Monday, June 11, 2007

Doggerel #97: "Join in the Debate!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

One common tactic a number of woos like to employ is requesting a change in the battlefield, to get the skeptic to join them on a podcast debate or whatever. The problem with the vast majority of these is that it's a challenge to a verbal debate: One of the least honest kinds.

The problem with a verbal debate is that it artificially limits the debate to individual knowledge, and carries implicit time limits. Without being able to insert hotlinks in speech, it's hard to know if a woo is being honest about a report they're citing. Many alties who believe in the mythical link between thimerosal and autism, for example, like to claim that a Simpsonwood document proves that there's a cover-up. It doesn't, but that doesn't stop people from quote mining.

Additionally, since 'let me read that study' or 'I need to research that' doesn't go over well in such a debate, a woo can pull out any unexpected half-truth the skeptic doesn't know about in detail and make it look like a point in his favor of his pet woo when that specific skeptic doesn't know a response. Additionally, since the woo can spout out several 'anomalies' at once, he has a verbal advantage over the skeptic: A single canard takes time to debunk, especially since woos in the audience are generally uninformed about the skeptical position on any given issue.

Worse, a number of these debates have little or no moderation: Sometimes the woo will 'win' by sheer volume, an irrational moderator's insistence on focusing on an irrelevant detail, and other such absurdities.

Sometimes, though, woos will challenge a skeptic to join a typed forum. Though sometimes these can be honest, there are countless woo forums out there that will ban anyone at the slightest provocation, including merely expressing a contrary opinion. When asked why, there reply is usually silence or equating polite dissent with trollish belligerence, usually involving a double-standard.

Of course, all of this is moot if there's no reason to change the battlefield in the first place: Why not continue the debate in the forum, blog, or wherever this doggerel gets brought up?

18 comments:

Dikkii said...

Hear, hear.

One of your best doggerels to date, BD.

Bronze Dog said...

Slightly off-topic, but related because I've seen a lot of twoofers use this bit of doggerel: Got one twoofer back at my link to the twoofer credo.

My gut says he'll be back.

Bob said...

"Join in the debate!"

Followed by...

"C'mon! I'll even roll out the red carpet for you."

No thanks.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that atheists and evolutionists are a bunch of pansies. They can't even present their position in simple coherent statements. They have to rely on elevated mumbo jumbo which the average person does not understand.

And they wonder why evolution is not taught correctly in public schools when they can't even present it coherently to the average Joe.

Chris said...

OMG, how stupid
pansies != inability to communicate, even if that is granted for the sake of debate.
I might respond, but I'm sure anonymous won't be back to read it.

BTW, I read this blog all the time, but don't often comment (at all?). Keep up the good work.

Bronze Dog said...

The big problem I see: Opponents of evolution, Big Bang, etcetera are never willing to listen to simple statements. They'll go on repeating canards about dogs giving birth to cats and all that stuff.

Of course, the fact that Creationists are making a giant public relations effort to make sure that lies about evolution are continuously propagated doesn't help.

Anonymous said...

Just because it takes you all day to explain your nonsense does not make your incompetence the creationist fault.

I am sure that when you run out of the toilette paper its probably the Creationist fault too.

Grow up and take responsibility for your own failure!

Little girl.

Man Called True said...

Okay. The kid gloves and Deistic Brace are off. Time to break out Ye Olde Non-Religious God Hand.

Just because it takes you all day to explain your nonsense does not make your incompetence the creationist fault.

Being able to cram bullshit into five seconds isn't something to be proud of. In fact, being able to sum something up in a very small amount of time usually means there's nothing there.

Yes, you can say "Goddidit" in half a breath, but what does that mean? It just means you don't have any proof to back it up or else it would take longer.

I am sure that when you run out of the toilette paper its probably the Creationist fault too.

No, I blame aliens. Aliens that use our toilet paper. Except they probably do it in some weird alien way like out the tops of their heads or something.

Grow up and take responsibility for your own failure!

We aren't the ones who pop onto people's blogs and spew immature rantings. Mirror, mirror.

Little girl.

You're a long way from the playground, tough boy.

Bronze Dog said...

Evolution: Contains several methods of causing changes in life forms, like mutation, sexual selection (members favoring mates with particular characteristics), horizontal gene transfer (viruses, for example, sometimes implant 'sleeper' DNA into a host gamete to survive to the next generation, and a mutation disables some key functions, but leaves protein codes that might wind up being useful), drift (changes in traits that don't currently affect survival and reproduction) and probably countless other mechanisms that produce variety, followed by bad traits being killed off or minimized as a result of being counter-productive towards survival and reproduction, while those that enhance survival and reproduction are more likely to increase in frequency (natural selection).

ID/Creationism: "A magic man done it!"

Anonymous said...

Face it pansies,


You can win a debate if your life depends on it. That's what ticks you off the most. And that's why you don't have a chance in the arena of ideas.

Bronzedog's caricature is a prime example. The average Joe has to read twenty times and decipher the mumbo jumbo before he can understand it. Even if all we said is "God did it," at least people can understand that and choose to accept it or reject it.

You rather elevate the discussion into scientific mumbo jumbo and expect people simply accept your premise wholesale even though they have no idea what you are talking about. And when they give you the finger, you go home calling them all stupid and blaming your opponent because YOU can't even represent yourself accurately.

With your inability to simplify complex ideas and then blame your opponent for your incompetency, its no wonder why you get your ass kicked in debates.

Bronze Dog said...

You can win a debate if your life depends on it. That's what ticks you off the most. And that's why you don't have a chance in the arena of ideas.

Strange, I thought the fact that we've been developing new, working technologies based on evolutionary principles was proof that we were winning.

Or are you talking about in popularity contests? If that's the case, are you one of those 'truth is relative' nuts?

Bronzedog's caricature is a prime example.

So, what's inaccurate about my views on ID? Show me the science. Show me the research.

Even if all we said is "God did it," at least people can understand that and choose to accept it or reject it.

I'm guessing you're one of the crowd who believes that Uri Geller bends spoons with his mind because simple magic tricks that accomplish the same task are complicated.

You rather elevate the discussion into scientific mumbo jumbo and expect people simply accept your premise wholesale even though they have no idea what you are talking about.

1. I was using 7th-grade vocabulary and very simple concepts. All of them were covered in my 7th grade biology class except horizontal transfer, which I grasped instantly because it's based in knowledge that I acquired in 5th grade science. And that was at Texas public schools, not elite academies. You remind me of adults who can't grasp percentages.

2. Don't lie about my point of view. You can look up the studies for yourself. Here's a reference to common creationist canards that contains references to studies.

3. Your statement, translated: "If it's too complicated, it's wrong." Tough shit. Life is complicated. Either deal with it, or just admit you're a pansy who doesn't want to even crack open a pre-high school textbook.

And when they give you the finger, you go home calling them all stupid and blaming your opponent because YOU can't even represent yourself accurately.

Yeah, because 'a cat giving birth to a dog would falsify evolution' is a complicated, incomprehensible statement that we shouldn't expect creationists to understand.

The bottom line: Evolution can be expressed simply and has been, but woos like you just choose to ignore what we say and pretend that it's a lot more complicated than it really is.

With your inability to simplify complex ideas and then blame your opponent for your incompetency, its no wonder why you get your ass kicked in debates.

Yeah, we get our asses kicked because we actually bother to explain things in an effort to kill the misconceptions deliberately spread by IDiots, rather than rely on emotive fallacies. I suppose next, you'll say that ufologists are right because it takes too long to describe countless atmospheric and perceptual anomalies, or that the 9/11 twoofers are right because mechanical engineering that explains the WTC collapse is too complicated.

Anyone want to bet that anonny here has never actually read anything that's been said in the evolution/ID "debate"?

Oh, and before we proceed further, I'd like you to state, without equivocation, that reality is objective and absolute. I don't want to get in a fight with an Chopra-woo who won't even accept that fundamental premise.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Bronzedog's caricature is a prime example. The average Joe has to read twenty times and decipher the mumbo jumbo before he can understand it. Even if all we said is "God did it," at least people can understand that and choose to accept it or reject it.

Maybe the dumbest attack on evolution ever.

"It's too complicated for me to understand so it must be wrong."

What an idiot.

Bronze Dog said...

I've understood the basic concepts of evolution since 7th grade:

Variation: Lots of different traits in lots of different critters. This happens because of mutation, sex, and all those other mechanisms I hadn't learned about at the time.

The ones with helpful traits are more likely to have lots of children, and they pass them on.

Some traits are bad in their given environment, though, and often lead the critter to an early grave. Those traits usually don't last.

Many, many traits, however, are neutral: They don't contribute or inhibit... but they might someday, when the environment changes.

All of that helpful/unhelpful/neutral stuff is called natural selection.

Now just take all those small changes that get passed on from generation to generation over millions of years, and chances are, you'll get a lot of change.

Or is that explanation too mumbo-jumbo-ey for anonny?

Bob said...

He must be a fan of "framing."

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...


Or is that explanation too mumbo-jumbo-ey for anonny?


My guess is that will be too learny- learny.

Anonymous said...

Hey bob, what did you mean by "framing" exactly? Some sort of DNA concept, or like that ancient expression about being careful of how you speak, like in politics for forever. If it's the latter, the funny thing is recently some guy on a forum I visit pretended they invented the whole concept and that it was some amazing innovation, instead of something people have been saying since the day I was born that only had a vague meaning about being careful how you phrase things.

Bronze Dog said...

If it's the latter, the funny thing is recently some guy on a forum I visit pretended they invented the whole concept and that it was some amazing innovation, instead of something people have been saying since the day I was born that only had a vague meaning about being careful how you phrase things.

You got that part smack on. People like us have been groaning, especially since a lot of the 'framers' are in favor of diluting the message by spinning the facts until they're inoffensive. Pretty much the PC crowd playing 'concern troll' without providing even the tiniest suggestion on how we should 'frame' the argument.

We see a bit of the extreme version of the alleged 'framing' argument in you: "It's never the idiot's fault he doesn't understand basic concepts that he should have been taught in public grade school."

Dean Moyer said...

It's funny how this topic turned into a debate. :)

Bronze Dog, I think your post was excellent. I'd just like to add the following thoughts:

Time spent debating... is simply time spent.

It accomplishes nothing, it proves nothing, it settles nothing.

Facts are not decided by debates, shouting matches, fist-fights, or wars. They cannot be established by legislation, government sanction, majority vote, or public opinion.

Facts are determined by careful scientific research, experimentation, gathering of evidence and comparison with other known facts.

When someone challenges me to a debate... all I see is a moron with nothing better to do inviting me to join him in wasting time.

I'm sorry, but I can find better things to do... even if he can't.

If you have evidence to present, then simply publish your evidence. If someone throws a hissy-fit, don't worry about it.

Remember, only a fool argues with a fool.

- Dean

btw, I wrote this offline and came here to add it... only to discover this raging debate going on. :)

I decided to post it anyway even though in this context it may sound like I'm being arrogant or cocky.

I hope no one is offended by what I'm saying. It was not inspired by your discussion... but you guys ARE making my point for me.