Debate results!

Ross Olson of the Twin Cities Creation Science Association has sent me the results of the survey that was given at the debate. He is trying to spin it as supporting the claim that this kind of debate was "useful" — but I'm unimpressed.

About 500 people attended, 290 returned the survey. The survey basically asked two questions about whether they supported teaching creationism in the classroom initially, and the same two questions to be answered after they listened to the debate, with a final question that asked whether the debate was held "on an intellectual level that can serve as an example for other discussions"…and with that, their motives are exposed. It wasn't to actually work through the problem, but entirely to give credibility to the creationist position. Contrary to Olson's interpretation, it tells me that this whole farce was a bad idea from the beginning.

When I looked at the numbers, what jumped out at me that there was almost no change in the audience's position. People who came in firmly opposed to teaching ID in the schools left with the same opinion (no surprise there, Bergman was a kook); people who came in demanding that creationism be given equal time left still feeling the same way. There were a couple of crazy people whose opinions did shift — from being initially opposed to creationism to being for including it in the curriculum. I call shenanigans on that; Bergman did not even try to argue for such a position, so these were ringers who walked in, gave false answers to the first questions, and then pretended to have been converted to a pro-creationist stance by Bergman. That is flatly unbelievable.

The numbers were boringly static. The comments were much more entertaining, and I've included them below the fold; to make it a little easier to sort out who was saying what, the comments from evolutionists are in blue, the creationists are in red, and the ones who switched significantly from the two pre-debate questions to the two post-debate questions are in purple.

What I mainly take home from these data is the simple fact that, even though this debate was a complete and embarrassing rout for the creationists, their minds were not changed at all. Debates with creationists are a waste of time, except for the small benefit of entertaining evolutionists with an amusing spectacle, and the larger detriment of giving liars for Jesus an opportunity to piously announce their support for rational discussion…despite the fact that they don't offer rational discussion.

Following are from attendees who were initially against teaching creationism; those who switched to being for creationism are in purple.

Bergman ignored the whole topic. He is an example of how NOT to have a debate.

I think the conversations and questions were remarkably civil, given the subject matter, but as an intellectual exercise, I do not feel that the "yes" side of the argument presented a rational case, based on evidence, for the teaching of ID/creationism in the public school classroom.

"Teaching" is not well defined. Evolution might not be entirely truth but that doesn't mean ID is the solution then. Hence the debate is kind of off-[phase. The irreducible complexity doesn't make sense here.

With the time constraints, the discussion should really have been more focused.

"Dr." Bergman used many fallacies and false information & is a dishonest Discovery Institute henchman.

Last question: Dr. Bergman strongly disagree; Dr. Myers strongly agree,

Hitler? Really?

ID was not defined. I wish Mr. Bergman didn't use a slide show.

Bergman made personal anecdotes rather than talk ID.

Q 5: (Can serve as example) in anthropology or history class.

I was surprised by how much Professor Bergman deviated from the announced topic.

Dr. Bergman's subpar intellectual level hampered my understanding of the discussion.

Although PZ presented his case very well, Dr. Bergman's position was rambling and incoherent. That does not promote an adequate intellectual dialogue.

Dr. Bergman exhibited respect for his opponents. I cannot say the same for Dr. Myers.

The argument presented by Dr. Bergman was much less coherent than that presented by Dr. Myers. He appeared less prepared and not ready to provide a solid answer.

Normal debate usually allows the one who presents first to present last. The one who presents first is at a disadvantage.

Prof Bergman should have turned off his PowerPoint during Prof Myers presentation. Prof Bergman lacked evidence to support his position.

Myers 1, Bergman 0; did not provide facts / evidence or attempt coherent argument.

Dr. Bergman didn't really argue the point.

Bergman = wrong; Myers = right

Discussion debased by argument that the theory of evolution [produced Nazism. Debate was a mismatch.

Bergman was crazy.

Cordial maybe, but both sides need to be intellectual in order to have a discussion.

Thanks PZ!

The moderator was a bit biased (towards PZ); I'm on his side but even I thought the slant was a bit much. (For example letting PZ rebut Jerry's audience Q & A answers but not vice versa.) This got better as the Q & A progressed.

The Nazi comment by Bergman was embarrassing -- poor argument. The argument for ID was weak and largely unfounded -- was this the best defender for the concept we could find?

50% intellectual; 50% foo foo magic.

I wish the defender of ID had been more competent.

Where did you find "Dr." Bergman?

PZ Myers debated intellectually. Dr. Bergman couldn't even explain ID. I don't know how he has the authority to say it should be taught in schools.

Bergman was a woefully inadequate opponent for Dr. Myers. It was uncomfortable to watch such a thorough routing.

I would not want intelligent design taught in school by an atheist because of prejudicial misrepresentation.

Q 5 (Intellectual level) Dr Bergman "Strongly disagree;" PZ Strongly agree.


Intelligent design is another way to have religion shoved down our throats. Religion has backed slavery, torture, racism, and intolerance. Humanity needs to get rid of it.


Dog loves you!

This was not a debate. It was a slaughter.

Myers communicated well. Bergman was very hard to follow. Not even sure what his idea is. Get someone who can present a logical and communicable argument.

Dr. Bergman provided no thesis nor supporting evidence.

Freedom of speech is unequal to freedom to teach; science is unequal to national socialism.

I felt the debate was unequal. Although I am admittedly strongly biased, I was more hopeful the quality of the arguments on the Intelligent Design side would be more well thought and argued. I believe there is an argument to be made, but that the ID speaker did not have the debate skills to address it, or the level of knowledge that was neede3d in the areas he addressed. The venue was great. PZ was great. I liked the format of the debate itself. Nice event overall. Thank you.

Poor presentation by Bergman.

Perhaps Dr. Bergman wasn't given enough information, but his presentation seemed far too personal.

Q 5: I cannot circle the answer because only one debater, PZ Myers, followed the prompt of debate. The debater arguing in favor of ID did not follow the prompt and employed painful logical fallacies throughout his talks. His position was dizzying in its use of circular reasoning. On the other hand, PZ Myers was very professional and appropriate in the debate.

Jerry Bergman was all over the place, didn't seem to have a clear understanding of ID -- PZ Myers approached the subject more clearly

In order to teach science, you need a testable hypothesis. There is not one for intelligent design.

Fallacies abound. Bergman clearly hasn't been to an actual evolution class!

Opening person at least 72 "ums." (regarding preamble to the survey, "attempts to interfere with this discussion are considered inappropriate and actually betray a fear that the intellectual position being advocated cannot stand on its own." ) You = better than psychologists at psychoanalysis?

Intellectual level was not equal on both sides.

The theories should be discussed so students can see the falsities and contradictions, but not taught on some level (as) truth, so students understand the importance of the science of evolution.

Dr. Bergman didn't seem to understand his side of the argument. Citing Hitler was just so desperate. Theory doesn't matter? EEE

Dr. Myers discussion was on an intellectual level. Dr. Bergman's presentation was disorganized & heavy on unsupported assertion.

Q 5: (Intellectual level) until Hitler was brought in, then disgrace.

Bergman's presentation was awful -- an uncharitable summary of a bad idea. Myers did OK but did not come across as well prepared.

I thought this was supposed to be about schools. I cannot figure out what Bergman's position was. Don't invite him again.

This didn't seem like much of a debate at all -- Bergman admitted we need scientific method, which Myers has explained ID cannot do. So what exactly is the debate? It seems Bergman just wants discussion in science classrooms About the possible flaws/ wrong things about evolution -- Myers does not seem to oppose scientifically discussing these and coming to a scientific conclusion. Again, what is the debate here? PS I'm not an atheist or ID supporter.... I just support the scientific method.... the only good part was questions, otherwise a total waste of time.

Changing your slides while another person is speaking is RUDE. Dr. Bergman shouldn't waste so much time on irrelevant personal background. Bergman's presentation reminded me of a seminar from my undergraduate education titled "How Not to give a presentation." Visual aids were unclear, even distracting.

Intellectual level would require similar definition of terms which was lacking here. Also, it would help if both participants would agree on the topic beforehand. Dr. Bergman did not keep the topic.

ID, if taught, should not be taught alongside evolution as a science. (If taught) it must be taught by a neutral party at the very least.

Q 5: Intellectual level -- Bergman Strongly disagree; Myers -- Strongly agree. I did not appreciate Bergman's personal negativity towards atheists. I was offended and thus tuned out.

Dr. Bergman, tough crowd. Thanks for arguing your side, What is this new definition of irreducible complexity? What is the normal advantage of private over public schools in science? (more comments in two different handwritings were hard to decipher and appeared to be notes of a private debate.)

Strong disagreement based on Dr. Bergman's presentation, however, agreement based on presentation of ID by those who have an understanding. This was an unfortunately unbalanced discussion. The case for anything related to ID was not made.

Q 2 & 4: "public" teachers."

Loved the moderator!! It may have been good to have a biologist for the ID side too -- it would have been good for them to be on the same page.

Bergman was way off topic, deciding instead to ramble about his life and making non-sense arguments that are irrelevant. Myers stuck to the topic and actually made logical supporting arguments. Bergman also ignored Myers' comments and continued his original refuted arguments.

Q 5: Intellectual level Strongly disagree -- Bergman; Strongly Agree -- Myers.

Following are from attendees who were initially neutral

1st Q: Public - strongly disagree. Private - strongly agree. 2nd Q: I can't answer this as it is poorly worded. 5th Q: was going fine until Hitler was brought up. [strongly against creationism at end of debate]

Q 5: But neither speaker should make snide arrogant comments as Dr. Myers did! [for creationism at end of debate]

The "mediator" was my favorite :) Paul Z. Myers did a much better job of explaining his viewpoints in a coherent way. He keeps it simpler -- on topic [little change]

Dr. Bergman is not very bright. [no change]

Following are from attendees who were initially in favor of teaching creationism. None of these were swayed by the debate.

I was disappointed with Dr. Paul Z. Myers several insults against opposing view in attempt to be funny.

Evolution cannot explain much. We need to be open minded.

I couldn't hear Dr. Myers, he sounded mumbly - he didn't use mike. Moderator didn't use mike well either. I like the idea of academic freedom. How do you debate someone who is pompous? Dr. Myers sounds like Al Gore's, "All debate is over; I'm right." I don't believe Al Gore's Global Climate Change either.

Dr. Myers' arrogance and condescending attitude as well as that of his "disciples" in the audience seems to make it all but impossible to hold an intelligent discussion on this topic.

Q 1 & 3 ID: taught only by teachers who DON'T support ID, but as an exercise in critical thinking skills to debunk ID.

Great moderator! If you're going to finger scientists for the Holocaust, you should finger the church as well. ID needs to expand to a complete theory instead of just criticizing evolution.

PZ said, "work is bad" (regarding) 1. mechanism or theory 2, data (for ID)

Q 5: Intellectual level yes, maybe, example for other discussions, no

Teach all views.

No data or works cited. Very unprofessional from both sides. Not educating.

Not one document was cited from either source.

This was a horrible debate. It was more like a rude comment frenzy.

Evolution is not fact and both ID and evolution deserve to be researched and taught in schools.

Academic freedom is needed in schools and should be given.

Atheists do not want to accept that God is real. I'll pray for them.

How do you explain why humans aren't allowed to kill/eat other humans? Shouldn't that be fine since we are no more than glorified monkeys? God bless.

Faulty logic used by evolutionists.

ID should be "allowed" not required. I was sorry that Mr. Bergman didn't answer some of the questions with better understanding. I am young, yet it seemed to me that I could explain some things better than he did.

Q 5 "Questionable"

I did not find the debate to be appropriate on a civil level. Intelligence should not be determined by belief or unbelief in theories that have not been 100% verified and the intelligence of others should not be insulted based on belief or unbelief in a theory. I did agree that since ID does not have a scientific theory behind it, it should not necessarily be taught in schools. However, there is evidence against evolution that is very valid which is not taught in schools and should at least be presented.

I suppose the argument should be whether or not the theory of evolution is sufficient enough to teach in schools and if other options should be presented. (Other comments that seem to be a side discussion.)

The debaters should be from the same field of science. Thank you for holding a polite, well run debate.

The debating skills of the two are not fairly matched.

Q 1, 3: Private schools can teach what they want. Q 5: This discussion was not.

Since when do moderators enter the debate? I lost respect for P.Z. Myers when every argument was tainted with ad hominem attacks.

Dr. Myers was disrespectful, rude, sarcastic and condescending.

Moderator -- very subjective. He was (illegible)with Myers!

There has been ID research and Dr. Bergman did a not so great job of presenting the data. You must provide the hungry dog with a steak before you can take away his bone.

Presenters were weak in their style & lack of resources.

Myers was rude. He should stand up when he talks, too.

Myers talked about evidence (but) never gave it to back it up. (He) was RUDE! Just plain bashing Christians. Paul Myers said evolution was "fact;" it's a theory, therefore it's not a principle which is proven... If evolution is a fact, how can it be taught (as such)? Where's the evidence that he kept talking about?

Q 2, 4: teachers whether or not they support ID should be able to teach it without punishment. Q 1, 3: I would add that other theories (be allowed) besides creation, ID & evolution.

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