There truly is nothing new under the sun. In arguments, the same logical fallacies are committed again and again. Two textbook examples — “poisoning the well” and “false dichotomy" — are floridly on display in a single brief article from Psychology Today by Robert Rowland Smith that an email correspondent just pointed out to me (though it was originally published a few years ago).
His title? "Creationism as a Mental Illness," in which Smith indicates that creationism not only is “contrary to massive scientific evidence” but that — well, read that title again. He compares believing in creationism to suffering from psychosis and, for good measure, autism as well. So, Smith’s two errors are that 1) he poisons the well, demonizing those who disagree with him, going so far as to diagnose them as mentally ill, and 2) he divides all viewpoints on the question of origins into two camps: Bible-based creationists, and evidence-based scientists. Which is a false dichotomy, as if there were nothing intermediate or alternative to it.
"True," he observes, "if creationism became the majority view, its psychotic character might be mitigated." But in fact the majority of Americans are highly skeptical of the Darwinian narrative, at least as it pertains to humans. Gallup has a running poll, asking respondents for their view on that topic. The opinion that humans evolved without any outside intervention consistently garners the least support, with the opinion that the human species was created providentially beating unguided evolution by 5:1.
What a blow to science! Not to mention our national pride. A full 78 percent of the population is mentally ill!
Maybe some introspection is warranted for Smith and his allies, since heaping scorn on your enemies clearly isn’t doing the job. Perhaps it is time to spend more time discussing and debating with opponents and less time poisoning wells.
Actually, it is not clear what purpose he thought his article would serve, beyond self-congratulation. It certainly isn’t moving Darwin’s football forward one millimeter. If Darwinists hear “Sorry, I’m unconvinced” five times more often than they hear “You go, girl!” then they might want to consider the possibility that what they have on their hands is a strategy error.
As someone who works in civil and criminal courtrooms, I can tell you that as a rule, the two-pronged strategy of well-poisoning and dichotomy works poorly. The constant demonization directed at the masses by Darwin’s true believers is one reason why those same masses are so skeptical of Darwinism in the first place.
I’ve seen it often. In court, when a "scorched earth" witness is on the stand, the jury members fold their arms, slump in their chairs, roll their eyes, and stop taking notes. It’s obvious that they are unconvinced. Like Smith, the courtroom witness is usually oblivious to the plain message of the jury: "Even if what you say has truth in it, I don’t believe you."