Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We Who Are Not Golden-Tongued Orators

Here's PZ Myers responding to criticisms of some of his sharper words in a recent debate with a creationist hack:

I say the answer is to be honest to yourself, and recognize that most scientists, including myself, are not going to be golden-tongued orators. All we can do is present the evidence and the ideas bluntly, and backed up with the authority of our knowledge. We're going to make the communications people cringe, and we're going to annoy all the experts who want to tell us what to say and how to frame it, but I'm afraid we're going to have to ignore most of their advice, because it doesn't work. It hasn't worked for years. It assumes the opponent merely has a difference of opinion and isn't a lying faud.
The shocking thing about Nova's Intelligent Design on Trial program is the degree of shameful, brazen, even gleeful lying on the part of the ID side of that trial -- the side that is supposedly upright and moral and godly and so on. It would be foolhardy to assume good faith in debates with people with that track record.

I think Myers' point applies more broadly and it agrees with what I've previously said in defense of my own tendency to issue the occasional snark at religious believers, right wing politicians, and others. Not every situation calls for erring on the side of civility.

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