Friday, February 01, 2008

How to argue with a Creationist Presenter by Emo Holes

reposted from:

my comments are in bright green;
highlights in yellow blockquotes.

From: "Emo Holes"
Date: Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:36 am
Subject: Creationist Tactics e_moses_of_t...
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The UK is currently under attack from Creationists and Edinburgh
University seems to be one of their targets. The blatant
misrepresentation of science by the creationists is really quite
disgraceful and immoral. I call on all reasonable people to oppose it.

I was at the University last night and I had a run-in with John

John is a very entertaining speaker - not right - but very
entertaining. He mounted a concerted attack on Darwin ( The ad
hominem fallacy) and his theory (misrepresentation of science).

Part of his presentation was concerned with the high level of
correlation between Human DNA and Chimp DNA. He was ridiculing the
way in which the alledged level of commonality reported by scientists
has come down from 98% to 90%. He then went on to show (at some
length) that small changes in coded information can result in large
changes in the meaning of the information. He showed numerous
examples of English sentences in which small changes in letter order
or single character substitutions can completely change the message.
Sometimes hilariously.

This seemed to be a concerted attempt to "muddy the water" regarding
our genetic relationship with our nearest relative and imply that
evolutionists were trying to argue that that small numerical
differences in DNA comparisons didn't really matter. The point is
that the 90% commonality is powerful evidence of common ancestry.
John didn't mention that so I pointed it out.

I also said that development biologists now understand in
considerable detail how genetic information is used as organisms
develop and they would agree that very small changes can have a
dramatic effect. I then added an example of my own that didn't
involve any re-ordering or substutions. It involves only the addition
of a space. I said:

"Genesis isn't the answer - Genes is."

At that the audidence laughed and John's body language signalled a
level of discomfort.

It was great fun and very rewarding to be able to stop a very
acomplished nonsense spouting Creationist in his tracks by beating
him at his own silly word game.

This incident illustrates the power of well crafted "Sound Bites".
John was using his considerable presentation skills and what I call
the "Robin Hood" tactic. Here's how it works.

Take some powerful evidence for evolution (e.g. the Chimp/Human DNA
correlation) and find where science is uncertain about some aspect.
(e.g. 98%?, 95%?, 90%? why can't scientists make up their minds?) Put
some pretty slides together and clown around on stage having a good
time ridiculing a false supposition. Namely that evolutionary
scientists are claiming that small differences in DNA result in small
differences in the developed organisms ( they don't do that). The
objective here is to give the impression that the issue is well
understood by the speaker and that it doesn't cause him a problem. If
it comes up at question time he can just shrug and say "Well I dealt
with that in my presentation".

In other words "Rob complex scientific ideas and findings from the
incredible riches of the cofers of science, re-package them,
misrepresent them and present them as "no problem areas" to the poor
sods who don't have the knowledge or insight to be able to see
through the deception.

That was "Robin Hood's" maxim "Steal from the rich and give to the

In the encounter described above, I was able to capatilise on those
parts of John's presentation that I knew to be correct. Namely that
small DNA differences can be very significant. By adding an example
of my own, I was playing the Robin Hood card as well. All the fun and
humour that John had generated in ridiculing his false assumption was
directed back at him via my "Genes is" example of the same principle
and the explanation that the significance of small difference was a
fundamental principle of development biology.

In the run-up to Darwin Day 2009 we can expect the Creationists to re-
double their already considerable efforts to discredit our Hero in
any way they can.

We can oppose them, put the record straight and have a lot of fun on
the way. After all, we have science on our side, all they have is God
and the obvious talents of rather more effective clowns like John
MacKay. :-)


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