This is the first article I’ve authored for this site; I apologize in advance if I format wrong or make some other mistake.
As is so often the case, I ran across the most interesting material while looking for something else, and thought others might be interested as well.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was an important 19th-Century philosopher. He was also an obnoxious curmudgeon. He wrote an essay: Ã¢â‚¬Å“38 Ways to Win an Argument,Ã¢â‚¬Â which details all the unfair, manipulative, and downright mean tactics which can be employed to win an argument, especially a public one, whether or not the truth is on your side. Reading through these techniques it struck me how many of them are employed by the Materialist/Darwinist side against ID and other positions critical of their claims.
I have picked out a few examples, with their original numberings from his essay (quotes from Schopenhauer are in italics if I’ve figured out this formatting system right). These were taken from a translation of Shopenhauer by T. Bailey Saunders: The Art of Controversy, and Other Posthumous Papers, London: Sonnenshein/New York: Macmillan, 1896.
1. “Carry your opponentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it. The more general your opponentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow your own propositions remain, the easier they are to defend.”
3. “Ignore your opponentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposition, which was intended to refer to some particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than what was asserted.”
Darwinian defenders commonly make claims for ID that it does not make for itself, such as the ridiculous one that if a supernatural entity is behind life, then there is no reason or need for further inquiry. I am sure the folks here can think of many other examples.
6. “Confuse the issue by changing your opponentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words or what he or she seeks to prove.
Example: Call something by a different name: Ã¢â‚¬Å“good reputeÃ¢â‚¬Â instead of Ã¢â‚¬Å“honor,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“virtueÃ¢â‚¬Â instead of Ã¢â‚¬Å“virginity,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“red-bloodedÃ¢â‚¬Â instead of Ã¢â‚¬Å“vertebrates.Ã¢â‚¬Â”
“Creationism” instead of “Intelligent Design”
12. “If the argument turns upon general ideas with no particular names, you must use language or a metaphor that is favorable to your proposition.
Example: What an impartial person would call Ã¢â‚¬Å“public worshipÃ¢â‚¬Â or a Ã¢â‚¬Å“system of religionÃ¢â‚¬Â is described by an adherent as Ã¢â‚¬Å“pietyÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“godlinessÃ¢â‚¬Â and by an opponent as Ã¢â‚¬Å“bigotryÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“superstition.Ã¢â‚¬Â In other words, inset what you intend to prove into the definition of the idea.”
See above; by linking ID and creationism the battle to prove that ID is just dressed up creationism is mostly won in the definition of terms. Also, by linking science with materialist philosophy, Darwinists attempt to define Id right out of the arena of legitimate debate before a real argument can even begin.
15. “If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s acceptance or rejection some true proposition, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject an obviously true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your side for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition, as in #14, or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what your opponent accepted. For this an extreme degree of impudence is required, but experience shows cases of it succeeding.”
The most common and egregious example of this tactic is pointing to some example of adaptive change (Ã¢â‚¬Å“microevolutionÃ¢â‚¬Â) such as bacterial resistance to antibiotics, which has nothing to do, really, with the development of new characteristics, but which has been linked in the public and mediaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s minds with “evolution,” and therefore (here’s the trick) with speciation by mutation and selection. Then, Viola! Ã¢â‚¬Å“EvolutionÃ¢â‚¬Â as the Darwinists define it is proven.
29. “If you find that you are being beaten, you can create a diversionÃ¢â‚¬â€that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something else, as though it had a bearing on the matter in dispute. This may be done without presumption that the diversion has some general bearing on the matter.”
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amazing how often they will change the subject when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re finally being pinned down on one topic, e.g. the demonstrable mathematical impossibility of even one gene arising via random processes suddenly turns into demands to explain the PandaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thumb.
30. “Make an appeal to authority rather than reason. If your opponent respects an authority or an expert, quote that authority to further your case. If needed, quote what the authority said in some other sense or circumstance. Authorities that your opponent fails to understand are those which he generally admires the most. You may also, should it be necessary, not only twist your authorities, but actually falsify them, or quote something that you have entirely invented yourself.”
Even better than one authority is a majority of authorities! Most scientists believe NDE, therefore it must be true. Even most scientists named Steve believe Darwinism!
32. “A quick way of getting rid of an opponentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assertion, or of throwing suspicion on it, is by putting it into some odious category.
Example: You can say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is fascismÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“atheismÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“superstition.Ã¢â‚¬Â In making an objection of this kind you take for granted:
1. That the assertion or question is identical with, or at least contained in, the category cited; and
2. The system referred to has been entirely refuted.”
Linking ID proponents and all other critics of NDE with Ã¢â‚¬Å“creationismÃ¢â‚¬Â is the most blatant example of this.
36. “You may also puzzle and bewilder your opponent by mere bombast. If your opponent is weak or does not wish to appear as if he has no idea what you are talking about, you can easily impose upon him some argument that sounds very deep or learned, or that sounds indisputable.”
Many in the public school systems, and even some who preside in the judicial system are susceptible to this one. Unfortunately so are many science writers and other journalists.
Finally, Schopenhauer’s last resort and Defenders of Darwinism’s most commonly used tactic:
38. “Become personal, insulting and rude as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand. In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character. This is a very popular technique, because it takes so little skill to put it into effect.”
Go to any place on the internet or anywhere else this topic is being debated and you will find endless examples of this final technique. The current travesty of “debate” is the vicious response Dr. Michael Egnor is receiving for expressing his doubts about Darwinism. I’ve been on the receiving end of this sort of thing more than once myself. This tactic is by far the most common Ã¢â‚¬Å“answerÃ¢â‚¬Â to ID proponents and NDE critics, precisely because it takes so little skill. Alas, a little skill is all most of them have.