I've been spending quite a bit of time debunking ID (Intelligent Design) arguments on various other blogs. This blog is for storing some of my longer arguments. I prefer to call ID 'Imagination Deficit' as I feel that better describes it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The "Oh no it isn't" argument

I have noticed in one or two of my (now disabled) comments the use of what I call the "Oh no it isn't argument".

As this is the holiday season I thought I would do a little piece on this form of 'argumentation'. What does the holiday season have to do with it, I hear you ask? Well, that's because it's Panto season in the UK (where I grew up). A 'Panto' is a Pantomime - a stage show that's put on for the kids at Christmas where they can go and watch a funny version of a well known fairy tale. A common feature is the comical sidekick to the main hero - usually called Buttons - who is guaranteed to provide two traditional Pantomime moments. The first is when something scary (a bear is a favorite) is right behind Buttons, and the whole audience shouts "it's behind you!". The second - and more relevent - is when Buttons makes some outrageous statement and the whole audience shouts "Oh no it isn't!" and Buttons replies "Oh yes it is!" (or possibly the other way round!). This back and forth 'argument' can go on for some time, and is great fun for the kids.

It's not often seen outside the Panto or the school playground, and certainly not often seen in arguments around science. The proper form of an adult argument is to actually provide a counter argument with examples or evidence rather than just sitting there shouting "Oh no it isn't!".

So, to provide a good example of this kind of 'argument', let me direct you to this prime example by 'Joe G' over at 'intelligentreasoning' (ironic name).

I posted in an earlier piece a desciption of the kind of story that ID proponents call 'just-so stories'. Joe's 'intelligently reasoned' response (the profanity is all his, sorry):
OD's above explanation would NOT be labeled a 'just-so story' by ID advocates. Like everything else OD says about ID this turd was taken from his arse.
I could sit here and go "Oh yes it is!". It would be in keeping with the jollity of the Christmas season after all... ;)

However, I prefer to demostrate the way an adult 'intelligently reasons' instead. You see, I didn't pick the gene duplication example out of a hat. I picked it because it happens to be a part of a particular evolutionary hypothesis that is indeed frequently labelled a 'just-so story' by ID advocates - the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. If you don't believe me, just type the following into Google and see which hits you get:

bacterial flagellum "just so story"

The results contain most of the major pro-ID blogs. Oh look - evidence.

So this wasn't just a random example. It is exactly this kind of hypothesis that is labelled a 'just-so story' by ID advocates, indeed gene duplication is a major part of what I could call ID's "favorite" so-called evolutionary 'just-so story'.

What we actually see if we look a little closer at the hypothesis for the evolution of the bacterial flagella is a testable, falsifiable scientific hypothesis that generates predictions, and is based on well known mechanisms of evolution that themselves started off as testable, falsifiable scientific hypotheses that generated predictions.

Finally, my line of argument actually gives links to hard evidence and does not just consist of the infantile "Oh yes it is". Although I will make a prediction at this point - that this little lesson will be wasted on the (cough) 'intelligently reasoning' Joe G.

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