I made a mistake this week. While scrolling through my Twitter-feed, I noticed an article from the Logos Institute – a Dutch creationist group – entitled “Advanced simulations contradict evolutionary theory”. I quickly checked the article, which described a study by William Basener and John Sanford in which they challenge the fundamental theorem of natural selection of Ronald Fisher. I won’t go into the details, but their study has been criticized by Joe Felsenstein and Michael Lynch at The Skeptical Zone. So, I decided to reply to the tweet of my creationist friends and share this criticism.
Creating an illusion
Today I noticed that the author of the Logos Institute replied to my tweet with another article. His reply can be summarized as follows: “the criticism of Felsenstein and Lynch is not published in a peer-reviewed journal. They should do some simulations themselves to prove Basener and Sanford wrong. Until that time evolutionary theory has a problem.”
The main issue with this reply is that they mention me in the beginning as “evolutionary biologist dr. Jente Ottenburghs.” By replying to the tweet, I have provided them with the opportunity to create the illusion that professional scientists are taking them serious (which I obviously don’t).
Some time ago, I already had the intention of not paying attention to creationists. But sometimes I cannot help it because they are spreading fake information or providing a biased picture. This occasion has taught me a valuable lesson: don’t do it anymore. Do not engage in discussions or debates with creationists. As Kate Marvel indicated in Scientific American: by starting you have already lost.. (although she was talking about questioning science in general).
A recent study confirmed the lesson I learned this week. It suggests ‘that science skepticism cannot simply be remedied by increasing people’s knowledge about science […] Some people are reluctant to accept particular scientific findings, for various reasons.’ So arguing with creationists and showing them the evidence is useless. You are wasting your time.
In conclusion, I will try to restrain myself and not comment on creationist nonsense any longer. I can better spend my time on my own research and try to publish some nice papers.