ: Excellent, thank you for sharing!
    My daughter at SJSU is a reader of yours and will probably run across this and give it a read. Even though she is an artist, she will have her own ways to communicate, be critical, offensive and to create more like her. I see she is already working on her peers, I look forward to her being set loose onto the world in a few years with the thinking that you and others have shown her.
    Thanks!

  179. #179 Ciaphas
    May 14, 2009

    And what’s more, I want you all to think very loudly, so the rest of us can hear.

    That’s a terrific closing line, very inspirational. So inspirational that I won’t make any rude remarks about the University of Spoiled Children. It would be immature and inappropriate.

  180. #180 JeffS
    May 15, 2009

    @179

    Couldn’t resist, could you?

  181. #181 africangenesis
    May 15, 2009

    PZ,

    An entertaining and thoughtful job that honored the occassion, and didn’t bore them too long. Do you think the students expected something a little less appropriate, or was this about right?

  182. #182 Aubrey
    May 15, 2009

    Very good speech. All of it needs to be said. Often.

  183. #183 Anonymous
    May 15, 2009

    “And together we can bring back civility back to our social and cultural discussions.” from Carrie Prejean’s speech at the Trump/Prejean press conference.

    It seems that PZ is railing against the above type of thinking. Any change that has mattered and been made in American has been made by those who speak up loudly.

  184. #184 Crystal
    May 15, 2009

    hey pz- i’m that girl you met when jordan brought you to the lab to show you around- i’m a 3rd year phd student and jordan’s labmate. it was fantastic to have met you (even if briefly). i just wanted to tell you that i thought yours was the best commencenemt speech i have ever heard. it was funny, concise, pointed, controversial and warm. i’m glad you chose to incorporate your political views and to do so unabashedly. you inspired me beyond words. thank you- and come back to usc ANY TIME!

  185. #185 Dr. Dredd
    May 15, 2009

    Awesome! I wish we’d had someone as inspiring at my med school graduation.

    Tercel, are you at the U of R? So am I. :-)

  186. #186 Richard S. Russell
    May 16, 2009

    “Here’s another one you may take for granted, but I assure you, much of the world outside your circle of nerds does not: Criticize.”

    Reminds me of my all-time favorite graffito. It was near the end of the Vietnam War era, and I had just moved to Madison, Wisconsin. On a billboard across from the Med School, someone had spray-painted the time-honored “Question Authority!”. Right underneath it, someone else had added “Why should I?”.

    Bertrand Russell would have been so proud.

  187. #187 Eric
    May 18, 2009

    Hey all, it was my pleasure to introduce Dr. Myers here at USC. I have posted the video on Viddler and Youtube. I hope you all enjoy it.

    http://www.viddler.com/explore/medred33/videos/1/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKGVWtA44E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVOmgbh7hoU

  188. #188 SC, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Thanks for posting the links, Eric!

    Really good talk, PZ! Sounds like they liked it, too.

  189. #189 SC, OM
    May 18, 2009

    “I think all religions are foolish tosh…” – don’t hear that often enough in graduation speeches, that’s for sure.

  190. #190 SC, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Er…I somehow missed this post entirely, and just noted that you put the text there, too, and how many comments followed.

    Never mind.

    :Z

  191. #191 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Thus spake SC,OM:

    Sounds like they liked it, too.

    Yep, that sounded like the beginning of some pretty enthusiastic applause at the end, alright.

    And Eric, thanks for posting the vids.

  192. #192 Eric
    May 18, 2009

    Hey thanks a lot! Sorry about the quality! I just thought it would be great to hear him deliver it instead of just reading.

    He got some great applause at the end. In addition to my duties as Prez, I am on the Med school’s executive committee, and boy did I have do some serious vouching to allow him to speak. It was worth it though!

    People generally loved it, but I did meet some folks who abhorred the entire thing, especially the religious comments. My response was simply,”Then you listened! Great! Continue to be critical as long as you can provide evidence for your stance.”

    All the young scientists like myself (who lurk here but have never commented before) knew who he was, but all the old admins and the deans had no clue who PZ was. I am proud to have introduced him to them!