Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Darwinian Debating Devices

Ten (or so) Anti-Intelligent Design Books You Should Read

I have posted the second video in my two part book recommendation series on the YouTube channel. In the previous video I highlighted many books that argue for intelligent design. My view is that proponents of design should face the strongest criticisms possible, and not be afraid of doing so. In line with this philosophy, in this video I talk about just a handful of the many books that attempt to refute ID. Again, I would be interested to know what others think are the best books that attempt to show ID is wrong. Ten (or so) Anti-Intelligent Design Books You Should Read

Darwinian Debating Device #20: The “Whataboutism” Tactic

Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.  How did CR employ it here?  Let’s examine it step-by-step. For example, the vignette Becky’s Lesson is set in an alternate history in which the Nazis won World War II, conquered the world, and completed their Final Solution by completely eradicating all 13 million Jews.  In the story, the Nazis control all media and education.  They control society with an iron fist and have indoctrinated the society they control to celebrate The Final Solution as a great good, instead of an unspeakable evil.  The obvious purpose of Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #19: How to Trick Yourself: The Darwinian Thought Process

One of the primary things keeping traditional evolutionary theory afloat is not the mountain of evidence supposedly existing in its favor, but the way in which the evidence is interpreted in the context of the pre-existing Darwinian paradigm. The key is the way evolutionary theorists tend to proceed from an observation to a series of conclusions. When you are steeped in evolutionary thought, when no alternative explanations are permitted as a matter of fiat, when the only possible interpretation open to you is a purely naturalistic and materialistic explanation, the conclusions seem to follow naturally. To paraphrase Philip Johnson’s wry (and somewhat sarcastic) observation: Evolution is really easy to prove. Since “evolution” means both tiny changes and the whole grand Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #18: The “You’re Too Stupid to Understand Why I’m Smarter than You” Dismissal

DDD # 18 is a particularly contemptible form of ad hominem, which Mark Frank and Elizabeth Liddle do us the service of demonstrating in the combox to this post. In the post Dr. Torley refers to Darwin’s Doubt by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, which explains many of the shortcomings of various Darwinian narratives. Frank and Liddle tag team for a DDD #18: Mark Frank: [Meyer] explains perceived weaknesses in his understanding of evolutionary theory but gives no reason why design is a better alternative. Liddle: Exactly. His understanding of evolutionary theory is weak, and actual evolutionary theory is a better alternative. Follow this link and take a look at what scientists who actually know what they are talking about have Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #17: “The Black Knight Taunt”

The essence of the “Black Knight Taunt” is to pretend overwhelming victory after suffering a crushing defeat. Here we have a classic example from a commenter named “keiths.” In my No Bomb After 10 Years post I noted that after 10 years of debating origins I had never encountered a “science bomb” that would disabuse me of my ID position. Amusingly, keiths insisted that he had posted just such a bomb over at The Skeptical Zone that proved that Darwinism is “trillions” of times better at explaining the data than ID. His argument failed at many levels. Yet, even more amusingly, he kept on insisting he had debunked ID after his so-called bomb had been defused by numerous commenters. See, Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #16: De Nile is a river in Egypt . . .

. . . and blatant denial is not an appropriate response to the reality of and/or easily known facts concerning functionally specific complex organisation and /or associated information, FSCO/I: Facts are stubborn things, but people can be more stubborn than that. (That is, there are two types of ignorance, I: simple ignorance because one does not know the facts and/or may not understand them, but also II: ideological closed-mindedness due to being controlled by mind-closing agendas hostile to, selectively hyperskeptical towards and dismissive or suppressive of inconvenient facts, . . . such as those we just saw regarding FSCO/I.) Why am I saying this? Poster-boy no 1, rich @ 252  in the UD no bomb thread: [KF:] “Your comment no Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #15: Willfully distorting the ID position

One of the saddest aspects of the debates over the design inference on empirically reliable signs such as FSCO/I, is the way evolutionary materialist objectors and fellow travellers routinely insist on distorting the ID view, even after many corrections. (Kindly, note the weak argument correctives, accessible under the UD Resources Tab, which address many of these.) Indeed, the introduction to the just liked WACs is forced to remark: . . . many critics mistakenly insist that ID, in spite of its well-defined purpose, its supporting evidence, and its mathematically precise paradigms, is not really a valid scientific theory. All too often, they make this charge on the basis of the scientists’ perceived motives. We have noticed that some of these Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #14: “Chasing Irrelevant Tangents or ‘Threadjacking’”

The word “tangent” when used in a non-mathematical context means: “diverging from an original purpose or course.” Darwinians love to try to derail debates by latching onto irrelevancies in order to push the discussion away from the issue under review. This is especially true when they are unable to counter a proposition. Rather than admit defeat, they say “let’s talk about something else!” Here are a couple of examples. In this post I put up a string of letters that resulted from my haphazard banging on my keyboard. I then compared that string to the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy. The obvious purpose of the post is to demonstrate that there is a clearly perceived difference between a more Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #13: Distorting or dismissing self-evident truths

In the Denying the truth is not the same as not knowing it thread, we see the Darwinist tendency to distort or dismiss self-evident truth (and, behind this, to deny first principles of right reason) in action. Another noteworthy DDD, no 14 by count so far. This starts in the very first comment: TT, 1: Barry, you wield self-evident truths as if they were weapons. Declaring that something is a self-evident truth does not make it so. Is it a self-evident truth that the sparkling point of light in the night sky is a star? 99% of the time (or more, I don’t really know), this extrapolation may be correct. Except when it is a plant or a galaxy. In Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device # 12: Selective Hyperskepticism, closed-mindedness (and “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”)

Perhaps the most deep-rooted Darwinist debate tactic is hyperskepticism. While I have done a briefing note on this, I like HeKS’ nice summary raised a little while back, in an Oct 9th 2014  remark that deserves to be headlined: Normal skepticism is generally equitable and a good thing. It applies a reasonably consistent demand for warrant across the board before some claim of fact or some argument is accepted. It prevents one from being credulous, but allows one to believe what is reasonable to believe once one has received a reasonable amount of supporting evidence and/or argumentation. There’s obviously some subjectivity here in terms of what one person considers to be a sufficient or reasonable amount of evidence or argumentation Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #11: “The Straw Man”

The Straw Man tactic is especially reprehensible, because it is fundamentally dishonest. Wikipedia describes the tactic as follows A straw man is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of an opponent’s argument. To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument. The so-called typical “attacking a straw man” argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., “stand up a straw man”) and then to refute or defeat that false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the original proposition In this post we took down a straw Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device #10: “The Double Standard”

In this post Dr. Torley engages in a philosophical discussion about the nature of God. In the comment thread we have Graham2 saying: This site lost any claim to the practice of impartial science long long ago. And william spearshake says: UD, which purports to be in support of the “science” of ID, supposedly not religiously based, loses what little credibility it has when it’s moderator continues to allow articles that are purely religious. It should be noted for the record that Dr. Torley did not start this discussion. He was responding to a post by one of the world’s most prominent materialist atheists, Jerry Coyne. I did a quick check through the comment thread to Dr. Coyne’s post, and Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device # 8: refusing to acknowledge the reality of FSCO/I and its reliably known, characteristic cause

Let us follow an example being discussed in UD comment threads in recent days, of comparing two piles of “dirt”. (U/D, I add — on advice, a sample from ES, as a PS.) CASE A: The volcanic dome of Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills Volcano, a few miles south of where I am composing this post . . . CASE B: Another pile of “dirt” . . . Q: Is there an observable, material difference between these two piles that can allow an observer to infer as to causal source, even if s/he has not seen the causal process in action directly? A: Yes, and it is patent. A child will instantly and reliably recognise the difference, as will the most primitive Read More ›

Darwinian Debating Device # 7: “Definition Deficit Disorder”

Thank you to all who contributed to my recent request for comments. There were many excellent comments, and I have attempted to synthesize them into a WAC. (BTW, I like WJM’s name for the syndrome better than my own and have switched to it). Here is the WAC: Definition Deficit Disorder Definition Deficit Disorder (“DDD”), also known as the “me no speaka the English distraction” and “definition derby” is a form of sophistry by obfuscation that demands that one’s opponent fulfil unreasonable or even impossible definitional criteria, not to advance the debate but to avoid the debate by claiming one’s opponent cannot adequately define their terms. An example: ID advocate: Intelligent design theory asserts chance causes cannot account for the Read More ›