But ERV disagrees, saying:
I do not want to have a beer with Bill Dembski. I dont want to have a beer with Michael 'LiLo' Behe. They are not 'nice people'. They are not 'charismatic speakers.' Theyre professional con-artists and pathological jerks. Whats so nice about attacking students? Whats so nice about Behes non-science reply? Theyre jerks.While I agree with ERV completely on this, I think she misses the point:
We're not part of the typical every day community. She and I are both in the scientific field. When people make scientific claims, we analyze it using the scientific standpoint. The average American doesn't really know jack about how science works.
As such, the general populous judges by other, less critical standards. Quality of presentation is one of them. But Dembski sucks. Behe wasn't bad but some of the "points" he made were so full of gaping holes that anyone should be able to catch them. So I'm with ERV on suspecting that good speaking isn't what ID really has going for it.
Rather, it's nothing but a case of confirmation bias. People want to believe there's a higher power and don't like that pesky evolution (presumably) telling them that they're born from monkeys. Thus, they'll buy whatever nonsense tells them what they want to hear. Throw in the persecution complex and it's ripe for lapping up.
Sadly, while ERV and I wouldn't eat with people as intellectually dishonest as Dembski, Behe, Luskin, or any of those other clowns, we're not John and Jane Six-pack (I don't even like beer). So the point I think Olson is really addressing is that this isn't going to change. We can't educate a nation full of people who are quite happy with their ignorance. Rather, we have to play the ID game too and make our public image better.
The question is whether or not the scientific community wants to play the "lowest common denominator" game, or more importantly, if it can afford not to. After all, the image of stuffy, elitist scientists doesn't do much for our cause.
Which brings me to the second point of ERV's; Flock of Dodos only reinforced that stereotype and in a very dishonest way:
Get a bunch of drunk scientists together and have them talk about Creationists. Thats a great idea *rolleyes* Get a bunch of drunk scientists together and get them to talk about some topic in HIV research-- youll get the same response. Belligerent, yelling over one another, good times.This is dead on the money for me. Putting a bunch of intoxicated scientists up against slick snake-oil salesmen who have time to practice their talks and plan out what they're going to say? Yeah... there's an honest comparison.
This isn't to say that scientists don't have some sort of ivory tower mentality. Many do (although whether this is a cause or effect isn't well determined imo). However, as ERV pointed out, many scientists are perfectly friendly, and very good at getting their points across: Ken Miller, Phil Plait, etc...
At the end of the semester, all of my students fill out teacher evaluations. They're given space to write in opinions, whether good or bad. Thus far, I've never received a negative comment. Rather, comments have been overwhelmingly positive and quite often amusing (such as "Jon is the shiznit!").
Meanwhile, I've had a number of professors that, even as an interested student, were some of the most horrible people I've had to deal with. Missouri State University's physics department was much worse about this than KU's*, but there's always a few (comparatively) bad apples.
Long story short, scientists aren't the best at mass communication, especially for hostile audiences. So randy is right on that point; There are bad apples. But this doesn't mean that it's fair of Olson to put some of our bad apples against their best oranges.
*Not all of MSU's physics faculty is horrible. Dr. Broerman is a notable exception. How can you not love a chain smoking professor who looks like a cross between Dr. Zoidberg and Einstein?