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Aug 31 2011

Darn it, don’t tell me this

I have decided not to ever debate creationists any more. What settled it for me was the awful Jerry Bergman debate: I was deeply embarrassed to be sharing the stage with that raving fruitcake. It was clear that it was not an opportunity for rational discussion, and further, talking with members of the creationist majority afterwards, they were unanimous in their assessment that a) Bergman was an idiot whose clock got thoroughly cleaned, but b) so what? If FavoriteCreationist X had been there, he woulda showed me that evilution was false.

I felt like I was totally wasting my time and doing nothing but boosting Bergman’s reputation. And I decided on the spot that Gould and Dawkins were 100% correct, and debating was a fool’s errand.

But then, dammit, an ex-creationist explains what brought him over to the side of reason: watching debates.

So that’s why I say that we should debate creationists. I think that the majority of creationists simply were like me, uneducated about what evolution really is, blinded by fundamentalist religion that sees evolution as evil and ill-served by a public school system where biology teachers are afraid to teach evolution or don’t even accept it themselves.

Aaarrgh. I will not change my policy on the basis of this one account.

Maybe we should have a debate about whether to have debates…

(Also on Sb)

153 comments

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  1. 1
    Glen Davidson

    But he didn’t move over to science due to watching debates. He took a course:

    That changed when I came to college. The first year was normal, focusing on a number of classes, deciding whether my major was right for me. And then in the first session of summer classes I took a course on dinosaurs. I’d had a fascination with them as a child, as many do, and being intellectually curious I decided to take the class, even though it didn’t “count” as a relevant credit towards my degree audit. As a precursor to learning anything about dinosaurs we had several background lectures, including one that covered the four main points of Darwinian evolution.

    And I was stunned. It was so simple, it made so much sense. It made no claims, for or against, the existence of God as I always was told that it did. It was self-evidently true. Even though I didn’t understand much about it at the time, I accepted the basic idea of evolution and in the nearly five years since have continued to educate myself about the topic I never got to learn about in high school biology.

    Somehow he decides from this that debates are a good thing.

    Look, I think that some very good debaters might do well to debate creationists. But I doubt that even those few won’t do very much good, because it’s too much like watching a fight or some such thing, where people are rooting for “their guy.”

    And “debate” on the web is useful, or at least I think most of us believe that it is. That’s because we have very good evidence and arguments, and there’s always more available on the web. That’s as close as we can get to a class without having a class, and an intellectually curious creationist is able to learn on the web.

    Glen Davidson

  2. 2
    Bryan

    Better to light a candle than curse the darkness, PZ.

  3. 3
    Sastra

    I think debates are a good idea as long as the possible net gain is higher than the probable net loss. If you’ve already got an audience which is strongly predisposed to disagree with you then you’re actually in the stronger position compared to your opponent: you’ve nowhere to go but up.

    Think about it. The minister who deliberately packs the lecture hall with ignorant parishioners who will side with him is an idiot on two fronts. First, his argument is weaker; reality is not on his side and that can only hurt. But second, any movement in his audience’s viewpoint is going to have to be against their/his original position. He’s got nowhere to go but down.

    Because religion and pseudoscience (but I repeat myself) can’t compete intellectually in a fair fight, they put themselves into danger every time they think they can mimic a fair fight and “win.” Not if they stick to topic they can’t.

  4. 4
    Christopher

    I’ve been in a broadcasted “debate,” more like aneurysm, trying to show reason to a creationist. This is video one of many that was put up on YouTube about how awful this creationist and his ability to think were:

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

    The real call lasted for over twelve hours, with each side having people come and leave the Skype call. We, at the end, just decided to say neither side was quitting and we could end the call.

    The video where he jumps on the female geologist with sexist remarks is even worse…

  5. 5
    uzi

    I don’t see what a debate offers that a link to
    the catalog of “Why We Laugh At Creationists”
    videos doesn’t.

  6. 6
    Brian

    An anecdote isn’t data. I still think creationist debates are, in the final tally, an utter waste of everyone’s time.

  7. 7
    Random

    And if I never had a hernia back in ’06 I would never have met my lovely wife.

    This does not justify hernias.

    There’s only one side who continually want a debate….the creationist side. Doesn’t matter whether they win a debate or lose…they aren’t even keeping score. All they care about is being on the same platform.

    F*ck them.

    The reality based community gains nothing from these debates. By all means get the information out there and educate the public about reality but lets put these useless debates to bed.

  8. 8
    cervantes

    You won’t convert the true believers with facts and reason, obviously — they are committed to thinking backwards, from a priori belief to selection and organization of evidence. However, if there is anybody in the audience who happens to be bi-curious, shall we say, you might win them over. I think it’s good to debate them with appropriate preparation, awareness of the likely tricks and traps, and firm ground rules and moderation. A) It shows you aren’t afraid and B) it establishes for all to see the contrasting approaches to truth. Let they who have eyes, see.

  9. 9
    zyxek

    The whole question of whether or not to debate creationists always reminds of a story I once heard 30-ish philosophy professor. He was a a jui jitsu enthusiast, and trained at one point with a very noted expert in Hawaii. One day, their class was interrupted by as blowhard from Alabama, who travelled to Hawaii specifically to challenge the instructor. The instructor did not want to waste his time with the man, so he informed him that he would only spar with him if he could first defeat the most junior student there. The Alabaman got his ass handed to him by the student in a matter of minutes, so the instructor dismissed the challenger, and they got on with their day.

    I don’t think that is makes a lot of sense for Dawkins, or anyone with a PhD, really, to have to debate someone who denies the basis of their field of expertise. That’s relatively uncontroversial here, I think.

    But that doesn’t mean that these motherfuckers should get the false feeling of vindication that comes with not being debated at all. If they try to rope someone like you in, PZ, maybe you should send an undergraduate biology major, or one of your commenters, or an articulate high school student even.

  10. 10
    Celtic_Evolution

    Maybe we should have a debate about whether to have debates…

    Well, assuming neither of the parties involved in the debate is a lying, ignorant goob with a mind impenetrable to reason and rational dialog, then sure… I think such a debate would be just fine.

  11. 11
    Sastra

    I think that sometimes the most important thing the scientist/atheist can do in a debate is just be there. Be there as a normal, reasonable person calmly putting forth an argument against God or creationism as if the issue is what matters — as if it’s possible to think about it and come to a conclusion that differs from the self-evident obvious common sense assumption the audience has accepted since toddlerhood. It will hit some of them like a brick: hey, you can do that.

  12. 12
    Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM

    Better to light a candle than curse the darkness, PZ.

    What do you think that blogs like this, books like Your Inner Fish and Why Evolution Is True and the teaching and research careers are? There are other means to teach without dealing with debates.

    PZ has light up quite a few candles.

  13. 13
    blindrobin

    With debates as with real estate location is everything. Though with creationists it is ALWAYS a case of playing chess with pigeons, or backgammon with ferrets. There is no win as each participant is debating something entirely different.

  14. 14
    cheryl

    I don’t think there’s much to be gained by debating with creationists. Certainly not the ‘Earth is 6,000 years old’ variety. Even pointing out that for them to be right, pretty much everything we know about the earth through science would have to be wrong, and how ridiculous that sounds, doesn’t work.

  15. 15
    Kelci

    I think anytime there’s a debate where one person is trying to give a reasoned, truthful answer and the other is flat-out lying through his teeth with soundbites and pithy little slogans (like “where are the crocoducks?”) that debate is pointless.

    Unless BOTH sides agree to only state what are provable facts and to concede when his facts are proved to be false, the listeners who came in with their ideas already set on the wrong side will nod in agreement with the liars no matter how much truth you throw at them. What I think works better is to just educate those who are ignorant of the truth without a delusional person screaming complete crap in their other ear at the same time. You need to challenge their beliefs without giving them an opportunity to hide in the words of the person at the other podium.

  16. 16
    etcetera

    I think that in order for debates to succeed, we have to change the nature of what a debate is. Let’s have a moderated discussion where the moderator is competent and not just some chaplain. Cut the speakers off after one point and allow the other side to respond. Don’t allow speakers to deviate from the topic. In short, don’t put up with bullshit. Otherwise a debate, whether it follows proper format or not, becomes a circus.

  17. 17
    Scott

    One of the problems with two debates that I’ve seen online, one with Laurence Krauss and one with Sam Harris, both against William Lane Craig, is that often the debates use as their topic a question that is worded favorably towards the creationists/religious. Harris’s debate was about the source of morality; Krauss’s was “Is There Evidence for God?” Both debate topics favor the religionists. The debates need to have neutral topics.

  18. 18
    Rey Fox

    Maybe we should have a debate about whether to have debates…

    That’s debatable.

    An anecdote isn’t data.

    You can’t spell anecdote without data.

  19. 19
    Adam

    Hey PZ
    I wouldn’t have called myself a creationist, but I was a christian and was, for the most part, against evolution. It was listening to Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Ken Miller and you obliterating the likes of Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, William DUMB-ski, and Michael Behe in debates that slapped the stupid out of me.

    So I say debate the creationists, but choose your venue carefully!

  20. 20
    Glen Davidson

    I forget which creationist it was who PZ blogged about a while back, but that guy actually had written on his site that he wasn’t going to get into the evidence because people are so often persuaded to evolution by it.

    Those of us who deal with these idiots on the web I think too often forget how afraid of evidence they actually are. In that sense the linked guy is right.

    But one has to actually deal with the evidence with at least some semblance of intellectually honesty, and not with some yammering anti-science propagandist throwing specious objections every two words or so. That’s why creationists like oral debates, and have concerns on the web–because on the web they can’t prevent the evidence from being presented.

    Why do creationists absolutely loathe Talkorigins, and love oral debates? It’s obvious, at Talkorigins the hated evidence is presented persuasively (it varies, yes, some pieces are more mind-numbing than enlightening, but others are quite good), while denials and bullshit often dominate oral debates.

    Debating the evidence is good in the right forum. And that forum is mostly the internet, not oral debates where propagandists rely on soundbites and rhetoric in order to avoid the weight of the evidence.

    Glen Davidson

  21. 21
    Anthony K

    Be there as a normal, reasonable person calmly putting forth an argument against God or creationism as if the issue is what matters

    [Jotting in notebook:] “Wear…pants…made…from…non-human…materials.” Got it! Thanks, Sastra.

  22. 22
    Quarters

    I’m a volunteer tour guide at the American Museum of Natural History. With only one exception, every time someone has questioned evolution on a tour it has been because they sincerely wanted to understand why evolution was true and creationism wrong. PZ’s a better man than me for stepping up and debating the lunatics, but I think there might be something to what the ex-creationist is saying.

  23. 23
    Emily

    I emphatically agree with comment #7.

    To add to that, I firmly believe that it legitimizes a ridiculous and untenable position when it is given equal footing in a formal debate.

    At modern hospitals, no one debates the value of bloodletting as a prophylactic against disease. It’s a waste of time and resources to formally discuss that which is already obvious.

  24. 24
    bezukov

    PZ,

    As someone who was once religious I can tell you that it was watching people like yourself and Christopher Hitchens debate creationists that finally forced me to admit the truth to myself. Folks who are so diluted as to think that Bergman was more convincing than you will never allow their minds to be changed, and I’m sure it can feel like you’re beating you’re head against the wall. Nonetheless, you never know how many intellectually honest people there really are in the room that are looking for answers and explanations that make sense. Many people are waiting to have their mind freed by reason, I know I was. If freethinkers cede that ground to creationists, people will lose another way out of religious quandary.

  25. 25
    kome

    Debate creationists – risk giving them credibility because legitimate scientists are taking time out of their life to waste addressing these morons, so obviously *rolls eyes* there must be something to it.
    Don’t debate creationists – they will proudly tout that no one in the mainstream scientific community will debate them because they’re scared.

    Debate creationists – get information out and some will listen. It may not be drastic, it may not be tons of people, but it’s better than nothing since this issue (sadly) isn’t going anyway anytime soon.
    Don’t debate creationists – can spend more time studying, doing research, and focusing on lesson plans for your students so you can teach legitimate science without the nonsense.

    Personally, I’m in favor of encouraging debates because that seems to be the venue most people in the general public pay attention to. Certainly no scientific topic is meant to be boiled down to a 15 minute summary, a 10 minute rebuttal, and 5 or 10 minutes for a Q&A session. And, from my perspective, I truly appreciate every debate I’ve ever watched whether it was yours, Shermer’s, Dawkins’s, and so on. I do end up learning a little more each time from you scientists (because science is always learning new stuff!) even if I learn nothing new from anti-science charlatans like creationists (because their arguments are stale and never updated).

  26. 26
    Justin

    I think debates have value in that you never know whose mind you are changing. At the very least you can’t let the narrative of religious nuts to go unopposed.

  27. 27
    imnotherbert

    Debates are a good thing. I was not won over by debates per se, but watching or listening to debates clued me to a particular pattern in creationists – they always used the same arguments, even if those arguments had been debunked before. I also heard many on the side of evolution saying the same thing – “You know, we dispelled that particular myth years ago, why do you still use it?”

    Now, I read Ann Coulter’s latest column and grit my teeth, because she does the same thing, and she claims evolutionists wont debate her. And she is correct, but her fans don’t know that the reason evolutionists won’t debate her is that she is a clueless twit, not because they are scared of her arguments. So, I think someone *should* debate her. Not on the internet or in a backroom at a rented hall somewhere, but right there on Fox news. Set up a prime time special. Make it a big deal. Start out by saying you are not there for her, but for the sake of the public that she misleads. Repeatedly point out the fact that every single argument she makes was debunked long before she ever wrote her book in the first place. End by suggesting a few good books on the subject.

    When Ann is given the floor unchallenged, she is forceful, charming, and witty. When she is challenged in the least little bit, she stammers, stumbles, and gets overly defensive.

    I think someone should take advantage of that. :)

  28. 28
    Carlie

    Debates don’t make much sense, period, for any topic.

    Deciding one’s views on a topic requires an in-depth exploration of the support behind each side and their replies to points of the other side. Debates simply reward those who are the best public speakers, “best” being a relative term that just means looking confident enough that people buy into whatever you’re saying. Even if someone changes their mind because of a debate, they’ve probably done it for the wrong reason.

  29. 29
    darkstar

    The present debate format is what I think is largely the problem. I much prefer panel discussions and they need to be longer, 2 hours is simply not sufficient time. Maybe need a recurring series (1 every few months?)

    The primary facts & points should be stated up front so the participants can research each others specific positions and have detailed responses.

    And I would propose something of a fact-checking side-panel.

    And we need people who are experts in History, Physics, Cosmology, Biology, Neurology, Philosophy, etc.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that people do NEED to see well-educated, intelligent, knowledgeable people representing science. But not in a silly debate format – in real, hard hitting, in-depth discussions.

    And don’t bring in the sophists like WLC’s or D’souza’s who want to argue abstract nonsense while giving the old “we really mean the Christian god” – wink-wink.

    Surely there are honest theologians out there who can simply speak to what religions actually say and people actually believe about them. And perhaps more importantly, speak openly and honestly as to why they actually believe these things.

    I wonder if a TV show like “The Doctors” would work? “The Scientists” A bunch of imminent scholars & scientists sitting around answering real questions… Dream Job!

  30. 30
    chigau (違う)

    Someone on another thread suggested a debate amongst a variety of creationists and IDers.
    I like this idea.
    It would really be about them tearing each other apart but it would be presented as an opportunity for them to gang up on an “Darwinist” or two.
    We could use PZ as bait ;)

  31. 31
    Anthony K

    Folks who are so diluted as to think that Bergman was more convincing than you will never allow their minds to be changed

    But even among these one can precipitate change.

  32. 32
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Brownian:

    But even among these one can precipitate change.

    Groan.

    (That is, of course, the only proper response to a pun. Even a funny one.)

  33. 33
    ManOutOfTime

    Debates are stupid, in the way that boxing (which I love) is stupid. It’s just sport. I agree wholeheartedly with the commenters here that blogs, YouTube, and plain old books and movies are much more consciousness-raising and frankly do a better job of making creationist/ID arguments and knocking them down. Bergman and these other buffoons can’t articulate their own arguments coherently; few people could if they were similarly required to dissemble and hold onto each point even as it is refuted by the reality-based opponent.

    Dawkins is a rare treasure. Is there a figure to compare on the creationist/ID side? Someone who articulates the opposition’s arguments with care – and sympathy! – and counters with laser focus? No, and the reason why is obvious: Bergman and these guys make their living spreading BS; your typical rational, balanced Xtian – say, my childhood parish priest – would never be at the other podium. Only charlatans and know-nothings will stand up for the lie. So, yeah, don’t feed the trolls.

  34. 34
    rabbitscribe

    #16 etcetera:

    That’s freaking flawless, and I bet you can’t guess why. We’ve had a number of such debates, actually. They’re called “cross examinations in a court of law,” and the competent moderator is called a “judge.” In one notable debate, Kitzmiller Vs. Dover, the first few creationists to try to make their case got stuffed so thoroughly that the remainder decided not to even try and went back to their careers of preaching to the choir. And it was for exactly the reasons you suggest: the debaters have to answer direct questions without deviating from the point. If they start dodging, they’re told gruffly to simply answer the question put before them, and if they keep dodging, the moderator just sort of decrees that they’ve conceded the point and the debate moves along. Needless to say, our record in such debates is pretty impressive.

  35. 35
    Randomfactor

    You can’t spell anecdote without data

    You can’t spell it WITH data. Too many a’s. Anecdotal, yes.

    Reminds me of a word puzzle I ran across the other day: If you rearrange the letters in “Tea Party Republicans,” and add just a few more letters, it spells: “Shut the fuck up you pathetic, free-loading, progress-blocking, benefit-grabbing, obstructionist, out-of-the-closet-racist, resource-sucking, anti-tax, homophobic, violent hypocrites and mindless non-compromising unrealistic fools, and deal with the fact that you nearly wrecked the country under Bush and that our president is black, so get over it.”

  36. 36
    funkyderek

    I debated Bergman online some years ago so I share your sense of exasperation. He’s not a challenging opponent in that his knowledge of the subject is incredibly poor (even for a creationist) and he’s apparently incapable of sustained rational argument.
    As someone above pointed out, online debates are better because you can more easily pick apart false arguments and provide supporting links. An oral debate allows your opponent to spring some new information on you and demand that you reply. Your failure to know the exact evolutionary mechanism for some obscure animal’s organs will be claimed as a victory for the creationist. A suitably educated audience will see through tricks like this but people who have less experience in formal debates and logical argument may not.

  37. 37
    Randomfactor

    Folks who are so diluted as to think

    Homeopathic stupidity.

  38. 38
    Roy

    PZ,

    I am a former fundamentalist & creationist, now an atheist, who was aided in my enlightenment by debates (not any with you that I can remember) back in the 80s. I also have followed you among others since the usenet days. I’m not sure if I would have come around without the debates, but I am sure that they helped me.

    Perhaps the payoff is too low to make debating creationists worth the trouble, but there is a payoff.

  39. 39
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    31 Brownian :D (I am a cretin who appreciates the quick thinking of punsters!)

    PZ, hear hear! I used to believe debating fundamentalists of any ideology was useful. Not any more. Your point about it only raising their own status is exactly spot on. This is why creationists are always looking for a debate (and with the most prestigious scientists they can rope in); this is why they are so slyly trying to weasel their way into science curricula – they want the legitimacy!

    Why should any genuine scientist play along with that? It actually helps them to undermine science!

    I agree with everyone who posted that keeping the truth about creationism available and not only available but readily available – internet, blogs, public lectures, pamphlets on street corners, mentoring programs in schools – in fact, everything we can possibly think of to beat back that ravening horde or ID/creationist/theocrats. It is all of a piece and one is very much linked with the others.

    Loved zyxec’s post about the jui jitsu master. That is a policy I think you and other high profile scientists would do well to adopt. That might be a “polite” compromise which can silence (or at least mute) much of the outcry on both sides. Creationists get to have their debates with knowledgable proponents of science (never high profile scientists – simply knowledgable people like high school science students with a proper science education or even university students or possibly junior lecturers who would like a little debating and lecture practice). “Our” side can rest easy knowing that all avenues have been covered, and in a polite way (for the tone crowd) and “their” side can have no objection since they get what they claim to want. Obviously, they do not get what they actually want (which is to lure a big name scientist out to legitimize their own sorry positions as worthy of debate and perhaps to bask in the reflected glow of actual scientific achievement), but they could hardly complain about it without revealing their true motives!

  40. 40
    The Lorax

    Debates are, like so many other things, a tool. It’s not the hammers fault if it strikes your thumb. Oftentimes, it’s not even yours; it’s just a mistake. However, it’s there and it can be used for good.

    Debates can be and have been used to educate masses of people. They do have merit. Of course, even the most perfectly formed assembly of willing minds and eager teachers can fail catastrophically if, say, someone didn’t account for the fact that the auditorium was on fire.

    So that’s it really; just be careful about where and when and how. Close up all the loose ends and you’ll be fine. Bad debates often have bad moderators, lax guidelines, et cetera. But these are problems that can be fixed.

    Of course, not everyone is going to like the debate format; personal preference will enter in. As long as effective education happens, I think the method is beside the point. One doesn’t need debates to learn; one needs information.

  41. 41
    dobbinriddle

    The current style of debate favors the kooks. The IDiot can cram several crazy statements into his 90 seconds; the evolution supporter can not respond sufficiently to all of those statements in the same amount of time.
    Debates impose unnatural limits on persuasive speech. The person with more to say should have more time to say it.

  42. 42
    truthspeaker

    I think the post PZ linked to and the much longer one that author linked to give good reasons why Michael Shermer or even Francis “Waterfalls are pretty therefore God” Collins should debate creationists. I don’t think PZ or Dawkins should waste their time.

  43. 43
    Cody Smart

    I think the answer is getting better at debating.

    Obviously, we are on science’s side, and the best minds are on ours. But what they have that we don’t is a very good debate network. Some creationist, like William Lane Craig, spend their entire lives working to be professional debaters. Undergrad, Master, and PhD in nothing that doesn’t improve rhetorical skill and apologist reasoning. On the other hand, our side has scientists. I prefer the scientists of course, but there might be something we can do in the long run to develop debating prowess without giving into fallacies and sinister wordplay.

  44. 44
    anthrosciguy

    Brady didn’t decide that formal debates of the sort PZ mentioned were the right thing; he’s talking about informal debates, online and face to face. And I agree that those are good, as well as formal written debates as is done in some forums. But Brady changed due to lectures, where the evidence was laid out to be examined in a way that just doesn’t happen easily in the kind of formal debate PZ was talking about. PZ just screwed up and conflated two types of debating, and gave a misleading intro to Brady’s post.

  45. 45
    Anthony K

    So, there are a few who’ve offered some ideas on how to debate effectively. Cody says to ‘get better’ at it, which is kind of nebulous*, but I think we can agree that Hitchens is probably the best in the way Cody suggests, and I think niftyatheist has a good idea with zyxek’s ju jitsu analogy: don’t have high-profile scientists at these things, have skilled and informed undergrads and juniors, so the clock-cleaning is that much more delicious, and the creationist doesn’t get to claim s/he debated Dawkins, the High Priest of Evolution, and won.

    But isn’t that what the Rational Response Squad aimed to do?

    *Not to be insulting. As I wrote, I don’t know what ‘It’ is either, other than noting Hitchens has ‘It’. He’s the atheist’s Clara Bow.

  46. 46
    Bronze Dog

    About the only circumstances that I think it’s worthwhile to have a classic verbal debate is when the rules are very clear, moderation is very strict, and the Creationist agrees to these conditions.

    In other words, almost never. Stick with written media that allows in-depth discussion of cited evidence.

  47. 47
    Glen Davidson

    PZ just screwed up and conflated two types of debating, and gave a misleading intro to Brady’s post.

    Brady conflated the two first, although PZ didn’t clarify the issue either. Brady wrote:

    There is a discussion going on right now in the science community about whether or not we should debate creationists: it is a debate within a debate, if you will. There are good arguments on both sides, but I have to think that we should debate creationists, and we should do it as often as we can stand it.

    Implicit in the “debate over debates” is that what is at issue are oral debates–almost no one truly opposes engaging creationists somewhere. Brady either doesn’t know that, or he ignores the distinction, and apparently is discussing the need to engage creationists at the end of his post.

    Glen Davidson

  48. 48
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Debates with these sporting type rules are too limited to allow for thorough debunking of propaganda, and too artificially balanced, thus giving more weight to bullshit than it deserves.

    I prefer the Matt Dillahunty style of argument. Put the burden of proof where it lies and don’t let them squirm to point 2 without gaining acceptance of point 1.

    I doubt the creationists would volunteer to go for a televised auditorium version of that kind of “debate” (though, to be fair, Ray Comfort did phone in to The Atheist Experience).

  49. 49
    evilDoug

    I have long regarded formal debate as a triumph of yappage over integrity, yappage over truth, yappage over evidence, yappage über alles.
    This fits the mindset of creationists like a banana fits a hand. If fits perfectly with lying liars like Ann Coulter. Pop over to today’s Dispatches and be reminded how well fits with with the odious Messrs. Donohue and Perkins.
    It fits science like a watermelon fits an earhole.

    In the days when there were few options, debate might have had some merit as a means of dissemination of information. It may still work that way for lazy people who are uninclined to read or wrestle with the horrible complexity of an Internet search engine.

    I think the “no debate” policy is the right one.

  50. 50
    Menyambal

    As I have said before, a debate is just a sermon with the devil in the other podium. The preacher person is going to be right at home.

    Science is done in a lab, or in the field. It is taught in a classroom, and sometimes discussed in conferences, but science is not done from a pulpit.

    Religion, as now done, is almost always a man preaching a sermon to an audience from a podium. A debate is a religious experience.

    If a guy wants to debate you, ask him to reciprocate by conducting a few lab experiments to prove Christianity.

  51. 51
    OverlappingMagisteria

    “…they were unanimous in their assessment that a) Bergman was an idiot whose clock got thoroughly cleaned…”

    “I felt like I was totally wasting my time and doing nothing but boosting Bergman’s reputation.”

    I don’t think Bergman’s reputation was boosted, and I don’t see why you thought it was either, as the contradictory statements above show. And remember that what we always say about arguments also applies to debates. You will likely never convince the True Believers. It’s the fence sitters that can be persuaded, and there will always be at least a few of them in each audience.

  52. 52
    Zinc Avenger

    It’s like wrestling a pig.

  53. 53
    reasonisbeauty

    Debating a creationist is somewhat like trying to clear a blocked sewer, it’s messy, smells bad and often feels like nothing is getting done. But the alternative is having the sewage spew freely from the backed up drains.

    Anything those of us who see the scientific method, reason, and evidence as the best way of understanding the world and the path to the world we want for our descendants can do to chip away at mythologies hold on the minds of our fellow humans does humanity good service, even when it feels like we are trying to batter down the walls of ignorance with our foreheads.

  54. 54
    cabbagesofdoom

    “Engage” with Creationists etc.? Yes. As an ex-Creationist myself, I would second the notion that not all Creationists are closed-minded. Many are just brainwashed. “Debate”? No.

    Debates are rarely about finding the truth. They are generally about scoring points and winning, often by any means necessary. A good debater will pride themselves in being able to “win” even if they do not support the notion for which they are arguing.

    Continue blogging. Answer questions when asked. Write a book. These are lights enough.

    Stand up and slug it out with someone who has no intention of conceding any points? Worse, stand up and slug it out in a situation where you feel that you cannot risk conceding any points? I think you stand to lose much more than you gain. Anyone in the audience who might be convinced is obviously open to truth and reason, and they will find it soon enough elsewhere – it’s not hard in the modern age. Engaging in a debate just gives the impression that evolution is up for debate. It simply isn’t. Would a physicist debate “Gravity” vs “Intelligent Falling”?

  55. 55
    Zmidponk

    The problem with debates, certainly ones like the Bergman debate, the way I see it, is that they aren’t really about finding the truth, or spreading truth, or even exposing bad ideas as being bad. They’re basically popularity contests for arguments and ideas instead of people. For example, if someone comes up with an idea or argument that is completely wrong, but manages to couch it in terms that appeal to the audience, and he’s debating with someone who has a correct, but unpopular idea or argument, they could very well win the debate. This, however, utterly fails to change which argument is correct and which is wrong. Combined with that, there is the fact that most, if not all, debates come with time constraints which can, for example, make it difficult, if not impossible, to answer multiple incorrect points made (such as by creationists employing the Gish Gallop). As such, I would say that, whilst debates did serve useful purposes in the past, they have been superseded by such things as blogs and websites for setting forth ideas and arguments, scientific or otherwise.

  56. 56
    coe4514

    I have to agree on not debating creationists. I was proud to read when you said you wouldn’t debate creationists. I think a debate should be over a topic that is debatable. It is clear beyond any point that creation as in Genesis is not what happened. You can debate whether god exists or not cause at least there is that tiny bit of a possibility it could be true. But obviously Genesis is a made up story beyond any doubt!

  57. 57
    Menyambal

    Never play the other guy’s game.

    Creationists want to debate–making outrageous and unsupported claims is how they make a living. Scientists have no burning yearning to debate–it isn’t their way of doing business.

    It is a sad fact that refusing to debate creationists gives them the chance to make the outrageous claim that scientists are afraid, but agreeing to debate them gives creationists the chance to make the unsupported claim that science and its findings are a matter of debate, and that creationism is being taken seriously by scientists.

  58. 58
    Anubis Bloodsin III

    Most debates with creationists are not really debates…they are more a brag to their peers that they and their dipshit brain fart of a delusion are being taken seriously enough to be in a real debate with a serious scientist,

    They are on a communal wanking fest with each other…they do not even attempt to answer any points raised.

    Cos by the time they get to the stage all breathless and sweaty in front of the chronically deluded of their cult they are already well into the short strokes and not in any mood for a ‘jeebus droolicus interuptous’ moment from a logical statement that blows their tom foolery to hades and back cos hades was closed for stock taking.

    They simply ignore it and restate a selection of oldie but tarnished moldy goldy creationist memes…of which we have all heard and debunked a thousand times before brekkers and before most of us were 10 years old….

    They are striving and straining for the money jerk, the one that would land them kudos and open slobbering awe from like dumb compatriot-cretins and land maybe funding to spread the smelly crud to the more rational areas in society…like selection committees…schools and government institutions to really just test the amendment paragraph relative to religion and secular activity.

    The debate with a respected scientist is the icing on the cake…xians just lurve’ ‘em some David and Goliath action…and the actual content is just not that important.
    It is the act of pretending gravitas to their fatuous argument…now’t else.

    Best plan…Point and laugh in their fucking faces…simples!
    No more respect…fuck ‘em!

  59. 59
    BobTMarley

    Personally, and without any evidence to back it up (which means I’m willing to change in light of evidence), I think that both debating and berating could work depending on the person. Not all creationists have the same degree of ignorance or stubbornness. If one is malleable and at least somewhat intellectual honest (as a former fundie raised in a closed, homogeneous environment I fall into this category) new information in the form of debates can change opinions. If one is unyielding, a jackhammer is the appropriate tool.

    Having said that, I know of no way to immediately distinguish between the two so the information is useless in my situations. I generally try reasonable debate, followed by snarky remarks if debate has failed. People with a history of willful ignorance (such as Coulter) deserve whatever bashing they receive, but that’s not my default position with individuals. With groups, it becomes more difficult, because there is some bias where grandstanding and personal attacks are viewed by the uninformed as valid “winning” tactics. In that case, I lean towards “hard” atheism.

    In other words, I have no problem with “soft” atheists as long as they are willing to recognize when it doesn’t work, nor do I have a problem with “hard” atheists, as long as they are willing to give each person at least a chance at rational debate. I think I fall more into the “hard” category, especially where large groups are concerned.

  60. 60
    unbound

    There are two aspects to education. Information has to be provided by some mechanism (usually a teacher), and the receiver has to be receptive to the information.

    You can’t do anything about the receivers that are closed off.

    But we should always provide what can be provided for the receivers that are actually open.

    The result may not be a substantial change at any given instance, but like raising children, if the message is provided over and over and over again, eventually they will pick up when they are ready.

    You just need to think of yourself as our evolution daddy PZ. It’s a thankless job, but a necessary one.

  61. 61
    cyberCMDR

    PZ, when I first read the basic question for this thread, I thought you might be putting the sissy in Sisyphus, tired of rolling the rock up the hill. After reading the “debate” among the Pharyngulites however, I can see it is more nuanced than that. Based on the recent thread on the AFA suing the California Science Center Foundation, it is obvious that their goal is to stay in the spotlight. No matter how things turn out, like Saddam Hussein they declare victory even after obvious losses. The IDiots that make up their audience lap it up, because they are not big on checking facts.

    How about this? Create a wiki site covering the arguments out there used over and over by the creationists, and let the scientific community (and Pharyngulites) populate the site with responses. Have the site keep growing as new data and arguments are added, and have some students keep it edited for coherency and fact checking. Once it has developed long enough, publish it in book form for those who want a permanent copy (and it should have downloadable pdfs). As new variations of the IDiot arguments arise, the site will be updated.

    With such a site, we could publicly dismantle the arguments of Coulter and the other fools out there, and they can’t say nobody took them on. It would be a one stop shopping place for anti-Creationist responses, and could be a fun project for the community.

  62. 62
    Matt

    Of course creationists might be swayed by debates – after all, they’ve already (by BEING creationists) demonstrated that they’re soft-headed enough to let a book of FAIRY TALES convince them that reality was a trick…

  63. 63
    Anubis Bloodsin III

    # 61 cyberCMDR

    ‘How about this? Create a wiki site covering the arguments out there used over and over by the creationists,’

    Already exists in part…’Talk origins’

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/

    The trick is getting idiots to read and check the facts stated without them or their peers claiming it is the devils whispers?

    Maybe it could be a annex to Pharygula…or maybe PZ is not so moved.
    But it is an excellent site with so much information about every vestige of creationist nonsense.

  64. 64
    keepscienceintexas

    A college education in science is what made me understand that evolution was the best explanation for the deversity of life but IT WAS THE DEBATES that made me stop making the argument that evolution and religion are compatible. So yes these debates are important.

  65. 65
    Shripathi Kamath

    There is a need for warriors and there is a need for diplomats, right? Likewise, there is a need to debate creationists.

    Richard Dawkins should never engage in such debates, he is awful. Sam Harris does a good job, Hitchens does a great job, and you do (did) an adequate job.

    But if it is not your cup of tea, then it isn’t worth it.

    I would make one suggestion, particularly because it goes to the heart of the matter.

    The creationist ploy is to have an idiot like Kirk Cameron debate an accomplished biologist like Dawkins. The ploy is not to win the debate, but to have the idiot ask such ridiculous questions that a Dawkins would come across as flustered, for he wants to maintain some decorum. And to somehow accord Kirk Cameron some credibility.

    What is needed is sustained and ruthless ridicule to the point where the debates are cancelled midstream.

    But without anger oozing in that. Simple, ruthless, long sessions of ridicule.

    No one does it better than Hitchens.

    It is however sorely needed.

  66. 66
    Marcus Ranum

    I think it is absolutely right to debate creationists. What sucks is the way that scientists generally do it – they play the creationist game by trying to be reasonable and nice and refute the creos bullshit. Scientists need to go in and say “listen, you have this theory that ‘goddidit’ and your evidence is entirely contained in a bronze-age book. don’t make silly nitpicks about evolution – you defend your theory and I’ll defend mine.” Then keep hammering on the point that “because you can tell some lies about evolution doesn’t make your theory any stronger. What’s your evidence? I’m not sitting here telling lies about the bible, don’t sit there and lie about evolution. Defend your theory!”

  67. 67
    Marcus Ranum

    “Don’t tell me about gaps in the fossil record! Tell me about your evidence!”

    We need to stay on-message, which is “you don’t get to sit at the grown-up table until you have a theory that is non-contradictory and backed with credible evidence that matches observable reality.” Oh, all you’ve got it a bronze-age book and some ‘feelings’? Why did you invite me to this ‘debate’?

  68. 68
    Jochem

    What convinced me back when I was a silly young clueless boy was Carl Zimmers book on evolution and Dennets ‘Darwins dangerous idea’. Subsequently talkorigins and similar sites aided also. I was convinced by the simple summing/stacking of evidence in logical order.

    I watched a few debates, but in those I felt the tendency was to nitpick small little things and there was generally a lack of a logical flow in the arguments, so I felt that was less helpfull.

    Also why does google give me adds to “the one true church”?
    Satire?

  69. 69
    Chris

    I was a Christian for twenty some and I can admit I would have hands down lost a debate in 30 seconds,looked like and felt like an idiot as well,because there simply is no logical intelligent argument for god and religion.
    I am of the opinion that you should debate Christians/creationists ONLY if they appear truly willing to ACTUALLY listen to what you have to say.A lot of them don’t give a hoot what you say or think,or about logic and reason.Their only goal is to trick you into making the slightest mistake and look stupid so they can say “see look at these ridiculous atheists,they can’t even argue their own position properly so by default I am right.On either side If your goal is to make someone look stupid instead of being kind and informative then it’s a waste of time.

  70. 70
    Aaron Brown

    zyxek wrote:

    If they try to rope someone like you in, PZ, maybe you should send an undergraduate biology major, or one of your commenters, or an articulate high school student even.

    More on this idea and the “to debate or not to debate” problem here.

  71. 71
    Kel

    I’ve been listening to a number of debates on the theism/atheism topic, and I’ve found my main gripe is the format. I like that the debates expose me to arguments and facts I hadn’t previously heard, but the format itself, I find, is just two people largely talking past each other. The point-counter structure doesn’t really help understand the positions better, and favours rhetoric over something solid.

    What I prefer is what Dawkins is championing where the two debaters have a discussion instead. It meant the two had to talk to each other, and points of contention weren’t about who could come up with the best rhetorical framing.

  72. 72
    Qwerty

    I always remember that some thought that Steven Douglas won the Douglas-Lincoln debates whenever the “should scientists debate creationists” debate comes up. We must remember that even if the creationist (or IDist or the anti-evolutionist) claims victory, we know it’s rather hollow on their part.

    That said, I think any high school debater could have bested Jerry Bergman. I think he addressed the topic (should ID be taught in our schools) for about five seconds of his time. Pathetic.

  73. 73
    vltava

    Maybe we should have a debate about whether to have debates…

    Along with a poll to determine the validity of polls, I imagine.

  74. 74
    ThorGoLucky

    Thank you for your efforts at educating the public and confronting such blather.

  75. 75
    BCskeptic

    I agree that some debates, depending on who is debating and how it goes, can be a complete waste of time. “Never argue with a fool…people might not be able to tell the difference.” kind of thing.

    However, PZ, I watched the “debate” you had with Bergman, and you thoroughly trounced him, not only in content, but in your whole approach, demeanor etc. You didn’t get sucked into some sort of shouting match, or “yes I did”, “no you didn’t” back and forth. You stayed calm and true to your grounding in science and truth.

    I’m not so sure it is a waste of time if *you’re* doing it. You never know who might see it, and who’s eyes might be opened, if they can see through their own religious/creationist brain-washing.

  76. 76
    BCskeptic

    @65:

    Yeah, I don’t know how Kirk Cameron can even live with his own idiocy. Maybe he’s one of those who believes that the reward in heaven increases for those who continue to believe in the face of ridicule and oppression or something. That’s own of those insidious memes the religionist like to plant in people’s minds.

    Perhaps Kirk will one day grab a brain, grow up, and look back on these days with extreme embarassement. Or, he might just continue to make a fool of himself for the “glory that awaits in heaven”.

  77. 77
    Patrick

    As an ex-creationist who ‘converted’ to atheism, I’ve seen debates from both sides of the fence. In all honesty, at no point has a debate between creationists and atheists caused me to adjust my views in the slightest. What did change my views? Simple answer – books, and a hunger for knowledge.

    When I watch debates now I just find them frustrating, generally the creationist side of the debate is severely lacking in the ability to debate, brought down even further by the fact that their side is WRONG. The one exception in my opinion is William Lane Craig, whilst he’s just as wrong as all the other creationists, I find he’s quite good at debating for his fundamentally flawed arguments.

    Anyway PZ, I think it’s a pointless endeavor, save your energy (maybe put it into writing so we can read more from you :P)

  78. 78
    Bruce Gorton

    One of the constant issues that comes up listening to post debate round-ups is the win-lose and who won and who lost.

    Generally creationists lose the debates – and you can tell they lose because generally what happens next is you get creationists saying it wouldn’t have been such a rout if X creationist debater did it instead.

    Occasionally you have the creationist winning – this happens most often with William Lane Craig who tends to win on formal scoring – but even there I think the debates aren’t good for the creationist side of the story.

    Because the thing is scientists aren’t just winning in the debating halls, but in the post discussion – particularly online when creationists try to use the arguments they found so compelling on the podium.

    With a whole world of obsessive geeks with expertise out there – the creationist arguments tend to end up backfiring. Lies made in subjects that you are unlikely to get called on because they aren’t in your opponents’ field of expertise end up being exposed online.

    Consider “Lord” Monckton as an example of this – he lies like he gets paid by the false word, and often gets by climate scientists doing it in fields that aren’t quite what that scientist studies. But then you have people on YouTube who do study those fields, or at least have an interest, having a field day exposing his bullshit.

    And consider that in terms of pop culture, the next big stars are coming not out of now irrelevant MTV (A channel which consists of neither music, nor TV) but YouTube. As much as it pains me to say it, but Justin Bieber is a harbinger of at least some good things.

    The Gish Gallop fails when there is enough time to tear an argument to shreds piece by piece, fallacies which take a lot of time to explain are explainable once the time restrictions are gone.

    Even when the creationists win the debates – they often lose in the analysis. And that is the thing about it – debate scores aren’t great ways to tell if an argument is actually good or not. Debate is sophistry – it is aimed at achieving victory than truth – BUT those sophist arguments are used outside the debating hall and are debunked there.

    Once you move beyond the debating hall it is the side that presented the most accurate argument that stands firmest, because their arguments can be quoted the most safely and effectively.

    In the long term successful debaters are as irrelevant as the names of successful scientists – its the arguments that matter and the scientific and atheist arguments are holding up better to long term scrutiny.

  79. 79
    Valhar2000

    Perhaps not all creationists are the same. I’ve watched some debates in which both the creationist debater and the creationist public behaved very well, as well as debates in which the debater was a loon and the audience was out for blood.

    An example of the good kind of debate was what happened when Metroplex Atheist’s Julio Rosario debated 1st Baptist Church Pastor Marty Atkins. In spite of my many misgivings, it went well: the pastor and the church-goers asked good, to-the-point questions and they let Julio explain himself fully. I don’t think anyone was converted, but knowledge was exchanged.

    Researching a particular person you are called to debate with, and wherever possible researching the venue it will be taking place in could indicate whether a debate may be worthwhile or just a waste of time.

  80. 80
    Jalyth

    Randomfactor @ 35 — I totally stole that and put it on my fb. I’ll credit you as random internet person, I guess.

    On debates: Can we get that atheist guy to do it? AA’s pres…forgot his name, too lazy to google. He is pretty good on Fox News, which as far as I can tell requires the same skill as a debate. As others have said, debating is a specific skill. It requires a willingness to talk over the other person and raise one’s voice, just a little.

  81. 81
    propater

    An interesting suggestion has been done here:

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/17f/let_them_debate_college_students/

    It avoids the problem of creationists raising their credentials by debating renowned scientists and sends the message that creationism is not on the same footing as correct science to the public.

    Another suggestion made there is to hold the debates in written form over the web (but I personnaly don’t think people will be thrilled by that kind of debate…)

  82. 82
    Zugswang

    I would agree that there isn’t a whole lot to be gained from debates, as there’s too much opportunity for one party to spread disinformation and confusion. There’s less chances for audience involvement, and at the end, it often boils down to a competition of which person won the debate, with less consideration given to the points that were made in said debate.

    There’s more to be gained through lectures and discussions. Even if it’s being given to an audience that is diametrically opposed to evolution, giving them more opportunity to ask their own questions (even if they’re just talking points handed to them) and have answers to those questions is much more valuable, because they’re already more engaged in the topic than they would be as a casual listener.

    The challenge is finding groups that don’t accept evolution that would also be willing to host such a discussion.

  83. 83
    darkstar

    Creationist boilerplate: “And then the emotional rhetoric about design will demonstrate the begging the question I’m about to do once I enumerate my false/unsubstantiated/contradictory to science premises” – repeat ad nauseum and then argue ad populum.

    le sigh

  84. 84
    octopod

    Well, hell, then why not train college students in rhetoric? Not only a basic education for all of them, but I’m sure there are some students who would be even happier learning to be expert “public faces of science” than actual scientists, and it’s certainly a useful thing to do…

  85. 85
    Reynold

    Looks like ol’ VD is stalking this site. Too bad he never effing posts…

  86. 86
    PZ Myers

    Who is Vox Day? He’s a recipient of wingnut welfare, a pretentious nobody who had a rich and rotten crook for a father and who writes cheesy fantasy novels in between penning cheesy political discourse.

    I’m not some bigshot in my field, but I can recognize an ambitious nobody with nothing to offer, so no, I won’t ever be debating that clown.

  87. 87
    theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme

    Looking at his site, he is likely to pull this one out of a hat anyway:

    And there was nothing more to discuss once he proposed using a material metric for the metaphysical.

    Errr… Voxie, do you propose to use a “metaphysical metric”? Please stop stalking and break cover for just a single comment to explain what that even means.

    I am in total awe as to what this might be.

  88. 88
    Laughing at pharyngurl

    Your are such a Puss P.Z. and an embarrassment to the free-thought community.

  89. 89
    SgtGideonsDad

    You were called out to face Vox Day
    and you didn’t…Now everyone on
    the internet knows that when
    challenged, you runaway.

  90. 90
    JD Curtis

    Special Request,

    Could at least one Pharygulan here please provide one, single, solitary scintilla of evidence that Vox Day is a Creationist?

    In the event that no such evidence can be produced, would it then be unfair to think of or refer to Day as a ‘Creationist’?

    Thanking you all in advance for your world renowned open-mindedness and inclusion,

    JD Curtis

  91. 91
    jb

    When any man goes ad hominem, and then refuses to debate . . .

    He has already lost, even if he might have won.

    Having experienced some 90 “professors” in ten years of schooling, I quickly learned to differentiate between those who tried to be scholars, and those who merely admired their own (and most often imagined) scholarship.

    Such imagined self-assurance retreating when challenged says much.

    No dog of mine in this hunt. But it is humorous.

  92. 92
    PZ Myers

    I take it that that loony nobody Theodore Beale has been whining about me again.

  93. 93
    evilDoug

    Just catching up on Jesus and Mo, and thought this one seems appropriate to this thread.

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/2011/08/17/edge2/

  94. 94
    Carlie

    Oh Teddy, you have to work your way up to PZ. Have you tried debating, um, anyone else first?

  95. 95
    Kyle

    PZ sputtered: “Who is Vox Day? He’s a recipient of wingnut welfare, a pretentious nobody who had a rich and rotten crook for a father and who writes cheesy fantasy novels in between penning cheesy political discourse.”

    Paul Zachary’s only response when called upon to do anything other than preach to his internet choir, is to throw out some poorly thought out insults.

    PZ is a fine specimen of nerd bullying at its weakest.

    Even more funny is his mentioning of “welfare” Unlike PZ’s position at a community college, I’m not aware of Vox Day making his livelihood from students’ tuition payments, not to mention from non-students being forced to pay taxes to the institution that employs him, under threat of losing their homes, at the barrel of a gun.

    PZ is an example of welfare for scientists who happen (or choose to be, even worse!) unproductive, unable to make a living from those who volunteer to pay him for his services.

    PZ Myers, thanks for the laughs!

  96. 96
    Patrick

    Even more funny is his mentioning of “welfare” Unlike PZ’s position at a community college, I’m not aware of Vox Day making his livelihood from students’ tuition payments, not to mention from non-students being forced to pay taxes to the institution that employs him, under threat of losing their homes, at the barrel of a gun.
    How exactly does having a job at a university equate to being on welfare? Maybe it’ cultural differences, but over here in Australia, we call that a ‘job’.

    If this ‘Vox Day’ character’s supporters are anything to go by, I’m not surprised PZ won’t debate him.

  97. 97
    Aquaria

    Paul Zachary’s only response when called upon to do anything other than preach to his internet choir, is to throw out some poorly thought out insults.

    1) That’s DOCTOR Myers to you, shit-for-brains.

    2) There’s no use debating with a clownshoe like VD (aptly named). He’s a dishonest, bigoted scumbag, and anyone who supports the dishonest, bigoted scumbag is likewise a dishonest, bigoted scumbag.

    Fuck off, moron. We don’t appreciate scum like you wasting our time with your lies and sniveling and bigotry.

  98. 98
    Aquaria

    Your are such a Puss P.Z. and an embarrassment to the free-thought community.

    And you’re so fucking brave, scumbag from the 101st Conservatard Keyboard Commandos?

    Fuck off.

  99. 99
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Asteroid 153298 Paulmyers

  100. 100
    Reynold

    To: JD Curtis at post 90:
    Special Request,

    Could at least one Pharygulan here please provide one, single, solitary scintilla of evidence that Vox Day is a Creationist?

    In the event that no such evidence can be produced, would it then be unfair to think of or refer to Day as a ‘Creationist’?

    Thanking you all in advance for your world renowned open-mindedness and inclusion,

    JD Curtis
    Ok. Easily done. His rantings sound like a typical ID creationist to me.

    The guy from the second link quotes Vox as saying:

    Whereas a scientist will declare that of course he does not believe there are multiple universes since it is only a hypothesis designed to counter the anthropic principle, the non-elite atheist whose only exposure to science is his science fiction novels will declare that of course they exist since Dr. X said so – this is the faith in science of which I spoke. The same holds true of evolution, the geological age of the Earth and many other untested scientific and pseudo-scientific hypotheses.

    Note especially that last sentence. Of course, JD will do what he did when the birth certificate was shown…dismiss what he saw. He still has the “where’s the birth certificate” link on his site! He’ll probably want Vox to say “I am a creationist” and will settle for nothing else, perhaps not even that.

    Oh by the way, JD…you may want to check out here for my answer to Day’s questions. Scroll up and you’ll see the copies of the first time I answered his questions which I bothered to post on Vox’s site.

    I posted my more detailed answers on that other site just in case your boyfriend Vox decides not to keep my comment (posted on 9/5/11 1:43 AM) at his post to me.

    Otherwise, all Vox and his friends have to do is to click on the link I provided and check it out.

  101. 101
    Reynold

    Ok, it’s getting off topic, but when it comes to “poorly thought out insults” Kyle at 95 said:

    Even more funny is his mentioning of “welfare” Unlike PZ’s position at a community college, I’m not aware of Vox Day making his livelihood from students’ tuition payments, not to mention from non-students being forced to pay taxes to the institution that employs him, under threat of losing their homes, at the barrel of a gun.

    Right…so all university professors then should just be tossed out in the street and to hell with them, their classes, and the research that they do, eh?

    Just try to think then…where would you get your medical doctors from then, if not from these institutions? You do know that they have to go through science classes for “pre-med” and then on to Med School which is also funded by tuition, etc, right?

    Fuck, did you even bother thinking before typing?

    PZ is an example of welfare for scientists who happen (or choose to be, even worse!) unproductive, unable to make a living from those who volunteer to pay him for his services.

    “Unproductive”? Oh? Care to have a gander at the man’s list of publications*? Then there is, of course, his teaching job! Oy. “unproductive” my ass. What a “poorly thought out insult”.

    So, “Kyle”. What the fuck do you do for a living?

    *stupid search engine places some from some “MA Myers” in there, but there’s still a lot of publications from PZ to get the point across.

  102. 102
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    It is absolutely pointless for a scientist to debate a creationist. Science recognizes empirical evidence as the only arbiter of truth, while creationists cannot be persuaded by evidence. If they could, they wouldn’t be creationists (or climate denialists or antivaxxers, [insert favorite anti-science idiocy here]).

    Scientists do science. Creationists play Calvinball for Jebus points. Reasoned debate is not possible when both sides play by different rules. The only proper response to creationists and other anti-science wingnuts is ridicule.

  103. 103
    darkstar

    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

    — Thomas Jefferson, Letter in Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, Volume 7 By Buffalo Historical Society, page 18

  104. 104
    JD Curtis

    Wow! This place is like Intellectual Pussy Heaven!

    Theres still not a shred of evidence that Day is a creationist, Myers is still utilizing the Sir Robin Method of Argumentation and Reynold is answering Day’s direct questions from a nondescript idiot box that no one will ever read and where he can’t be called out on for his evasiveness.

    Seems about par for the course to me.

  105. 105
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Theres still not a shred of evidence that Day is a creationist,

    Nope, Day is an IDiot, which Kitzmiller v. Dover said was the same as creationism fuckwitted fool. Still no evidence VD is anything other than like you, a fuckwitted, ignorant, and mouthy idjit. Try real scientific evidence, found at institutions of higher education world-wide, commonly called the peer reviewed scientific literature to back any statements by your hero that his theory is scientific, not religious…

  106. 106
    'Tis Himself

    Is JD Curtis still moaning about how nobody wants to debate his buddy, Pox Day? I notice Ol’ JD is following in his hero’s misogynist footsteps. JD doesn’t realize that calling PZ and the Pharyngula commentariat cowards and pussies is actually counterproductive. But when he doesn’t have a hand to play, then whining and insults are probably all he can muster.

  107. 107
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    Wow! This place is like Intellectual Pussy Heaven!

    Die in a fire, JD Curtis, you putrescent scumball.

  108. 108
    PaulG

    Reynold, #101: Sorry, but that was a mess of a link you provided to the creationist childmind there. The numbers are at first impressive, but are quickly revealed to include Pharyngula posts and book reviews. Let’s keep it scientific when we claim it to be so, eh?

  109. 109
    PZ Myers

    Evidence that Day is a creationist has been presented in #100.

    No one has given me a reason to care about Theodore Beale. I don’t see any evidence that he has any particular clout or influence on much of anyone.

  110. 110
    Ingdigo Jump

    Wow! This place is like Intellectual Pussy Heaven!

    Why thank you!

  111. 111
    Kel

    I wonder why Vox Day is so interested in debating. Rather than publishing his thoughts on creationism. In the peer review literature. After all, if he has something to say about the validity of evolution, it’s not going to change the scientific community (except by stealth) by debating it in front of an audience. Debates, as it is being argued, is outreach – not the arbiter of good ideas. Why not try to get published in Nature or Science or Evolution instead?

  112. 112
    julian

    Wow! This place is like Intellectual Pussy Heaven!

    Were you going for an insult with this? Kinda fell flat, man.

  113. 113
    Bob

    PZ…


    “I take it that that loony nobody Theodore Beale has been whining about me again.”

    He hasn’t whined about you, he’s basically called you an insubstantial coward. That’s not the same as whining about you.

  114. 114
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    PZ…

    “I take it that that loony nobody Theodore Beale has been whining about me again.”

    He hasn’t whined about you, he’s basically called you an insubstantial coward. That’s not the same as whining about you.

    Oh, you’re so cute, Bobbie, thinking you have something to say that’s worth anyone’s attention.

    Isn’t it past your bedtime ? Maybe when you wake up you won’t be a pointlessly pedantic asshole any more.

  115. 115
    Bob


    “Oh, you’re so cute, Bobbie, thinking you have something to say that’s worth anyone’s attention.

    Isn’t it past your bedtime ? Maybe when you wake up you won’t be a pointlessly pedantic asshole any more.”

    Oh the wit!

  116. 116
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Bob, you do realise you misquoted hotshoe?

  117. 117
    Bob


    “Bob, you do realise you misquoted hotshoe?”

    Copy-pasting the exact written words of a poster is a mis-quote?

  118. 118
    Bob


    “Bob, you do realise you misquoted hotshoe?”

    Copy-pasting his exact written words is a mis-quote?

  119. 119
    JD Curtis

    Whereas a scientist will declare that of course he does not believe there are multiple universes since it is only a hypothesis designed to counter the anthropic principle, the non-elite atheist whose only exposure to science is his science fiction novels will declare that of course they exist since Dr. X said so – this is the faith in science of which I spoke. The same holds true of evolution, the geological age of the Earth and many other untested scientific and pseudo-scientific hypotheses

    I must be a bit dim-witted here. Could somebody point out where, in the above quote from Day, he states anything remotely akin to holding to a creationist worldview?

    Yes, I did the last sentence. Again, how does that qualify him to be a creationist?

    For instancde, if somebody doesn’t tow the party line in reference to the latest geological fad or ism, are they then, by definition, considered a creationist?

  120. 120
    Archibald

    Calling evolution an “untested scientific and pseudo-scientific hypothes[i]s” certainly sounds like the speaker is a creationist. But maybe Vox Beale isn’t a creationist. Maybe he’s just such a muddled thinker and writer that what he writes isn’t what he actually thinks.

  121. 121
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Bob, what you blockquoted was not what was written; you inserted quotation marks which were not in the original.

    (By convention, you should indicate any modifications to that which you are quoting)

  122. 122
    Kel

    Whether Vox Day is creationist or not, any academic problems he has with evolutionary theory are matter of academic discourse. Why isn’t he sending manuscripts to leading journals?

    Seriously, if his dispute is a academic, uhdo what good is debating any scientist going to do? It makes no sense. The science will continue on no matter the outcome.

  123. 123
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    JD, the place for any scientific debate is the peer reviewed scientific journals, not a oral debate. Ask VD why he isn’t publishing his ideas there, and why he is being a craven coward for not doing so. Maybe because he knows his ideas aren’t scientific, and he prefers not have the rejection letters made public.

  124. 124
    maureen.brian

    Do you not think that people who use the phrase “toe the party line” to cover their own ignorance should at least learn to spell it?

  125. 125
    PZ Myers

    The same holds true of evolution, the geological age of the Earth and many other untested scientific and pseudo-scientific hypotheses

    That’s standard creationist talk. It’s also false, since the age of the earth and evolution have been and are being constantly tested and evaluated, and are not at all pseudoscientific.

    Yes, Mr Curtis, you are dimwitted.

  126. 126
    Bob


    “Bob, what you blockquoted was not what was written; you inserted quotation marks which were not in the original.

    (By convention, you should indicate any modifications to that which you are quoting)”

    Wapner at 11.

  127. 127
    Iain Walker

    JD Curtis (#119):

    Could somebody point out where, in the above quote from Day, he states anything remotely akin to holding to a creationist worldview?

    When someone describes evolution or geological deep time as “untested” or “pseudo-scientific”, they are expressing one of the core claims of a creationist worldview. It’s “remotely akin” in the same sense that calling the heliocentric model of the solar system “untested” or “pseudo-scientific” is “remotely akin” to holding a Ptolemaic worldview, or that anti-semitism and the belief that Germany should seek living space in the East through military conquest is “remotely akin” to holding a National Socialist worldview.

    Of course, there are bound to be some people who reject both evolution and deep time who are not creationists in the sense of believing that a deity poofed everything into existence in the relatively recent past. The world is full of cranks and ignoramuses of all stripes. But the overwhelming majority of evolution-deniers do so on a religious creationist basis, and so it would still be fair to describe Day’s little shibboleth as a creationist one. It’s a simple matter of the taxonomy of ideas – with which worldview the claim is most closely associated.

    In fairness, though, Day’s misrepresentation of the role of the multiverse hypothesis in dismissing the argument from “fine-tuning” is not limited just to creationists. Even moderate, evolution-accepting theists will still sometimes make this kind of error.

    For instancde, if somebody doesn’t tow the party line in reference to the latest geological fad or ism, are they then, by definition, considered a creationist?

    No. It depends on the nature and motivation of their arguments. Thus Day, for example, regularly recycles typically creationist arguments and is well known as an aggressive amateur apologist for a particularly conservative form a Christian theism. Since he walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it seems not unreasonable to classify him as a duck.

    But then your question isn’t really revelevant, is it? Evolution and geological deep time aren’t fads – they’re amongst the best established scientific findings in the history of science.

  128. 128
    Owlmirror

    Since the “fad” of radiometric dating is based on the “fad” of radioactivity, I strongly encourage JD Curtis, and Vox Day, to wear pitchblende amulets and carry around chunks of plutonium, and to drink radon-suffused water.

    Besides, radioactivity was discovered by a woman, and I’m sure they have extra-special levels of contempt for the “fad” because of that.

    Go ahead, VD and fans! Show everyone that so-called radioactive elements are just a short-lived fad! Grind up uranium and sprinkle it in your food. Mmm, yummy, right?

  129. 129
    JD Curtis

    But I’m perplexed.

    It seems that the right-wing, religious fundamentalists over at that paragon of free thought known as talkorigins.com state that “there is no dating method that can effectively date rocks of any age or rock type”.

    Will somebody here please notify them of their error and post their sure to come, subsequent reply here in this forum? I’m sure PZ wouldn’t mind. It is, after all, in the name of science.

  130. 130
    JD Curtis

    Do you not think that people who use the phrase “toe the party line” to cover their own ignorance should at least learn to spell it?

    Do you think snarky materialists who are genuinely concerned about discussing the topic at hand should be less occupied with being Grammar Nazis?

  131. 131
    David Marjanović, OM

    When any man goes ad hominem, and then refuses to debate . . .

    He has already lost, even if he might have won.

    Having experienced some 90 “professors” in ten years of schooling, I quickly learned to differentiate between those who tried to be scholars, and those who merely admired their own (and most often imagined) scholarship.

    First of all, a scholar understands the difference between “argumentum ad hominem” and “insult”. Hint: they’re orthogonal to each other. Look them up.

    What is more, have you never noticed that scientists never hold debates with each other? There are very good reasons for this. In a debate, the time is limited, the resources are limited, and the person who is better at rhetorics wins. In the peer-reviewed literature, time is unlimited, you can cite as many sources as you need, and the idea that is best supported by the evidence wins.

    Mr. Beale is a pure rhetorician. He has nothing which he could clothe in his rhetoric. He can only huff and puff about nothing. If he actually had anything to say, he’d submit a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal; the fact that he doesn’t speaks volumes.

    “there is no dating method that can effectively date rocks of any age or rock type”

    If that’s a stupidly clumsy wording for “there is no dating method that can date rocks no matter what their age or type”, it’s completely correct. (Radiometric dating only works on rocks with sufficient amounts of radioactive stuff in them, radiometric methods that work on very old rocks have too large error bars to be useful for very young rocks, radiometric methods that work on very young rocks don’t work on the old stuff because the isotopes they use have already fully decayed in the old rocks, cyclostratigraphy only works on marine sediments, and so on and so forth. You need different techniques for different rocks, and not all techniques are equally good.)

    If it’s meant to mean “rocks cannot be dated at all”, it’s grindingly, crushingly obviously wrong, and I’ll try to notify them. Would you be so good as to provide a direct link to the page where that quote appears?

  132. 132
    David Marjanović, OM

    Do you think snarky materialists who are genuinely concerned about discussing the topic at hand should be less occupied with being Grammar Nazis?

    Did you just seriously say you don’t want to be corrected when you’re wrong!?! Do you want to die ignorant?

  133. 133
    Owlmirror

    But I’m perplexed disingenuous.

    Fixed.

    It seems that the right-wing, religious fundamentalists over at that paragon of free thought known as talkorigins.com state that “there is no dating method that can effectively date rocks of any age or rock type”.

    Your dishonest quote-mining is noted, creationist troll that you are.

  134. 134
    Iain Walker

    JD Curtis (#129):

    It seems that the right-wing, religious fundamentalists over at that paragon of free thought known as talkorigins.com state that “there is no dating method that can effectively date rocks of any age or rock type”.

    Let’s look at this in context, shall we?

    “There are many situations where radiometric dating is not possible, or where a dating attempt will be fraught with difficulty. This is the inevitable nature of rocks that have experienced millions of years of history: not all of them will preserve their age of origin intact, not every rock will have appropriate chemistry and mineralogy, no sample is perfect, and there is no dating method that can effectively date rocks of any age or rock type. For example, methods with very slow decay rates will be poor for extremely young rocks, and rocks that are low in potassium (K) will be inappropriate for K/Ar dating. The real question is what happens when conditions are ideal, versus when they are marginal, because ideal samples should give the most reliable dates. If there are good reasons to expect problems with a sample, it is hardly surprising if there are!”
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html

    In other words, there is no one dating method that can effectively date all rocks of any age or rock type.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a quote-miner. Or just possibly someone with very poor reading comprehension skills.

  135. 135
    Owlmirror

    Would you be so good as to provide a direct link to the page where that quote appears?

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html

    Quote in context:

    There are many situations where radiometric dating is not possible, or where a dating attempt will be fraught with difficulty. This is the inevitable nature of rocks that have experienced millions of years of history: not all of them will preserve their age of origin intact, not every rock will have appropriate chemistry and mineralogy, no sample is perfect, and there is no dating method that can effectively date rocks of any age or rock type. For example, methods with very slow decay rates will be poor for extremely young rocks, and rocks that are low in potassium (K) will be inappropriate for K/Ar dating. The real question is what happens when conditions are ideal, versus when they are marginal, because ideal samples should give the most reliable dates. If there are good reasons to expect problems with a sample, it is hardly surprising if there are!

  136. 136
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    JD, quotemining is a creationist technique. Do stop doing that, as it makes you sound like a simple minded unscientific lunatic. Talkorigins does discuss appropriate radiometric dating techniques and limitations, which is what science knows all about. Now, if you want to cite the peer reviewed scientific literature that they don’t work, bring it on. You know, that literature found at institutions of higher learning world wide, namely at colleges and universities. You know, the places with the books that you avoid.

  137. 137
    Owlmirror

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a quote-miner. Or just possibly someone with very poor reading comprehension skills.

    Why “or”? He can be both stupid and dishonest if he wants to be.

  138. 138
    Anthony K

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a quote-miner. Or just possibly someone with very poor reading comprehension skills.

    Oh, why bother giving the benefit of the doubt when we know from experience that assholes like this know exactly what they’re lying about?

    People like Vox Day and his lackeys are nothing but simple filth, the kind you have to scrape off of the bottom of your shoe.

  139. 139
    Nightjar

    Do you think snarky materialists who are genuinely concerned about discussing the topic at hand should be less occupied with being Grammar Nazis?

    Do you think snarky evolution-deniers who are genuinely concerned about discussing the topic at hand should be less occupied with being dishonest quote-miners?

  140. 140
    darkstar

    It’s certainly true that scientists very rarely hold formal debates among each other, but probably inaccurate to categorically state “scientists never hold debates with each other” – the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1860_Oxford_evolution_debate being one famous counter example.

    More accurately, and what I think you meant, the truth is not determined by a debate (formal or informal), it’s determined by a thorough and educated review of ALL the relevant evidence. Not subject to opinion or vote. And, on the difficult questions, consensus can take many years to build as people often need time to eliminate 100′s of possible alternatives. Relativity was not immediately accepted by all, other theories had to be rejected and technology had to catch up with theory to be able to sufficiently test it.

    But any area where new claims are being made (e.g., Black Holes with Hawkins/Susskind) or there are still unanswered questions there is room for scientists to debate in order to aid in either building consensus or discovering better questions to be asked/researched.

  141. 141
    Reynold

    Hey, JD Curtis, you may note that you have still not been banned from here. Get a load of your hypocrisy which I point out here.

    Gee, I guess that this place does have an aggregate amount of “freethought” after all, eh? Since you’re still allowed to post here. One has to be a real prick in order to be banned, and even so, when PZ set up this blog in the new location he had a reprieve set up for those he had previously banned.

  142. 142
    Reynold

    Nightjar at #139:

    No, they’re not. Check out the “dialogue” i have in the link in my name above to see how honest these people are when their mistaken attitudes are brought to them.

    Then of course, there’s this misquote by Vox Day who twisted some guy’s words about science here.

    Religion: The poor will be with you always.
    Science: Global poverty will be ended by 2025.

    What the scientist actually said:

    The benefits of modern science and technology which have reached Bulgaria and most of the rest of the world can work for the poorest of the poor as well…. the great challenge and possibility of our time: to end extreme poverty on the planet by the year 2025.”

    “GREAT CHALLENGE and POSSIBILITY” does not mean “will be ended”.

    How did Day act when called on it? (See my 8/29/11 6:19 AM reply on his Can One Dodge a Dodger post)

    He called it “rhetoric” and said that he was trying to make a point about how impossible it is to even consider that poverty would be ended. Note also that the economist (not even an actual physical scientist) yet that’s how Day phrased the guy’s statement, as coming from “Science” in general, was only talking about “extreme” poverty!

    Not all poverty.

    So, was it “rhetoric” is did Vox get caught bullshitting?

  143. 143
    KG

    I’m still having trouble coming to terms with the depth of JD Curtis’s stupidity. When he flourished that quote-mined sentence fragment, did he not realise that the context made clear that it did not mean what he implied it did? That could only be so if either he had not actually read it in context, and was just passing it on from some fellow-lackwit as a supposed “gotcha”, or he had read the passage, but completely failed to understand it. But if he did realise he was quote-mining, was he really so stupid as to think no-one would check, or to fail to realise that people could check? Which of these four brands of stupidity is most plausible? Can anyone (yes, including you, JD Curtis) come up with an explanation that requires a more moderate degree of stupidity in JD Curtis?

  144. 144
    Reynold

    JD bullshits:

    Wow! This place is like Intellectual Pussy Heaven!

    Theres still not a shred of evidence that Day is a creationist, Myers is still utilizing the Sir Robin Method of Argumentation and Reynold is answering Day’s direct questions from a nondescript idiot box that no one will ever read and where he can’t be called out on for his evasiveness.

    Seems about par for the course to me.

    Oh? So all you Voxites are unable to click on the link I provided, register and post at the site I gave?

    Bullshit. I posted there in case Vox decided to delete my last comment. Nothing’s stopping you people from joining up there and “calling me out”. Or even complaining about what I say on Vox’s site.

    I don’t care.

  145. 145
    Reynold

    PaulG says

    Reynold, #101: Sorry, but that was a mess of a link you provided to the creationist childmind there. The numbers are at first impressive, but are quickly revealed to include Pharyngula posts and book reviews. Let’s keep it scientific when we claim it to be so, eh?

    They also include his actual publications. As I noted before in that very reply, that google scholar search engine isn’t perfect, but there are enough actual scientific publications of Myers in there to get my point across.

  146. 146
    David Marjanović, OM

    Mr Curtis, I hereby puke on your shoes. Quote-miner.

    No, if you didn’t actually read the TalkOrigins article and instead got fed the quote by a second-hand creationist source, that doesn’t let you off the hook. It makes things worse for you. It would even explain why you weren’t able to link to the page. *puke* Credulous quote-miner who automatically trusts people who say what he wants to hear.

    It’s certainly true that scientists very rarely hold formal debates among each other, but probably inaccurate to categorically state “scientists never hold debates with each other” – the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1860_Oxford_evolution_debate being one famous counter example.

    Oh for crying out loud, that was in 1860 :-) And even there, not all participants were scientists.

    Have any debates between scientists been held since Sir Richard Owen’s death?

    “GREAT CHALLENGE and POSSIBILITY” does not mean “will be ended”.

    The sad thing is that ending extreme poverty worldwide could be done right now; no new technology, no new scientific discoveries, would be required. It would only cost money, and the money is there. It’s a simple question of political will.

    Political will, of course, favors such things as armies. “You can’t even eat as much as you want to barf”, says the proverb.

    (…Of course, in the absence of new technology, extreme poverty might still return sometime around Peak Oil.)

  147. 147
    'Tis Himself

    David Marjanović, OM #146

    Have any debates between scientists been held since Sir Richard Owen’s death?

    On April 26, 1920 two astronomers, Harlow Shapley and Herber Curtis, had a debate about the scale of the universe, as well as the nature of nebulas and galaxies. Curtis argued that the Universe is made up of many galaxies similar to ours (these had been identified by astronomers of the time as “spiral nebulae.”) Shapley argued that spiral nebulae were clouds of gas and that they and globular clusters occur within the Milky Way galaxy. Curtis also argued that the Sun was at or near the center of the galaxy while Shapley argued it was on one side.

    The Great Debate

  148. 148
    darkstar

    Have any debates between scientists been held since Sir Richard Owen’s death?

    Hawkins/Susskind, Dessler/Lindzen

    But that’s not really my point – being that whether or not there are “debates” in science they are not what determine truth.

  149. 149
    'Tis Himself

    Over the last couple of years, every time Pox Day throws down the gauntlet and challenges PZ to a duel debate, I’ve asked what’s in it for PZ? It’s obvious what Pox Day gets out of it, bragging rights that a genuine evilutionist atheist took him seriously. But what’s does PZ get out of debating Pox? Everyone already knows Pox Day is a misogynist, looneytarian, creationist asshole. Just read his screeds he publishes weekly on Whirled Nut Daily. There’s a definite shortage of goodies for PZ resulting from a PZ-Pox debate.

    So, Pox’s lickspittle lackies, what incentive does PZ have to debate your hero? Please be precise and concise.

  150. 150
    Reynold

    How can JD be so stunned?

    …theres still not a shred of evidence that Day is a creationist…

    ?!

    Go to Vox’s site, click on the evolution tag, and just read. He denigrates the theory whenever he mentions it, refers to scientists as belonging to “the cult of darwin”, etc.

    JD…what the fuck is Vox if not a creationist or IDist? (same fucking thing as the Dover trial proved)

    Just as I had earlier predicted: Unless Vox outright says that “I am a creationist” JD will go and ignore all the usual creationist behaviors and talking points that VD posts.

    Just the behavior one would expect from some character who still has the “Where’s the Birth Certificate” link on his blog.

    No amount of evidence is enough.

    That’s why, I wager, that real scientists don’t debate assholes like these.

  151. 151
    Iain Walker

    Brownian (#138):

    Oh, why bother giving the benefit of the doubt when we know from experience that assholes like this know exactly what they’re lying about?

    To get in the extra snark, of course. ;-)

    KG (#143):

    But if he did realise he was quote-mining, was he really so stupid as to think no-one would check, or to fail to realise that people could check?

    Heh. Reminds me of the creationist on the old BBC Science Boards who was repeatedly called to account for trying to pass off copied-and-pasted posts as his own work, and who then posted another long and suspiciously grammatical screed with the explicit disclaimer that he had not copied-and-pasted any of it. Of course, he’d left in all the figure and footnote references …

    It was one of the funniest displays of public incompetence I’ve ever seen. JD Curtis is going to have to work a little harder if he wants to claim the title of Most Hilariously Incompetent Creationist of All Time.

  152. 152
    darkstar

    Sorry, where can I find VD’s refereed scientific papers?

  153. 153
    Ellen

    A VD fanboy says:

    “Wow! This place is like Intellectual Pussy Heaven!”

    It’s weird when raging homobigot male specimens of the sort that tend to hang out at VD’s blog view pussies as bad things.

    But given their tendency to love, erm, metaphorical swordfighting in VD’s homosocial haven of assumed male supremacy, also not surprising. Not that they’re necessarily gay, but overvaluing male traits at the expense of female ones is what happens when men get over-infatuated with the notion that they’re the superior sex.

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