Author Topic: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham  (Read 11734 times)

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Offline Bobboau

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Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
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« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 09:38:17 pm by Bobboau »
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Offline Bobboau

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
yeah, Bill is getting his ass kicked.
had no idea what he was getting into.

in his main presentation, it feels like he is doing a reverse gish gallop and it just isn't working.

not prepared for age of the earth /*facepalm*/
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 10:44:45 pm by Bobboau »
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Offline watsisname

Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
This is why science is not settled by open debate.  Even the Shapley-Curtis debate, which was between two well-respected scientists on the topic of the nature of spiral nebulae, was largely unsuccessful in actually resolving the issue.

Debates are meant to persuade the audience, and those who are most easily persuaded are those who enter the debate with few preconceived ideas or knowledge about the topic.  Thus the direction in which they are persuaded depends more upon how they perceive the debators themselves, rather than the quality of evidence and analysis thereof.  Tactics like straw-men, misdirection, fallacies, burying the opponent with more questions than he can conceivably respond to, etc, can persuade one into thinking that one side 'won' regardless of how good the arguments actually were.

Evolution vs. creationism was resolved ages ago; I don't think there's anything to be gained from a debate on it.  The best remedy is a good education.
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Offline Bobboau

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
which unfortunately will not happen, because the resolution you mention happened within scientific circles and not the greater public, who happens to be where decisions like 'what is tought in schools' are made
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Offline Goober5000

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
This is why science is not settled by open debate.
But isn't that science actually is?  The free and open exchange of ideas, and the cross-examination and testing thereof?

Or are you in favor of science behind closed doors, restricted to an elite few?

Quote
Debates are meant to persuade the audience, and those who are most easily persuaded are those who enter the debate with few preconceived ideas or knowledge about the topic.  Thus the direction in which they are persuaded depends more upon how they perceive the debators themselves, rather than the quality of evidence and analysis thereof.  Tactics like straw-men, misdirection, fallacies, burying the opponent with more questions than he can conceivably respond to, etc, can persuade one into thinking that one side 'won' regardless of how good the arguments actually were.
Fascinating.  Bobboau seems to think that Ken Ham won the debate.  Are you implying that Bobboau was persuaded in the manner you describe? 

Quote
I don't think there's anything to be gained from a debate on it.
Oho, rubbish.  I'm sure that if Bill Nye had won the debate, all the evolution enthusiasts would be rubbing it in the faces of the creationists.


I will have to watch this at a later time, but here is my conjecture at what happened, based on just the reactions in this thread.  Bill Nye expected a cakewalk, and didn't expect to take Ken Ham seriously.  In contrast, Ken Ham did his homework and showed up fully prepared.

 

Offline The E

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
But isn't that science actually is?  The free and open exchange of ideas, and the cross-examination and testing thereof?

Or are you in favor of science behind closed doors, restricted to an elite few?

Yep, that sure is Science. The point is that Science isn't settled in televised public debates the way, say, presidential candidates are. The dialogue happens in journals and articles, not in an auditorium; It should not be a matter of who is better at rhetoric, but who is better at facts.
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Offline watsisname

Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
Science is absolutely about the free exchange and testing of ideas.  Different scientists may have differing views, produce different models, and yes, they very often debate with one another as to whose are right.  But which theory best represents the thing it tries to explain is not determined by debate, it is determined by which model is best verified by examination of evidence.  This is what ultimately sways scientists to accept one thing versus another, not the quality of someone's arguments in an open debate such as seen above.

I agree with Bobboau that Bill Nye did not do as good of a job in this debate as his opponent.  He was less persuasive and, as you say, was not prepared for the counterarguments.  Nevertheless, his position is the correct one -- evolution is the only successful theory for the origin of species, and a young age for the Earth is untenable in the face of evidence.

I've no doubt that if Nye had won then a great deal of enthusiasts would indeed rub it in creationists' faces.  They would also be very wrong if they suppose that his win is the reason that evolution should be accepted. :)
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 02:42:48 am by watsisname »
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Offline Bobboau

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
Science should be settled by evidence.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
But isn't that science actually is?  The free and open exchange of ideas, and the cross-examination and testing thereof?

Or are you in favor of science behind closed doors, restricted to an elite few?

That's a strawman argument and you really should know it.

Suppose you know little about Quantum Physics. Do you honestly think that the decision on which theory is correct should be decided by a televised debate between two scientists followed by a vote by the lay public? Or should the correct theory be decided by the proper scientific method of allowing people to prove themselves correct by presenting papers which can be examined in detail over time to determine their validity?

This is why debate of this kind is rather pointless. Subjects like quantum physics require a fairly large amount of knowledge to understand, you're not going to be able to judge who is correct based on this sort of public debate where the charisma and oration skills of the speaker can easily sway an audience in the wrong direction. Evolution is actually fairly easy to grasp but so many people haven't got the basic understanding to do so.

Quote
Oho, rubbish.  I'm sure that if Bill Nye had won the debate, all the evolution enthusiasts would be rubbing it in the faces of the creationists.


That would never happen. Unless there was a serious mismatch in the quality of the debaters the creationists are always going to win simply because it's much easier to persuade people to believe a simple lie than a complex truth.

 Hell, if you took a scientist determined to claim quantum physics was wrong into such a debate, he'd probably prevail. "You said light was a wave before, now you're saying it acts like a particle sometimes? What nonsense is this! Decide which one it is! It can't be both!" Anyone even attempting to explain that it really can be both could easily be painted as a liar and a fraud.
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Offline jg18

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
Unless there was a serious mismatch in the quality of the debaters the creationists are always going to win simply because it's much easier to persuade people to believe a simple lie than a complex truth.
Not only complex but harsh -- we came into being not through creation as part of a perfect plan by a loving, omnipotent Creator but through a long, haphazard process of genetic variation kept only in check by natural selection. That's not going to be an easy sell.

Some religious people may be able to reconcile the two views, but for others it shakes the very foundations of their beliefs (nearby example).

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
2014.

Still can't wrap my head around the very concept of this debate.

2014.

 

Offline Mars

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
2014.

Still can't wrap my head around the very concept of this debate.

2014.

Time moves slowly in some places in this country.

115 years since the Origin of the Species was published, in case anyone was wondering.

 

Offline Wobble73

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
Unless there was a serious mismatch in the quality of the debaters the creationists are always going to win simply because it's much easier to persuade people to believe a simple lie than a complex truth.
Not only complex but harsh -- we came into being not through creation as part of a perfect plan by a loving, omnipotent Creator but through a long, haphazard process of genetic variation kept only in check by natural selection. That's not going to be an easy sell.

Some religious people may be able to reconcile the two views, but for others it shakes the very foundations of their beliefs (nearby example).

Did you just link my post in there?? I am am a believer in evolution FYI!  :wtf:
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Offline Mars

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
It was KillerWhale, Wobble.

 

Offline Wobble73

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
Well that was weird! When I first opened the link it took me to the bottom of the page, where my post is the last on the page??
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Offline InsaneBaron

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
I found this debate very interesting, in part because I'm not yet convinced of either debater's viewpoint.

And Goober's right here; this is a fair topic for a debate. A fair debate is always in the best interest of both parties. If you prove the other guy wrong, Great! If he proves you wrong, then you owe him one for making you more right than you were before the debate. If neither debater can convince the other, than the audience benefits from hearing points on both sides. Personally, I hardly consider this a closed question.
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
This matter will never be settled in debate. It's already been settled with basic empirical evidence - but a debate is not about evidence, nor about finding common ground (there isn't any here, since one party is objectively wrong). A debate's about scoring points and building a narrative.

The audience rarely benefits because debates are not effective heuristics to select empirically supported truth. Instead, debates reward tactics more than substance. As a national-ranked debater in high school - I ended up doing such a good job as Turkey in one simulation they sent me to the Turkish embassy in DC for a dinner, I'm an international hero and I get all the ladies - I worked pretty much every conceivable geopolitical topic from every available angle. It didn't really matter what the truth was, or how much evidence we had in either camp: you could persuade an audience of your case with the same tricks no matter the substance of your argument.

Scientists in general are often unsuited for debate because science encourages constant qualification and parametrization and often answers questions with 'we don't know yet' (rarely, if ever, in this topic, but often in others). These are awful things to do in a debate, because human authority heuristics punish uncertainty and reward confidence.

Karajorma's quantum physics metaphor is apt. If you put a quantum physicist up there to debate the existence of elementary particles with an Aristotelian philosopher, the quantum physicist will get shredded. His complex structures are counterintuitive and obscure, and they require enormous background to understand. The philosopher's positions are tangible and clear and he's able to focus on offense rather than simplifying a complex topic.

Of course, the analogy breaks down in the complexity - it takes no more than an elementary school education to understand who's right in this debate.

e: Put more simply, in InsaneBaron's terms: debates cannot work for the best interest of both parties (or the audience) because debates are not an effective means to select between theories. They are an effective way to select between debaters on the basis of human pyschology.

 

Offline InsaneBaron

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
I did debate in high school myself. Loved it :) and did pretty well, though not go-to-turkey well. It's definitely something I'd recommend to any student.

That said, I disagree on your point, but I respect your opinion. I'm not convinced of young earth creationism, but I AM convinced that basic evolutionary naturalism has a lot of holes. For example, the big bang: How did the matter for the bang get there in the first place? (A point that came up in the debate). I'd have to say that "In the beginning, God made the world" is pretty reasonable compared to "In the beginning, there was Nothing, and Nothing made everything". That doesn't mean I think the world was made in six days though... if you ask me whether the world is thousands or billions of years old, I'd give you the same response you'd get if you asked me who I expected to win the next world series: "You're asking the wrong guy."
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
We studied political persuasion at MIT - I think we had one of the finest labs in the world on the topic - and our conclusion was basically this: it's impossible to persuade people with a sharply different opinion from your own, and it's very difficult to use substantial or complex arguments to persuade anyone.

Instead, you should stake out a position in the extreme corner of your own camp and never give any ground. Moderation or nuance will cost you possible converts. Your targets are the undecided. You'll push some away, but on net you'll gain more by having a clear, simple message that can be delivered over and over again. Your best response to criticism is to ignore it or to deride the source of the criticism as untrustworthy. You should paint the conflict as a binary us-or-them to encourage people to identify clearly with one of two camps. Make it all about identity: you don't just believe in [cause], you are a [causer].  When an opponent attacks you, your faithful only need to know they're not a [causer] to deprecate the argument. It's not even a conscious choice. It happens automatically.

These tactics are battle-tested. It's no surprise that political campaigns and mass movements converge on them.

I did debate in high school myself. Loved it :) and did pretty well, though not go-to-turkey well. It's definitely something I'd recommend to any student.

That said, I disagree on your point, but I respect your opinion. I'm not convinced of young earth creationism, but I AM convinced that basic evolutionary naturalism has a lot of holes.

This is a great point! The Darwinian synthesis has come a long way, and Darwin's original theory was never adequate (even for him). But the constant need to defend basic science against attack prevents scientists from talking about what they've learned since then.

However, you're making a key error by connecting Darwin to cosmology. Darwin's synthesis is biological. I'm making a vow not to launch a science clinic here, since that big block of text I posted above explains why it's futile in a lot of cases, but I'll make one exception because you're cool.

Quote
For example, the big bang: How did the matter for the bang get there in the first place? (A point that came up in the debate). I'd have to say that "In the beginning, God made the world" is pretty reasonable compared to "In the beginning, there was Nothing, and Nothing made everything". That doesn't mean I think the world was made in six days though... if you ask me whether the world is thousands or billions of years old, I'd give you the same response you'd get if you asked me who I expected to win the next world series: "You're asking the wrong guy."

This is a scientific question with a scientific answer - but not yet a single answer! We have a lot of theories as to what triggered the Big Bang right now, but our ability to select between them is hampered by the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity, both of which are required to explore the high energy density and tiny physical scale of the first picoseconds after the Big Bang. We're working towards a theory of quantum gravity which should let us fill in those missing first few fractions of a second...and then we can get to work on before, assuming that key information hasn't been lost behind an event horizon.

As for 'asking the wrong guy', your answer should always be a confident 'billions'. The reason is that the 'billions' number comes from a theory with explanatory power. This is a key difference between science and pseudoscience. A big-picture scientific framework makes predictions: it says 'okay, based on what we have here, we should see a pattern of background radiation in the universe', or 'we should see distant pulsars receding at this fraction of the speed of light'. This makes the theory FALSIFIABLE. When a theory makes a prediction, but we observe something different than that prediction, the theory has been falsified. It needs to be reworked or thrown out.

The lambda-CDM model of cosmology and the Big Bang are our best explanations for the universe because they made a ton of predictions which turned out to be true. They were able to tell us things before we could even observe them, and when we did observe them, they lined up. We're always looking for places where the universe DOESN'T match up with the predictions of theory, because these are the spots where we can improve our theories.

Lastly, this:

Quote
I'd have to say that "In the beginning, God made the world" is pretty reasonable compared to "In the beginning, there was Nothing, and Nothing made everything".

is a great example of a bad heuristic. It's the kind of thing we're always battling against in science. Don't try to confabulate explanations and then arbitrate between them on the basis of which seems simpler or more 'reasonable'.

Your question is 'what happened before the Planck epoch'? And the answer should be, in simplest terms: 'we don't know'. Not 'God' or 'm-branes colliding' or 'a vacuum fluctuation' or 'a black hole formed in a superordinate universe' (though many of these are valid theories, if not yet falsifiable).

 

Offline Dragon

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Re: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham
Well, if you define God solely as the "first cause" of the Universe that we know, you could say that God caused the Big Bang. :) However, you'll find that this sort of God doesn't exactly influence one's everyday life, and certainly doesn't look like an old man in the clouds.

In fact, this isn't a new idea. H.P. Lovecraft had arrived at a similar conclusion. The closest equivalent to God in his mythos (Azrael) can hardly be called sentient, at least by out standards. It  created the Universe by accident and is impossible for a human to comprehend, though probably possible to express by some really weird mathematics (of the sorts that drive students insane and always come up on exams :) ). From what we know, the actual first cause fits that description disturbingly well, though it probably couldn't be "experienced" by a human the same way Azrael could.

TBH, in light of what we know today, Lovecraft pretty much nailed it. The Universe wasn't made for Humans, nor does it care about them. Of course, that's pretty disturbing, so Humanity came up with a nice, fatherly, predictable God who not only looked and acted like a Human, but also punished those harmful to society and rewarded those beneficial to it. Later, he even took responsibility for what they do off Humans' hands. God is a convenient, if imaginary, being that played a vital role in development of human civilization.

That's why atheism is not for everyone. It's a daunting task to accept the fact that you are, in fact, responsible for all your actions and that the Universe as a whole doesn't care about you. Not everybody is suited for this. So I say, let the believers believe, as long as they don't force their beliefs on anyone. I'm generally opposed to lies, but this is such a huge thing that it might be better to leave people to live in a lie than have them paralyzed with fear of their own insignificance. This situation is much like with "lies to children"; we don't tell some things to children until they can handle it. Some people just never become ready for that particular truth (personally, it took me 14 years to accept that idea, and about 2 more to realize the really scary part).

Yeah, I'm a bit depressed. Why do you ask? :)