Guide to Clear Thinking

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Visualization (symbolism over substance)
Definition:  Using imagery to mislead, attract, or distract, or as a substitute for evidence and logic.
Catch-phrase:  The medium is the massage – or – Pictures don’t lie, but liars use Photoshop.
Examples:   TV commercials that strive to create “image” using fast-paced and extravagant visuals, without telling you anything about the product or why you should buy it  Tom Daschle showing the Lexus that a rich person could buy with Bush’s tax cut vs the muffler a poor person could afford (but neglecting to tell you how much more in taxes the rich man is paying).  Fact: President Bush refused to make arsenic standards that have been in place for 50 years more stringent.  How it came across in a Democratic National Committee TV attack ad: a scene of a little girl asking with a smile, “May I please have some more arsenic in my water, Mommy?”  Haeckel’s embryos  Evolutionary tree of life  Geologic column  Darwin fish  Reconstruction of Nebraska Man from a pig’s tooth, and other ape-man reconstructions as in the Discovery Channel’s Neanderthal and Humans: Who Are We?  Disney’s Fantasia portraying the history of the earth and origin of life  Epcot’s Universe of Energy  Discovery Channel Walking with Dinosaurs, movie Jurassic Park and other computer-animated reconstructions of unobservable prehistoric animal behavior  Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar  National Geographic artwork of imaginary feathered dinosaurs.  For more examples, see Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells.

  • Peter’s Placebo:  An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.


For a good source of historical examples of evolutionary propaganda, including little-known and shameful tactics at the Scopes Trial, cf. Bolton DavidheiserEvolution and Christian Faith (Baker Book House, 1969).

Final comment.  Not all of the above tactics are bad in themselves; it depends on how they are used.  Analogies, humor, visualization, quotations by authorities, and statistics, for instance, are valid parts of rhetoric (persuasive speech), and can be legitimate and helpful teaching aids.  These only err as fallacies or become propagandistic to the extent they dodge the issue, obscure the truth, mislead or take the lazy way out of a debate.  And to avoid being fooled ourselves, we must be alert to these tactics of misdirection and deception.  Paul warned,

“ . . . That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” – (Ephesians 4:14-15).

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