Science versus Pseudoscience is like the New England Patriots versus the Bucksnort Beer Hall Flag Football Club. New England has everything they need heading into the game. Bucksnort has gambits.
You just have to go into it as a teacher. This is Day 1 of class for your audience. A good teacher doesn't try to explain every detail of every thing in the introductory lesson. You try to engage the students, introduce the main ideas, and give them some sense of what more lies ahead to be learned, and refer them to resources for learning more.
My advice would be to have, going in, 3-5 main ideas about the science you want the audience to know. Have some interesting illustrations, stories, analogies, and demonstrations in mind.
Anything your opponent says can be used as a springboard to present the lesson. Listen for something in all the chatter that serves the purpose particularly well, then use it.
This is the most many people in this audience will ever hear about evolutionary science from a qualified speaker. Tell them what they need to know.
We live in an Internet age. Young people in the audience, if you engage them and spark their curiosity, will look up web resources after your talk. Their parents and preachers can't stop them from doing this. You may walk away thinking you've made no headway at all. But you never know what kind of inquiries you start. Anything can happen.
Good teachers never know where their influence stops.
quote:You very likely cannot deal with such a person. The best you can do is present your best case for your position on those boards where you participate.
Most of the boards I go to can spot that kind of person. One board we openly mock that person as he made a statement about how dating was wrong because we can't tell if two samples are any older if found on the ground. The erosion jokes never stop on him. He makes a post we bring up the erosion comments.
quote:Sure, but the Christian Cult of Ignorance pushes new graduates out the door daily.
But it gets tiresome of dealing with ignorant fools constantly no?
quote:Yes. we certainly are at a disadvantage.
Lies are always easier to use then truth. One must choose between what is right and what is easy.
I'm not suggesting we let all errors slide. What I'm saying is, there is a difference between someone making a generalized statement in order to express a concept and someone writing for a peer reviewed journal.
Your typical fundy is going to struggle with the concepts in "Discover" magazine, you can't expect them to be able to read "Modern Molecular Scientist".
All I ask is that we, the people who understand the science, read the posts with an eye for the concept which is getting expressed, rather than as a chance to enter ourselfs in a science dick wagging contest where we can prove that we can write a long sentence than the next guy.
I'm not sure I completely agree with you, here. Oh, in a concrete, rather trivial sense you are correct: I would imagine it's hard to maintain a belief in your ability to fly when you're 10cm from the ground after a 200m fall off a cliff. However, I think you may be underestimating the incredible ability our species has for self-delusion, and our willingness to cling to irrational beliefs that make us feel good in the face of even overwhelming evidence. To paraphrase ICANT, "How can anyone NOT 'believe' in the validity of the ToE?" And yet, according to polls, the vast majority of the people in the US (at least) DON'T. I don't think it's simply a question of patiently explaining something to people that they may not have thought of. Outside the hallowed halls of academia, the average person has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the present (forget the future), especially when science conflicts with myth and culture, any time there has been any scientific advance that affects them personally.
Ignorance and superstition will almost always trump science and reason. It's ever so much easier to swallow.
Perhaps that is key. Perhaps instead of calling the fight evolution/science vs creationism, we should be constantly reminding people that the real fight is intellectual honesty vs dogmatism. Until the dogmatism cracks it doesnâ€™t seem reasonable that much else will seep in.
quote:I know that I learn something here every single day.
But when [they?] cannot even understand erosion, is there any hope?
Of course there is. Erosion is a pretty complex subject and I am still learning about it.
Also remember, there are always three audiences at a minimum in any such discussion. There is the person you are debating, the vast body of folk reading the thread, and the most important one, you. I find that every time I explain something I learn something new as well.