The Funnier Side Of Monbiot & Schmidt's "Plimer Débâcle"

It is clear that George Monbiot has made himself the loser by not agreeing to publicly debate with Ian Plimer about global warming in London in November. The rule is very simple and universal: a no-show is invariably a loss.

The whole thing looks like an elaborate trap prepared by experienced debater Plimer with the goal of convincing Monbiot to run away from the debate. And it looks like it worked.

Talk about the elephant being afraid of the mouse. Yet again, one is glad not have the likes of Monbiot (and Schmidt) on one’s side! 😎

But wait…it gets even funnier. What I just wrote might have crossed a few minds already, of people unfortunately too eager to bite the bait, therefore missing the chance to take their own reasoning to its natural conclusions:

  • Take Schmidt’s blog on the topic, where he argues that Plimer’s list of questions “is quite transparently a device to avoid dealing with Monbiot’s questions and is designed to lead to an argument…” and then…marches on onto the device regardless!
  • Greenfyre defines Plimer’s questions as “pure juvenile bafflegab” that should not be “dignif[ied]…with repetition“. Perhaps. Why then repeat that very same concept FOURTEEN times? It certainly looks like dignifying them to me
  • Greenfyre even identifies as “possible answers…to answer them in the spirit in which they were asked…give answers equally convoluted and nonsensical“. If that is so, what is the meaning of going on and on with links to sites where Pilmer’s questions are taken instead at face value?
  • Likewise for Tim Lambert: “I suspect that this is a tactic so he can weasel out of answering Monbiot’s questions” before a link to RealClimate to respond to Pilmer’s questions nevertheless…
  • Chris Colose appears to have a vague idea that there is something going on: “all together this is jumbled up nonsense and shows that Plimer is intentionally trying to mislead others“. Mysterious cue then to “for other of Plimer’s questions, I’ll let commenters tackle those“. Isn’t that a way for Colose to participate in the misleading?
  • Tamino…well, Tamino is obviously too superior a human being to recognize a thing.

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Dear Schmidt/Greenfyre/Lambert/Colose: one suggestion if I may dare.

If you are debating with anybody, and they use any logical device of any kind, please oh please DO NOT follow through along the device, for any reason whatsoever.

Otherwise, it’s not going to look pretty…

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/09/14/correspondence-with-ian-plimer/

Monbiot & Schmidt 0 – Plimer 1 (After Spectacular Own Goal)

Alternative titles: “Dear George, In Any Sport, No-Show Means Automatic Loss“, and “Don’t Mention Gish If You Can’t Debate

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I am not at all surprised that George Monbiot (and by inference, Gavin Schmidt) have lost their public (virtual) debate against Ian Plimer even before having a public (real) debate. That’s because:

  • I have been following Monbiot’s antics for quite some time, and have never been struck by the power of his at-times-downright-silly arguments
  • Likewise concerning Schmidt, a known debate (sore) loser
  • Skeptic vs. Climatechanger debates are few and far between, and not for the lack of willing skeptical debaters (one suspects, it’s because skeptics invariably win, just like against homeopathy practitioners, UFO believers, creationist/ID proponents, chemtrails counter-conspirators, etc etc)
  • Plimer is no debate spring chicken, once described as having a “street-fighting style

Why has Plimer won the debate? Because the end result is that Monbiot has refused to publicly debate with him. And in any sport, failure to show up automatically makes you a loser.

This is too bad as Schmidt’s responses look even more impressive than Plimer’s bunch of heavily-sounding questions (the actual bait). And Plimer’s non-answers to Monbiot could have made the basis for a smooth, trouble-free attack/counterattack to Plimer’s argument.

If Monbiot could sustain a debate, that is. I have my doubts.

The Monbiot/Schmidt couple took the Plimer bait actually a tad too easily. Evidently knowing how to make opponents fall flat on their faces even when apparently much more powerful than him, all Plimer had to do is artificially concoct an “escape route” that would allow Monbiot to declare himself the winner without actually having won anything.

The “escape route” is Plimer’s refusal to answer in print. And Monbiot, shall I say OF COURSE, eagerly took it, unable to understand the consequences.

Isn’t it more heartwarming to be able to tell one’s own troops about how bad the enemy is, rather than getting into a dangerous, live debate with that same enemy?

Especially when one has extremely poor argumentative skills, like Monbiot when he includes the mention of the “Gish Gallop“, “named after [creationist] Duane Gish […] a special case of fast talking (the technique famously employed by Snake Oil Salesman that confuses people with fast long strings of words long enough to convince them to buy snake oil“.

Yes, but: people like Michael Shermer (and Ian Plimer, by the way) have actually debated with Gish. They haven’t just sat at their desk whining about the Gish Gallop.

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Now we will only get Plimer on Thursday 12 November at 2 Savoy Place, London WC1, where he “will give a 30 minute lecture on global warming and then take questions/points from the audience for 60 minute“.

I will believe in that only when I see it happening, by the way…whose kneecaps is Plimer going to try to (figuratively) break? 😎