Sunday, October 12, 2008

So You Want to Debate Evolution and Get No Takers?

From this discussion: to understand the reaction you are getting, allow me an analogy. I used to be very involved on an internet site for people who play a game called Axis and Allies. I won't bore you with too much detail except to say it is sort of the chess or bridge of dice-driven war games (or was, this was some time ago), and has one very pertinent trait.

In the game (I'm talking about the original version), one side plays the Axis powers, the other the Allied powers (simulating WWII). With beginner players, the Axis tends to win, because it is simpler to play. But with experienced players, the Allies, requiring the coordination of an more expert player, is dominant. This was beyond dispute: league devised bidding processes to give the Axis a helping hand.

But invariably, some new players, having bested their little brother and his friends, and fancying themselves far more skilled than they were, would join the club and announce that they would show us how the game was played, and demolish us as the Axis.

It used to be the running joke among some top players as to who's turn it was to deal with these guys. Some of the newbies wanted to debate it too, at great length. As you might imagine, that got boring in a hurry. Most of us completely lost interest in their arguments after a few months on the club. Been there, done that, 1,000 times.

This is a very analogous situation. People come on sites like this raring to debate scientists about evolution all the time. It's not news. What would be news is one that didn't use the same old nonsense arguments we've all seen, investigated and found woefully wanting, over and over again. What you got? 747's in junkyards? Moon dust? Irreducible Perplexity? Flaws in carbon 14 dating? No transitional fossils? Probability arguments (ooops, sorry, must show your work). Bible-babble? See, we have seen all this before.

Just like Axis and Allies, there's really no need for debate. Just play the game, and the answer becomes very clear very quickly. In the science game, the currency is publication and references in the peer-reviewed literature. And the scoreboard there shows thousands of articles and references a year for evolution, and diddly squat for creationism. Don't bore me with your conspiracy theories: The refs cheated! The dice are rigged! The judges are biased! It's all the same sore loser whine to me.

So that's why no one wants to debate you Scott. It's a boring game, you want to play it on the wrong field, and it's been decided for years anyway.

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