Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day


Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 11, 2008

We have a little argument going on in one of the pointless poll threads. The question being asked is, “Do you believe in the Big Bang?” Some people are indignant (and correct!) and protesting that their views on scientific matters are not a matter of opinion, but of impartial assessment of the evidence; these views are independent of personal belief, and are also held provisionally, subject to revision in the face of better evidence.

These people are also being infuriatingly pedantic, and are expressing an attitude that interferes with the communication of ideas. Don’t sputter out a bunch of reservations and refuse to answer, state a general position and then drill down into the details and qualifications. Pound this into your heads, and stop boring people with irrelevant musings that only detract from the central point.

Here’s an example. Imagine you’re at a party with a bunch of normal people, not the kinds of nerds who hang out in Pharyngula comment threads. Ordinary people, drinking beer, talking about sports and the weather, and one of them has heard that you’re kind of an egghead, so they ask a simple question in terms that they understand (just like the phrasing in that poll), and they ask it in a tone that suggests they have doubts, but they’re willing to talk with you about it. They ask something like, “Do you believe evolution is true?”


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