Nick Matzke posted Entry 2526 on August 19, 2006 03:47 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2521

In the evolution/creationism controversy, there is a sub-debate about public debates: should scientists and science fans engage in oral public debates with creationists? Sometimes it is said that the answer is always “no” – debates are sport, not serious discussion, and creationists can employ the “Gish Gallop” to rattle off hundreds of bogus claims, each of which would take minutes or hours to debunk in the fashion done on talk.origins. But the real answer is “it depends”, because there are circumstances when it is appropriate – neutral forums, a setup that allows individual topics to be discussed in depth, you are an expert debater like Kenneth Miller, etc. On the other hand, if you are being invited to a debate set up by creationists for the purpose of promoting creationism, with their rules, press, etc., and their audience bussed in from fundamentalist churches, and when they are planning to record, broadcast, and sell recordings of the event to promote creationism/ID – then you should think twice about whether or not you are being “set up,” and whether or not your participation is helping or hurting the cause of science education.

Here is another situation in which you should think twice. On the web, I just stumbled on this announcement of a series of upcoming ID events in Florida, called “Darwin of Design?” See the line I bolded:

Darwin or Design?

Part I: Sept 29-30

Sponsored by Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity (PSSI)
• USF’s Sun Dome
Friday night, Sept 29, at 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box
Dr. Ralph Seelke, research scientist in microbiology
Dr. Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution

Note: High school and college faculty and students will be admitted free of charge with appropriate ID.
The admission fee for all others is $5. For more information, call (813) 974-3111.

• Radisson Hotel Ballroom, Lectures with Open Forum Saturday, Sept 30, 10:00 a.m. until noon*
Drs. Michael Behe, Ralph Seelke and Jonathan Wells
* 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg - www.radisson.com/stpetersburgfl
Note: Complimentary coffee and tea served. A free-will donation will be requested to help with expenses.

Part II: November 3-4

Co-Sponsors: PSSI and The Campus Humanistic Society
• The Great Debate: Darwin or Design?
Friday evening, Nov 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Grace Family Church in Tampa**
Featuring: Dr. Stephen Meyer, Ph.D. in philosophy of science, Cambridge University
and Dr. Donald Duh, professor (emeritus) at Whatever State University

** 5101 Van Dyke Rd, Lutz, FL – www.gracefamilychurch.org

• Exploring the Evidence of Design, Saturday, Nov. 4 Calvary Baptist Church, 9:00 a.m.-noon
Christ Community Church, 1:30-4:30 p.m.***
Featuring: Dr. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute, Dr. Walter Bradley, Dean of Engineering at Baylor University and co-author of The Mystery of Life’s Origin, and Dr. Thomas Woodward, professor at Trinity College and author of Doubts about Darwin and Darwin Strikes Back
*** Calvary Baptist, 110 N. McMullen Booth Rd, Clearwater – www.calvarybaptist.org; Christ Community, 6202 N Himes Ave, Tampa, (813) 879-2077 – www.tampaccc.org

It looks like the promoters accidentally sent out the draft announcement, and then at least one recipient, WTBN, “Tampa Bay’s Christian Talk” radio station put it up without reading it. I haven’t looked for other instances posted at church websites etc., but they may exist.

Anyhoo, if the announcement for the creationism/ID debate, before you are even signed up, describes you as “Dr. Donald Duh, professor (emeritus) at Whatever State University”, then maybe, just maybe, this is a debate you should refrain from participating in.

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Comment #120824

Posted by J-Dog on August 19, 2006 4:24 PM (e)

Bwa Ha Ha!

I can see why Creationists, I mean “ID Researchers” need to continue to fleece their congregations… the cost in foot repair alone must be horrendous!

Bwa Ha Ha!

Comment #120830

Posted by Guilty Bystander on August 19, 2006 5:10 PM (e)

Co-Sponsors: PSSI and The Campus Humanistic Society

Meaning: we plan to hornswoggle some atheist-sounding organization into lending an illusion of balance. There must be one on some campus somewhere.

Comment #120831

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 19, 2006 5:10 PM (e)

I have archived the HTML page here.

Comment #120834

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 19, 2006 5:21 PM (e)

Hmm, this page has it slightly different:

Featuring: Dr. Stephen Meyer, Ph.D. in philosophy of science, Cambridge University and Dr. Donald Weinshank, professor (emeritus) at Michigan State University

Someone might want to email him (or maybe he already pulled out, provoking “Dr. Donald Duh”…).

I wonder why Michael Ruse was not recruited for this event. Historically he is one of the most popular guests at ID events. Perhaps he got similar bad vibes about this one.

Comment #120837

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 19, 2006 5:31 PM (e)

By the way, googling on “Campus Humanistic Society”, in quotes, gives only two hits – the two announcements of the “Darwin or Design” event mentioned in this thread. Another entity that only exists in announcements for ID events?

Comment #120839

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 19, 2006 5:39 PM (e)

Oh, and this is going to be “The largest conference on Intelligent Design ever held“, according to apologetics.org. They’re holding it in the Sun Dome, like most scientific conferences.

Comment #120840

Posted by vhutchison on August 19, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

Any pro-evolution person attending this event should go with a ‘bunker-buster’! As most readers of PT probably know, PSSI is an anti-evolution organization as indicated by their web address: www.doctorsdoubtingdarwin.org.

A fancy version of the announcement is at: http://ccct.dallasnewmedia.com/MyCCC/events/tabid/93/Default.aspx/

After several searches I too could find no reference to any campus humanistic organization at USF. Maybe it was concocted for this event?

Comment #120847

Posted by Gorn on August 19, 2006 6:54 PM (e)

“Note: Complimentary coffee and tea served. A free-will donation will be requested to help with expenses”

But if there is an all-knowing god then he already knows if you made a donation or not

Comment #120849

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 19, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

Yes, there is no registered Humanistic Society chapter at USF: http://usfweb2.usf.edu/StudentActivities/stu_org_list.asp.

Could they be talking about any other campus in the area?

Comment #120851

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 19, 2006 7:05 PM (e)

Yes, there is no registered Humanistic Society chapter at USF: http://usfweb2.usf.edu/StudentActivities/stu_org.

Could they be talking about any other campus in the area?

Maybe it’s at Whatever State U., and Dr. Donald Duh is the faculty advisor.

Comment #120854

Posted by steve s on August 19, 2006 7:18 PM (e)

Maybe it’s at Whatever State U., and Dr. Donald Duh is the faculty advisor.

Duh was my advisor at Whatever State. I majored in Who Gives a Crap?

Comment #120863

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 19, 2006 8:02 PM (e)

It’s also rather disingenuous that they list Meyer’s affiliation as Cambridge. He earned his degree there 15 years ago, but otherwise has no connection to Cambridge. But I guess that sounds more impressive than his current affiliation, Palm Beach Atlantic University and/or Discovery Institute.

Comment #120865

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'i'

Comment #120866

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2006 8:20 PM (e)

Duh was my advisor at Whatever State. I majored in Who Gives a Crap?

Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t major in “Does shit Matter?”, as I’m sure Oleary would point out that topic is passe.

Comment #120873

Posted by Gary Hurd on August 19, 2006 9:51 PM (e)

I wonder why Michael Ruse was not recruited for this event. Historically he is one of the most popular guests at ID events. Perhaps he got similar bad vibes about this one.

Maybe it is a question, as GB Shaw observed, “We are now dickering over the price?”

Comment #120883

Posted by Albion on August 19, 2006 11:00 PM (e)

When the “debate” is taking place at a church, it’s a waste of time for any scientist to take part. It’s also rather surprising that a humanist society would cosponsor a science-versus-religion “debate” taking place in a church. Which is probably why they had to make one up since no real one would be stupid enough to fall for it.

Comment #120905

Posted by Richiyaado on August 20, 2006 1:03 AM (e)

Since most “debates” these days are little more than staged media events, where substantive discourse is nothing and sound bites are everything, I’d think it would be difficult for serious scientists to deal with the more media-savvy charlatans from the DI. Fortunately, Gish-galloping by rote in front of a passive audience isn’t the same as having to answer probing questions under oath in front of a judge, so they don’t do so well in court.

Comment #120954

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 20, 2006 8:04 AM (e)

I get invited every other month or so to “debate” some nutjob or another on radio or local TV. I always turn all such requests down. All it does is give the nutters a chance to raise money from a gullible audience, and gives them an air of respectibility that they don’t deserve. If they have something scientific to present, let them present it in peer-reviewed research like everyone else has to. And if they have a legal case to present, let them present it in court. But, of course, they have neither.

Comment #120966

Posted by shiva on August 20, 2006 8:35 AM (e)

Ralph Seelke seems to be getting a free ride from scientists, so expect him to make the most of it at this ‘conference’.

Comment #120980

Posted by Keith Douglas on August 20, 2006 9:22 AM (e)

I’m skeptical of the merits of debate when the participants (or some of them, at any rate) are quite clearly not honest …

Comment #121044

Posted by infamous on August 20, 2006 10:54 AM (e)

Sometimes it makes me wonder how much money/effort these churches put into these events. Shouldn’t they be using that money/effort on something more important to the Kingdom… like helping the poor or something? Just sayin…

Comment #121050

Posted by Ben on August 20, 2006 11:47 AM (e)

If they have something scientific to present, let them present it in peer-reviewed research like everyone else has to. And if they have a legal case to present, let them present it in court. But, of course, they have neither.

So they fall back on whining about ‘repression’ or ‘activist judges’.

Comment #121061

Posted by wamba on August 20, 2006 1:20 PM (e)

Waterloo! Waterloo!

Comment #121078

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 20, 2006 3:34 PM (e)

Another blog commenting on this:
http://www.inoculatedmind.com/?p=60

Comment #121094

Posted by Duncan on August 20, 2006 4:44 PM (e)

IDiots wrote:

“Note: High school and college faculty and students will be admitted free of charge with appropriate ID.”

So you’ve got to be an IDiot to get in?

Comment #121103

Posted by Scott on August 20, 2006 7:19 PM (e)

I note from the PSSI web site that there are currently (as of Aug 16, 2006) 114 doctors who have said they agree with the following statement:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life and we therefore dissent from Darwinian macroevolution as a viable theory. This does not imply the endorsement of any alternative theory.”

Comes up short of even the DI’s list of doubters.

I also note that the alternate web site to “www.pssiinternational.com” is “www.doctorsdoubtingdarwin.org”.

It seems that according to severl web sites, including “http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/2006/06/most-doctors-doubt-darwin.html”, “http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/05/new_darwin_dissent_list_for_th.html”, the PSSI web site was first reported about in late May or early June.

So, we have a debate sponsered by two organizations: one that doesn’t exist, and another just 3 months old who’s purpose is to … sponser this event???

Comment #121118

Posted by djlactin on August 20, 2006 9:44 PM (e)

Note that Meyer’s Ph.D. is in THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. He’s not even a scientist!

Comment #121139

Posted by PaulC on August 20, 2006 11:44 PM (e)

Is there something wrong with my browser, or have they in fact taken it down? It is in google’s cache for now.
http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:npl7VQx3OtUJ:www.bayword.com/calendarinfo.asp%3FId%3D25913+%22donald+duh%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=8

Comment #121142

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on August 21, 2006 12:10 AM (e)

Looks like it’s gone to me also.

Like I said above, I archived it.

Comment #121159

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 21, 2006 2:22 AM (e)

Note that Meyer’s Ph.D. is in THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. He’s not even a scientist!

Given that most objections to evolution are basically attacks on all of science anyway, I think someone who knows how science is supposed to work can weigh in on the arguments just as well. You may have a case if anti-evolutionists actually produce scientific findings, but there has been none.

Comment #121214

Posted by Roger on August 21, 2006 6:06 AM (e)

Mark Twain offered advice to never argue with a fool, people may not be able to tell you apart.

Comment #121240

Posted by wamba on August 21, 2006 8:30 AM (e)

I happened across a great headline:

Romanian police cuff 23 ID fraud suspects

Comment #121358

Posted by MrKAT, Finland on August 21, 2006 5:01 PM (e)

“Dr. Donald Duh”
:D
This reminds me Donald Duck’s cousin “Fethry Duck”. He is in our country (in finnish language) called “Touho Ankka”. And now guess who you can find on this somebit famous anti-bigbanglist…:

http://homepages.xnet.co.nz/~hardy/cosmologystatement.html
..“Touho Ankka, Independent_Researcher, Finland” ..

Comment #121471

Posted by Kayla on August 22, 2006 1:53 AM (e)

Personally, I think debates have value precisely because they’re “media events”. One of the reasons creationism is so succesful is because a large portion of the general public doesn’t know that much about biology or evolution, and a debate might actually clue them in (or at least show them that creationists have no actual evidence to back them up).

What I’d like to see are (more) debates hosted by evolutionary biologists, so there’s none of that garbage you mentioned. However, the question is - would creationists actually participate in a debate where they didn’t have home field advantage?

Comment #121489

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 22, 2006 3:54 AM (e)

Personally, I think debates have value precisely because they’re “media events”. One of the reasons creationism is so succesful is because a large portion of the general public doesn’t know that much about biology or evolution, and a debate might actually clue them in (or at least show them that creationists have no actual evidence to back them up).

You give the general population too much intellectual credit. A few may border on the edge of curiosity to actually research the claims. All the others would be watching, saying: “Ooh, you go girl!” like a Jerry Springer show.

The debates have as much pedagogical value as “critical analysis”. None of these techniques clues anyone in. In actual fact, it subconsciously teaches people to sit back and watch too sides duke it out and follow the winner with the belief that the winner won because they were right.

The general public has no idea of the tactics used in debates. That’s why political debates before elections are useless.

What I’d like to see are (more) debates hosted by evolutionary biologists, so there’s none of that garbage you mentioned. However, the question is - would creationists actually participate in a debate where they didn’t have home field advantage?

Evolutionary biologists won’t have the home ground advantage either. They have jobs, because actual knowledge does that to people. The reason why creationists can debate is they have nothing else to do than to preach to their choir.

Creationists like Kent Hovind and many others all had their challenges taken up and none of them were honored. So they would bother with other people’s challenges. Added to the fact that the general public would actually see such an action (ie evolutionary biologists hosting debates) as an actual shenanigan and will be more drawn to the Creationist side mostly because of the “support the underdogs” mentality.

Comment #121685

Posted by Pattanowski on August 22, 2006 12:52 PM (e)

Oh wow! I’ll be in the area on those dates! I’ll do my best to attend the “good” parts and post on it. The only problem is getting around the five dollar profit they would be getting. Maybe accidentlly spill my coffee on some propaganda? Perhaps I’d like to drink over five dollars’ value in coffee!

Comment #121711

Posted by secondclass on August 22, 2006 1:38 PM (e)

Lenny Flank wrote:

All it does is give the nutters a chance to raise money from a gullible audience, and gives them an air of respectibility that they don’t deserve.

There’s a lot of truth in that. Maybe scientists should begin their debates with a disclaimer like the following:

The ongoing discussion between scientists and ID proponents is not an indication that the jury is still out on ID. The truth is that the verdict has been in for years: ID is not science. On this fact the scientific research community, academia, and the government are all in agreement.

Of course there are individuals who do not understand this verdict and demand explanations, which scientists try to provide. In doing so, scientists are merely attempting to communicate already established facts. The matter is already settled, notwithstanding some people’s lack of understanding.

Comment #121761

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 22, 2006 3:38 PM (e)

a debate might actually clue them in (or at least show them that creationists have no actual evidence to back them up).

How does one tell the difference between evidence and lies? The creationists are expert conmen and can fool anyone who isn’t already well-informed. This is the fundamental error made by those who argue for or engage in debates with creationists – they underestimate the lack of scruples of the creationists and the consequences of such a lack.