Joined: Feb. 2006
I like to think of denialists of all kinds in three groups:
1) the followers
2) the masters
3) the activists
Type 1 are the people who deny really on a superficial level. They don't know a whole lot about the subject, including the more detailed denialist arguments. They might follow the denialist line because it fits in with their politics or because a friend is denialist or because of some funny quote or something they heard on talk radio. These are the sort of people that wouldn't really comment on blogs, though they might lurk a bit. They might be your brother-in-law.
Type 2 are the ID leaders, the oil magnates that fund the anti-climate change or the tobacco is good for you research. They probably don't even believe their own denialist position. They're the ones making money from it. They're evil scum.
Type 3 are the cheerleaders of a denialist movement, the evangelisers who've completely bought the line. They're talk radio hosts, revival meeting organisers, wingnut journalists, and probably most of the commenters at UD (the non-trolls anyway.)
I think the way to deal with a denialist is to find out what group they belong to. Quickly and efficiently if possible. The masters and activists will never be persuaded except under exceptional circumstances.
It seems that Louis is talking mostly about the activist type, which we can now see includes FtK. Yeah, we spent too long on her. But at first I thought she was just a follower, with a real interest in learning more. Three strikes might be a good rule of thumb, but what counts as a strike? Some people don't respond very well to direct challenging and dissection of the technicalities. They just aren't very persuaded. I reckon before giving up on a denialist, you should try different angles of persuasion (besides flamethrowers). If you try a few different kinds of arguments against them, and they're impervious to them all, then yeah, they're types 2 or 3 and are a lost cause.
Really, that's what we did with FtK. We tried "here's all the evidence", "explain to us what your evidence is", "how's there a conspiracy if there are so many Christians who believe in evolution [the one I thought would win]" and "your masters are either dumb or deceitful." None worked. That's at least four strikes and I'm sure I missed lots.