The Fight or Flight Defense to Lake Varves

Continuing the discussion from Ann Gauger: Did the Human Brain Evolve?:

No, not that.

  1. @r_speir is a YLC, whose stated position is that all life on earth is less than 6 kya.
  2. @r_speir now agrees that lake varves demonstrates life actually exists 50 kya ago. “My paradigm may have to be adjusted a little.” Does YEC Science Depend on Bible?
  3. @r_speir very carefully acknowledges that he is open to more ancient life in prior eras, but will not commit Question to the YLC...Why Not Eras and Epochs?.

So now, we have immense common ground. We agree that:

  1. The evidence requires him to adjust his views.
  2. There is a plausible place for him to move.
  3. It is going to take him time to work though this.
  4. Yet, for some reason, he cannot move yet.

That is a quite a bit of agreement. That is really interesting. Why can’t he move yet? What is his concern? How does he work through things like this? How does he adjust his view? I’m on the edge of my seat. That is the real game here.

Instead of watching the real show, there is all this static about things we don’t agree about yet. Of course, he is joining in, but it is just a distraction. It seems any solution that @r_speir adopts for the problem we agree with would solve any problems here. With that solution in hand, he would not have any reason to confabulate, distract or defend his position.

What you forget is that the fight-or-flight response is a very effective way of damping down cognitive dissonance, the same dissonance we need to engage directly to improve our understanding. Don’t miss out, and don’t feed the fight-or-flight beast.

Don’t you want to see where he ends up?


I have mostly been watching this discussion from the sidelines.

Well, yes. But he has also made clear that his main YLC concern is with animal life and not with plant life. It is my impression the he sees the varves as showing earlier plant life. But I think he is trying to hold his ground on animal life.

It’s hard to know what somebody is actually thinking, but that’s the impression I have from what @r_speir has posted. I welcome corrections.


Actually he was clear that he thinks all life, including bacteria and plants, are young.


That’s a good point.

So how do we stay below the activation energy of the fight or flight response? The best solution I can find is to ask questions that encourage the person to investigate their claims on their own. Any other suggestions?


Seek truth. Don’t seek to support a position.


I think two points to consider might be empathy and humility, and I mean them in a particular way.

First, empathy. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, or at least try to do so. Cognitive dissonance is not easy, and it takes a degree of integrity to be in a context where it arises, such as talking to scientists one a forum like this. In his shoes what would you want? Probably some space and a slower pace.

Second, humility. I mean it in this context as recognition that we cannot change other people’s minds. They have autonomy to believe what they want, and we can’t force them to change. We can’t force them not to change either. The goal of “changing minds” ironically makes persuasion less likely.