Matt Dillahunty, co-host of the Atheist Experience cable access television programme based in Austin, Texas, and all ’round upstanding member of the skeptical / humanist / atheist community, has been in Sye ten Bruggencate’s crosshairs now for some time.
Sye, being special, doesn’t think he should have to phone in to the programme when Matt is taking questions from callers. Sye wants to be a guest on the show so he can do what he always does when pretending to listen to what his opponents are saying, i.e., play stupid word-games, and deliberately misrepresent everything anyone says to him.
I don’t know how much Matt has already heard about Sye’s tactics, beyond what he’s figured out for himself since posting the video reply below, but I thought it might be useful to flesh out the basics so he can brace himself for the most frustrating “debate” of his life, should it ever happen.
Sye will begin by asking Matt if it’s possible he could be wrong about everything he thinks he knows. He will then proceed to use interchangeable definitions of what the words ‘possible’, ‘wrong’, ‘everything’ and ‘know’ actually mean, depending on the route he chooses to take through his cascading script of pre-written responses. He might throw in some other words he wants to redefine as well, such as “evidence”, “logic” and “reason” — but regardless of how he approaches it, Sye will lie about what Matt has actually said within at least the first two or three minutes of the debate.
He will then claim he wants to be absolutely sure about what Matt has said, and ask him to repeat his response — banking on the fact that because Matt isn’t a robot he will phrase his reply slightly differently the second time around. Then Sye will say that Matt has contradicted himself, by misquoting what Matt said in his first reply. When Matt then corrects him on this, Sye has the only “in” he needs for the rest of his trick to work. He might even repeat the misquote a second time. This is called anchoring, and it works by creating a moment in the conversation which the audience can be called back to at a later time, minus certain pertinent details.
Sye will then make it seem as if the conversation has moved on, or that he is interested in clarifying a statement Matt has made at another time, perhaps during a different debate, or on his podcast — but this too is mere misdirection by Sye, who is only biding his time for a chance to spring what stand-up comedians refer to as a call-back — where the anchor made earlier in the conversation can be used to make it seem as if rather than it being Sye who deliberately misquoted what Matt said, it was actually Matt who admitted to making a mistake. Sye knows that Matt will spot this, but it doesn’t matter. Sye isn’t debating with Matt, he is preaching to his own audience, and fishing for quotes which he can selectively cut and paste when he wishes to later brag to his enablers about “defeating” Matt Dillahunty in debate.
As for the the old parlour trick itself, it can be adapted for all kinds of situations, and it’s possible Sye himself learned it from the same books read by everyone from magicians, who use it to misdirect the audience while a switch is performed, to police interrogators who require the subject to become agitated and bamboozled by having their words twisted. If you watch Sye in action you will actually see his expression change when the window of opportunity to use this slight of hand is opened up to him. It usually happens around the part of his act where he starts interrupting his opponent while they’re explaining something he would prefer not to talk about.
He’s also rather fond of appearing to contradict himself on something he himself has earlier said, so that when his opponent points this out he can accuse them of being incapable of knowing what is right and what is wrong because they’ve already “admitted” they could be wrong about everything they think they know — even though this in and of itself is the very thing which he lied about in the misquote anchored earlier on.
And that’s it. That is the sum-total of Sye ten Bruggencate’s “argument”. End of. There is no more. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Where black is the colour and none is the number, there you will find Sye’s “ideas”. He is not interested in listening to anyone who disagrees with him, he is interested in lying about what people have actually said, so he can shill DVD’s for Eric Hovind, and Crown Rights Media. That is all. There is no “proof that God exists” involved. Just lies, tricks, bullying tactics, and his own giant ego.
One final point, speaking now directly to Matt Dillahunty: Matt, please know that no matter what Sye says to you about how a video or audio recording of the debate be used, should it ever happen, with regard to publishing, editing, repacking, distribution and commercial exploitation, he is lying to your face. No matter what. He is going to edit what you have actually said, quote you out of context, and rewrite what you actually said when he posts to his various comments disabled blogs in promotion of whatever product he uses you to produce. He is attempting to heighten his own profile by using you and the Atheist Experience as means of doing so. They’re running out of cash, and they’re running out of people to pull their tricks on. He wants to be the next Ray Comfort / Hovind / Ham / insert name of liar for Jesus tax dodging cretin here, and he is going to use your name to do it.
In short, do not believe a word he says. He is by far and away the nastiest little spoiled child you will ever have the displeasure of meeting, and as more and more people in the community work out exactly how his scam works, the more he has to look for another audience — which he believes you’re going to give him. He’s probably, for once, right. So, please — if you do debate him, make sure he can’t sit down for a week. I can’t think of anyone out there in the anti-everything brigade who deserves it rammed down their throat more than Sye ten Bruggencate.
Matt’s falling into the same trap Bill Nye fell into – giving credibility and celebrity to another exploitative Christian.
dave, shine a light and the roaches will scatter. no matter how the interaction goes, these apologetic tricks will seem less and less effective to the audience with every publicly available recording.
the proof… just read above. we know sye’s played-out rhetorical game. the more people that figure it out, and all possible derivations of it, the better equipped the general public will be when confronting sye-clones in their own neighborhoods and street-corners.
this will never happen if the only reaction we can muster is to stick our heads in the sand, for fear of giving these mental midgets too much attention.
sye needs confronting, just like mr.ham did. the success or failure of bill nye’s debate is yet to be seen, but i know from first hand accounts, ken ham did not gain credibility among anyone who didn’t already believe he could do no wrong, and lost huge amounts of standing amongst people sympathetic to creationism, but still have a basic understanding of the scientific method.
hide your light under a bushel, my friend, and the world will remain shrouded in darkness and ignorance.
+jon f. mcdropout
That was really rather excellent, James.
His script is certainly getting out there. I think the best “debate” I’ve seen or heard with him was Dogma Radio with AronRa. It was enjoyable (for me) to hear his frustration when they wouldn’t play by the script.
Short circuit the bastard. As soon as he asks if you could be wrong about everything, say this:
“No, I could not. I know with 100% certainty that I am not God. If I were God, I would be omniscient, and among other things, I would know I were God. Since I do not know I am God, I am not God, and that is a certainty.”
If it helps, Sye does not run the presuppositional argument correctly. As revolting as it is, I would strongly recommend reading van Til (and Bahnsen, his major exponent) to get some idea of what the argument actually is. There is also an interesting critique against it by Brian Bosse (hit me up on Facebook for the PDF) which may prove useful to you.
I am also with the commented above who said to spank Sye so hard he can’t sit for a week. So, so sick of this slimy lying shitbag.
@Hazuki – you can take it one step further if you really want to wind him up. As you now have a certain item of knowledge that is true, irrespective of the status of the existence of God, his God can’t possibly exist, as Sye claims all knowledge is conditional on God, and you can show that isn’t the case, QED – Sye’s God is dead in the water (not all possible Gods, but picking off Sye’s God is a decent result!)
@Hazuki–I can’t speak for Sye, but if you were debating me and decided to present the above argument as your claim, I would simply ask HOW you know anything for certain about God to begin with and/or how you know for certain that your argument itself constitutes a valid proof of certainty. I’m curious how you might respond.
My answer to the question “Could you be wrong about everything you think you know”? Would be “No”, then I would not speak again until Sye asks something like “How can I know that”? to which my reply would be “Because I am am right about everything I think I know”. And that is then the end of my argument, no prevarication, no equivocation,
Now I can even prove his bible wrong because I think it is wrong and as stated previously; I am right about everything I think I know, me simply thinking it is wrong makes it wrong. I think god doesn’t exist…he doesn’t, I think Sye is a flying pink monkey; he is. and so on and so on ad infinitum. I would just constantly repeat my argument until Sye got bored or fucked off in a piss.
You may argue that this is circular reasoning, but I don’t “think” it is; and of course I am right about everything I think I know.
scmike2: Sye would reply that God revealed it to him. Of course, there’s no evidence for this. And AFAIK, Sye has never offered anything beyond his say-so that it’s true.
I can say that Mr. Dillahunty is the BEST man to debate this charlatan. If anyone can turn his circuitous shit around, it is Matt. I listen to The Atheist Experience every week and sometimes every day in archive and see a great win on the Humanist horizon.
Mark Ferguson & Hazuki: I agree that knowing you are not God is a valid claim for the reasons you gave, but I think Sye would say, “Exactly! That’s the first true thing you’ve said so far”. You think you are invalidating Sye’s claim and disproving God, but instead your have reaffirmed Him.
When the atheist can not answer the questions, they use words like ITS A PARLOR TRICK.
I have not had one atheist put there foundation for theirknowledge claims in a valid SYLLOGISM with true premises. They can not and will not, because they have no defense.
Vishnu solves this problem. Tell the audience up front that everything these guys say about their god is always true of Vishnu as well. Say Vishnu up front, and you have a response to every word trick. “You cannot know anything without God” becomes “you cannot know anything without Vishnu.” And when they try to trot out their old book, remind them that Hindu writings predate the earliest bible verse. Plus, people still speak Sanskrit. When was the last time you met someone who spoke Aramaic? Kill them with Vishnu.
And don’t forget to deal the final blow, “1Corinthians says God is not the author of confusion. Why does proof of your god require convoluted word games?”
The Vishnu trick does not work. This delights Sye and his clones. He’ll simply say that you have to give up atheism to refute his argument. Therefore he wins.
When you try to explain the concept of the hypothetical argument to him, he will dismiss it with a dodge like “well you don’t believe the moon is made of cheese so what’s the point in discussing things like that, I want to discuss things you actually believe.”
Regarding the tactic of attacking bible verses, he simply states that he refuses to discuss the bible with non Christians because their presupposition that there is no god bars them from understanding it. When another believer disputes his interpretation of the bible, he asserts that they are not a real Christian if they don’t agree with him.
Sye is different from Ham in that Ham actually has an argument. No matter how bad the argument is, he has one. Sye doesn’t have an argument at all, he has an assertion.
If Sye were being intellectually honest, he would simply declare that god exists and that’s all he has to say. He would refuse to engage logically right off the bat with people who deny god. But no, he will engage with someone right up until he reaches the boundaries of his script. Once this occurs he will declare that it is pointless to engage because “you have given up knowledge” or “my answer doesn’t have to be logical according to your world view.”
So he gives what he believes to be logical and reasonable responses right up until the point where he gets a question he can’t answer, that isn’t part of his memorized script, then at this point he suddenly leaps into the black hole of “pizza eats west in the sleep” or whatever. He doesn’t do this when he thinks he can stroke his ego with a “clever” answer, no, this only comes up at the boundaries of his script where the same rules of logic and reason are about to make his argument look stupid. This is the essence of intellectual dishonesty.
(note he occasionally uses this tactic with the bible verses too – he’ll give an answer when he thinks a logical one exists, but when stumped he’ll resort to “I don’t do bible study with non believers”)
All this time, he’ll insist that you answer every one of his questions about epistemology, logic and definitions with one word answers (subjects that whole books have been written about) and he’ll hold you to HIS narrow interpretation of your answers and the meanings of the words to try to trip you up for the rest of the discussion.
You know that friend we all have who doesn’t pay up on friendly wagers, but you know he’d have insisted you pay up had you lost. That’s interacting with Sye in a nutshell.
Talk about prescient. Great article.
I read this before the debate and it was amazing how spot on you were.
You should debate Sye because obviously you seem to KNOW.
This write-up is almost exactly how the Matt/Sye (can we really call it a …) debate evolved.
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I saw the debate before I found this article. I bawled at how dead-on you are about Sye’s stupid method. I mean stupid method in the manner where Sye pretends to be stupid so that his audience understand him and he knows this. Nobody is really as stupid as Sye. Not even Sye. He’s faking it for profit. The worst kind of piece of shit available. Sye has lost every debate in which he has ever participated in the intelligent man’s eyes. There is no point in debating Sye. Someone needs to get him drunk and sex him up and record him admitting that he’s a fraud on tape and make that evidence public. Sye need to be destroyed at all costs. He is a putrid worm.