I am going back over some old ground. Previously I discussed a kind of advocate who has a message to get across and does so with great satisfaction. Then they exit quickly without accepting any rebuttal. I called this “ring and run.” There’s more. This kind of thing happens a lot in the world of skeptical analysis. Creationists are fond of the tactic. There’s the case of Jason Gastrich:
by John Blanton
We are known to be very skeptical, but it appears we are not very s-m-a-r-t. For the second time the NTS has been stood up by a creationist who arranged to do business with us. Maybe we should switch to a different deodorant.
On August 7 Jason Gastrich sent us the following e-mail:
Jason said he had debated many atheists, and he wanted to debate me. Jason was in California, and I was in Dallas, and never the twain should meet. However, Jason was willing to debate by telephone. I was heartened. My mistake. I checked into Jason Gastrich and realized he was a kook. Of course, that’s redundant, as I already knew he was a creationist:
Jason Gastrich—Obsessive Biblical inerrantist with a knack for not going away when ordered. Shoot-on-sight banned at Wikipedia. Was given a trial unbanning and managed to get himself rebanned that very same day for sockpuppetry.
So, I proudly announced that I would be debating a kook (again redundant again). Jason got wind of my remarks (he’s not psychic) and began to cool. Demands began to appear among the qualifications for the debate. Must not use a cell phone. Cell phones do not have good voice quality. Must have a test telephone exchange. He scheduled the test phone call, but he never phoned. Then he announced that he had phoned, and I had not answered (he did not phone), and the debate was off. Classic ring and run.
I was comfortable at home. The phone rang. It was a creationist in California (not Jason Gastrich). He had heartburn with some evolution shit his son’s teacher was pushing, and he wanted to vent on me. I was wondering why he didn’t take this up with his son’s teacher, but what the heck. He asked some nonsensical questions, and ended up asking if evolution had been proved. Of course not. Scientific theories are not proved. They are validated by their ability to explain the facts. When I gave the correct answer, “no,” he said thanks, that was all he needed to know, and he hung up. Ring and run. Literally.
In 2002 I debated creationist Don Patton at the atheists convention in Dallas (actually, near Dallas). The debate issue was “The fossil record is more compatible with the model of creation than the model of evolution.” I had attended many of Don Patton’s presentations at the local creationist group, and we were on a first name basis. It was friendly exchange, and there were a lot of atheists in the audience, and there were many creationist, as well. At the conclusion there was a sort of social atmosphere, and as I was standing around answering questions an elderly gentleman, a creationist, walked up to me and asked me if I thought I had made my case. I figured I had not convinced everybody, especially the creationists, and I told the man something like
“most likely not.” “Then you’re being dishonest,” he informed me, and walked away without hanging around for a response. Ring and run.
There is a guy who used to phone from time to time wanting to demonstrate psychic abilities for our Paranormal Challenge. One claim was that he could project his thoughts into my head. I told him to go for it, and I stood by to receive. I did not receive what he projected. He took offense. Some months later I got a voice mail on my cell phone telling me off. This was absolute ring and run.
About this time ten years ago Greg Nichols and Greg Willis contacted us. They came to our meeting in February 2004. They had a homeopathic product with amazing properties. Put some on the outside of a wine glass, and the wine will taste better! We could test that. I offered to run a test. No go. They started demanding control of the test, and they wanted proof of our non-profit status, and they wanted the prize money put into escrow. In all the e-mail exchange a reference was made to “snakes,” and that was inadvertently copied to Nichols and Willis. Things sort of went down hill from there, and any offer to allow us to test their produce evaporated. It was ring and run with flair.
So, that’s ring and run as I’ve seen it. I have said before that no matter what, I am always willing to talk, to discuss. When somebody is averse to that idea, then it says something about what confidence they have in their own perspective. For me it’s a useful piece of information, and it’s free.