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Meditation 870
Is Bill O'Reilly Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader?
Or how about American Atheists' Dave Silverman?

by: JT

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Much has been made in the past couple of days about Bill O'Reilly's amazing claim that humans do not understand what causes tides, and that therefore, God does it. A remarkably stupid comment! I'm not sure when the cause of tides is taught in school, but I strongly suspect the kids on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? would have no problem explaining it.

Now O'Reilly came up with his tides misinformation while "interviewing" Dave Silverman, head of American Atheists. You can watch the interview here.

I have to ask - does Silverman know the cause of tides? Because clearly the intelligent way to respond to O'Reilly was not through mockery by suggesting gods on Olympus or an invisible magic man in the sky. It was to simply explain the cause of tides. Directly challenged by O'Reilly to explain tides - Silverman waffled and mocked.

Frankly, Silverman's entire performance stank. Presumably he knew that O'Reilly had him on the show to discuss a couple of atheist billboards, but he was woeful unprepared to discuss the issue. He allowed himself to be sidetracked on whether or not the billboards insulted believers, and foolishly denied it. Of course they insult believers. Just the same as religious billboards can be seen as insulting not only atheists, agnostics and other non-believers - but insulting to other religions too. Silverman should have been prepared with specific examples of religious billboards. He wasn't. He just babbled about non-specific billboards along the turnpike. No solid facts when facts were required.

When O'Reilly questioned why a small minority should tell the majority what to believe (2% vs 80% to use O'Reilly's numbers) Silverman did not even try to respond when he had the perfect answer right in front of his face - O'Reilly is free to express his opinion even when he is a minority of one, and would object if anyone tried to shut him up.

O'Reilly's interview methods are no secret. Silverman should have been far better prepared, particularly as the representative of a well-funded organization. He needed more facts, less blather.

Given O'Reilly's stupid statement about tides, Silverman should have "won" the exchange in a walk. Instead, he lost - badly. He did everyone in the atheist community - and the larger non-belief community - a disservice.