Dear Ken Ham, “I know this guy” is not science


After the long debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, people are looking for a simple summary of the opposing views. Right from the beginning there was a clear difference in strategy. Bill Nye focused on evidence, evidence, evidence and evidence. Ken Ham concentrated on some guy he knew, another guy he knew, and someone else he knew that shared his views.

“I know this guy” is not science. That’s not to say it isn’t an effective argumentation technique. We see it constantly used in politics. Look at poor Mary, she can barely get by. Vote for me! What’s this politician actually going to do for Mary? Absolutely nothing, but just bringing up her story makes it seem like he’s going to solve all her problems.

For Ken Ham it was bringing up a scientist, or someone with a fancy degree that was also a young earth creationist. Look at this guy! But you can also find a scientist who’s a Scientologist, a Mormon or someone who worships their toaster. So what? With 7 billion people on this planet you’re sure to find someone who shares your views no matter how insane they are.

And with all due respect to people with PhDs, that educational achievement doesn’t prevent someone from being an idiot, although at least an educated idiot in that instance. Of course, this is my opinion. And even if I found someone with a PhD who agreed with it, it would still be my opinion, it wouldn’t be science.

Bill Nye focused on the evidence. He didn’t need to play the “I know this guy” game. He wasn’t the one in desperate need of company. Ken Ham focused on “I know this guy,” an attempt to pervert scientific terms, an attempt to equate pseudoscience with science, and the usual attempts by young earth creationists to try and bring up an instance of a dating error to try and undermine entire fields of study. It didn’t work. Evidence won the debate.

-James Kirk Wall

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