Selective Sampling

The above video shows Ray Comfort “proving” Intelligent Design through use of a banana. Many people are familiar with this argument, especially since ID theory doesn’t actually have a lot of evidence… typically the strategy is to try to disprove evolution and say that ID must be true if evolution isn’t. I won’t be the first to debunk it… not by far. But I’d like to use this argument as an example of selective sampling, an idea that I’ve brought up before but haven’t defined.

Remember my blog about weighing evidence? I introduced a court case with heavy evidence against the defendant, but said that wouldn’t be enough to sway the defendant’s mother. Her biased account of the case would be selective sampling – taking just the data points that support a point of view and pretending the rest of the body of evidence doesn’t exist.

When Ray Comfort talks about the convenience of the banana, he expects us to believe this represents all fruit. Obviously he believes that all plants have been created, but he’s not discussing inconvenient foods such as the pineapple, pumpkin, or tapioca. He just chose one fruit that supports his argument and ignores the rest.

Not only does he gloss over all of the other fruits, but he doesn’t mention the inconveniences of the banana. Bananas may be easy to peel, but that’s not as convenient as an edible skin such as found on the apple… it’s still got a peel that you have to throw away. It doesn’t contain enough nutrients to eat by itself. And the fruit inside may be accessible, but the fruit itself isn’t… banana trees in the wild are very tall and practically unscalable.

Banana trees on farms are generally not tall or unscalable, and this particular fruit is – just like Ray Comfort says – pretty convenient. But they weren’t always this way, because of artificial selection. Artificial selection is the human-caused version of natural selection, a basic component of evolution. If Ray Comfort truly understood this, he wouldn’t ever bring up bananas. But he only sees one side of the argument, and only wants you to see that side.



About starcrashx

I love statistics. They drive my poker playing, my reasoning, and my research. As Penn Gillete said "Luck is probability taken personally". There's no such thing as luck... but I wish you positive chance. View all posts by starcrashx

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