About (yikes) thirty years ago my college friends and I followed, with dismay, the antics of Duane Gish and other creationist activists.
These was the first round of attempts by fundamentalists to oppose the teaching of evolution in schools. They were unapologetic in their Young Earth theories. The world was 6,000 or so years old, end of story.
They "debated" evolution supporters with a well-rehearsed list of talking points. Second Law of Thermodynamics, Piltdown Man, moon dust only 1/8th of an inch thick, saltiness of the oceans, lack of transitional fossils.
It was possible to knock down everyone of these things with patient argument, but that wasn't allowed for in the venues that Gish and his ilk preferred: School board meetings and the like. Get the floor, shout your talking points, smile smugly as the shy biology teacher who was chosen to "debate" you sputtered, amazed and appalled by your gall.
This is the interesting part. If you let one of these creationist debaters go on long enough, they got around to the real point of it all: "If we let kids get taught they were descended from monkeys they won't have any moral bearings and society will descend into chaos!" I've seen those words, in letters columns and from the mouths of Gish's trained "debaters," many times. A more scholarly, rather conspiratorial version of it can be found in the Discovery Institute's Wedge Document.
Why do I mention this here? Because I see a similar style in some climate skeptics. One of them dropped by a comment thread here the other day. He spewed a list of talking points, some of them that more sophisticated skeptics abandoned long ago: Al Gore, cooling scare of the 70s, climate scientists are in it for the money.
And then there are the honest ones who admit global warming is real, that humans are likely to blame, but they don't want to deal with it because that would mean giving in to hippies and environmentalists and big government control freaks who just want to tax everything.
We're dealing with people deeply afraid of the fallout -- societal in one case, economic in the other -- of what science is telling us.
But you know . . .
"It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties." -- Alfred North Whitehead