Flying Spaghetti Monster

I have updated my "featured area" to include a link to the Flying Spaghetti Monsterism website. What is FSM? Well, you can follow the link -- or you can keep reading.

In short, its a parody of Intelligent Design -- or more accurately its a recasting of intelligent design in a way that makes it easier to see the fallacies that lie at the heart of the argument.

Now, I could spend the rest of this entry saying what I think of the debate, but that you can get elsewhere (and I doubt readers of this blog are in suspense about where I stand on the issue of Evolution), so instead I want to say something about the language of the debate -- and more specifically about why the scientists are even being challenged.

In short: Being Right isn't enough, you have to care about how your message is delivered, if you want people to agree with you. So many people are expending energy on why evolution is so obviously correct, that they are missing how demagogues and pundits are using language -- comfortable, plain ordinary language -- to make it sound so far fetched.

Now, the typical geek response is to say "well, if people are so dumb as to fall for that sort of thing, that's their problem." But the fact is, when you take this stance (and too often, its done with an air of disdain and even arrogance) you kick the door wide open for someone to swoop in and, simply by virtue of tone and specious argument, make anything sound true.

The other problem is assuming that those people are swooping in because they are too stupid to know otherwise. Wrong! The real reason, is that they hope to influence others, to gain power. They can, they will, and they are.

I see this happen all the time to programmers. They know they are right, they know the manager, or other non-technical person hasn't a clue, and they see no reason to do more than assert their correctness -- and they scratch their heads in wonder when things don't go their way. What they don't understand is that people are motivated by their emotions, and their beliefs -- the geeks have just aligned their emotions and beliefs with so-called facts, and so think they are objective.

What is so wonderful about the flying spaghetti monster approach, is that it doesn't step back in righteous anger and argue more facts, it reaches directly into the realm of fallacy, and -- with no logic or even fact -- makes a much stronger argument than any explanation of evolution -- or even science. By making intelligent design seem absurd by association, it moves the argument into the comfort zone of the average human being -- where this argument needs to be won, if it is to be won at all.

In short, people are not logical (not even geeks) they are emotional -- and how things are said matters. For geeks, the how is based on science, critical thinking and otherwise their understanding of what is "correct." For most other people, it is much less rigorous, but no less strong. The key to making a difference is: no matter whether what you say is actually "correct" or not, you still have to pay attention to how you say it. Them's the facts.