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Creationists didn’t do all the reading

Creationists didn’t do all the reading December 12, 2015

Something like Benford’s law applies to any classroom discussion of the assigned reading for the class. If the assignment was to read chapters 1-6 to prepare for discussion in the next session, then that discussion will likely be mostly about chapter 1, not chapters 5 or 6.

But this isn’t due to any natural rule about frequency distribution. It’s due to the fact that many of the students in the class didn’t finish the reading. They were supposed to read chapters 1-6, but instead they read chapter 1, watched half a season of something on Netflix, then went back to read about half of chapter 2 before falling asleep. Now they’ve arrived in class unprepared and they’re trying to bluff their way through by monopolizing the classroom discussion with an obsessive focus on that one chapter they actually read.

If you’ve ever taught a class with this kind of reading/discussion set up, you’ll likely recognize this maneuver. Or maybe you were a student in such a class and you were eager to get into something intriguing in chapter 6 and wound up frustrated that the whole session was spent parsing a few paragraphs in the first pages of chapter 1. Or maybe you were That Student — persistently dragging out the discussion of that first chapter and trying to run out the clock before anyone moves on to the other stuff you didn’t read and exposes you as unprepared. (I’ve been in all of those positions myself.)

This tactic never quite works. It’s often successful in keeping class discussions from getting anywhere beyond chapter 1, but no one is ever really fooled by this. Professors know all about this trick. They know what it means when a student keeps bringing the discussion back to chapter 1. They know that student didn’t finish the assignment. They may decide to exact a bit of revenge by featuring chapter 6 more prominently in the final exam. Or, more generously, they may just decide, after the elaborate discussion of chapter 1 exhausts the entire session, to say something to the student like, “You raised some good points about that first chapter, but please do the rest of the reading before our next class.” (Again, this is both something I’ve had professors say to me and something I’ve said myself to students.)

The same thing happens in all kinds of settings other than academia. It happens in small-group Bible studies and other book clubs, in staff meetings in the workplace, and in corporate training sessions. And the bottom line, in all of those settings, is that everyone knows what’s really going on. Everyone knows what this obsessive focus on the first few pages of the assigned reading means. It means that this person didn’t read the rest of the assignment.

Answers

It would be foolishly naive, then, to extend such a student the benefit of the doubt. Yes, it’s technically possible that they’ve done all the reading but they just happen to only have thoughts and questions about the first few pages. But that’s extremely unlikely. It’s far likelier that they’ve only read those first few pages. Unless, or until, they demonstrate otherwise, we would be wise to assume that they remain wholly unprepared to discuss the rest of the assignment and that they are probably wholly ignorant of the substance of those remaining chapters.

This is not the primary reason that I can’t trust something called “Answers in Genesis,” but it is a factor in that. Until they demonstrate otherwise, it’s best to assume most “creationists” haven’t done the rest of the reading.

 

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