Rhetorical tactics: the Dembski Dodge

Wesley ElsberryWesley R. Elsberry, in discussing possible responses to factual evidence, mentioned a several avoidance tactics. This is from a long discussion thread in antievolution.org, where Wesley summarizes the patterns of common arguments. I’ve extracted them from their discussion thread and highlighted them here: how IDists avoid responding to real-world evidence.

One of the tactics is a hallmark of William Dembski’s responses about evolution, so I’ve decided to call it the Dembski Dodge.

The one I want to talk about is described below.

Non-Evidentiary Responses

The other category of approach is to ignore, so far as possible, any mention or discussion of actual fossil evidence… There are many routes to achieving this end. The simplest is non-response. The challenged person may decide that not saying anything further is the best option…. Yet another strategy is to discuss theoretical issues as if theory did away with the need to actually look at the empirical data.

funny picturesAnd there you have it. That’s the entire point of Dembski’s argument: construct a mathematical will-o-the-wisp and point at it as though it were the evidence we vainly seek.

My brother used to tease young ladies by eliciting various random facts about them, such as their eye colour, height, dog’s name, home town, favorite food, best subject, number of siblings, and so on, then multiplying the probablility of all those things being true, and producing a mathematical proof that the sweet young things in question were so improbable that they might simply disappear at any time!

And that, in a nutshell, is Dembski’s approach to the facts of biology. However, Dembski cooks the books in his favor by insisting that all the calculated events must have happened simultaneously instead of accumulating over a period of time.

2 Responses to “Rhetorical tactics: the Dembski Dodge”

  1. Who’s zoomin’ who? « Science Notes Says:

    […] also: “The Dembski Dodge.” Posted in people, pseudoscience, religion, science. Tags: creationism, education, […]

  2. Rhetorical tactics: the Behe Blunder « Science Notes Says:

    […] Rhetorical tactics: the Behe Blunder 2008 April 13, Sunday, 19:00 — monado Wesley R. Elsberry of Austringer makes some very good points about the ways in which creationists and IDists avoid actually respond to real-world evidence. I expanded on one of his ways, which I’ve named the Dembski Dodge. […]


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