Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it


October 8th, 2008 Posted in Creationism, Politics

I was reading the BBC Coverage of the US Presidential debate last night when I noticed something strange. Come to think of it, it’s something that I’ve noticed in every single one of the debates so far. ¬†Though most commentators scored each debate slightly higher for the Obama/Biden combination, there was always one or two commentators who scored it as a whitewash for McCain/Palin, or as a whitewash for Obama/Biden. This seemed weird to me because, after all, the score is all about the performance of a candidate in an objective debate – it’s something that could be measured by any number of objective methods (accuracy of statements, hesitations, body language, humour). So how could people disagree so violently? Answer: they’re massively biased – they see reality conforming to their prior views and, perhaps more importantly, they write the stories that they want people to believe, regardless of their inner convictions.

And this is, of course, the problem that we have when we try to debate creationists in a public forum – the debate is simply a terrible way of ascertaining scientific truth. We have the scientific method for that, and it’s the best way that exists for determining truth based on verifiable evidence. Debates ascertain very little. They allow people to judge who has the greatest charisma, to some degree, but that’s about it. Truth isn’t about a democratic choice based on rhetoric and propaganda; it’s decided by the scientific method, calmly evaluating the evidence, subjecting claims to peer review and spending perhaps decades as arguments are put forwards on either side until eventually we reache an end point and one answer emerges victorious.

Anyway, just in case anyone still thinks that debates are a good idea; or even if you just want to learn a little bit about how the world works, I’ve put up two more sets of presentation notes in my presentations page. This time, I cover Botany and Cosmology. As always, let me now if you find any mistakes, or have any suggestions for additions.

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