How you say something, how you package your message is every bit as, if not more important than, the message you try to convey.
That being said, there’s no one true way to properly say something, and guys like Greydon Square and PZ Myers have my respect for their assertive styles, their ability to make noise, to stir things up, and yet get the effective results they do.
Their blog-fu is strong.
No matter the way of making one’s point, it works if you do it well for the right audience.
Myself, I’m not that good at being a bit rowdy and rascally with people, of going Evil Spock on them with evidence and logic combined with a helping of snarkitude for good effect, hence my general reluctance to do that, at least until all else fails.
It’s simplistic, overly so I think, to use a one-size-fits-everyone method of discourse when different folks react to the same stimulus in different ways.
Not everyone reacts well to being hammered with facts or sarcasm, or on the other hand, to being treated politely, which can sometimes be taken as a sign of weakness on the part of the speaker.
What I’m going to say next will definitely show my skeptical bias. Take it however you will…You almost certainly will anyway.
When speaking with believers, it’s not easy to have a good command of reason and reality on your side (when you do), and show it, without seeming like an arse to the one you’re speaking with, especially when you happen to be treading on someone’s sacred cow.
No one likes a smartass, even and especially when she’s right.
Likewise, for my part, it’s hard to remain patient with someone who assumes, or presumes, the higher ground and at once makes claims that range from making no sense at all to those that seem only superficially plausible though evidently invalid or unsound in logical or factual content.
This can be especially annoying when it is done persistently despite scrupulous repeated attempts to correct it.
Let’s face it, to hold as true irrational claims entails some degree of irrationality, no matter how smart, otherwise rational, or highly esteemed one happens to be, from those ordinarily skilled clear thinkers with that one odd little belief to those souls so open-minded that their brains metaphorically ooze from their cranial cavities.
No human being with a normally functioning brain is completely rational, or irrational, all the time, and people tend to vary along a bell-curve in level of credulity.
This is why I tend to vary my responses to different people, and though it doesn’t happen as often as I would like, sometimes I can plant that tiny little kernel of doubt. It’s why, when I absolutely must err, I do what I can despite my n00bness to err on the skeptical side.
Often it doesn’t work. But sometimes it does…
Sometimes I successfully plant that kernel and then, over time, it germinates, growing from a preference for certitude to a real tolerance for ambiguity.
Sometimes people lose their fear of not knowing, of not being absolutely sure of things, and those few times are well worth the effort. Those few times are what really makes skepticism enjoyable for me.