From contrast to jargon and statistics

On the whole, Evolution Wars mass media exhibits a raucous medley of barbed criticisms and negative contrast. A central persuasive focus of Darwinskeptic and proevolutionist communications is, without question, making clear to audiences who the foes truly are, while trying to raze enemy notions in the process of building up a promoted stance. This is evident to a degree even in BioLogos and NCSE materials, which display the bottommost incident rates for this persuasive cue. Not only that, but many of the communicative attributes of Evolution Wars contrast and negativity actually correspond with persuasive themes found in Apple’s celebrated “Get a Mac” marketing campaign discussed at the outset of this chapter. Namely, like many Darwin-skeptic and proevolutionist contrast statements, the Apple advertisements are comparative, personifying products to set the disadvantaged PCs against the superiority of Macs. The attention to the drawbacks of Mac’s rival is fervent, even within the advertisements’ comical framework. Over the course of twenty-eight ads the anthropomorphized PC is depicted as being arrogant, confused, dishonest, greedy, mean-spirited, illogical, insipid, lethargic, superficial, unfriendly, and depressingly unpopular.186 Darwin-skeptic communicators brand their adversaries with many of these same undesirable characteristics, while counter-creationists often do likewise in return, even if the NCSE and BioLogos Foundation rarely reach quite the same negative pitch. Correspondingly, the Mac broadcasts juxtaposed undesirable attributes of PCs with Mac’s caring, energetic, forwardthinking, and popular nature, while Evolution Wars media representatives render their own positions as the most authentic, rational, as well as scientifically and/or religiously valid.

Evolution Wars media, therefore, bear some of the same contrast motifs used in popular advertising, which have been found to increase audience attention and message recall, as well as influence future transaction behaviors. This is done predominantly through the denigration of an opponent, which can be particularly efficacious because communications expressing the negativity effect often prove more durable than those described as being in support of a viewpoint. Whether such messages are persuasive is still another question. Yet, it is conceivable that Contrast Principle mechanisms in Evolution Wars articles foster alertness in target audiences, while their doggedly negative assaults tap into and fortify extant, culturally cognitive notions about ‘the enemy;’ whether that might be compromising Christiansor faith-destroying scientists. At the same time, by making comparisons between such matters as evidential certainty versus faulty assumptions, or contrasting honesty and credibility with an opponent’s deceit and feigned expertise, different persuasive foci such as Source Cues may be reinforced. Rather similarly, other communicative cues can also persuasively dovetail with cases of Statistics and Technical Jargon, which are found throughout Evolution Wars publications and discussed in the next chapter.

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