Or is it meant to be a PRATT for us to respond to?
Or is it just meaningless word salad?
Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat
It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate
...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist
PRATT: All mutations are random with respect to fitness.
Response: Mutations in the form of insertions in the CRISPR loci of DNA are not random with respect to fitness.
But the response won't mean anything to almost everyone. This thread is seeking short and effective responses to PRATTs.
More importantly, most scientists would inherently averse to absolute statements like "All mutations are random with respect to fitness." Years of research counsels, shall we say, more tentative expressions.
So if you go by what a scientist trying to be brief would be more likely to say, "Mutations are random with respect to fitness," then this isn't really a PRATT because the vast majority of mutations must be random with respect to fitness by the very manner of their creation: microbiological mistakes during copying or other DNA-related processes.
Actually, this sparks a thought in me. Whenever we talk about a "fitness landscape" we always represent the optima as being the peaks, to which we laboriously climb. Richard Dawkins wrote a whole book entitled "Climbing Mount Improbable". But it's the other way round, isn't it? Life did not climb Mount Improbable, it flowed into Valley Improbable.
--- and it is improbable only if we ask: "What is the probability that all the water should be in the valleys and not on the mountaintops if the distribution of the water was by pure chance?" Well, that's a question that answers itself.
Whereas the picture of climbing Mount Improbable gives a fallacious impression that effort was involved.
A sidebar. It seems natural to our species to represent good as up and bad as down. Hence the "fitness landscape" where adaptation lies at the peaks. Hence the idea that God is in the sky somewhere, in "heaven above", even when the people expressing this opinion would, if asked explicitly, say that God is everywhere.
I read recently about an interesting experiment. (I don't have a reference, sorry.) It is claimed that people more quickly recognize "good" words ("altruism", "patriotism", "kindness", etc) as being good if they are presented high in their visual field, and conversely they more easily recognize "bad" words as being bad if they are low in their visual field. The really remarkable claim of this study was that this effect vanishes if the test subjects are sociopaths.
This is by-the-by, which is why I haven't striven to find the reference, except that if it is true it goes some way to explain why evolutionists represent the fitness landscape as having the optima at the top.
Life did not climb Mount Improbable, it flowed into Valley Improbable.
It is claimed that people more quickly recognize "good" words ("altruism", "patriotism", "kindness", etc) as being good if they are presented high in their visual field, and conversely they more easily recognize "bad" words as being bad if they are low in their visual field.
That works in cinematography too... the audience knows he's the bad guy 'cause they're looking downwards towards him.
I'm a bit late here, but what the heck. Science does not lend itself to short one-liners, especially where the subject matter is highly technical, so creationists have the edge in convincing a lay audience. Nevertheless here are some suggestions for response to common creationist rhetorical tricks, and PRATTs.
Creationist: Were you there?
Evolutionist: No. Were you?
Creationist: No, but God was.
Evolutionist: Thank you for an excellent example of a circular argument. By saying “God was there” you have presupposed the very thing creationists strive to prove, namely that God did it. Presupposing the thing you want to prove is the very definition of a circular argument. I hope you don’t mind if I use this example in future debates with creationists as an example of bad reasoning.
Creationist: Many scientists dispute evolution and agree with creation.
Evolutionist: How many of them are called “Steve”? (Then, when they don’t understand, tell them about NCSE Project Steve).
Creationist: If you don’t believe me you can look it up yourself.
Evolutionist: Yes, and so can you. Have you, or have you just read it in a creationist tract somewhere and are repeating it parrot fashion without bothering to look it up for yourself? OR: It is precisely because I have looked it up myself that I know it does not say what you claim it says.
Creationist: What will you accept?
Evolutionist: Evidence. OR: The truth.
Creationist: Natural selection is a chance process.
Evolutionist: Natural selection is anything but chance. In fact it is very selective, hence its name.
Creationist: Darwinists say/do x y z
Evolutionist: Why do you keep talking about “Darwinists”? You don’t call people who accept gravitation “Newtonists”, do you?
Creationist: How can something arise out of nothing?
Evolutionist: Ask your God, he pulled it off, didn’t he?
Creationist: I challenge you to a debate.
Evolutionist: So you can lie to your heart’s content secure in the knowledge that I can’t check your claims out there and then, and that by the time I have, days may have passed, by which time you’ve scored your points and the audience has gone home? No chance. If you want a challenge try publishing your claims in a peer-reviewed science journal.
Creationist: Dinosaur bones have been found to contain soft tissue and protein. This should all have decayed long ago if they are millions of years old.
Evolutionist: It has taken years of trying, by various teams, to isolate organic remains from dinosaur bones, and only now has anyone finally isolated tiny traces of badly degraded organic matter from just a few of the very best preserved bones. If the bones really were a few 1000 years old, as creationists claim, then recovering well preserved proteins, and even DNA, should a be matter of routine, as it is for archaeological material that really is a few 1000 years old. It isn’t. Why not?
Creationist: God did it.
Evolutionist: Which one?
Creationist: There is only one.
Evolutionist: You mean Allah? (Or Jehovah, or FSM, take your pick, depending on the religion of the creationist, just don’t pick their god).
Creationist: Fossils are ordered according to how mobile they were. So fast running creatures appear higher than slow ones. Flying ones higher still, and so on.
Evolutionist: Flowering plants appear higher than mosses and ferns, grasses higher still. Can grasses run faster than magnolias?
Science isn't about convincing people - it's about describing and explaining what is, based on observation, theory and testing.
If it had to convince people, of limited or no expertise, and with wildly different levels of intelligence, then it would have to dumb itself down to such a degree as to be meaningless.
So instead of trying to make electricity, genetics or relativity convincing, science just makes the light bulbs switch on, the genetic medicines cure people, and the satellite navigation systems direct drivers.
If someone isn't convinced, that's fine - they're free to research and produce their own light bulbs, medicines and satnav systems.
Could there be any greater conceit, than for someone to believe that the universe has to be simple enough for them to be able to understand it ?
The wonderful thing about facts is that they're still facts, regardless of whether you believe in them or not.
Science remains the most effective approach to uncovering and modeling objective, factual reality.
"Convincing" people is a worthy goal only because people will make better decisions when they have more accurate information upon which to base them.
“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.” - Francis Bacon
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers
“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” – Albert Camus
"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." - Barash, David 1995.