We have a policy at Greenpeace that we no longer debate people who don’t accept the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change. It’s similar to the policy undertaken by cancer specialists who used to debate the tobacco industry but discontinued doing so. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins, if we debated Dominic Lawson on climate change it would look great on his CV, not so good on ours.
I would make clear that that doesn’t mean I don’t think there should be freedom of speech for people with DL’s view, there should be. He is welcome to write about it and speak on it all he wishes, even though I disagree. But by debating him and his fellow-travelers we perpetuate the myth that this is a ‘he said/she said’ issue, a 50/50 where there is still a debate.
I’d debate Bjorn Lomborg, who accepts the science but disagrees vehemently on the need to take action on climate change. But not Dominic Lawson.
All the best
Consider me staggered, but not surprised. As Dizzy points out, science is about asking questions; that is the very nature of the discipline.
However, the way I see it, if someone is convinced of their argument they should not feel the need to refuse to debate something with someone.
For me it exemplifies the problem with the environmental lobby these days. It is the policisation of science pure and simple. Science is not about proven realities, it's about testing hypotheses. Refusing to engage with someone who questions those hypotheses is, putting it simply, wrong.
The entirety of scientific enquiry is founded on the principle, espoused by the great Sir Karl Popper, of empirical falsifiability: any scientific theory can only be considered correct in the absense of anything proving it not to be. In other words, a scientific theory is only considered to be "right" if it has not yet been proven to be wrong.
If you shut down debate on any scientific issue, then you can no longer question the theory and thus the theory cannot be proven wrong. This is why politicians and snout-in-the-trough NGOs are attempting to stifle anyone who questions their "scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change".
Late contender for Dangerous Fuckwit of the Month, Ben Stewart, says:
But by debating him and his fellow-travelers we perpetuate the myth that this is a ‘he said/she said’ issue, a 50/50 where there is still a debate.
No, Ben, this is not a "he said/she said issue" but there is still very much a debate to be had. Are you saying that you would rather that Mann et al.'s so-called "hockey-stick" temperature graph should not have been questioned because it was utterly discredited? I know that it was awkward that so much of the global-warming scare-mongering hung on that incorrect graph, but shouldn't one also be questioning some of the other data?
The answer is yes; the very basis of scientific theory formation says that, absolutely, yes you should. One should always debate and challenge scientific theory, because that is how science is advanced.
But the climate change scientists do tend to make it very difficult to debate because, as the excellent Bishop Hill has been discovering, they really aren't tremendously keen on publishing their data.
I posted a while back about the failure of climate scientists to archive their data or to release it on request - a scandal which has been carefully documented by Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit blog. Another post on the same subject developed a very interesting comments thread with contributions from McIntyre and Maxine Clarke, the executive editor of Nature - one of the journals who have failed to enforce their own policies on data availability.
Do go and read the whole of the good Bishop's post, as it is extremely interesting; why on earth would climate change scientists be unwilling to allow others to examine their data?
One imagines that it might be for the same reason that the IPCC has released several "summaries for policy-makers" of their latest review, but still not published their results. The only explanation is that all of these people have something to hide.
Scientists are not above being corrupted. Nor are they always right. And even if every, single scientist in the entire world agreed that anthropogenic climate change is happening, your humble Devil would carry on questioning it because that is how good science works.
But, in the meantime, I am hardly going to accept the word of a piss-scared media officer from an organisation that has been proven to lie and ignore the evidence of its own reports, deliberately and with malice aforethought, in order to advance its twisted agenda.
Ben Stewart: you are an arsehole.
In the meantime, here's Lawson on 18DS.
Lawson is well-informed and reasonable; but this month's Stupid, Ignorant, Cliche-Ridden Cunt is Professor Ivor Gaber. I would love to debate with him, and I'd slap him into next week; is arguments are the same, old pap trotted out with total and utterly ill-informed conviction. The man is a fool.