I believe that it would be handy to present a list of the common Bait & Switch Tactics used by so many of the Biblical Creationist, ID and YEC websites and lecturers. With each tactic I would like to see an explanation presented of just why the tactic is a con.
The purpose of the thread is to give people a guide to help them identify when they are being conned.
I will start off with a VERY common tactic used related to dating.
One of the most common tactics I see used is misapplication of dating methods. An example is their reference to using 14C to show stuff is younger than claimed or using longer range dating methods to show that material that is actually young dates as older.
The reason that this is a con is that each method has a range where it will be effective. Outside that range what you get is a nonsense answer.
the 14C method is accurate out to about 50,000 (70,000 using newer ASM direct atom counting methods) years.
If you use 14C to date something that is really 20,000 years old you will get a reading of 20,000 years plus or minus some factor.
If you use 14C to date something that is really 200,000 years old you will get a reading of 50,000 years plus or minus some factor.
If you use 14C to date something that is really 2,000,000 years old you will get a reading of 50,000 years plus or minus some factor.
If you use 14C to date something that is really 20,000,000 years old you will get a reading of 50,000 years plus or minus some factor.
If you use 14C to date something that is really 200,000,000 years old you will get a reading of 50,000 years plus or minus some factor.
If you use 14C to date something that is really 2,000,000,000 years old you will get a reading of 50,000 years plus or minus some factor.
You cannot use a measuring tool to measure an item that is older than the maximum limits of that tool.
There is a second way that such sites misuse tools to fool the unwary. They use tools designed to measure very old things to show that some sample known to be young measures old.
Again, all that they are doing is misusing the tools to try to fool and con the unwary.
Let me give you an example.
A claim I have seen on many (unfortunately Christian) sites is of dating Hawaiian basalt using the potassium-argon method. The samples were known to be only 200 or so years old yet they got readings that were in the hundreds of thousands of years.
Well, frankly no shit. That is to be expected. The potassium-argon method has a usable range of from some 100,000 years to about 4,000,000,000 years.
If you date something that is actually 200,000 years old using the potassium-argon method you will get a reading of about 200,000 years.
If you date something that is actually 20,000 years old using the potassium-argon method you will get a reading of about 100,000 years.
If you date something that is actually 2,000 years old using the potassium-argon method you will get a reading of about 100,000 years.
If you date something that is actually 200 years old using the potassium-argon method you will get a reading of about 100,000 years.
It is like having a stick that is only marked off in yards and being asked to measure a barleycorn.
These people have chosen the tool designed to give the answer they want as opposed to the honest answer.
The big problem is that those posting such examples CLAIM to be scientists. Scientists should know that misusing tools will give you poor results as well as a carpenter knows that using a saw to drive nails is a misuse of the tool.
I hope that other members will post examples of tactics being used as well as ways to identify them.
First choice for forum would be Education and Creation/Evolution and my second choice would be Is It Science?
Edited by Admin, : Change title from "A Guide to the Bait & Switch tactics of the Biblical Creationists".
I'm not sure I would call those tactics "Bait and Switch" but I understand where you are coming from.
Another common one that I've seen with regards to Carbon dating is using dates from contaminated samples to try to show that the entire process is flawed.
For example, trying to carbon date a recently dead seal and getting an age of several thousand years. They never mention that the oceans are a vast holding tank for carbon and anything that lives in, or lives off of creatures in the ocean will be dated much older then they actually are.
equivocating over certain words is commonplace. What I often see from creationists is committing equivocation and using that implicate that the opposite side is equivocating.
Related to the OP, another tactic is to make true statements and draw inappropriate conclusions from them. For example, it is true that any C14 in an ancient organic substance (oil/coal for example) should be completely depleted. Using that true statement a creationist might then conclude that any C14 detected demonstrates that C14 dating is erroneous (without discussing other sources of C14).
Related to that in another way is using massive references to peer reviewed literature and sneak in a reference to another creationist's work.
Using a large collection of true statements and throwing in a reasonable sounding erroneous statement with a questionable source is akin to the Gish Gallop, most people don't bother to check sources and just trust what is being said. They trust it because the ultimate conclusion agrees with their position, which is perfectly natural.
Good question. Named after Duane Gish, the Gish Gallop is a special case of fast talking (the technique famously employed by Snake Oil Salesman (and contemporarily with used car salesman) that confuses people with fast long strings of words long enough to convince them to buy snake oil). In the classic Gallop, a long string of assertions are thrown out in an argument, most of which have questionable sources if any at all; consequently addressing all of the issues raised with the depth that they deserve is practically impossible: it would simply take too long.
In spoken debate Gish would reel out so many points in a short time, his opponent would be in the impossible position of either trying to quickly refute all the points (and failing because he hasn't enough time) or letting some points slide (which might convince people that the some arguments were left undiscussed because they are irrefutable).
It works best as a cheap rhetorical trick, but it can translate approximately into the written word.
What are the signs someone should look for to be aware of the Gish Gallop?
If there are a lot of statements being made, or if the topic seems to swing from pillar to post, then you should be aware that a Gallop is in place. If the person is talking very quickly in a way that is well rehearsed, making claim after claim after claim then you have yourself a Gish Gallop.
Every point could be right, of course, but if you are really interested in things - explore both sides of the issue at stake, look up sources and try reasoning it out with a critical mind. The problem is that most folk don't have the time to do that so the best defense is awareness. In written form it is better to find articles that fully discuss both sides of any controversial issue and tries to explain why their explanation is the best one.
In spoken form, the only real defense is to realize what just happened and show that several things the person said are grossly inaccurate (if that is the case, of course) and question on that basis the credibility of the other assertions.
Creationist Error: An Epistemological Classification
Type 0: Change the scientific method in such a way that evolution cannot claim scientific validity. In order to do this, their redefined scientific method must also exclude most of science.
Example a: Claiming that everything not confirmed by eyewitnesses cannot be scientific.
Example b: Denying that the confirmation of a prediction made by a theory tends to confirm a theory (i.e. denying the whole of the scientific method) as a specific example, much of their rubbish about intermediate forms is based on this form of reality-dodging. See also "microevolution doesn't prove macroevolution".
Example c: Claiming that the gaps in our knowledge invalidates what we do know. E.g, we cannot produce a definitive hominid family tree, ergo we can't say that humans belong in the same clade as apes.
Example d: Complaining about "uniformitarian assumptions".
Example e: Omphalos-type arguments.
Type 1a: Get the theory of evolution wrong.
Example a: Anyone using the words "pure chance".
Example b: Complaining that natural selection doesn't increase genetic diversty. Of course it doesn't. Duh. And that is not what the theory claims.
Example c: Claiming that recapitulation is part of the theory of evolution.
Example d: "The theory of evolution is unfalsifiable ... blash, blah ... survival of the fittest ... blah, blah ... tautology, blah, drivel, blah."
Type 1b: Get the history of evolution wrong.
Example a: I once saw a long and extremely erudite creationist paper proving that animals can't be descended from plants "as evolutionists claim".
Example b: "Evolutionists claim that fish 'conquered the land' and then evolved lungs. But the first fish would have dies because a creature without lungs wouldn't be able to breathe out of water."
Type 2: Fail to deduce the consequences of the theory of evolution.
Example a: "If men are descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"
Example b: "One harmful mutation would cause the exitinction of the species."
Example c: "Living fossils contradict the theory of evolution."
Example d: The stuff about genetics in Of Pandas And People.
Type 3a: Get the facts wrong.
Example a: The belief that the neck of the giraffe displays unique morphological traits.
Example b: The Paluxy footprints.
Example c: "Archaeopteryx has all the anatomical features of a modern bird."
Example d: "No new species have been observed."
Type 3b.i: Point to a handful of errors of fact detected and put right by scientists over the last century and a half, and claim that this is all the support the theory of evolution has. Claim that all of these, whether fraudulent or honest error, were fraudulent attempts to prop of a theory in desperate need of support.
Example a: Piltdown Man.
Example b: Nebraska Man.
Type 3b.ii: Claim that lots of facts undisputed by scientists have been proven fraudulent.
Example a: Their disgusting and libellous ravings about the peppered moth.
Example b: "Heidelberg Man is a fake."
Example c: "Archaeopteryx is a fake."
Example d: "Dinosaur bones are made of papier-mache" --- no, I didn't make that one up.
Type 3b.iii: Attribute to scientists claims of observations which they have not made, nor claimed to have made, and then use real facts to prove that these imaginary claims are wrong.
Example a: "Many times people will imply, if not say outright, that we have a complete fossil record."
To this we may add a number of type 1 and type 2 errors in such subjects as thermodynamics, information theory, et cetera. These may also arguably be regarded as type 2 errors with respect to evolution. Also, there are type 2 errors concerning geology, for example polystrate fossils.
Note that I say "errors" rather than lies. The creationists need to drivel out their endless nauseating paranoid nonsense about "fraud" and "lies" and a "con" because their opponents are educated, informed, and intelligent.
By contrast, creationists are, at best, ignorant of the scientific method, the theory of evolution, and the facts; and, at worst, too stupid to grasp the basic concepts required to attain such knowledge.
Moreover, let me point out that it would only be necessary for the creationists to make one type of error, if it was done deliberately.
For example, if you're willing to change the scientific method (type 0), then it would not be necessary to change the theory of evolution (type 1), because if you can redefine "science" as you choose, then you can show that the actual theory of evolution was "unscientific" according to your new definition: you wouldn't need to make up a new theory of evolution as well.
Or, again, if someone is prepared to deliberately derive false conclusions from the theory of evolution (type 2) then these consequences would be in contradiction with real facts, and it would not be necessary to make type 3a errors.
Or, again, if all the evidence for evolution turned out to be fraudulent (type 3b) then it would not be necessary to make type 0, type 1 or type 2 errors.
Now a deliberate liar, I believe, will try to tell as few lies as he finds necessary to achieve his goal, because this reduces the chances that he will be caught.
But in any case, it is absurd to suppose that anyone would spend their time arguing, for no reward, for a point of view which they knew to be false. If a creationist thought that all his arguments were wrong, he wouldn't be a creationist. If he thought that some creationist arguments were wrong, he'd avoid those because he'd want to win the argument. The same applies to evolution, of course.
Instead, what creationist rubbish bears witness to is an accretion of error. If one creationist is dumb enough to make a mistake about some subject, then another creationist is dumb enough to learn to recite that mistake, without checking whether it's true, or even what it means (how many creationists, do you suppose, could say what the Second Law of Thermodynamics is?)
To quote Kent Hovind: "I may not always be right, but if I am saying it in my seminar then I don't know it to be false."
I have coined a word for people like this. I call them "asincere", where asincere is to insincere as amoral is to immoral.
There is, of course, already an English word for such people. Unfortunately, it is obscene.
To quote the philosopher Harry Frankfurt, slightly bowlderized:
The *********er ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, ******** is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
The Evangelist Gallop. Akin to the Gish Gallop (nod to Modulous). A key difference is that the person is not trying to overwhelm or slide issues past you. The person actually believes the amount of material constitutes proof of their claims.
A discussion which follows the form: "What about A?" You refute A. "What about B though Z?" You refute each and every point. Then after a whirlwind tour though the Bible or their claim (usually someone else's book or documentation; even though you’ve refuted each point they come back with. "Surely, with all of that you can see there’s something there." or "You can't ignore all that evidence."