Déjà Vu

A number of years ago, there was a colorful figure in baseball named Yogi Berra, and what Yogi was most famous for were his malapropisms or maybe his “Yogi-isms”. One of his better known was the statement “It’s just like déjà vu all over again”. This statement came quite readily to mind as I reflected on the presentation that I attended last night. The presentation was by a creation “scientist” and was sponsored by the CFI affiliated campus group at CMU, Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics.

About forty years ago, I attended a pyramid scheme sales pitch sponsored by some friends of mine who had already been duped into the scheme. (I also got asked to attend one of these for a different product a few years later, as well.) The way they sell these gimmicks is that they show all these people who are living the “good life” and have supposedly made tons of money with this scheme as testimonials. And they spend close to an hour showing images of large houses and yachts and expensive cars. But they gloss over the nuts and bolts of the plan and count on their mark being distracted and dazzled by all the glitz who get caught up in their enhanced desire for financial success to think too clearly about the scheme behind the scenes.

For a number of years, I used to sell heated paint spray booths to bodyshops. The brand that I handled used what is known as a “direct fire” heating plant. One of my competitors sold booths with “indirect fire” heating systems. He used to write articles for trade publications stressing the dangers of direct fire. He did this by writing one or two paragraphs listing the potential problems of direct fire (which did exist but were very slight) and then spent the next two pages describing in excruciating detail the terrible things that could be the result of these potential problems.

By now you are probably asking “what does all this have to do with creation science?” Quite simply this: it’s like déjà vu all over again. This presentation was merely sleight of hand and smoke and mirrors. The presenter, a Dr. Charles Jackson, from East Tennessee State was supposed to give a 30-minute presentation to be followed by a 30 minute Q & A session. What he gave was a 45-minute presentation, about 5 minutes of which was actually devoted to his argument, that was nothing more than a variation on the tired old “intelligent design” notion that it-just-looks-like-it-had-to-have-been-designed-by-an-intelligent-designer nonsense.

The rest of the time he spent doing two things: quoting famous freethinkers out of context and trying to imply that they would support his poor logic, and touting his own credentials to try to support the assertion that he’s not just some irrational crackpot. (This, of course, was in response to Richard Dawkins’ quote that “anybody who doesn’t believe in evolution is either dumb, ignorant, or insane. With his poor critical thinking skills, and hence a lack of developed intellect, I would characterize him as ignorant, and with his irrational belief in superstitious nonsense with no viable evidence to support it, I would consider him at least partially insane.)

So what we had was a very poor and very weak variation of a thoroughly discredited argument started up in a whole lot of insubstantial window dressing, all of which appeared to be intended to distract the listener from the lack of substance in the argument itself. It’s something that I have seen many times before and I left the presentation feeling very angry that this guy would have the arrogance to waste my time presenting this as cogent, logical thought deserving to be part of rational discourse on the subject of evolution. As Yogi said – it’s like déjà vu all over again.

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