A Challenge to Mythicists, Creationists, and others who oppose Academic Hegemony

I’ve been doing a bit more lurking on James McGrath’s blog recently, and even got into a couple of arguments.

I am very convinced that evolution accounts for the diversity of life on earth.

I am persuaded that Jesus was a real historical person.

On James’s blog there are plenty of people who believe strongly that I’m wrong on each account (though, funnily enough, not on both!). And arguing with either group is just an exercise in beating one’s head against a plank of wood. The same arguments, styles of argument, and patterns of discussion come round and round and round. And get nowhere. I recently commented that I thought doing that kind of blog argument

a) had never changed anyone else’s mind
b) had never changed my mind
c) had never failed to end in name-calling

So here’s my challenge. If you want to argue for creationism, say, then find some scientific position that you are convinced by. You might be pretty convinced by the germ theory of disease, say, or atomic theory, or heliocentrism, or a spherical earth.

Then find the forums where the people who disagree hang out. They will be there. There are places where flat-earthers hang out, disproving the scientific consensus. Or places where geocentrists discuss how Galileo was wrong, and so on. Go and convince them of the true science.

If you’re into challenging historical consensus, do the same. If you are a mythicist, try going and convincing holocaust denialists that they are wrong. Go and sample the arguments used against you, and the patterns of debate, and how no matter how often you point out the historical facts, they will be twisted and ignored, and so on.

That’s the challenge. To experience what it is like to challenge the beliefs of folks who are totally convinced that the academic establishment has a huge conspiracy to hide or misrepresent the truth.

But not just to experience their intransigence. More importantly to experience your own inability to make progress. The way things you say get misunderstood, the your points are treated. The way that you feel utterly unable to cover even the basic information without misrepresentation. And the way you and they so easily end up impugning each other’s intelligence.

I’m not suggesting that these beliefs are equivalent. I’m not suggesting mythicism is just like holocaust denial or flat-earthism. They aren’t. That’s not the point. The point is not the academic approach to the evidence. But how online arguments go. I hope if you take the challenge, you’ll at least be able to to understand why those who argue against you seem so devoid of any good arguments or evidence. And why online discussion is not a good place for constructive debate.

As for me, I can’t think of an academic hegemony I feel strongly is wrong. I’d love to go and sample the other side. But I can’t think of how.



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4 responses to “A Challenge to Mythicists, Creationists, and others who oppose Academic Hegemony

  1. That is a great challenge. I doubt anyone will take you up on it. But it makes a good point.

    However, I’ve had to be careful with similar arguments. Once I was trying to point out that the Bible had many more passages about the earth being the center of the Universe, than it does about the 6 day creation… The person then told me that I was likely right, that the Earth must be the center of the universe… The joys of seeing cognitive dissonance in action, and feeling responsible for it.

  2. Ian

    Love it, that is a good point I hadn’t thought of Greg! :/ And welcome to the blog.

  3. I think people often change slowly. Your argument at a given time may (and as you say, usually results in building further walls), but over time they may change and never be able to link it back to the discussion.

    Also, I think the lurkers may be more affected than the verbose bloggers. Depending on the dialogue skills of the writer, the lurker may be the most effected.

    So keep writing.

  4. You mean to say that the Holocaust actually happened? But how? Adolf Hitler was based off of Pagan mythology so he himself could not have possibly existed!

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