A note on writing talk.origins FAQ’s
When writing an FAQ one has to take into account the target audience
which is often innocent in their biological knowledge. There are
seven different audiences:
The evolutionist who wants to answer a common question
definitively in a debate. He needs a crisp answer, not
too long, that doesn’t leave obvious holes for the
creationist grasping for holes.
The layperson who genuinely wants to understand at the
level they can understand.
The honest creationist who is misinformed. He can see
the point if it is made clearly and simply. He will
discount it if the point being made is muddy.
The intransigent creationist. He knows nothing, learns
nothing. However you can shut him on a particular point
and let everyone else (including the lurkers) see that
he is wrong.
The honest evolutionist who is misinformed. This is usually
the most difficult audience to write for. The point has to
be made clearly and backed up with references to the
scientific literature. It is often necessary to explain the
standard misconceptions at some length. If Richard Harter
doesn’t get it you have failed.
The dishonest evolutionist who is more interested in the politics
of the debate than in facts. It is almost impossible to write
a FAQ that will help this group. They think they know all there
is to know about evolution.
The obsessive-compulsive evolutionist. He scans all statements about
evolution, looking for over-reliance on natural selection to explain
evolved phenomena or misstatements about how some species has not
changed much in the last so many million years. This evolutionist
will be greatly distracted by any such mistakes and will be unable to
address any other issues until the FAQ has been corrected.
Note: Items 1-4 are by yours truly. Items 5-6 is by Larry Moran. Item 7
is by Adam Noel Smith.
This page was last updated April 17, 1998.