Thirteen Steps to Being a Creationist Propagandist

Tristero came up with a list of thirteen things that the rightwing media does to craft its message. I’ve ‘repurposed’ and changed them for creationists. Here’s the list with some commentary:

1. Highlight a quote from the opponent out of context from a speech or interview. (unchanged from original)
Do I even need to comment?
2. Use loaded terminology to describe evolution.
Describing evolution as ‘godless’, when, in fact, all scientific disciplines which, by definition, explain physical, not metaphysical, phenomena are ‘godless.’ They don’t seem to have a problem with ‘godless’ geologists who drill for oil….
3. While attacking biologists, promote the idea that it is creationists who are under attack or marginalized, whether you actually are or not.
Compare the budgets of the Discovery Institute to NCSE. Disco wins. Granted creationists are marginalized among scientists and the Coalition of the Sane, but that’s hardly a majority.
4. Give coverage–and thus credibility—to creationists groups and individuals with an overtly biased perspective, while granting some limited coverage to evolutionary biologists.
Hell, we just want to ‘teach the controversy’ and expose students to different perspectives (unless, of course, it involves sex ed…).
5. Attack people and their credibility, making them rather than the issue the focal point of discussion.
No comment needed here.
6. Find some vulnerability in the opponent and make that the focus for evaluating him or her.
This is why intelligent design creationism is so insidious: when we don’t know the answer today, intelligent design creationists will seize this as evidence of an intelligent designer (no doubt the Great Vorlon). Until we figure it out (e.g., bacterial flagella, the ‘partial’ evolution of immune systems), then it’s onto the the next unknown. Forward comrades!
7. To divert attention away from a pro-evolution opponent’s attack on a creationist position or individual, discredit widely one piece of their argument as a way of discrediting their entire argument.
See the previous point.
8. Accuse the opposition of doing the same underhanded things to you that you yourself refuse to acknowledge doing to them.
Ben Stein. ‘Nuff said.
9. Be the first to define an issue.
They’re actually really good at this, mostly because there’s always new stupid that they invent, and biologists are busy doing biology.
10. Expropriate scientific symbols and culture.
A creationist peer-reviewed journal comes to mind… Also, the whole idiocy about creationist science and baraminology is another manifestation of this. What tristero writes is particularly relevant:

Among the effects this tactic has is that it dramatically narrows the intellectual/cultural space for opponents to draw upon. Rhetorically, it blurs the meaning of these icons and symbols and marginalizes liberals by stripping them of any unambiguously positive references.

11. Conflation.
The whole substituting the origin of life with the evolution of organisms thingee.
12. Nit-picking (combined with changing the subject.)
In a public debate forum, the biologist is often expected to (or forced to) know everything, which is impossible. This presents an opening for nitpicking.
13. Flood the rhetorical space.
Tristero describes this perfectly (with a biological example, no less):

Pack a sentence with numerous falsehoods, misconceptions and biases so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to rebut them all within a reasonable time. For example (a hypothetical one, exaggerated to illustrate the technique): “Stem cell research, concocted and shamelessly promoted by the same Godless biologists that want to ban the Bible everywhere, has one and only one purpose, which is to kill innocent human babies.” By the time anyone has corrected all the errors of fact, any conceivable audience open to persuasion has fallen asleep.

PZ has a wonderful (or terrifying, depending on your perspective) example of this here.
All done! Now you know how to be a creationist hack.

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11 Responses to Thirteen Steps to Being a Creationist Propagandist

  1. J-Dog says:

    Beautiful icon!
    Nice summary, sad subject.

  2. R N B says:

    Creationist Propagandist? I thought the current term was cdesign proponentsist?

  3. Scott Belyea says:

    Beautiful icon!

    Well, I’m curious why terms related to female genitals and hygiene are so commonly used as all-purpose insults.

  4. Ken Shabby says:

    I see you’ve written the entire piece using a godless alphabet, enumerating your points with a godless number system.
    This could easily be repurposed for snake-oil marketing.
    I could use this to sell my homeopathic Strontium-90 remedy. (Small print: Contains water. Does not contain strontium. Is not radioactive.)

  5. Mister DNA says:

    Scott, your concerns were addressed the last time you brought this up.
    Could you maybe get some new material now?
    btw… good stuff, Mike. Glad to have you on board at BPSDB.

  6. Chad says:

    Excellent post.
    Scott really just has to shut up about this. I thought he would have learned his lesson from the comments over at PZ’s place.

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