Sunday, 26 June 2011

PZ Myers writes a letter

On PZ Myers excellent science blog Pharyngula, he has posted a letter that he has written to a 9 year old girl.  It seems that she had been taught by creationist Ken Ham to ask meaningless questions in order to question the authenticity of scientific claims without accidentally learning anything from the answers.

Myers says:

Ken Ham is crowing over fooling a child. A young girl visited a moon rock display from NASA, and bravely went up to the docent and asked the standard question Ham coaches kids to ask — and she's quite proud of herself.
I went to a NASA display of a moon rock and a lady said, "This Moon-rock is 3.75 billion years old!" Guess what I asked for the first time ever?
"Um, may I ask a question?"
And she said, "Of course."
I said, in my most polite voice, "Were you there?"
Love, Emma B
He goes on to write rather a nice rational letter to the girl, although he is unable to post it to her as he does not have her address.

Dear Emma;

I read your account of seeing a 3.75 billion year old moon rock, and how you asked the person displaying it "Were you there?", the question that Ken Ham taught you to ask scientists. I'm glad you were asking questions — that's what scientists are supposed to do — but I have to explain to you that that wasn't a very good question, and that Ken Ham is a poor teacher. There are better questions you could have asked.

One serious problem with the "Were you there?" question is that it is not very sincere. You knew the answer already! You knew that woman had not been to the moon . . .

Click here to read on.

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