There is a sort of “asymmetric warfare” that occurs with arguments in the world of pseudoscience. The idea is that there are stubborn facts that refute and therefore undermine the whole edifice of the opposition’s argument.
I remember encountering such an argument when I was a high school student in the 1970’s. I remember picking up a religious tract at the county fair, a notorious missive by Jack T. Chick entitled “Big Daddy.” As time went on I found other creationist literature that contained one of the famous and much repeated canards against evolution, namely that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.
The science of evolution is enormous, and is becoming even more refined with current advances in genomics and molecular biology. Thus to its opponents it’s a sort of edifice. If you propose that a particular “fact” refutes the entire edifice, that “fact” would be asymmetric in its power. In my opinion this is why creationists like Duane T. Gish promote such fallacies, as they allow an opinion to be formed without having to look at a huge body of work in geology, biology, genetics, and other allied sciences.
The converse of a destructive argument is also possible; the niggling “fact” that MAKES IT ALL TRUE. Some time back an individual named Kevin Buresh aka “Sweaty Yeti” began posting images from the Patterson – Gimlin purported Bigfoot film on various internet forums, including JREF. One GIF image purported to show movement of the film subject’s fingers. The implication is that an actor inside a costume would be incapable of duplicating this feat. Allegedly the arms of the film subject are too long for a human to move the fingers of a costume. This is a form of “asymmetric” argumentation in that if the film subject’s fingers bend and a human actor cannot do this, then it cannot be a human actor in a costume. If it’s not a human actor in a costume, then it can only be Bigfoot. If the Patterson – Gimlin film subject was a real Bigfoot it cannot be the only one, as there must be a population to survive as a species. VOILA! THE FINGERS MOVE, THEREFORE IT’S ALL TRUE!!! Bigfoot is real!
As skeptics do, this assertion was met with a variety of rebuttals. One of the more cogent was a GIF animation created by a man posting as “Dfoot.” It clearly demonstrates that fingers can move, and rather spectacularly so, while wearing a prosthetic glove.
I experimented for myself the very same thing, using a bear skin glove. A glove provides the illusion of a longer arm. One does not need to have fingers all the way inside the glove to cause the fingers to move. It’s obvious that bending fingers are seen with this hirsute glove.
Recently a JREF poster named “Tontar” posted a GIF animation of his own, which suggests that Buresh’s original animation was flawed from the outset by improper arm alignment. Click on the large side-by-side image of the film subject on this page to animate. The GIF animation may load slowly.
Buresh’s arguments are obviously crackpot, yet it’s doubtful that we will see the end of them. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman went so far as to promote them on his Cryptomundo blog.
After 50 years of Bigfootery with no bones, no road kill, no teeth, a certain quasi-religious desperation is sinking in, with asinine arguments like “Bigfoot’s bending fingers” substituting for real science.