Science is not a pick and mix

Potholer54 has a another brilliant YouTube video called How to Argue with Assholes. It’s entertaining and clever and provides some good advice when faced with arguments that, in his words, make you want to chew off your own leg. Some of the main points are:

* Don’t treat your adversary like an asshole
* Don’t argue with them
* Be polite and ask questions
* Ask for sources
* Play dumb and be respectful

He groups creationists with climate change “Skeptics” and explains that accepting evolution but not climate change is not something to be proud of: science is not a pick and mix. Here’s a quote from the video:

Now you’ll notice that I’m lumping all these various junk science beliefs together even though I often get emails from people who tell me they accept the theory of evolution but not the theory of plate tectonics or climate change. That’s like telling me you believe witches fly on broomsticks but you’re not gullible enough to believe tooth fairies leave money under pillows. That’s not something to be proud of. Science isn’t a pick and mix based on your religious or ideological beliefs.

But the reason I lump you altogether for the purpose of this video is that your approach in arguing your case is exactly the same no matter what scientific theory you don’t like:
* Cherry-pick or distort the evidence to fit the conclusion you’ve already reached.
* Get your science information from blogs that share your beliefs and never check them.
* Find a couple of experts who disagree with the majority of researchers and quote them endlessly to give the impression the scientific community is divided.
* Get someone with Dr or Professor in front of his name and pretend he’s an expert even if he’s never published anything in his supposed field of expertise.
* Say that all you want is for both sides to be heard.
* Draw a petition of scientists who support your case even if they have no qualifications in the relevant field – how to explain the fact that few scientific papers support your case? Claim censorship!

The main take-home message for me is: Don’t argue with them!