The Stupid-Driven Life — Part II

HEREWITH, dear reader, we offer a few more disconnected observations, sometimes taken from our earlier articles, but all of them inspired by reading and analyzing the “work” of creationists. Part I in this thrilling series is here.

Debating with creationists: Writing letters and making speeches are fine things to do, but we have misgivings about live debates with creationists. It’s bad strategy, because the mere appearance of a respected scientist on the same platform gives them credibility and creates the illusion that there’s some kind of scientific controversy that’s worth debating — and that creationists are qualified to debate with knowledgeable scientists. It also generates press attention. Creationists are not deserving of this.

There is also a tactical reason never to engage in a live debate with a creationist: They typically use their time to make numerous and often erroneous claims, all spewed out in a rapid-fire barrage that is impossible to rebut in the time allowed. Live debates are fine for politics, but not for science.

Teach the controversy: When teaching geography, we don’t include flat-earth as a competing theory; nor do we respectfully debate with students who may be flat-earthers. Astronomy teachers don’t teach astrology, the geo-centric universe, or moon-landing denialism as competing theories; nor do they debate with students who believe in those things. Medical school instructors don’t teach faith-healing as a competing theory; nor do they debate with witch doctors.

Similarly, biologists don’t teach creationism as a competing theory, nor do they debate with creationist students. This isn’t because of dogmatism, censorship, fear of competing ideas, or lack of academic freedom. It’s because schools have no time for nonsense — and that includes long-discredited notions, regardless of the passion of their advocates. Nonsense isn’t a competing theory.

Creationist websites are as instructive about evolution as the al-Qaeda website is about Western Civilization.

Creationists are like beer-bloated spectators booing from the bleachers, sidewalk superintendents at a construction site, armchair generals who never led an army or anything else, wannabe experts with no expertise, busybodies with no knowledge, critics with no ability — all jeering and mocking their betters from the sidelines of life.

[See also: The Stupid-Driven Life — Part III.]

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2 responses to “The Stupid-Driven Life — Part II

  1. … I have to confess a sin. Im ‘debating’ a creationist later this month.

    BUT!

    Im only doing it as a science education/outreach opportunity.

    … and for the lulz. How could I resist this porn mustache?!?! HOW??

    I promise Ill quit after I get my degree!

  2. Abbie says: “I have to confess a sin. Im ‘debating’ a creationist later this month.”

    Well, if you must. But permit me to make a Curmudgeonly suggestion. Don’t debate against him. Assume that he’s hopeless and will always remain so. Talk to the audience instead. And forget about DNA. These debates are never about that. Check this out — it may give you some ideas: Debating Creationists: The Big Lie.