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Bronze-level articlePoint refuted a thousand times

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PRATT redirects here. If you were looking for Larry Pratt, well, we can understand how you would have been confused.

A point refuted a thousand times, commonly abbreviated as PRATT, refers to a point or argument that has literally been refuted so many times that it is not worth bothering with.

It is a common phrase on Internet forums — as debates have a tendency to go in circles. Once people have refuted a point the first thousand times, it's hard for them to muster the motivation to do it again. It's a very common accusation levied at creationists, who are notoriously unimaginative in what they say.[1]


[edit] Examples of PRATTs

These assertions are mostly very easy to refute, but remain persistent arguments due to ignorance.

[edit] Religion

Christians and Muslims belonging to fundamentalist sects are often told to avoid reading material and visiting websites that can disturb their faith. Therefore naïve fundamentalists may repeat bad arguments because they genuinely do not know the refutations. More cynical preachers may bring out arguments that have been refuted time after time because they know the sheep who flock to hear their messages will not find out the refutations.

[edit] Religious examples

Religion is required in order for a person to be moral/There is no morality without God.
If this were anywhere near true, the world would be in chaos[2] that as a fairly sizable 16% of the world population have no religion.[3] That's nearly 1 in 6 people who would happily murder you because they lacked any form of morality — this just doesn't stack up to observed evidence. Secular humanism has established several non-religious moral codes, and biologists and psychologists have tracked various evolutionary pathways for why we act in (what we define as) a moral manner. Perhaps most importantly, statistical analysis (rates of murder, adultery, rape, theft, etc.) shows that non-religious folks behave no less morally than those who have found religion (or had it hammered into them since childhood).
Atheism is a direct cause of lawless behavior.
This is similarly untrue for almost all beliefs, with the notable exceptions of illegalism and nihilism. Of course, even illegalists could be said to follow a law of their own devising: that society is bad and should be destroyed.
If this was true, most of Scandinavia would be well-known as a hotbed of insane, godless violence. As it currently stands, it isn't. Neither is there much obvious correlation between lawlessness and religion as most causes of crime are attributed to social and economic conditions. Religion, or lack of it, isn't often viewed as a contributing factor.
Atheism is a religion.
While it's pretty certain some people can be quite passionate and organised about atheism — and even issue out religious-like edicts about what atheists should and shouldn't do — atheism, itself is not a religion by very definition. It has no dogma to follow and is a completely non-prescriptive belief system. As proof of this, there have been quite a number of (often mutually exclusive) dogmas, philosophies, and prescriptive belief systems bolted onto atheism, of which the three best known are secular humanism, Marxism, and Objectivism. In addition, at least one belief system that is almost universally viewed as a religion, Buddhism, does not have any gods in its "base" form (though some versions do deify certain figures), making it atheistic by default.
While you could alter the "definition" of religion to include atheism, the practical result is really that the term "religion" loses a lot of its value as a category, and the point would lose any power as an argument — becoming not only readily ridiculous but also self-defeating.

[edit] Same-sex marriage

Allowing same-sex marriages will "destroy" marriage... somehow.

Social conservatives frequently claim this despite the fact that those nations and states that have legalized it (Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Iceland, Denmark, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Spain, Netherlands, Uruguay, Sweden, etc.) are doing just fine, thank you. Judgement day didn't begin. Populations didn't decline (or at least didn't decline any faster than before). The only thing that happened when gay marriage was legalized was that gay people could get married. It's that simple.

[edit] Evolution

The Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves evolution.[4]
The Second Law is frequently misinterpreted here as if to say that complicated or ordered structures were completely forbidden from forming. While thermodynamics applies to both open and closed systems, the second law states that the entropy of closed systems almost always increases. The Earth (and the evolution occurring on it) is not a closed system. Energy from the sun acts as a driving force for chemical reactions, which are a key part of biology. Thus evolution, like air conditioning and street sweeping, does not violate the Second Law.
The fossil record gives us no transitional forms.[5]
Entire pages of books and websites have been dedicated to listing transitional fossils. Just as much has been written describing what a transitional form actually would be — specifically that all fossils are really transitions between something and something else. Creationists say that transitional fossils don't exist so much that this could be considered the ultimate PRATT. Their repeated use of this point in the face of evidence is an extreme form of denialism.
Evolutionary theory is inseparable from Social Darwinism.[6]
Besides being a twisted argument from adverse consequences, this point is wrong. Charles Darwin was never involved in Social Darwinism and never endorsed it, nor was the theory technically inspired by it. However, even if he was a proponent of Social Darwinism or eugenics, and even if every evolutionary biologist since was also a fan, this fact would have absolutely no bearing on the validity of evolution. This point is like arguing that theories about gravitation are all wrong because walking off a cliff results in death: the consequences of the theory don't affect its validity. Gore's Law is quite similar.
Evolutionism is a religion.[7]
There is no worship in evolution, there is no blind faith or adherence — only evidence. Religion is a quite nicely defined social construct, and no aspect of evolutionary theories fit in. At all. In short, if you were to stretch the definition of "religion" far enough to include evolution the term, again, would cease to have any real use or proper meaning.
The origin of life is not explained by evolution, therefore it is wrong
The point cannot be overstated that evolution explains the origin of species and speciation, and the diversity of life as it reproduces (biogenesis). The origin of life would be explained by a different mechanism, abiogenesis, which is a separate process from evolutionary theory.
How come there are still monkeys?
Multiple problems exist with this one, it's mostly due to a severe misunderstanding about the nature of evolution. However, it is very common, and indeed quite a nice example to use as a branching point for dealing with these misconceptions. In short, though, "if most Americans descended from Europeans, why are there still Europeans?"

[edit] Economics

Supply side economics
This states that if we cut taxes on the rich, they'll invest the money and it will "trickle down" to the less wealthy. Supply side economics and the Laffer Curve are sound in principle (for instance, if you have massive levels of crippling taxation and a population being fed by a black market), but have been thoroughly debunked as wishful thinking, since whenever these tax cuts have been notably implemented, there has been barely (if at all) trickling down of benefits.[8] Despite this, the Laffer Curve is still held in high regard by many fiscal conservatives, even while its architect continues to act like a dolt.[9]

[edit] Conspiracies

Most purported evidence of the moon landing hoax.
There are as many websites out there pointing out the blatantly obvious flaws in this conspiracy theory as there are websites trying to support the conspiracy theory. "Buzz Aldrin isn't holding a camera!" (the astronaut's cameras were attached to their chests). "There's a prop visible with 'C' written on it!" (no one labels their props like that). "The flag waves in the wind!" (grow up and read some physics). And so on and so forth.
There's a face on Mars.
This still does the rounds on blogs, conspiracy websites, YouTube comments and the occasional woo-pushing documentary despite being thoroughly examined and revealed to be nothing particularly interesting. Higher resolution shots of the "face" have revealed it to be exactly what every skeptic said it was, just a mountain range with some funny shadows. It's a very interesting psychological effect known as pareidolia (indeed, this crops up every single time someone reports seeing a face in something, from Jesus on a toasted sandwich to the Devil in the smoke of the World Trade Center collapsing, yet the message still doesn't seem to get across).

[edit] Politics

Slavery and Jim Crow have long been done away with, and there's an African American in the White House, so racism is no longer an issue./Not all men abuse women, so sexism no longer exists.
Just because racism is not as prevalent anymore doesn't mean it's no longer an issue, and racism encompasses more than just discrimination against people of colour. Just because sexism is not so prevalent anymore doesn't mean it has completely disappeared as well. The denial of the existence of various forms of oppression, or of the offensiveness of a given statement are strategies used to derail or undermine people working to advance the interests of marginalized groups. If a member of a such group points out that something is oppressive to their group, they more than likely know better than someone not in that group because they live it every day. (Most likely they take the subject seriously enough to only produce such claims when they really think it's appropriate.) This holds doubly true for members of said marginalized group who also advocate for the rights of that group.
People who suggest that these claims are frivolous should back this up with the required extraordinary evidence, which they almost never do.
Communists weren't left-wing, and fascists weren't right-wing!
The former can be refuted completely outright; the latter refers to Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism, which is often used as a reference by hard-right bloggers and ideologues as "proof" fascism was left-wing, not right-wing, despite the fact the book has been refuted by everyone with actual expertise in the area, liberal and conservative.[10][11] It is probably used as a reference since debunking the book every time it comes up would be too tedious and irritating for most to bother with doing over and over again.

[edit] Environmentalism

A global ban on DDT killed millions of people in Africa!
This right-wing myth has been so completely refuted that there is now a "DDT ban bingo" that refutes every claim made by those who still rant about it.[12]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. The website talk.origins acts as a repository of PRATTs commonly used by creationists, and presents (usually in great detail) their refutations and science behind them. It is a good starting point when facing a creationism related PRATT.
  2. Religions by number of adherents
  3. The distribution of such people and thus your safety varies by location.
  4. Thermodynamics, Evolution and Creationism, talk.origins
  5. Transitional Vertebrate Fossils, talk.origins
  6. Social Darwinism, talk.origins
  7. Evolution is a religion, talk.origins
  8. The Great Lie of Supply-Side Economics, Economist's View
  9. The wrong get wronger, The Economist
  10. Roger Griffin destroys Goldberg
  11. The History News Network had to refute it three times: [1] [2] [3]
  12. DDT ban myth bingo, Deltoid
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