Monday, July 20, 2009

Silence can be golden

It's only recently that I've fully grasped the fact that there are times, particularly in a media context, when it's preferable to say nothing whatsoever about certain subjects.

The bicentennial of Darwin's birth strengthened this attitude in my mind. I've always found it outrageous that numbskulls should dare to compare the preposterous fantasy of creationism, not to mention the fable of Genesis, with the theory of evolution. Unfortunately, whenever a serious scientist gets dragged into a public argument with Genesis believers and creationists (basically the same kind of people), the supernaturalists receive extra publicity, even though they might be thrashed intellectually. And the fact that they're placed in the limelight is likely to make these silly folk more sure of themselves, and more outspoken, than if they were to be simply ignored. So, there's a strong case for refraining from ever paying attention to them in any way whatsoever.

The same thing can be said about journalists who turn their projectors towards perpetrators of the ridiculous Moon Hoax, according to which NASA's Apollo missions were mere Hollywood productions.

In general, I think it's always worthwhile, at least in the beginning, to allow conspiracy theorists of all kinds to air their views, because we can often learn from them in various unexpected ways. But, as soon as it becomes clear that such-and-such a theory is no more than hot air, its proponents should normally be ignored. The problem is that, the more an observer is convinced that he can easily debunk the allegations of a mindless conspiracy theorist, the more the intended debunking runs the risk of being transformed into nice publicity for the silly ideas.

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