I Know You Are But What Am I?
Remember when you were a kid? When you were having an argument with another kid, and you realised you'd been caught talking a load of bullshit and the other guy was properly taking you to task for it?
What did you do? There were a few options. You could start throwing punches at the smart-arse little fucker. You could shit in your whips and run away. Or, if you thought you were a bit of an evil genius yourself, you could try this one on: "Ha ha", you'd ejaculate smugly, "I was joking. You thought I was serious". Then you'd point and laugh and all your idiot friends would join in. You'd get one over on your confused opponent and your buddies would think you were pretty cool, but a little bit of you would die inside every time you resorted to it. Remember that?
Well, the other day I witnessed a grown man use this very same technique. A grown man of some renown, too.
Look here. Scott Adams, creator of popular foreskin-headed cartoon character Dilbert, weighs in on the fabricated evolution vs. intelligent design debate. His central point (or so he later claims) is that each "side" misrepresents the arguments of the other, such that poor Scott can't work out who to believe. Therefore, neither side is credible to him. Aside from the fact that there is no shortage of credible sources of info on evolution, it should be noted that if you need to be taken gently by the hand before you can see the difference between a vacuous "god-did-it" argument that has not and will never produce a single testable hypothesis on one hand, and the most well-established and experimentally verified scientific theory in the world - the backbone of modern biology, and the product of 150 years of peer-reviewed scientific endeavour - on the other, then no amount of credibility is going to save you. You's a idiot.
Anyway, along the way to making his revealing point, Scott repeats a fair amount of creationist disinfo and ID propaganda (although always taking care to dissociate himself from the points being made: "Intelligent Design advocates point out..."; "Darwinists often argue that..."). And what a surprise! Someone calls bullshit.
In this case it's biologist PZ Myers, proprietor of Pharyngula, erstwhile Panda's Thumb contributor and all-round stout defender of science from the hordes of uninformed "both-sides-of-the-debate" slackjaws. He has the audacity to take Scott at face value, and with no small amount of irritation sets about debunking each one of the fundamentalist talking points that Scott has lazily rehashed. Fair enough, no?
Here's where our retrogressive schoolyard debating techniques come in handy. Scott's reply? It's a classic case of "Ha ha I made a trap and you fell for it!", much to the delight of the drooling ID yahoos that appear to make up the bulk of his fan base. He appears to think that the entirely understandable irritation of one scientist proves his contention that neither side of the debate is credible (further demonstrating a deep misunderstanding of the nature of empirical evidence and the scientific method).
There's some bullshit claims that PZ misrepresents him, although you can judge that for yourself by reading the relevant posts. For what it's worth, here's my favourite example (and I'll stick to direct quotes lest Scott accuse me of twisting his words):
Scott: Darwinists often argue that Intelligent Design can’t be true because we know the earth is over 10,000 years old
PZ: I have never heard anyone on my side of the debate make this argument
Scott: PZ declares that no one has EVER argued against the young earth argument to refute ID
Who's misrepresenting who? You decide.
As a result of all this tomfoolery Scott has indeed succeeded in demonstrating two things, neither of which I imagine he intended:
1. If you drop your bags and take a big old shit all over a man's professional discipline - a man who has to deal with the likes of this from people who have never produced one shred of scientific work in their life - he's gonna get fucking annoyed, whether it was all some big hilarious joke or not. This doesn't mean he is not credible, just that he has had it up to here with ignorant buffoons monkeying around with his life's work. A bit of a fucking no-brainer, really.
2. 95% of Scott Adams' commenters are soft-headed tits, stinking up the joint with a shitstorm of barely literate whooping and high-fiving. If the ultimate point of this exercise was to expose his readership as a gaggle of slope-browed knuckledraggers, then I take it all back. Scott Adams is a fucking genius. If not - well, the joke's on him, I'm afraid.
Inevitably, when the aftermath of one's prankery is one pissed off biologist and a wankstain of back-slapping intelligent design halfwits, there's a suspicion that Scott has already taken sides in this bogus debate. Yet throughout all of this, Scott has claimed that he doesn't believe in intelligent design (he even posted this nugget twice to make sure). However, he also says that he doesn't believe in "Darwinism" and has been very careful not to raise any points without qualifying them as someone else's opinion. I don't know about you, but it strikes me as a little cowardly, to exploit the sincere and passionate opinion of a professional scientist for yucks without having the cojones to reveal one's own point of view.
So, how about a little honesty? Why don't you tell us what you really believe, Scott?