William L at
Tue Sep 30 13:06:55 CDT 1997

James Francis Lyons-Weiler wrote:
> (In response to Doug Yanega's comments)
> I'll agree that is a real concern that the zealots on the other side (!)
> have organized to the extent that they have.  My message was not aimed at
> the discussion of how to deal with them, but rather at the "let's have it
> out on Taxacom" thread that was developing.
> My estimate is that any biologist worthy of the name would not need to be
> coached on the principles of argumentation, anyway- not a slam on those
> that find the discussion worthwhile, or those who have shared tactics;
> just a testimony of my faith in the strength of logic over fallacy.

A sadly misplaced faith, Jim.  A "debate" with creationists is not a
debate in the traditional sense.  The audience do not understand the
rules of logic, never having been exposed to them.  And they come not to
make an unbiased judgement, but to be comforted by seeing their side
triumph.  Under such conditions, getting a fair hearing requires
overcoming the mindset of the audience.

> To answer your question, should I lose my job over teaching evolution, I
> would win a lifetime position teaching whatever I wanted and researching
> whatever I desired, (paid in full by the offending party) in court on 1st
> amendment issues and in the civil suit for all sorts of things.  I'd
> love it.

Only as long as the present rules apply.  A sufficient shift in the
outlook of the Supreme court could overset all those precedents.  Or a
constitutional amendment.  That is exactly the sort of change that the
creationists seek.  That the odds of their getting it are not high
doesn't mean they are non-existant. Let us suppose that they are ten to
one against.  You put a lightning rod on your house to guard against a
much less likely occurence.


Dr. William L. Pratt, Curator of Invertebrates
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Box 4012
Las Vegas, NV 89154-4012
(702)895-1403, fax (702)895-3094 e-mail prattw at

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