When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.
~ Cersei Lannister, HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, Season 1, Episode 7
Bit of a dramatic quote, isn’t it? But for some reason it entered my mind when I read what David Klinghoffer wrote about me and my views on the dismissive rhetoric of the scientific community towards the intelligent design movement (which I maintain is understandable, given the history of ID and creationism), in his Evolution News & Views post “A Darwinist Worries about Darwinian Rhetoric”.
You see, I didn’t write the post for a pro-ID audience - it came about because I felt I had some helpful advice to give scientists and science communicators for when they are asked to comment on ID by the media (or in other public outlets). That’s why I didn’t justify or explain, for example, my opinion that the movement is largely motivated by religious sentiment: I was talking to a group of people who already have that point of view.
Obviously I wasn’t thinking very clearly though, because I was writing about why ID proponents love to twist, distort and spin sentiment about themselves into energy for their day-to-day operations, yet forgot to consider how the post being written would appear to those very people. How legitimately foolish of me.
Everything is a rhetorical game to the Discovery Institute! And like the medieval-fantasy political game of thrones referenced in the above quote, when you play the game of rhetoric, you win or you die a (rhetorical) death. Much like gambling, the best way to win is not to play at all, especially when facing down masters like David Klinghoffer. I mean, look at what he wrote - he twisted a post about not giving the ID movement rhetorical nourishment into rhetorical nourishment.
But while I’m undeniably now locked into a PR pact with David - wherein everything I write is now open to dramatisation and being milked for points - I’d still like to focus on the issues that are at least vaguely objectively defensible.