In “How to Make Darwinism Impregnable,”using an actual news release, Creation-Evolution Headlines (June 6, 2012) dissects the rhetorical tricks by which Darwin’s volunteer sales force in media use:
simple, easy-to-understand, cute, fallacious catch-phrases that stop thinking and put their opponents in clown suits.
That’s relatively easy to do, of course, because they don’t have a lot of hard evidence for their position.
Evidence makes a case, but also constrains it. The Darwinist can show that over time, natural selection acting on random mutation causes a given species on an island to became smaller (island dwarfism) or larger (island gigantism) and then he leaps suddenly to the claim that it explains how a monad becomes a man, unguided. His only actual evidence is size changes on a remote island; the rest is a leap of faith about unrelated matters.
Legacy media people find Darwinism way cooler than design. That’s largely because they are not confronted by complex arguments about probability, mechanisms of evolution other than Darwin’s, highlighted contrary findings, or even basic rules of evidence. They need only know who to diss, and they are good at that.
Here are some of many rhetorical tricks CEH notes in the release (about national science standards):
• Scare readers that opposition to evolution could prevent students from competing in “a global job market” (Scare-mongering, Non-sequitur).
• Quote the politician who believes “the board should defer to scientists, science educators and business leaders when considering changes.” (Appeal to authority).
• Call their views “mainstream”. (Bandwagon, Euphemism, Either-Or Fallacy)
• Give the opposition a statement but no chance to explain what he means. (Card Stacking)
More. How to dealing with this stuff? First, we realize a single, central fact: The dimwit in the corner cube, reading it, believes it. He has been told who to hate, fear, and ridicule. And he is happy to discover that the world is so simple.
We can’t change that. But a couple of quick sound bite responses may help more clued-in people pause and think about what they just heard.
For example, when confronted with appeals to authority: Astrology and eugenics were once believed by authorities. Eugenics was enforced. In science, authority should come from evidence, not top people’s beliefs or enforcement.
Or “opposition to evolution could prevent students from competing in ‘a global job market’”: Why should we think that jobs were lost to China because most Americans doubt Darwin? Aren’t we just avoiding a discussion we need to have – whether the North American business climate is still attractive? Incidentally, some Chinese paleontologists doubt Darwin.
Of course, most people will still pretend to believe the bloviator in the corner cube. But remember the Bradley effect. Often, they are simply trying to avoid unproductive confrontation. They wait till they have an unhindered chance to say what they think.
In the meantime, keep them thinking.
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