Friday, October 9, 2015

Duane Gish vs Ian Plimer - Creation vs Evolution 1988

This debate ( video | 2:42m ) took place in Australia between the infamous Dr Guane Gish and pre-Climate Change Skeptic Ian Plimer. It was on the topic Creationism vs Evolution and was quite heated and filled with low-blows.

2.75 stars: Both sides engage in some pretty underhanded tactics here, making for an entertaining but unilluminating spectacle.

Heads up: the introduction is so freaking long that the link I provide above skips it. Also, I usually mention this at the end of the review, but the audio quality is pretty bad. The dated feel isn't helped by the fact that both speakers sound like they time-traveled from other time periods - Gish being an Antebellum gentleman and Plimer being a 30s/40s newsreel narrator.

Because Gish is what the Gish Gallop is named after I never bothered to listen to his debates because I would rather listen to more skilled Creationist debaters. Now I know that that's rather silly and so I finally decided to check him out. In Plimer seemed to handle himself well when he went up against George Monbiot and Tony Jones, in terms of rhetoric so I wonder how'd he do if he also had the facts on his side.

Well Gish brought up the usual stuff and didn't really support Creationism except by default. Plimer on the other hand came up and almost pointedly decided to attack Creationism itself. He listed several of the absurd implications to the story of Noah's Ark, accused Gish of lying in his own publications and cited specifics, cleared up some common Creationist misconceptions and ended with a pretty good anecdote about Creationism taught in public schools in the US.

The issue with Plimer's pointing out the weird parts of the Ark is that he does get some basic things about the ark story wrong, making it unsure whether or not he has attempted to go through the arguments. However, Gish's rebuttal seems to have just been an appeal to outrage at the underhanded tactics and he spent most of his time trying to clean up Creationism's image rather than pointing out the facts. The only specific correction he made is that God brought the animals to Noah, Noah didn't need to go all over the world to get them. Of course when Plimer comes up for his rebuttal, he rightly points out that that makes Creationism not scientific. The problem is that most people see the dogmatic prohibition of God in the science lab as unappealing or narrow-minded, which is a shame.

Again, a lot of heat was generated in this one. It was nice to see a Creationist having to deal with an underhanded opponent for once, though. Usually it's a befuddled scientist unaware of the weird Creationist arguments trying to talk about how awesome science is, instead.

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