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July 10, 2004

Myers' tips for arguing with creationists

PZ Myers of Pharyngula offers some excellent advice on debating with creationists. His recommendations are applicable to any skeptic engaged in rhetorical combat with a pseudoscientist. You can tell these recommendations are for debating pseudoscientists because they caution the skeptic against engaging the opponent as she would a fellow scientist with an opposing theory.

I'd like to emphasize the importance of applying the principle of charity and just plain being nice, themes that are also implicit in PZ's advice. Frank Sinatra was wrong, if you're a skeptic the people, they don't want to like you. They expect scientists and skeptics to be cold, dismissive bigots. Any real or imagined slights give them an excuse not to listen. Besides, nice experts enjoy the advantage of surprise.


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