Liar! Charlatan! (How'm I Doing, PZ?)

PZ Myers sez:

I know what some people are thinking: just don't call them "stupid" or a "moron", it distracts from the scientific argument. Of course it does; but one thing I've learned over the years is that this is not a scientific debate. The scientific part was settled a century ago, and evolution won, hands down. There is absolutely no legitimate, intelligent argument against evolutionary theory right now. This is not to say that we know everything or that the theory is complete or that we expect no major revisions; it means that evolution in a broad sense is an inarguable fact, and what we need to know now are details and mechanisms. The earth is billions of years old, species are all related to one another, and there has been a complex and ongoing pattern of change over the course of all of that time. All of that has been supported by multiple interlocking lines of evidence uncovered by the work of thousands of people, rechecked and verified by thousands more. That's just not going to be seriously challenged by anyone sensible, let alone some ranting guy who took a general science course in high school.

The big picture is done. The ships have sailed, they've discovered the coastline of the New World, they've established a few thriving colonies—and there's a huge, exciting continent to explore. Meanwhile, we have a few lunatics in the Old World who have clamped their eyelids shut and are screaming that they can't see it.

Well put. Liberals do an excellent job of mistaking arguments about ends for arguments about evidence. It doesn't matter if the subject is evolution, weapons of mass destruction, tax cuts, or Terry Schiavo -- all these topics we've recently realized are about values? Values are a rhetorical stand-in, an imprecise word for a precise strategy. These debates, on the Republican side, have little to do with the issue and everything to do with what it signifies. When we get caught up in refuting frustrating, opposite day-esque arguments over evidence that doesn't exist and propositions with such logical snarls that their trains of thought crash into each other, we legitimize opinions which, in polite company, should be entirely illegitimate. So listen to PZ when he advises you call them liars and laugh at their qualifications -- mocking the specific speakers is the only way to win the "values war". Legitimizing them in specific instances is how we lose it.

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