Polite but Firm

By Michael Edmonds 16/02/2013


Since I started blogging, I’ve often thought about the best way to deal with those pushing pseudoscientific ideas. Sometimes when faced with particularly vicious and irrational attacks on science and scientists, there is the temptation to respond in kind. I don’t think this is the answer – science is all about discussing the evidence for different ideas (hypotheses) in order to make better sense of the world. Any type of personal (ad hominem) attack detracts from the conversation.

Someone else who seems to share this view is Callan Bentley, an assistant professor of geology at Northern Virginia Community College in Annadale, who was approached by the Discovery Institute to see if they could use one of his images posted online for a book they are writing.

His response was:

Hello Andrew,

Thanks for your interest.

I hold the Discovery Institute in the lowest regard, and it sounds like the new book will be a further perversion of reason in the name of pseudoscience. As a science educator, I could never support such an effort! I will not grant reproduction rights to any of my photos or drawings to any creationist effort such as the one you describe here.

Best wishes for your good health, and the speedy demise of the sham institution that employs you.

Callan Bentley

His full exchange with the Discovery Institute’s media relations specialist can be found here. It is a pleasure to read. I am most impressed by the calm, yet assertive manner with which Callan Bentley responds to (and dissects) the responses from Andrew McDiarmid.

This polite but firm approach resonates with me.

Polite, in that he chooses not to insult the person but rather challenge the ideas and the “evidence” used to support creationist and “intelligent design” arguments. Firm, in that he gives no leeway for the poor arguments they deliver.