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You’re six years old and sitting in a bubble bath. The water is warm and cosy. You sit and listen to the crackle of forever popping miniature bubbles and ponder what it is mother will be cooking for dinner. Across the heaving mass of water you spot your good friend Carl the rubber duck. You grasp him in your tiny little hands and squeeze him.


he says.

Maybe he doesn’t like that, you think to yourself. You’re getting bored and you think of things that you can do while in the bath. You look back at the yellow duck in your hands and decide that it would be fun to see what happens if you push the duck to the bottom of the bath. So you tenderly force Carl to the bottom of the bubbly ocean and then you release him. Wow! He shot right back up to the surface. Again you push the duck to the bottom of the bath and release him. He did it again! Straight back up every time!

After doing this for a good five minutes you start to become displeased with this outcome and you try harder and harder to make the bastard stay down! It is futile, the duck just keeps coming back up. Curse you hydrodynamics!

Most skeptics and free thinkers will understand what I am trying to say here and have probably come to this point in their skeptical life where it seems almost pointless to argue anymore. The more we argue it seems the more opponents we meet. Just log onto and look at any creation vs evolution video to see what I mean. People who we have debated previously pop up again and again with more vigor than the last time. This seems to be the case with most creation/ID and pseudoscience proponents.

It gets very very frustrating but it is our duty as skeptics and freethinkers to challenge these ideals no matter how long they take to sink to the bottom of our cultural bath. We may think that we cannot win and we probably cannot, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference by speaking and thinking rationally and challenging what people say.

The best way to do this is to learn the mechanism of arguing! Identifying logical fallacies and rhetoric are great weapons in any debate. If you are interesting in learning the logical fallacies (there are many but there is commonly used ones you will recognize) then please check out this link to the New England Skeptical Society. The more you know about debating the more you can easily combat your opponents. Also, another great debate on evolution vs creation can be found here at the Australian Skeptics website.

So next time you are confronted with Carl the proverbial rubber duck, whip out your arsenal of free thought and try to identify the lies. And most of all, don’t give up.




    • Peter
    • Posted January 14, 2008 at 3:03 pm
    • Permalink

    Yes, I’ve experienced exactly this sort of frustration when discussing the Apollo missions with people who think they were faked. The people who have these beliefs seem to never have read the arguments before, as though they’re the first to think that stars should be in the photos.

    But the thought that’s always in the back of my mind, especially when debating in public, is the importance of explaining things in detail for the benefit of the people who genuinely don’t know which side has the better argument.

    • skelliot
    • Posted January 14, 2008 at 11:21 pm
    • Permalink

    I agree, not only is it important to really sell your argument it is also important that you back up your argument with facts and detail. Many ID/creation and pseudoscience proponents don’t actually know the details behind their beliefs and when they hear an argument backed up with evidence they do have a tendency to sway. While this isn’t always the case, each person is different and arguments will take a different effect depending on who that person is.

    However some people are utterly pointless to argue with and no matter what proof or evidence you present to them they will send it spiraling back at you from personal incredulity.


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