Monday, July 30, 2007

The Creationist Playbook

Some comments in a recent discussion at Dispatches bought forth some standard creationist arguments that I thought deserved their own post:

"Anyways, this is the last I will say on this issue, since this is just turning into a bunch of name calling and whatnot."

The "Ad Hominem Gambit", pretending that all insults are ad hominems. You might say "2 + 2 isn't 5 you moron" but all they hear is "bla bla bla bla bla you moron", and conveniently dismiss the fact that the insult was in addition to addressing their argument, rather than a substitute for doing so.

"If you were near, I would gladly engage you in a real discourse on the issue, in person. I refuse to do it on here. It would take a very long time."

Ah, the old "let's take it private" ploy. Notice they never do this at the beginning of the discussion. It only crops up after they start getting their ass whupped. It's no different than those whiney kids we all knew growing up who suddenly would get tired of playing at the exact moment they started losing the game.

There is an additional element to this one. One shoud never debate a creationist in private, because it is a waste of your time. Your target of persuasion isn't the creationist - you know they are lost. Your target is the casual observer who maybe hasn't made up their mind on the issue.

"That said, you're not even listening to what I am saying."

Another throwback to childhood days, where "you're not listening" is synonymous with "you won't agree with me". It's just a convenient way to dodge criticisms of one's position.

"All that is being done is you're looking for little parts of what I say to pull apart, under the presumption that that nulls out anything I might say."

Cue the "pathetic level of detail" quote from Dr. Dembski. What this reveals is the backwards nature of the creationist mindset. They don't work from data to conclusion, but backward from conclusion to cherry-picked data. So to their mindset, the data isn't important, because they are just examples anyway. That's why they don't think getting the details is important. It's only The Truth (tm) that matters.

"Be content in your knowledge that you all have all of the answers"

This is the old "you think you know everything" ploy, something one rarely hears anyone with any intellect say, because we all know how foolish it is. No one thinks they know everything. Well, except true believers. See, when it comes to divine revelation, they DO think they know everything. After all, knowledge handed down from the gods is complete and perfect. So if anyone claims to know more than them, well then logically, they must think they have "all the answers".

"I will retire to my ignorance"

The sarcastic reference to their own ignorance comes from an egalitarianism about knowledge. To them, we are all equally able to understand the truth, as is protestant tradition. Claiming your scientific credentials and fancy language demonstrates superior knowledge only conveys to them that you are an arrogant elitist.

These are standard ploys, that show up every day in debates like this. No excuse for not being ready for them.

No comments: