Any Questions?

I just watched PZ Meiarz’s talk about mind and brain, and listened to Ron McLeroy’s talk at his church, about the evils of materialism and evolution. I’ve also listened to Kent Hovind‘s schpiel, and seen his show live.

One thing that struck me—and it’s a small thing, but I think significant—is that PZ took questions during the talk, while McLeroy and Hovind didn’t.

Yes, the last section of Hovind’s seminar is a Q&A session, but that comes at the end of 14 hours of Gish Gallop, while PZ’s audience asked questions while they were fresh in their minds, and while the relevant slides were up on the screen.

And again, to be fair, I’ve attended talks by scientists and researchers who asked that questions be kept until the end, but even there, this was considered unusual enough that it was announced at the beginning. Certainly, throughout school and college, it was the norm that you raise your hand when a question occurs to you, not at the end: if you don’t understand something at the beginning, you should correct that as soon as possible, otherwise you won’t understand the stuff that comes later.

Of course, the other difference is that PZ is trying to teach his audience, and explain why (he thinks that) something is true. McLeroy and Hovind, on the other hand, are telling their audience what to think.

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