|Cogito ergo sum|
Logic and rhetoric
The Ham Hightail is a term coined by P.Z. Myers to describe the ham-fisted[note 1] arguments presented at Ken Ham's Creation Museum. In contrast to the Gish Gallop, the Ham Hightail consists of hurtling from point to point, ignoring all contrary evidence, and blithely regurgitating the Bible whenever evidence is required. If this sounds even more annoying than Gish's method, that's because it is.
The objective of the Ham Hightail is not to convert the sceptics, but to bolster the believers. The science does not need to support creationism, so long as people believe that it does. To this end, Ham's Answers in Genesis has run a long campaign of presuppositionalism in creation science: you assume the Bible is correct and then find the evidence that fits, everything else you just ignore. Annoying scientific details, such as radiometric dating or common descent, are brushed aside with comments about their being based on assumptions that are only true depending on your "worldview". If you want to take the Ham Hightail to the lengths the originator has, you can start your own pretend science journal then fill it full of wildly speculative essays, all the while deluding yourself (and fellow creationists) that you are sponsoring real research.
Ham Hightail in action
“”Our worldview is a bit like mental glasses. It affects the way we view things. In the same way that a person wearing red glasses sees red everywhere, a person wearing "evolution" glasses sees evolution everywhere. The world is not really red everywhere, nor is there evolution everywhere, but glasses do affect our perception of the world and the conclusions we draw. We will find in this book that the Bible is a bit like corrective lenses. Without "biblical glasses," the world appears fuzzy and unclear. But when our thinking is based on the Bible, the world snaps into focus: it makes sense. Just as a person wearing red glasses perceives the world differently than a person wearing clear, prescription lenses, so evolutionists "see" the world differently than creationists. We have the same facts. But what we make of those facts is colored by our worldview. Thus, creationists and evolutionists interpret the same facts differently. This point cannot be overstated.
It is good that this point cannot be overstated as most of the book reads like that. Of course, if we wished to extend the metaphor, it is science which has the clear glasses (i.e., following the evidence wherever it leads) while the creationists are wearing colored ones (their vision is slanted by the conclusion that they then look for evidence to support). Notice how they don't have to present a case for creationism; it has already been presented by the evolutionists — they are just looking at it the wrong way. If you look at it as evidence confirming the Bible, it does.
The Ham Hightail is also known as the Ham Hoedown as proposed by Chuck Morrison of Irreligiosophy in Episode 23 Ham on Nye in the Facebook Irreligiosophy Group. Morrison referred to the Ham Hoedown as "objectively superior" when juxtaposed with the Ham Hightail.
Use on Wikis
The Ham Hightail is the favored argumentation strategy of Philip J. Rayment at A Storehouse of Knowledge, who is known to drive otherwise sane people over the edge with his creationist arguments. These basically consist of ignoring all inconvenient contrary facts, making massive point-by-point rebuttals involving constant use of the "tq" template that sets his opponents' words in small green type, and (when all else fails) pulling Goddidit out of the hat.
- See what we did there?
- The Creation "Museum" — P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula.