Date: Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM
Hello, Bill Nye:
I have some concerns about your upcoming debate with Ken Ham.
It’s a trap. Aron Ra explained the situation well in the most recent episode of The Thinking Atheist podcast, so I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing his words just for you:
I think that there’s some merit to debating big-name creationists like this. There needs to be a forum and a format that is appropriate for that, and I think there needs to be a person that is appropriate for that–and I love Bill Nye for the same reasons that everybody else does. I have a great deal of respect for what he’s trying to do and the reason he’s trying to do it.
But what I fear that he does not understand is that he is not going up against somebody that has the same credibility or concern for credibility that Nye does. I mean, we’re talking about a presuppositionalist. We’re talking about an apologist who openly advocates blinders and confirmation bias who says that you can put on your God glasses and automatically exclude all the evidence that is against you, and he has no problem at all saying that there is absolutely no data anywhere in existence that contradicts that young earth creation model when we all know that he knows better.
Ken Ham has no scruples–no reservation to openly lying in defense of his position. It’s not just that he will misrepresent the facts, saying that there is no such thing as a transitional species, or arguing against anything–beneficial mutations–anything–whatever it takes to defend his position and argue against the classification. Taxonomy is a huge one. He does these “educational” videos where he says that apes are apes and humans are humans, and he “forgets” to mention that humans are a subset of apes because that undermines the lies that he’s trying to sell.
He makes his living duping people who want to be duped, and the audience for Bill Nye is people who want to understand things better. To that audience, Bill Nye does very well; but when he goes up against somebody who is, in my opinion, a very polished con man, then he’s going to be playing a game of word salad. They’re not going to go in with the same definitions, everything means something else, and the goalposts will be constantly moving. I fear that Bill Nye is going to be walking into a madhouse, and he doesn’t know it.
This is an important distinction that has to be made: It is not stacked in Ham’s favor because it’s being held on his own property where he controls everything and where he has, apparently, according to the reports I’ve gotten, been able to manipulate the audience to be the audience that he wants them to be, excluding certain other people, or at least seating them in questionable fashion. It’s not that he owns and controls the venue that causes this to be completely stacked in his favor. If it were the case, then stacking the debate in our favor, we would have him come to a university and we would have our top scholars debate Ham and we would put nothing but educated graduates and such in the audience–but that’s not actually what we would do.
If we want to hold this debate properly–the way real scientists would do it–what we would do would be to challenge him to produce the facts which can then be verified and tested in peer review. We know that’s the way science really works. It’s not how you do your one-liners, it’s not how you eloquent a speaker you are before a live audience, it’s whether you actually have the goods and the things that you say are verifiably true.
Every claim the creationists make–all of them–fall into one of two categories. Proponents of evolution–all their claims fall into a different category. The two claims that creationists fall into are “not evidently true” and “evidently not true.” The category for “evidently true” is where all our stuff goes, and that’s why the debate is stacked. It’s stacked because this is an illusion. It’s a game of equivocation and projection where they’re going to try to turn the tables and upside-down everything and then question, “How does Bill Nye even really know that his name is Bill Nye?”
Because in all of these discussions with all these creationists, they want to argue that reality itself is wrong somehow, or that everything we know about reality could be wrong. Because since everything they know is wrong, then everything we know has to be wrong in order for them to be equal, and they really want to be seen as equal status.
We have a theory–they don’t–so they want to make it look like our theory is guesswork just like their theory is empty, baseless speculation.
Then there’s this:
Ken Ham has no concern for the welfare of others. He is a mentally deranged sociopath who preys on children for a living. He will use every foul play in the book (presuppositional word games and filling the audience with paid actors among them) to make himself look good to his audience–who believes everything he says anyway–in order to earn millions more so that he can target more children.
At the very least, postpone the debate–specifically until after February. Let Ham’s ship sink a little before you step onto the boat.