Hosted ironically by an outfit calling itself the Palouse Coalition of Reason, the event included Daniel Dennett and PZ Myers with the latter doing basically a standup comedy routine mocking Darwin-doubters. “He never interacted with a single argument,” our friend reports. Not once.
Well of course not.
Hmmm. I don’t even know what this bozo means by “interacted with a single argument”. I gave a talk in which I pointed out the absence of evidence for intelligent design creationism’s claims, showed that they pad their résumé and are pseudoscientific, and then talked about how young earth creationism was a greater threat because it was far more popular, despite being even more ridiculous. They don’t have a credible argument!
Dan Dennett and I then had a joint Q&A session; it was a little on the short side because of time issues, but we both interacted with the audience and answered questions. Most of the questions were legitimate and relevant. There was one fellow who was clearly from the local creationist camp who asked one rambling, near-incoherent question about the source of morality, trying to imply that we need some external source to impose it, and somehow drifting into something about aliens, which the world-class philosopher sitting next to me took charge of answering. That questioner was reduced to mumbling something about “What if there were more aliens?” in rebuttal. It was a little weird.
But I even complained later that the creationists did not say much of anything at my talk; they waited until the next day, at Jen and Fred’s, to open their mouths. And now they’re complaining that I didn’t interact with their arguments?
The next night, Jen McCreight and Fred Edwords spoke, and there were at least two creationists in the audience who did ask questions. These were people from New Saint Andrews College, a 17th century throwback and bastion of right-wing extremism, founded by the odious Doug Wilson (money quote: “They voted for Bush; I’d vote for Jefferson Davis”; he’s so right-wing, he openly argues for the blessings of slavery). That’s who our cheerful correspondent to the Discovery Institute is: a follower of the New Confederacy, a liar for Jesus, a narrow-minded bigot who was puffed up with the volume of his own ignorance. And also willing to misrepresent.
A followup event at the University of Idaho the next night starred Darwin defenders Fred Edwords and Jen McCreight. In the Q&A, our friend alluded to some challenges to Darwinian theory and offered the view that “Good scientists are masters of the method; they aren’t identified by which paradigm they pledge allegiance to.”
“I was interrupted by someone and then PZ Myers chimed in (he was there as an audience member). He turned around and said to me, ‘That’s crap science.’” And so there you go: argument over.
Wow. That makes it sound like I was disagreeing with the importance of the scientific method, because he left off what I was objecting to. His “challenges to Darwinian theory” was a stupid argument about an instance of rapid deposition which can’t be used as an argument for Noah’s Flood (it was a collection of whale fossils that had been buried in diatom blooms in a sheltered shallow bay), and which certainly don’t challenge evolutionary theory, and my outburst was to tell him that he was cherry-picking his stories — that was the crap science. He’s no master of the method, he’s an ideologue mangling the evidence to support his paradigm.
Then the Intelligent Design creationists gloat.
You can’t reason with these people — you really can’t. What made it worthwhile for our correspondent was the conversations afterward. Chatting with people from the audience, he got a chance to recommend good books to folks looking for further and better information and got into one conversation that went on over beers till midnight. That kind of human interaction is almost invariably worth the effort.
I’d like to know what those “good” books were; I suspect they were more dishonest nonsense from the DI and young earth creationists. I’m not at all surprised that he found a few deluded souls to evangelize to — when all they’ve got is fairy tales and fluff and distortions of science, it’s pretty easy to spin up bar conversation, I’m sure.
They were also rank cowards. I’m reasonably up-to-date on all of the creationist arguments (hey, I knew of the obscure paper on South American paleontology the guy was citing), and Dan Dennett of course is an arch-Darwinian, so they waited until the graduate student and the Coalition of Reason activist were on the stage to ask the questions that better matched our expertise.
And then they have the gall to complain that I didn’t interact with their arguments. They were afraid to make any!