Evolution has a problem with entropy.
Any creationist will tell you that. It is part of the standard issue talking points. I agree, it does, but not in the way that creationists think.
I try to avoid getting drawn into arguments about evolution. Partly because I’ve been wasting my time that way for 20 years, partly because I’ve never seen anyone change their mind, and mostly because I turn into a self-important jerk, more often than not.
But, I never stay away for long. And when I return I usually learn something about people. For example…
It always strikes me how denialists have the easy half of the conversation. Their job is not to construct anything, but to demolish it. If the topic is a block of marble, the scientist needs to carefully chip away, delicately and specifically to reveal the statue inside. The denialist’s aim is to reduce it to an unattractive mess. There are many more ways to do the latter than the former, and it takes much less skill.
Why are there so many more video games about destroying things than about making them? Because the former is easier, you need less sophisticated interaction, a big gun is enough. The latter requires you to manipulate, slowly and with care.
Entropy is easy. Destruction is cheap. Destruction is easy to understand. Construction is slow and expensive.
Denialists of all stripes rarely offer any testable claims. Creationists are full of derision, quote-mining, drive-by-arguments and quantity of arguments favoured over their quality. There are some specific exceptions, and they are the ones that are generally dissected by scholars, but resources aimed at a popular audience are purely wrecking balls.
Its also why, I think, a lot of people with some allegiance to a ‘tribe’ can find the denialism of that tribe attractive. The message is “look, its easy to see how rubbish it all is, it doesn’t stand up to this wrecking ball, and trust us, because we’re like you, and they are the enemy”.
Something else occurred to me this weekend. When those of us who support the academic consensus on a topic oppose those who disagree, we often fall into ‘wrecking ball’ territory too. Derision is very easy to reach for, it is very easy to follow Duncan’s Law, find the most absurd claims and carp on at them. It is hard, generally, to engage with something you disagree with on its own terms. A couple of comments I wrote this weekend were totally in ‘jerk’ territory: I swung my self-righteous wrecking ball with glib abandon.
Entropy is seductive. Destruction is fun.
And so, we get arguments which go nowhere, and eventually both sides accuse the other of not taking them seriously, not listening, refusing to answer questions, arguing in bad faith, or being closed minded and ideologically motivated.
And, you know, I think that is probably true.