A serious question: how do you deal with talk radio?

I need some suggestions, so I’m asking for a little tactical brainstorming in the comments. This afternoon, August Berkshire mentioned that there would be an Intelligent Design advocate on KKMS Christian talk radio in the Twin Cities, and that they’d be interviewing a Dr. Don Bierle. I’d never heard of the guy, so I did a little digging; you can hear him at a talk at the MacLaurin Institute, for instance. His schtick is that he actually has a Ph.D. in biology from a credible school, although he doesn’t seem to have ever actually done any biology, and is just another minister as near as I can tell. He claims to be arguing from an evidence-based perspective for ID.

Here’s the problem. He’s as dopey and ignorant as your standard televangelist, and his arguments are pathetic. In that recorded talk, he actually goes on at length about the bombardier beetle. On the radio, he gives the usual uncritical acceptance of Behe’s and Dembski’s discredited claims. He argues that ID is sweeping through biology, and that more and more scientists are accepting it.

Basically, he’s lying up a storm, even though I’m sure he’s perfectly sincere and believes every dishonest claim he makes.

Now just how should we respond to such blatant BS? I thought about calling in, but since I really didn’t have a question for him and would only make a comment that he’s wrong, I didn’t bother. Here’s roughly what I was thinking of saying:

Dr Bierle, you said you were going to present the evidence for intelligent design. However, all you’ve given us is logical fallacies. You’ve continually presented this debate as a false dichotomy between design (your belief) and chance (your misrepresentation of evolution.) Evolution is not a theory that everything arose by chance.

Secondly, you’ve made the argument from personal incredulity. Specificity and complexity, no matter how wonderful and amazing and difficult for you to grasp, are not evidence of design. Evolutionary theory provides a mechanism for generating complexity and specificity that does not require the intervention of an intelligent agent.

Given that you haven’t given one reasonable argument for ID and that all your arguments against evolution depend on grossly mischaracterizing the theory, do you understand why the scientific community has not rushed to accept the idea? Despite claiming to base your argument on science, it is unpersuasive to scientists precisely because you have failed to address any scientific issues.

It’s a dismissal, not a real question, not a statement that would affect the god-bots of KKMS. In general, though, it does reflect my opinion of these frauds and fakes who misrepresent science to advance their theological dogma. Does anybody have a better strategy they can recommend for dealing with talk radio?


  1. says

    Mr. Bierle, if ID is “sweeping through biology” and snapping up more and more scientists, name one legitimate, mainstream scientific organization, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, etc., or a similar organization that is American or international, that has replaced its acceptance of evolutionary theory (random mutation and natural selection) with intelligent design (irreducible complexity via an intelligent agent). If you cannot name one organization that has done this, please give us the name of the organization with the most members who do accept ID and which will, in the future, be among the first to replace evolutionary theory with ID. Give a specific time frame for this. Also, name some names of ID theorists that you expect to see winning Nobel Prizes in the future for biology or genetics.

    That was basically my challenge (albeit a bit restated) to Dembski. Dembski bravely ran away.

  2. complex_field says

    I would recommend using the last paragraph first. Frame the question as quickly as possible. Talk radio has a notoriously short attention span.

  3. Gentlewoman says

    PZ, Mike Stark has practical info on the logistics of talk radio, if that is what you are looking for. http://www.callingallwingnuts.com/calling-tips/

    He’s a bit of a wingnut-rouser. He’s the guy that Bill O’Reilly sent his Fox Security goons after. However, his calling tips appear useful.



  4. MikeM says

    On radio stations like this, I’m not sure there’s a question you can ask that’d penetrate even a single listener’s mind. They’d hear you talk, conclude you’re unsaved, and that would be that.

    In about 1994, I happened on a Christian radio station where the speaker insisted that the universe was collapsing and that it’d all be over by the year 2000, if not sooner. I felt like calling and asking, “But what about red-shift?”, but then I thought, eh, that’d reach zero minds.

    Forced to mention anything specific, I’d ask about some point Dembski made that had been soundly refuted (there are a few of those). But, again, who would you ACTUALLY reach with such a question? I think the answer you’d get would be something like, “We’re praying for you, caller.”

  5. says

    Needs to be much shorter than that. I think the last paragraph and Kristine’s comment have the angle you should be going for. I think you should try not to be too specific, since the creationist will be getting the last word.

    You definitely need to mention that you are a biologist. Preferably in some way that makes it clear you think he’s a crank, and that is your professional opinion.

  6. says

    I agree with Complex_field – if you’re calling in to a talk radio show, the only way you’ll get to say more than 10 words is if you’re either agreeing with the host or his guest, or if they are planning on using your sound byte out of context in order to butcher it.

    PZ, the better strategy would be to get on a talk radio show as a guest. This is a fairly hot topic, and you not only know the issue, but you have the necessary credentials. Even if it’s just an interview on a podcast, people like me would have another grain of information in the huge mountain of proof of evolution that we could point people toward.

    Start getting on people’s rolodexes to improve your odds of being interviewed. Pitch to everyone from Randi Rhodes to Seth Shostak. Heck, pitch to right-wing talk radio too, if you don’t mind being used as a Piñata.

    Perhaps some of your readers have connections to talk show hosts?

  7. says

    It’s the problem liberals have always faced: liberal policies are not sound bites, they need explanation. That ain’t snappy politics and it doesn’t make for good radio.

  8. says

    I’d suggest you scrap the second paragraph. Use short words, snappy sentences, and speak slowly and clearly. If anyone interrupts, just keep talking. I’d also suggest using “but” instead of “however” in the first sentence, taking out the “continually”, and rephrasing the last sentence as “Evolution does not say/state/suggest that everything arose by chance”. Having qualifiers in parenthesis also isn’t going to sound that coherent on the radio, so delete either the “design” and “chance”, or the bracketed bits.
    The question in the last paragraph is also a bit redundant – maybe just use the first bit: “you haven’t given one reasonable argument for ID and that all your arguments against evolution depend on grossly mischaracterizing the theory,”. It stands well by itself.
    Besides that, it’s a good little debate topic. Good luck.

  9. cosmicaug says

    I had to do some checking to see where I remembered that name from and I found it.

    Don Bierle is the fellow who gave some kind of a program in churches in my area (Willmar area) during school time for students in local schools. There were fliers around telling students to “Miss 3 hours of school!”. I have a vague memory that free pizza may have involved as well. This is apparently considered to be legal as it may be classified to be out-of-school release time (see Zorach vs. Clauson at http://makeashorterlink.com/?D21B12E4D for the legal precedent).

  10. BlueIndependent says

    As I posted yesterday in another thread, I would direct the discussion into the practical realm, i.e. the things that have materially benefitted humanity from studying evolution.

    Bring up its benefits to technology, to medicine, to defense of the nation, etc., and people will say “oh, well, I do in fact use something related to that on a daily basis, and I like it, so I guess evolution ain’t so bad.”

    Simply put (again), science is what gives us a competitive economic edge in the world, not the fact that a cowed populace believes God created everything with a single thought.

  11. Unstable Isotope says

    I’d also suggest reading Calling All Wingnuts and get in touch with Mike Stark. He’s the expert. IIRC, one of the main things to do is to have what you want to say ready (but don’t sound overpracticed), you’ll probably only get a small amount of time to say what you want to say. You need a short, concise talking point and don’t get distracted from it. I probably wouldn’t bother with a question since you’ll either get cut off or they’ll spend time debating a strawman version of your question

  12. says

    Yeah, wasn’t Stark at YearlyKos? Someone was there to talk about talk radio, but it was one of the sessions I missed.

  13. Coragyps says

    Deal with talk radio? Huh? If god had intended us to listen to talk radio, he wouldn’t have given us the electric guitar.

  14. says

    Most people have been giving good sound advice so far. I do a fair bit of this sort of media thing on conservation issues.

    Short and snappy is definitely the way to go. You need to very quickly create an impression in the listeners’ minds. So although I agree with Kristine’s comment, all of that needs to be compressed into one sentence, or 10 seconds. Use vivid and strong language, and prepare beforehand.

    Also, it is very crucial that you don’t use their language or what’s known as ‘negative framing’. In other words, if you say “Evolution is not a theory that everything arose by chance”, the only lasting impression in listeners minds will be the exact opposite! It’s like saying ‘Don’t look at me’.

    So a possible question/comment to give on this type of show could be:
    “I’m a biologist with 25 years of experience, and no-one in my field takes Intelligent Design seriously. Evolution is the best and only explanation for the complexities of life on earth. Do you have any proof of a professional scientific body that would agree with your opinion?”

    1) state your qualification/authority
    2) state your point vividly and succinctly
    3) positively frame evolution so that their defense has to be about proving that it’s *not* the best explanation for complexity
    4) isolate their view as their ‘opinion’.

    To those who doubt the value of participating in talk radio, think again. Huge numbers of not-very-highly educated people listen to this stuff and believe that it makes them smarter. If you can come across clearly, rationally and confidently you can have a huge impact on those who might not have thought much about this issue. A scientist speaking up on a Christian station might be one of the few real scientists these folk have ever heard. It’s the ‘wedge-strategy’ turned back on the ID crowd.

    You don’t need to get into details or evidence, because talk radio is all about pulling emotional strings.

    Happy fighting!

  15. Mr. Person says

    You wouldn’t get through the screener, especially on Christian talk. The only people I ever hear on stations like that (a) sound like they have just been whipped and (b) agree with the host or the host’s guest or both.

    Even if you could get through the screener, don’t call in. Anything you say after “Go ahead caller” would instantly cheapen you.

    By the way, did you notice how I began the paragraph above with “even if you could . . .”? That was me considering another alternative. That is not allowed on Christian talk, first and foremost because it tends to make Jesus (and, coincidentally, George W. Bush) angry. You read about what happened to all those “alternative” thinkers in the Bible–Adam, Job, all the apostles, Jesus. They DIED. Do you want that happening to you?

    Here’s the ridiculous nonsense we have to put up with.

    How on Earth can we avoid FCC regulations when we do an hour-long segment alluding to the fact that homosexuals are evil? Let’s say it’s a RELIGIOUS point of view! Hooray!

  16. says

    I end up listening to talk radio inadvertently at times, because I’m too lazy to get and turn it off after the morning drive time show. As a frequently irate listener, I would hope you would challenge this guy on air. These pundits don’t expect arguments or challenges, since talk radio audiences are mostly self-selecting. Even a gentle challenge might throw him off balance enough to undermine his credibility, if only a little.

    dp gives good advice here, as do many others. Yours is a tough job. Remember, you’re talking to people who probably have bought and bought into Coulter’s latest diatribe. Somehow you gotta derail their linear thinking.

  17. Mike says

    I think you should take Pareto’s advice “…to take advantage of sentiments, not wasting one’s energies in futile efforts to destroy them.” Instead of going on the air and simply disagreeing, seem to agree but take the conversation in a different direction, preferably to it’s logical extent. Go on and express your wish to convert the whole world to Christianity and quote Dembski from ’99 saying that science without christ is deficient. Use all your knowledge of their deceptions and play like one of their own. And after they’ve done nothing but agree and praise Jesus, and you’ve got them in deep enough, call them on it. Swich it on em. So I guess I’m suggesting a little play-acting to induce the talk radio crowd to let loose that venom that really fuels their aims and draw out their real beliefs and once they’ve said it, skewer them with their own contradictions and lies.
    That’s what I like to do in conversation and you’d be amazed how well it works. A nickel for every stunned silence and you’d be a rich man.

  18. says

    I hate to sound defeatist, but I don’t think you can. At least not as a caller as others have noted. I hate to say it, but Rush Limbaugh was right all those years ago when he used to say (may still be saying for all I know) that the callers on talk radio are there to make the host look good. It’s about entertainment not exchanging information and unfortunately the right wing was the first to figure out how to make their propaganda entertaining. So what’s the point? Even if you do succeed in refuting the host’s or guest’s talking points no one is going to listen because they’re in mindless entertainment mode and not in critical thinking mode.

    dp gives great advice,but it works best with what calladus said — become a guest. At least then you’re not confined to the 30 second window before the next break.

  19. says

    Mr. Person, I admit that I have never listened to talk radio in the US. However, I am moving to the States in August so I might learn more soon!

    However, I have been interviewed a few times on Christian radio stations here. It has generally been a softer topic such as conservation, but what I learnt is that it is all about how you say it, not what you say. If you go in with all guns blazing you will be written off as a arrogant ‘godless’ (yes, it is considered a serious insult) scientist. So the key is to be clear, calm and confident. Venting on websites is great, but venting on talk shows will further alienate the audience.

    Getting past the screener is easy. They won’t sue you if you don’t say exactly what you said to the screener. Or maybe they do in the States?!

    How about trying:
    ‘I have experience in studying biology and this subject intrigues me. I think my perspective will be of interest, and I’ll just be quick’.

    Or something like that. Just sound nice and innocuous and slightly mysterious so that you pique their curiosity.

  20. says

    Paul wrote:

    “he actually goes on at length about the bombardier beetle. On the radio, he gives the usual uncritical acceptance of Behe’s and Dembski’s discredited claims.”

    This claim has not been discredited. Repeating that lie over and over again does not make it true. Some claims about how the system works have proven to be false, but the overall claim, that such a system could not have evolved without intelligent input is as strong as ever.
    The systems in question are composed of multiple structures, which support each other, multiple processes, which support each other and these structures and processes, each performing its own task, are integrated together into a functional system. There is no darwinian explanation as to how these parts were assembled and where the insight came from to know where each component belongs in the overall system to make it functional.
    Natural selection works only on what is already present. It cannot create new structures or processes. There is no scientific explanation, based on current evolutionary principles that would allow these systems to evolve by random, non-directed or accidental processes.
    This is what darwinian evolutionists propose as a mechanism:

    1. Insects produce quinones for tanning their cuticle. Quinones make them distasteful, so the insects evolve to produce more of them and to produce other defensive chemicals, including hydroquinones.
    2. The insects evolve depressions for storing quinones and muscles for ejecting them onto their surface when threatened with being eaten. The depression becomes a reservoir with secretory glands supplying hydroquinones into it. This configuration exists in many beetles, including close relatives of bombardier beetles (Forsyth 1970).
    3. Hydrogen peroxide becomes mixed with the hydroquinones. Catalases and peroxidases appear along the output passage of the reservoir, ensuring that more quinones appear in the exuded product.
    4. More catalases and peroxidases are produced, generating oxygen and producing a foamy discharge, as in the bombardier beetle Metrius contractus (Eisner et al. 2000).
    5. As the output passage becomes a hardened reaction chamber, still more catalases and peroxidases are produced, gradually becoming today’s bombardier beetles.

    All of the steps are small or can be easily broken down into smaller ones, and all are probably selectively advantageous. Several of the intermediate stages are known to be viable by the fact that they exist in other living species.

    Frankly, I find this so-called explanation totally unsatisfying, which is a nice way of calling it total HORSEPOOKEY!

    Read “A Scientific Case For Intelligent Input”

    Of course, Paul I would be more than happy to debate YOU on this subject but I can’t imagine what you would say to support your case. If all you have is what Mark Isaac offers, a pathetic just-so story, then don’t even bother.

  21. Scott H says

    To get through the screener, perhaps you say that you’re a biologist hoping to meet other biologists who favor ID. Then, if that works, you can mention how you could go into your failures to find any ID biologists, or yetis, or unicorns, or . . . .

  22. Unstable Isotope says

    Yes, Mike Stark was at YearlyKos and had a panel specifically on calling talk radio. Before reading Mike Stark’s stuff I wouldn’t have thought calling right-wing radio was worth the time, but some of what he’s accomplished have been impressive. I think this goes hand-in-hand with your Coulter posts – stop ignoring them and leaving lies unanswered.

  23. cgwyn says

    Christian Theists claim that ‘God’ is able to, and did, create astoundingly complex living things. If, for the sake of argument, we accept their postulate we reasonably wonder what the artwork tells us about the artist. Many, even most, creatures are…oddly ‘designed’…(blindspot in eye, the human back, hyena birth, etc.)…if ‘God’ has such an interest in developing life which appears to be a series of adaptions…it would be thematically consistent for ‘him’ to use a series of adaptions to do so… And ‘God’ is supposed to be all-powerful, all-wise, and all-knowing – the skill set doesn’t come any bigger than that.

    For maximum effect the question needs to be asked by someone with religious credentials (and they would reject me as ‘atheist’), but if I could I think I would want to ask Dr. Don Bierle why he has apparently decided that evolution (natural selection, sexual selection, random mutation, random selection [never underestimate the contingent power of luck], etc.) could not be how ‘God’ developed life and created humanity? ‘God’ is supposed to be all-powerful, etc. – surely an all powerful entity could fit randomness into ‘his plan’ and use creative techniques that are _not_ supernatural? Or is Dr. Don Bierle’s idea of ‘God’ not truly all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-wise? Does Dr. Don Bierle only believe in a small god…one so weak ‘he’ is only able to use ‘miracle’ techniques…

  24. Unstable Isotope says

    cgwyn posts an interesting argument for God as a bad engineer. Would that be an effective talking point on talk radio to point out all the bad designs as proof that ID is BS? You could always call in and discuss the Flying Spaghetti Monster and how it should be taught in schools since it is as equally valid a scientific concept as ID.

  25. Karl says

    “He argues that ID is sweeping through biology, and that more and more scientists are accepting it.”

    How many have accepted it so far? How many biologists are there? Are there thousands? ten thousand?

    Is there a reasonable way to count all the biologists in all the colleges in the country (around the world), plus all the ones not in academia?

  26. says

    I don’t think the ‘bad engineer’ argument is the way to go, simply because you are using their language and framing. Half the problem is that the concept of organic systems as machines resonates strongly with the audience. They can’t visualize complex molecular interactions in the cytoplasm, but they can relate to an outboard motor or conveyor belt. If you use the ‘bad engineer’ line you will reinforce these impressions. We have to come up with something different but just as evocative.

    For anyone who ever gets involved in public discourse about these matters, I thoroughly recommend reading some of George Lackoff’s material (a Prof at UC Berkeley). He is where I get my ideas about ‘framing’ from. It is really valuable to keep his theories in mind when considering how to communicate science.

  27. ulg says

    Frankly, I find this so-called explanation totally unsatisfying, which is a nice way of calling it total HORSEPOOKEY!

    A question for all of pharyngula’s able logicians. Is this known as ‘argument from personal dissatisfaction’, or ‘argument from total HORSEPOOKEY’?

  28. Retired Catholic says

    You might start be simply saying that you’d be interesting in contacting the websites of scientific organizations that have begun to have such swings of opinion and then ask him for organizational names, mentioning the ones you listed in your post. After he fumbles you can press the attack.

  29. cgwyn says

    Uh… Was Rube Goldberg a bad engineer? I would find it very easy to argue that his machines are very bad engineering, but they are – and this is the relevant part – also very very clever engineering.
    If we accept the Christian Theist’s postulate that ‘God is Good’ (i.e. loving in addition to all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful) then there must be some ‘unknowable’ reason [use the ‘f-word’ here] that things are ‘designed’ as they are, thus the ‘bad-engineering’ angle is unusable for many people because, in their eyes, it asks them to ‘doubt their faith’.
    But if the theologically relevant aspect of some of the odder ‘biological designs’ out there is the complex contingent cleverness (in the sense that Rube Goldberg was clever) we wonder how the ‘cleverness’ was achieved.
    I do not believe that ‘God’ has any sort of reality, so people like Dr. Don Bierle would probably reject my opinion but I have always thought that a ‘God’ who could write the laws of physics in a way that enabled evolution – a _natural_ process, filled with randomness – to create something as magnificent as [insert favorite species] was a much more awe-inspiring and magnificent ‘God’ than the Hairy Thunderer that I so often heard people talking about.
    Creationists, Christian Theists, and I.D. Advocates spout a lot of nonsense…but as someone who spent a long time trying to Believe and have never been aware of any success: I want to know why they have such a small idea of ‘The Creator of the Universe’ that they don’t think ‘he’ could have created a natural and random universe, one which, inadvertently – after all ‘God’, being perfect, would surely be All-Humble too, is such an example of his power, skill and wisdom that ‘he’ has never needed to interfere and will never need to interfere. I have never understood why those who most believe in ‘God’s Power In Their Lives’ seem to have the smallest and most petty idea of the kind of power The Creator Of The Universe would, by definition, have.

  30. says

    My suggestion:

    “ID advocates say that the Intelligent Designer is not necessarily God. If an intelligent designer exists, however, the one thing we do know about him is that he is intelligent. So where did the designer’s intelligence come from? If intelligence does not require a supernatural origin, that means nature must be capable of creating a thinking, intelligent mind, out of ordinary matter. Otherwise, how could it be possible that the designer got his intelligence without God’s help?”

    I bet you can get him to admit pretty fast that his ID argument requires that the designer (or the designer’s designer, etc) is really God. You can’t be a guest scientist on Christian talk radio and go around telling people that you don’t need an immaterial soul in order to have a thinking mind–that might imply that you don’t need an immaterial soul at all. ;)

  31. ConcernedJoe says

    First Charlie Wagner: PZ etc. can smash your fantasies but you know that and it doesn’t matter. No, as a troll your job is to present something herein that casts enough doubt in the minds of your flock to keep them from thinking and/or examining real scientific responses. Your ilk are masters of redirections and obfuscations. Actually your skills would be laudable if your aims were not so very dangerous to the advancement mankind. You waste your obvious intelligence doing “devil’s” work (yup — your twisting of reality and clouding of real facts is the DEVIL’S work … you are using your intelligence to trick and deceive people .. you should know better). It is DISGUSTING!

    You can respond but don’t expect a response from me to you. Others are more qualified to articulate my case, but more importantly you bring NOTHING worthy of rational scientific discussion to the table… you and your followers are hopeless — you are almost NOT worth the effort.

    However this leads into the questions all of you should be asked and asked hard and ALWAYS. This is succinctly:

    “Why don’t you prepare and publish a legitimate scientific paper supporting your case in legitimate scientific recognized peer-reviewed journals (peer – giving you undeserved status — means REAL scientists who actually do publish REAL work in REAL scientific journals and the like)? Do NOT use the excuse that the mean old lying scientists are black-balling you. Real scientists like PZ Meyers will entertain any WORTHY work that supports your case (even if he might disagree with some details; he and his kind would actively help you gain proper venue if you had real SCIENTIFIC work to publish. So, when can we see your work published? Or alternatively, reference publications in legitimate journals etc. that support your case. So, where are the papers?”

    Listen flock out there – think about it — any scientist (current atheist or not) that could participate in something that proves the existence of god, or that gives rise to a theory that supplants evolution would JUMP at the chance. It would be the greatest scientific “discovery” or “confirmation” EVER.

    No, scientists ignore your spokes-people because unlike most of us low level “students” who get upset about the crap you all spew, REAL scientists can easily see how vacuous your premises and assumptions are … let alone how totally disingenuous and false your statements are, and they OVERWHELMING quickly size-up and dismiss the crap you waste our time with.

  32. says

    I second the recommendation to channel this energy into trying to get booked on talk radio as a guest for the purpose of debunking intelligent design. There are some right-wing talk hosts who are sympathetic to your our cause– I’m thinking of local talkers here in San Francisco, but there must be some with national audiences. (Apparently, Neal Boortz is one such talk host.)

    Another talk radio venue that might (or might not, depending) be a “good” venue for you is Coast To Coast AM with George Noory. That show books a lot of out-and-out cranks, but occasionally manages to book people no one has ever heard of before, but who seem to escape without revealing themselves as total frauds. (I remember one recent show where the guest claimed to be a physicist– hawking a book for the laity, naturally– he talked about quantum physics, and he didn’t make a complete fool of himself.) Beware: if the callers are any indication, then much of the audience is unspeakably gullible. In addition, the host frequently comes off as monumentally credulous (to be charitable). On the other hand, I’m not sure I can imagine a talk radio audience more in need of having a bit of sense talked into them while simultaneous being less likely to tune out the minute you open your mouth.

  33. Dave Puskala says

    I have gotten in to KKMS a number of times as a caller. Some with more success than others. I have never had a problem clearing the screener. I think that you would have pretty good success with Dr. Bierle. He mainly borrows from other creationists pretty uncritically. His arguments are quite pedestrian.

    I agree with your assessment that he is sincere in his beliefs. That is why I think that it is important to come at him reasonably and appeal to honesty. I have heard him a number of times and he never seems to get anything right. Tell him that. It is dishonest to mischaracterize the position of an opponent and Dr. Bierle does it consistently.

    Start out with, “I have listened for the last quarter of an hour, and you haven’t gotten one thing right.” He is forced to defend the specific examples he gives. I know that you can’t convince the hosts or many of the true believers. However, there are others listening that have never been exposed to the fact that creationism is B.S. If we spare one high school biology teacher from having to hear, “Were you there?” we have done our job.

  34. thwaite says

    Not only is Wagner incorrect in labeling as ‘total HORSEPOOKEY” what is in fact a familiar & invalid argument from personal incredulity, he’s contravening official U.S. Government doctrine used in the current ‘war’ on terror. Today’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air program was with journalist Ron Suskind whose new book is about (and titled) THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE. For planning purposes this strategic planning Doctrine requires that if a terrorist event is deemed to have as much as a 1% probability of happening, it must be presumed that it WILL happen and a response must be constructed.

    Now consider the aeons that diverse species of beetles have had to explore their low-probability events … personal incredulity doesn’t suffice.

    In an engineering context, cascades of low-probability events dominate complex network analysis and the engineering use of ‘genetic algorithms’. And a prudent financial investor is well advised to take significant precautions against rare events. Rare stuff happens.

  35. says

    You know my tactic on this. Ask how many peer-reviewed publications they have on ID.

    The answer is about 5. While the DI claims a little over a dozen a closer inspection reveals they are book chapters, self published material, and abstracts submitted to scientific meetings as we discussed last December. Nothing that has actually been exposed to legitimate peer review has ever been published on DI.

    If they give any other answer call them on their bullshit. Their “theory” is nothing more than a hypothesis, completely unproven, unpublished, and unscientific.

  36. says

    How about plugging a good reliable source of information instead? People who want to do some looking up can do so. Talk Origins might fit the bill.

  37. thwaite says

    Not to give Wagner more than his due, but the intuition he’s appealed to is wide-spread. So:

    Not only is Wagner incorrect in labeling as ‘total HORSEPOOKEY” what is in fact a familiar & invalid “argument from personal incredulity” (which has its own entry in the en.wikipedia), he’s contravening official U.S. Government doctrine used in the current ‘war’ on terror. Today’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air program was with journalist Ron Suskind whose new book is about (and titled) THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE. For planning purposes this strategic planning Doctrine requires that if a terrorist event is deemed to have as much as a 1% probability of happening, it must be presumed that it WILL happen and a response must be constructed. Rare stuff happens.

    Now consider the aeons that diverse species of beetles have had to explore their low-probability events … personal incredulity doesn’t suffice.

    In an engineering context, cascades of low-probability events dominate complex network analysis, and also the engineering use of ‘genetic algorithms’. And a prudent financial investor is well advised to take significant precautions against rare events. Rare stuff happens.

  38. SkookumPlanet says

    I agree with much of what’s been said and especially —

    PZ, that’s not a question, it’s a TREATISE!

    I have one general and one specific suggestion.

    The general — stop thinking in terms of proof/counterproof, truth/lies etc. This isn’t a classroom and the audience aren’t students. Define a single, SIMPLE goal, APPROPRIATE to the medium and audience [if necessary, restrict the goal to 2 clauses in one sentence]. Then figure out how to get at the goal. Give yourself, at most one-third the number of words you originally used. Psychologically, you’re trying to cram the entire evo/ID debate, specified to this one guy, into a single question. This will not translate through this medium. Forget about “got you” and focus on communication with an audience, which is the point of radio stations and radio programs.

    The specific — if the program-guest idea is of interest, consider starting out with “I’m, Dr….[with evo credentials, etc.] Before I ask my question of Dr. Bierle, I’d like to ask our host one.” Then specifically, very briefly, ask for an equal-time appearance on a follow-up show, alone. The worst that can happen is “no.”

    And in general about this thread — It’s not about sound bites, etc. It’s about what’s feasible and not feasible with specific media, audiences, and the psychological reality of all this. If you start a conversation with someone telling them they are a stupid, worthless, son-of-a-bitch, what you say after that doesn’t really matter. Why get involved with specific mass communication situations and then waste time and energy fighting a loosing battle with the medium itself because you dislike it’s reality?

    We can’t force people to think or care, or bludgeon them into seeing the light. Persuasion, persuasion, persuasion.

    And I second all the suggestions to consult experts in this matter.

    Also, Anglo-Saxon vocabulary is always better than Latinate. I know that’s difficult with science, but “normal” people speak and think in English. Latin/French is a late grace note added in through conquest.

    And at the risk of pissing people off here. This idea of faking your way onto the show is junior-high level stupidity. It exhibits a consciousness of mass communication, politics and psychology, in short reality, that if followed by enough leftie science types will doom all of us. It’s not, in any way, a game people. The other side is deadly serious and they’ll screw you in a heartbeat. There will be no peer-review to determine if the screwing is justified.

    Let me say it another way. Some of what’s here has nothing to do with the reality of the practical question PZ asked, the problem involved [communication], nor the data we have. Some that does address these elements doesn’t do so seriously. Yet, we all dismiss the other side’s approach to evolution because this is characteristic of it. Politics, people, mass communications, funding, your jobs. Jeez.

    If you expect the rest of the world to pay attention, it will happen on the world’s terms, not on yours. Discovering what those terms are, their dynamics, how to manipulate them, etc is….a scientific problem, just like any other. Consider approaching it as one.

    PS, last minute. “Their “theory” is nothing more than a hypothesis, completely unproven, unpublished, and unscientific.” That’s so, utterly, wrong. Read the Wedge document. Their theory is a sociopolitical strategy/tool designed to serve in a toolkit being used by a larger, but still small, segment of our society intent on directly controlling every aspect of it. These people, who have a worldview [view of reality] derived by faith, not necesssarily religious faith, fully understand they cannot get this control through honest, democratic means. They’re willing to do whatever it takes.

    These two views of “ID” have nothing to do with each other, they demand vastly different approaches, and defining the problem incorrectly can, a does, lead to failure. Even in science.

  39. Paul S says

    Forgive me if someone already put this forward. Here’s my suggestion: If you know this fellow’s standard spiel, or some specific aspect of ID that you know he would be aware of, then educate yourself thoroughly about that aspect and the scientific criticisms of it.

    When you call in, you’ll be asked what you want to talk with him about. Give a general answer – be honest, but don’t use a lot of technical language. For example, you can say “I’d like to get more information on irreducible complexity,” or whatever aspect of ID you plan to go after.

    Once you’re on the air, ask a few pointed questions about your topic. When he answers, ask more questions that highlight the problems in the theory. You have two goals: first, and most important, STAY ON TOPIC. Don’t let him sidetrack you, and don’t sidetrack yourseld. Second, as much as possible ask questions rather than making statements.

    A standard creationist tactic is to throw out a blizzard of pseudoscience. It takes much longer to expose all of that nonsense than it does for them to say it. So your objective here is to show that the emperor has no clothes by focusing on one single aspect of ID theory and dismantling it with questions that expose the paucity of the theory. Show the listeners that the speaker cannot give good, substantial answers to reasonable questions about his “science.”

  40. Mike Fox says

    Why not ask him to prove his credentials in evolutionary biology? It’s short, sweet and to the point. It could easily discredit him. (below: Please note the braking of the first commandment by the godless Christian)

    PZ: How are mtDNA and DNA different? Why would mtDNA be used in certain studies of evolution and not others? What are the limitations of data obtained from mtDNA?

    Berkshire: This is another example of liberal, godless scientists who are unable to accept the Truth (Praise Jesus). The biggest difference between DNA and mtDNA is that God made man AFTER he made the animals. It’s in Genesis. Am I right, folks? Am I? I am such an AWESOME scientist; everyone should worship me as an idol.

  41. says

    “Dr. Bierle, I talked with God last night. God told me you are a fool and a dumbass because you wish to remain ignorant and deceitfully misrepresent science in general, and evolution in particular. I asked God, ‘What about all the creationist research being conducted nowadays?’ and God said ‘Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout? There is none, nowhere! Now stop listening to those cranks or I’ll send a hurricane or tsunami your way!'”

  42. says

    Seriously, I’d say pick a topic or 2 or 3 in which Bierle misrepresents the facts, and challenge him to provide real, concrete examples: name 6 articles published in peer-reviewed, scientific literature; name 3 bona fide scientific societies that have issued position statements in support of creationism; name 4 ways in which creationism has contributed to medical or scientific research; explain why the ID strategy is to introduce creationism to children and naive adults before it gains acceptance in the scientific community.

  43. says

    I think you’d have to be very careful about asking the guest to name Creationist peer-reviewed articles, or to name scientific societies with Creationists on board. It’s possible that the guest would actually NAME such – and do it in a way that it then becomes a “he said / she said” sort of thing.

    The audience won’t know the difference between the Creationist founded journals that Dr. Bierle names and real, widely accepted journals. You might end up saying something like, “That’s not a real journal” and then be accused of definining a ‘real journal’ as one that doesn’t accept Creationist submissions. Worse, they can quote a real journal, and have you deny that it contains a Creationist submission. You’ll each accuse the other of lying while on their home turf. If it gets that far.

    More likely, you’ll ask him to name names, and then be cut off as Dr. Bierle names Creationist journals and scientists, and then goes on commercial break.

    I still think you’d be much better off as a guest.

  44. Torbjörn Larsson says

    “*EVERYBODY* expects the Wagnerian Inquisition! Our chief weapon is repetition…”

    “Repeating that lie over and over again does not make it true.”

    Listen to the echo of your lies, Charlie. Evolution is known to work, beyond reasonable doubt. Only crackpots believe different. Only crackpots believe that repeating a lie ad infinitum makes it true.

    “the bombardier beetle” – the creationist argument doesn’t say what you state. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB310_1.html

    “cannot create new structures or processes” http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB101_2.html

    Explain that first instead of repeating empty arguments, Charlie.

  45. Torbjörn Larsson says

    “you will be written off as a arrogant ‘godless’ (yes, it is considered a serious insult) scientist”

    Better “godless” than “godawful”, I think.

  46. says

    I’ve no experience with talk radio. But I’d say you probably want the tightest possible phrasing in which you can say all of: 1) He’s wrong, 2) All these arguments have previously been debunked, and 3) Here’s where you find those debunkings. Idea is to get that statement and particularly those sources’ names out there before they can stop you. If the guest attacks them after they’ve cut you off, this isn’t actually such a bad thing. Forces him to the defensive with a minimum of effort. He’s gotta take some time, say, oh don’t believe that stuff. Which, I think, in some people’s minds, will only increase their curiosity.

    So I’d say come in fast with something like:

    All of your guest’s claims have previously been addressed. Listeners can visit talkorigins dot org for details.

    If they haven’t cut you off by then, go on to list as examples the specific claims you’ve heard him repeat for which you know debunkings exist. I expect you’ll have a raftload inside of half a minute’s listening, but you already know that. If they still haven’t cut you off after that, by all means, pick the one that presents the biggest, juiciest target… the one you can cut down quickest. Couldn’t hurt to have one or two pre-written for a claim you expect you can reasonably expect to hear from the guy. Sounds like his MO is out there, now, anyway. Might make it practical. And then make the point that this is typical of all his arguments: everything he’s said is poorly argued, easily refuted, and this is typical of creationist thought. And if listeners will go back to that source I listed, they’ll be able to confirm this at their leisure.

  47. says

    How do I deal with talk radio? I ignore it. If I were invited to participate on it, that would be remarkable, but I guess I would do the same thing – ask online about it. :)

  48. Randy Crum says

    Dr. Bierle spoke at my church many years ago. I was sure that his PhD was in chemistry rather than biology.

    The pastor of my church, very aware that I knew that evolution is a fact, gave me a copy of Bierle’s book titled “Surprised by Faith”. The premise of the book was that Bierle was originally an atheist, and set out to find all of the faults in the Bible in order to expose them to his Christian friends. He was surprised that he couldn’t find any faults in the Bible(!) and became a Biblical literalist, creationist and speaker instead.

  49. Molly, NYC says

    You’re trying to convince simpletons, okay? Stick to words of one syllable, three tops. By the same token, don’t try to make too many points.

    He’s lying when he says more and more scientists believe in intelligent design. (1) This guy wants you to believe that intelligent design has some mainstream support among real scientists and that’s a flat-out lie. There are a few million scientists in this country and maybe a couple hundred who buy into intelligent design (2)–and to get even that many, they have to count, for example, Bible-school teachers who’d lose their jobs if they said they believed anything else. They count engineers, who aren’t scientists. (3)

    And everyone else on the list started off with their conclusion, like your guest, and then cherry-picked whatever they thought–well, didn’t support it, exactly, just could be palmed off as support to people who aren’t into science themselves. It’s a lie. And even if you don’t know the difference, you can bet the other scientists do.

    I suppose these people think that it’s okay to lie for their religion–but what does it say about their religion that it needs a lie?

    (1) Lying is a nice, simple concept with which the audience is well acquainted. Also, they want accepting ID to be a moral issue. It is, but not they way they intend. Let ’em know.
    (2) Use more precise numbers if you’ve got ’em. You needn’t refer to foreign scientists–the audience thinks they’re all commie heathens anyway.

    Why not?
    Because engineers don’t do research. They make and design stuff.

    They might ask; this point may need clarification, since the IDers insist on muddying it.

  50. lockean says

    I’m afraid I disagree with a lot of this.

    If the guy really is a fraud, as certainly seems to be the case, then he’s not interested in debating the merits of contemporary evolutionary theory or the good of science in the world. He’s trying to score points with the nonscientific public, so this program will be about political rhetoric, not scientific musing.

    (1) The first rule of rhetoric is, know who you are talking to. Are you trying to look good to those who already respect science and/or you, or are you trying to win over the public at large? If it is the former, don’t go on the program.

    (1) The first rule of politics is unify your allies while dividing your opponents. This is an ugly business and the unwillingness of liberals to engage in it, explains a lot about who runs our country. In this case you would want to work the split between the few presumably honest-but-misguided folks who might believe in ID and frauds like this guy, and more importantly, you would want to work the split between IDers who accept the basics of evolution (the age or the earth, the common descent and relatedness of living things, and changes in morphology through time) and Creationists who do not, while of course simultaneously undermining both.

    Your basic statement (the only one you get in talk radio) must be brutally simple, and undeniably true. You say this regardless of what you are asked by the host. You speak quickly and forcefully so that you won’t be interrupted:

    “Once there were little horses with toes and now their descendents are somehow big horses with hooves. That’s evolution and it is a fact. Natural Selection is a theory about how that fact happens. IDers, because they have some dubious questions about how Scientists think the fact happened, want us to pretend the fact is not a fact. Perhaps our current ideas of how evolution works are wrong–I doubt it but perhaps–but even if they are, that does not mean there is no evolution. The earth is very old, living things are related to one another, and their forms have changed through time. That is evolution. Rev X, which of these facts do you deny?”

    After that you just work the split between your opponent and his allies. If he says something that would be disputed by Creationists in which case you say, ‘So you disagree with the Creationists?’ Or use negative dialectic to question his statements.
    ‘Why do you think that? Who told you that?’ etc.

    The host might toss you a few more direct questions, but these statements must be even shorter than your opening statement.

    ‘Of course scientists welcome criticism but IDers want to deny evolution just because they disagree with contemporary accounts of how it happened.’

    ‘So you really want Scientists to get into the business of telling the public what God does? That is not ethical.’

    ‘I do not understand why that (whatever) justifies misleading the public.’

    DO NOT LET IT BECOME AN ARGUMENT ABOUT RELIGION. Save that for another show.

    It is a nasty process. One you might want to skip altogether. There is the old saying: ‘Never argue with a fool; people might not be able to tell the difference.’

  51. SkookumPlanet says

    late — Wow! lockean says it much better than I do. I agree with it all with one minor change — “If the guy really is a fraud…” The whole enterprise is a fraud. I would defer to lockean completely, but the following is already finished and it addresses strategy instead of tactics.

    “The audience won’t know the difference between the Creationist founded journals that Dr. Bierle names and real, widely accepted journals.”

    That’s correct, but only scratches the surface. They also will not know what a peer-reviewed journal is, what peer-review means, [most] the definition of the definition of “peer”, nor never read a published, peer-reviewed article nor opened a peer-reviewed journal, nor seen one. Unless one wants to spend time defining peer review for the audience in a way the evokes it’s importance, which would be digressive at best, focusing on it is wasted words.

    This applies to many other aspects of the evo/ID debate. While the issues must be addressed, the science content, the scienciness, of ID is window dressing. Other than a few individuals, they’re not interested in evolution, per se. It’s only the first domino.

    The trick is to argue and counter the apparent content of the debate in a manner that let’s you effectively speak [usually indirectly] to the real, psychosociopolitical debate — the emotional content — that’s driving all this. [This is exactly what lockean’s specific tactics do. Isn’t that clear?]

    Such a two-level attack is a difficult, sophisticated goal to pursue. But not doing so is bound to fail. Look at the nation. ID/creationism is socially and politically emergent, but has yet to field even one decent scientific idea. It’s not a phenomenon of science.

    The analogy is with the political left/Dems. They can’t find the handle on anything, including retaking control of Congress during the most unpopular government [exec and leg] in more than a generation! A government completely controlled by Repubs. A major reason for that is leftie pols still think the debate is about policies and proposals and ideas. The right has figured out that’s all window dressing, and that the underlying psychological/emotional battle is the critical one. The wingnuts understand if they win that battle, the “details” of the politics can be finessed. They are proving this as I write and you read.

    There’s no better current example of this than MizCee and her new book. Challenging MizCee with the truth, in any form, is ineffective because it’s irrelevant to her and her success. Exactly as the radical right is not about the truth in any way. Period. Both — all — are about accomplishing goals, means to an end.

    Let me try this from another direction. While evolutionists are busy waving the peer-review flag at creationists and their supporters, the radical right continues to bootstrap a long-term [small at this point] campaign to wreck the social and political potency of peer-reviewed everything! Just as they’re targeting tenure, academic independence, and control of research funding. You see?

    So that, in some future debate, when “no peer-reviewed articles” get’s used against a creationist, he’ll simply sigh and say, “The old peer-review ploy again.” Then addressing the audience, “The evolutionists think the sun rises and sets on peer review, they worship peer review. They think it’s the ultimate rebuttal to every challenge. But we know all about peer review, don’t we.” The audience bursts into applause. By then they will “know” what peer-review means and “peer-review” as a debating point will amount to sh*t.

    That’s the real battle that needs to be engaged. And why.

    PS. My understanding is that this is a religious station with a religious audience. Nobody will lift a finger to “look up” anything. “Reference” means the Bible. Deal with reality, not fantasy. Audience, audience, audience.

  52. gr8googlymoogly says

    happy summer solstice everyone
    This is a questions I have thought about for a long time, because I have watched in awe as ignorance and blind dogma has slowly been creeping through our country for more than thirty years. It is a complex problem and if we want to defend intellectual freedom we will need to adopt the marketing, advertising and rhetorical techniques conservatives, Republicans and the religious right have adopted against them. Make no mistake, we have not been losing ground on the basis of facts, our ideas, or our liberal philosophy, but because of the way we have been framing our arguments. I believe that science can meet religionist and the dominionists, but it means that we need to study rhetoric and learn how to apply those tools to our own arguments here are a few quick ideas
    My first recomendation is to see the movie “Thank you for Smoking”, based on the novel by Chris Buckly. The film follows a PR flack for the tobacco industry as he cunningly defends a product against overwhelming evidence that is clearly harmful to its users. It is an excellent example of the method of using redirection, emotion, and sophisty to win hearts (and therefore minds) when the facts of the argument are against you. The opening scene alone is a tour de force of spin.
    Recognize that on both radio and TV talk shows you are making an oral argument, not a written argument, and that each has its own style If a reader loses the train of thought or doesn’t understand a word when they are reading a book, they can double back to reconnect to the logic thread or look up the word. If a listener loses the thread of an argument or doesn’t know a word they have been lost. Keep your argument and language simple and look for ways to involve your audience. For instance, if you are talking to an audience that consists mainly of farmers, it would be appropriate to discuss Charlie D’s insight that human selection in farm animals or dog breeding is similar to natural selection.
    Because of both radio and television talk shows, we have become an oral society; most people now get their news through a speaker instead of the printed page. Guess who practices the oral tradition every Sunday? Science is still rooted (quite appropriately) on the printed page, so learning the skills needed to be an effective orator will require practice.
    BTW Ann Coulter is a perfect example of the oral argument style being brought to the printed page. If you read it out loud, you can hear that it is an extended, transcibed talk show rant. We CAN defend ourselves, with integrity, if we learn some new skills.

  53. Ed Darrell says

    He was surprised that he couldn’t find any faults in the Bible(!) and became a Biblical literalist, creationist and speaker instead.

    Perhaps his critical faculties had escaped by that time. It makes me nervous, as a Christian, to think that someone’s faith is based on a false conclusion based on faulty research into a silly question that they can’t evaluate rationally.

    I wonder whether he was ever more rational? What college was he a dean of? What is his degree in? (“Life sciences” sounds too vague to me — did he have a masters of nursing?)

  54. Diderot says

    Simple, quickly spoken and without emotion. Sound byte style. That’s how I’d go on talk radio. If I ever wanted to that is…

  55. says

    With the Off button, mostly. However, if I could borrow something I wrote from a thread on bookcrossing.com:

    Real scientists cringe when someone starts belabouring them with “evolution is impossible because of something I read on a Creationist web site. The descriptions of evolution in that web site are barely recognizable. If I said that Christianity was obviously nonsense because its teachings amounted to ‘A man got on a donkey and they died on a stick and they flew away so we should worship sticks and we’ll all get pots of gold,’ you would be indignant and rightly so. Well, I feel the same about the ‘straw man’ version evolution…”

  56. SkookumPlanet says

    I’d like to add something to gr8googlymoogly’s recommendations, which I heartily agree with. Allow me to quote myself from a Chris Mooney thread on global warming.

    “The radical right has to lie. We don’t. Most Americans would rue the right’s vision actualized. They intuitively understand that faith-derived, ideological lenses filter reality, rather than reveal it, and entire nations put on such glasses at peril of myopically walking off cliffs.”

    Using tactics that work does not mean using them like wingnuts. It means getting our heads in the game. The game that’s actually being played on the field in front of us, not the one we wish we were watching.

    I’ll mention one thing more, related to a gr8 point. The last time I saw data on this, 20 years ago, over half of U.S. adults got all their news from broadcast media. And from publishing industry data about that time also — more than half of all Americans never read a single book after they leave high school. Ever. [I don’t know about the Bible, but I think this means “finish” a book.] And to illustrate how odd the male peeps and posters here are, roughly, from that old memory, 97% of all books read in the U.S. are read by women, and 98% of all book purchases in the U.S. are made by women.

    Obviously, these figures have gotten worse, not better, over 20 years. I include myself in the following — we’re all a bunch of weirdos. But we should be smart weirdos. To expect the rest of the country to think and react as we do, and to get upset when they don’t, isn’t very smart, at all.

  57. tumbler says

    It’s hard to like somebody who insists on quoting him/her self out of another useless post. Yeah, “The radical right has to lie. We don’t.”

    First off, SkookyumPlanet, radical has always defined Leftist, as in 60’s radicals, burners of draft cards and bras. Not right-wingers, defined by labels such as fascist, hard-liner, etc., YOU are the radicals. Mind the little details.

    And by saying the right has to lie, you concoct a fiction, otherwise called untruth or ”lie.” So, the final part of your inexcusable self-quotation is a toss-out. You are lying. From there you proceed to walking the straw dog: ”Americans would rue the right’s vision actualized. They intuitively understand that faith-derived, ideological lenses filter reality, blagh.” Nobody has a vision of that kind, nor the possibility of actualizing such a vision. Nor are politics today understood ”intuitively” but rather by responsible attention to facts. Faith-derived isn’t a fault just because you haven’t any. It means principled; given a value over and above mundane and banal. Just as liberal, properly understood, can stand for generous or latitudinarian. Noble.

    Your specious terms compound a narcissism you display in quotes out of your previous inane post, better forgotten. Imagine this pomposity: ” [to] put on such glasses at peril of myopically walking off cliffs.” You must like rejection slips, Planet.

  58. Spike says

    “the method of using redirection, emotion, and sophisty to win hearts (and therefore minds) when the facts of the argument are against you.”

    Precisely what tumbler is trying to do. But he is so inept at it, and his cause is so pointless, that he’s losing more hearts and minds than he is winning.

    Everyone who is convinced to convert to tumbler’s cause, please say, “Aye”

  59. tumbler says

    Dear Spike:
    Facts? You mean then, Rightists do have to lie? As all of one planet asserts? In the usual inept and losing manner of my pointless posts, I neglected to allow SkookumPlanet to present the proof of his/her ponderous statement.

    I want to see why Rightists, radical because YOU say so, are obliged to lie. I need a stroke of genius from you or even Skookum. Show us why and if Right-wingers have to lie. But, not to ”convert” a hapless mind or two around here. All the bunch seen here is truly radical and incapable of returning to any unbiased frame of mind. Only to be reassured, if possible; that I haven’t walked off a cliff, as she suggested. That’s dangerous and Um not dying to try it. Skip losing hearts and minds. I’m worried about my eyeglass lenses.

  60. Spike says


    You blew it again!

    I never once supported the claim that “Right-wingers have to lie.” You can look here in ScienceBlogs, over at Panda’s Thumb or at Anti-evolution.org. If you can find such a claim made by me, I’ll run out and join the Jesuits.

    Your mattress must be nearing empty by now, since you’ve used all the straw to build the “homunculi” you keep toppling over.

    After PZ bans you (something I expect within the next week or so, since you refuse to answer any of the questions put to you or make even the slightest effort of rational discourse) you can always come over to the discussion boards of Internet Infidels. You will find plenty of non-believers who “need” what you’re selling. You will also find many more of your ilk with whom you can share fellowship.

    Here’s the link: http://www.iidb.org/vbb/index.php

  61. tumbler says

    Dear Spike,

    Why are you losing it? OK, it requires class; to take a joke. To seem satisfied when a friend laughs at you. You can dish it out but not take it? I notice a similar characteristic in Mr. Myers. He doesn’t like being trifled with. OK, he may yet ban me, and put the seal on his elitism and pride.

    Or unlike you Spike; PZ may have more depth. He might merely come down from his ivory tower and speak like my equal. That might even serve to disarm an old Geezer like me.

  62. G. Tingey says

    A long way back up, someone said … “liberal policies don’t make good soundbytes” or words to that effect.

    But there is one simple word, that no-one seems prepared to use, especially in the field of IDiocy or cretinism.


    Loud, and clear, and follow-up with the recent academies statement.

  63. Spike says


    If I appear to be upset (which I’m not) it’s because you lumped me in with the liberals.