Jun 19, 2023Liked by Andrew Dessler

Thanks for this write-up!

We made an adapted version of pages 8 and 9 of The Consensus Handbook - published in 2018 by John Cook, Sander van der Linden, Ed Maibach and Stephan Lewandowsky - available on Skeptical Science. The excerpt is published to make it easy to share this important information about false balance and fake debates and why both should be avoided when it comes to scientific topics where an expert consensus has already been established.

It's available via this link https://sks.to/chb-p89

Expand full comment

First time commenting here — I enjoyed the post as well! And hi Bärbel, I read the Consensus Handbook and submitted a request on the Skeptical Science website to translate it into Japanese. Hope you could take a look!

Expand full comment

I think the issue is format more than engagement. I agree that the debate format falsely conveyes a win/lose binary aspect to addressing climate risk when, as you and Steve know, that's far from reality. I was invited to participate in a "debate" with Bjorn Lomborg on Lex Fridman's popular webcast, drawing on my 35 years of climate-related reporting (both science and policy). But in reality it wasn't a win/lose debate at all. It was a civil converstion conducted over four hours with enough time to dig deep on points of disagreement - and agreement (there were plenty of both). https://revkin.substack.com/p/lex-fridman-bjorn-lomborg-and-me?utm_source=%2Fsearch%2Fbjorn&utm_medium=reader2 One question: Given how climate science and policy are so intricately intertweined, I don't see how you can agree to discuss policy while walling off the science. Happy to discuss on #SustainWhat.

Expand full comment

If you watch the debate (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc15pXf6zQM), you'll see that climate science just never comes up. The main disagreement between Koonin and me is over the economics (how expensive will climate impacts be) and how expensive a clean-energy transition will be.

Expand full comment

I did watch. Of course any view of the necessaary speed of decarbonization is implicitly a function of the interpretation of scope of risk over time delineated by the science (along with cost of impacts/responses). Interesting to watch the Koonin-Dan Schrag debate at University of Maryland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtC3Pw41n5M and your Oklahoma State debate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc15pXf6zQM results. Neat #culturalcognition experiment. Huge pre-debatre support for Koonin's position in Oklahoma (no surprise), big initial support for Schrag at University of Maryland. Both audiences shifted more toward Koonin's camp at the end. Not a function of charisma for sure.

Expand full comment

I would not take the vote seriously. People know that to truly support their position, they need to say at the beginning that they don't and then "change" their mind at the end. Given the venue & organization, I doubt anyone in my audience supported my position at the beginning.

Expand full comment

This is an incredibly cynical view of the audience. You are impugning them simply based on the ‘venue and organization’. While at the same time, show a lack of awareness that a peer-reviewed paper, could be slanted because of the general tendencies of those peers. It surely can’t be that people taking the opposite position to you, are malign in their intent, and people in your camp, the scientific community, are just rigorous. Your view shows signs of a well established cognitive biases.

Ultimately the rigor of scientific enquiry has nothing to do with consensus in a certain field. And issues with regard to charismatic speakers, are present in any environment where public policy is the issue. To make a separation between the two, science and politics, and disregard the views of the public and contrarian opinion, makes for a one-sided top-down elitist society.

You can be happy with such society. But voters might disagree.

And here’s the bottom line. Dr. Hotez isn’t being addressed for his scientific achievements. It’s his advocacy in the field, and engagement in public policy that connects him to this audience. If the doctor were unwilling to go to mass media and just stuck to his papers, then he would be treated like thousands of back bencher scientists who you and I never know their names.

The step further, in which you actively partake in public policy and mass media, gives your critics the entitlement to challenge to address them directly on equal footing. You can’t have the cake and eat it too.

Expand full comment

You say we shouldn't disregard the views of the public. 40% of Americans believe in Creationism. 40% also believe aliens are visiting the Earth.

Rising numbers of people are flat earthers or believe in gender identities unrelated to human sex or even human (i.e. those who identify as animals).

We should take them seriously?

Just because large numbers of people believe in nonsense doesn't mean we should take their nonsense seriously.



Expand full comment

The consensus view is what goes into the scientific textbooks - and gives us our best view of reality.

When the consensus is wide and deep and challenged by anyone, eminent scientist or not, anywhere but scientific publishing is essentially politicking.

I constantly hear the refrain, "Science is never settled".

I retort, "Do you wonder in the morning when you step out of bed, will you walk on the floor or the ceiling?"

In all my years I've never once changed anyone's mind about manmade global warming. The oil companies and their useful idiots got to them first.

Expand full comment

Obviously consensus has nothing to do with ‘best view of reality’. The pre-Galileo consensus was wrong. My specific point, is that the rigor of scientific enquiry doesn’t depend on the number of people who believe in them, instead it’s an objective quality of its own.

Now I do agree that it’s the best strategy for teaching new students, as the best use of time and resources. And it’s a good strategy for public policy, when the entirety of the political system is democratic and liberal. When the entire discourse can tolerate and respect dissent.

It’s a good goal to strive for more rigor in science, to make it more exhaustive and accurate. And I understand the resources should be managed so that what seems to be bearing fruit takes priority over other suggestions. That’s different from not engaging at all with the opposite side.

If we make the populace feel their voice isn’t being heard, like the cases of RFK Jr. and former president Trump, then it’s not surprising that they revolt and become uncharitable with the scientific community. When the dissent is big enough, it should be challenged with political respect and care.

And public opinion does change on the issue of climate change. Opinion polls clearly show them. But it’s hard to see someone change their mind in front of someone else. My guess is, change of mind happens in moments of self-reflection, which isn’t something you do in front of others. But the material needed for that self-reflection gather in exposure to other ideas, and that’s why I advocate for members of scientific community who do public advocacy to engage directly in equal footing the agents of major points of dissent. Otherwise, we constantly go through cycles of populist revolt.

Expand full comment

I totally agree with your refusal to get dragged into the void of social media debate. It was Ben Franklin, I believe, who observed: “The problem with common sense is that it isn’t very common.” Social media is where common sense and common decency go to die.

Expand full comment

You're giving Joe Rogan too much credit - he engineers circus acts to make money, especially where one of the speakers is happy to pander to Rogan's audience's biases and is rewarded by gaining attention over telling the truth. Rogan should be help legally accountable for using the public airways to spread life threatening disinformation.

Expand full comment

In what sense to podcasts use "public airwaves"?

Expand full comment

A good example of why avoid public debates - the search is not for truth, but rabbit holes.

Expand full comment

Scientists absolutely must participate in public forums or debates, the problems you described are real but avoiding debates will be far worse at this point. Better to open by pointing out all of these problems with debates that you mentioned. Also the medical field has really serious problems that are not being confronted, big problems with peer review for example, that most doctors have no idea about but need to learn about, other major problems pointed out by John Abramson in a good JRE interview; also Fauci’s lack of integrity played a significant role in getting us here. the only decent way out now is scientists, doctors, experts having open honest public discussions about why we do things and our limits/problems too and definitely not avoiding the critics. Our society is failing on so many important fronts and we can stay in the journals and go down with this stupid ship or not.

Expand full comment

100% agree that scientists should be out there communicating climate science, which is why this substack exists. I also think I should have given a better answer to why I wouldn't debate than "the science is settled". as you suggested, I could have more carefully explained why oral debates are terrible.

Expand full comment

I was glad to see you go on his show but others are making a big mistake right now claiming Joe Rogan wouldn’t provide a good/fair format for debate. I don’t listen to his show often but I think he would agree to good debate rules with plenty of time for opening statements and responses, probably better than any (mainstream) network, and his many viewers likely believe this. I don’t know anything about Hotez but someone with personal experience in vaccine development should take him up on this debate request. Other experts who aren’t present should do better to find a way or make an effort to publicly way in to express where they agree and disagree, or just ask to go on afterwards.

Expand full comment

<i>Fauci’s lack of integrity</i>

Can you justify that claim, please.

It was certainly a view expressed here in New Zealand by some people.

Expand full comment

He was not the only one but he deliberately set out to make it taboo or anti science to consider that Covid originated from the Wuhan virology lab, according to emails obtained from freedom of information act requests and he was publicly calling it “molecularly impossible” for it to have been genetically engineered-this is so obviously false to anyone in biology that I have to wonder if he was intending to gaslight the public, and often calling criticism of him or his statements “criticism of science.” He also stated that he intentionally misled the public about his beliefs about mask efficacy (for the purpose of stopping a run on masks and possibly contributing to hospital shortages). This is what I was referring to, I know he has a lot of critics of his past work but I don’t know anything about that.

Expand full comment

I’m a family doctor in rural Oklahoma, patients came to me with some of these concerns and it definitely fueled an anti mRNA vaccine/anti medical science attitude.

Expand full comment

It always seemed possible to me that the virus SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the lab but it was not genetically engineered - that is known - so it was not "weaponised".

There is still an argument about efficacy of masks on a population basis but I still wear a valved FFP3 inside buildings; my wife an N95. Surgical masks, and I as a dental surgeon wore one for 50 years, mostly benefit other people.

Maybe Fauci had to say he lied about masks to get people to wear them, but I don't regard his actions as mendacity. When dealing with a population where nearly half think Trump is a good man ... not sure complete honesty is the best policy. Sorry!

Fauci is one the most cited scientists in the world, and I doubt the US had proportionally any more adherents to conspiracy nonsense than little New Zealand. They caused havoc and the police indulged them.

In my experience people believe what they want to believe and simply look for confirmation no matter how tenuous. Fauci was just a convenient excuse.

Expand full comment

Yes I’m not claiming weaponized (although military funding was there) and certainly not an intentional pandemic but it isn’t known, as in confirmed, to be a naturally evolved virus and frankly I believe they should have found the origin reservoir by now if it did evolve naturally. But maybe they have found the origin lab scientist cases now instead.

Expand full comment

My understanding is the virus had no hallmarks of engineering and was naturally evolved. I guess simply growing it in a particular culture (ie human cells) could allow it to evolve "naturally".

China was too slow admitting a problem; Taiwan warned WHO early but the warning was ignored. WHO (ie Tedros) was far too slow - if it wasn't technically a pandemic it was certainly a pandemic-in-waiting. How many truckloads of corpses did we need to see on TV?

China has not helped dispel the notion of a lab leak, but the director seems to be a highly regarded scientist and she says no. I would say that's impossible to prove, and how likely is it a technician/cleaner would admit error?

Tracking the origin seems complex enough without China's lack of cooperation, and makes one suspect the lab. But remember people still talk about the Spanish Flu - that originated in the US.

Anyway, what difference does it make - except suggest closing the wild animal food markets. Good reasons to do that regardless. If it was lab leak, gives muscle to those who want to keep encroaching on nature and of course and they haven't wasted any time.

My perspective is we are lucky people had been working on mRNA vaccines for 20? years.

In the context of global warming/climate change, some people are prone to conspiracy ideation. A surprising proportion of GPs (general practitioners = family doctors) here told their patients not to be vaccinated and offered Ivermectin - I don't think many were struck off the register for idiocy.

Expand full comment
Jun 20, 2023Liked by Andrew Dessler

You clearly articulate what’s been rattling around in my head about televised or streamed/podcasted debates. I hold my breath when I watch whataboutism/“balanced” pairings on some news programs. Your points also apply somewhat* to any 2024 election debates (*public expects pols to be able to think in their feet in rough and tumble politics).

Expand full comment
Jun 19, 2023Liked by Andrew Dessler

I completely agree--how dumb to debate a physical fact! "water is made of hydrogen and oxygen." "No it isn't." what do you even say?

The whole thing is a conspiracy between scientists and FF companies to keep the debate out of the realm of the political.


Expand full comment
Jun 19, 2023·edited Jun 19, 2023

I can't disagree with your decision not to do a debate on Joe Rogan's show. I've never watched it, because I've never heard anything that would suggest it's worth my time. I agree that an oral debate is a poor way to spread reasonable, reliable information on a complex subject.

However, the John Oliver clip highlights some of the problems with those who dismiss the need for open discussion. The "survey of thousands of scientific papers" he cites was criticized for its conclusions - it mostly relied on "implicit" arguments extracted from paper abstracts, rather than any actual stated conclusion. Many of the authors of the papers "surveyed" disavowed the conclusions imputed to their papers. This "survey" added more noise than light to public discussion, and the fact that it was widely cited as conclusive gives reasonable people cause to believe they're not getting reliable information from public discussion.

We all ought to agree on a few points:

1. The greenhouse effect is real, and has been demonstrated and measured in laboratory experiments.

2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

3. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been increasing, as demonstrated by actual atmospheric measurements, for at least the last 75 years.

4. The best available data indicates noticeable increase in global surface temperatures over the last 150 years.

5. All other things being equal, the observed increase in carbon dioxide concentration is sufficient to explain most if not all observed temperature increases over the last 150 years.

Beyond this, there are lots of open questions and issues. A few that occur to me:

1. Temperature data series rely on surface temperature measurement stations. All of these in the US use sites that have been operating for over a hundred years, and generally assume that site-specific conditions have remained unchanged over that time. In fact, many of these sites have transitioned from rural fields to urban parking lots. All sites have changed their hardware over the years (change of the white paint on the instrument shelters probably accounts for significant recorded temperature changes). All sites have their measurements "adjusted" to account for changing conditions, but the process for this adjustment is not published, leaving ample room to question the integrity of the temperature data. When these issues have been pointed out, the response from NOAA was to eliminate public access to site locations. As far as I can tell, there has been no attention given to improving the measurement system. We'll spend hundreds of billions of dollars for "solutions" that may have little value, while spending nothing to improve the measurement system the policy argument relies on.

2. The current "target" is to limit warming to 1.5C compared to "pre-industrial" levels. As far as I can tell, this target was chosen because it was the lowest level achievable with heroic action, even though there is no feasible path to achieve the heroic action. The global "cool kids" of the Paris accord solemnly pledged their countries to achieving this target, which requires eliminating all carbon emissions by 2030 (or now maybe 2035, or 2050), even though there is no technical or economic path to achieving the target. And yet popular public coverage treats this objective as "necessary" and "committed", with only occasional notes that no country is on track to achieving the objective.

3. Likely effects of warming are generally vastly exaggerated in popular coverage. Actual scientific papers cited by the IPCC reports predict rather modest effects from likely warming. Popular reporting does not detail these predictions - it either cites advocacy groups with unsupported claims, or avoids the issue entirely by saying something like "limiting emissions is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change."

4. There is almost no discussion from the advocates of swift and drastic action of the relative costs of action (whatever action is advocated) or inaction. In other words, there is no attention given to the idea that a "warmer but richer" world might be better for both humans and the natural environment than whatever version of "cooler but poorer" would come from the proposed action. Instead, the advocates start with the conclusion that immediate drastic action is necessary, and discuss only the awesomeness of some technology that might be part of a solution. Rich countries are currently engaged in expensive efforts to promote electric cars, solar power, restrictions on energy supplies, and other measures that aren't likely to make much difference. I expect that, eventually, most of the population will see the large costs and small benefits and give up. However, similar pointless efforts in poor countries would keep billions of people in a medieval level of poverty, facing more generations of malnutrition, poor health, poor housing, lack of educational opportunities, drudgery and misery. That's why none of the poor countries (aside from China) are even making vague noises about paying some attention to emissions reductions.

Expand full comment

Your comment regarding Cook et al. 2013 ignores that the authors of the papers were also invited to rate their full papers. Guess what? That part of the study also found a 97% consensus on human-caused global warming.

Find out a lot more about the study and the unfounded claims made about it here:


Expand full comment

Thanks for the reference. After some further reading from your links, I'll note the following:

1. The original Cook et al paper referred to 11,944 abstracts, and found that 66.4% expressed no position on global warming. Of those that expressed a position, 97% endorsed the "consensus" position (who determined it was a "consensus"?) This was stated in the abstract of the Cook et al paper.

2. What was widely reported in the media was "97% of scientists agree", which is an entirely different thing.

3. Cook et al invited the authors to self-rate their papers. The link you provided (https://skepticalscience.com/docs/self_vs_abstracts_private.txt) covers 2136 papers, which I assume has the results of these responses for a response rate of 18%. Those 2136 authors seemed to take a stronger position, on average, than was attributed to their papers (1069 took more "pro-consensus" positions vs 269 who took less "pro-consensus" positions, the remaining 798 gave the same ratings that had been imputed). But "no position" is still the largest group.

I don't deny that human emissions have caused warming. What I object to is the large number of activists who jump from "humans are causing warming" to "immediate drastic action is required" with no intermediate steps. And I especially object to the popular media that goes along with them, while implying that those who say "action may not be a good idea" are the same as those who say "there is no warming".

Expand full comment

If there were no consensus - and it is to all intents and purposes 100% amongst working scientists publishing in the field - someone would have won a Nobel prize by now for rebutting AGW.

The IPCC is the authority and the warnings are stark: 10 years to halve emissions.

Sorry, you're not even wrong.

Expand full comment

"I don't deny that human emissions have caused warming. What I object to is the large number of activists who jump from "humans are causing warming" to "immediate drastic action is required" with no intermediate steps."

As you say, global warming is real. Have you read the IPCC reports? Where exactly does it say "10 years to halve emissions", and what is the "or else" to that?

Expand full comment

'Where exactly does [IPCC] say "10 years to halve emissions"...'

So what do you think the latest report means? Bear in mind politicians from all countries "moderate" the science, itself expressed cautiously. Also, IPCC is not cutting edge, if you want that ask the scientists involved.


Expand full comment

I've read the latest reports, as well as earlier ones. Nowhere does the IPCC say the things that are attributed to it in the Washington Post article you linked. Nor in the many other Washington Post articles linked in the Washington Post article.

The IPCC reports predict relatively modest impacts from warming, and relatively modest consequences for humans. If you believe the IPCC is the authority, then you should conclude the alarmist predictions are unsubstantiated hype.

To give the first example, this WP article goes from "The report released Monday by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the world is likely to surpass its most ambitious climate target" (this is an accurate account of the IPCC report) to "Beyond that threshold, scientists have found, climate disasters will become so extreme that people will not be able to adapt." This is a conclusion that has never been published by the IPCC, nor even in any scientific paper I've ever read, and the WP article, full of links to WP articles, does not provide a link to any scientists who say anything like this conclusion.

So, if you claim the IPCC is the authority, and it predicts dire consequences, please cite the IPCC report that actually predicts dire consequences.


Expand full comment

I appreciate the effortpost. I’m a reasonably well-educated layman who accepts the basic physics at work and who is persuadable on policy solutions, but can’t seem to get a straight answer from the media or global governments on 1) what impacts will we see? 2) when will we see them? 3) what mitigation efforts will have a realistic prospect of success?

Instead, we get the same fear-mongering, tribalism, and amorphous demands for drastic action that have characterized every other “emergency”over the last 20 years, from the War on Terror to COVID. This is a terrible framework for solving problems, and has had us rush into policies unmoored from science and realistic risk assessment. I know from direct personal experience that the push for renewables and EVs is rife with rent-seeking and steering contracts that serve political constituencies, rather than providing a tangible climate benefit. This is a real political problem that gets little to no attention.

Many people like me are skeptical, not of the underlying science, but the current paradigm of blaming every natural disaster on climate change and the implication that renewables and centralized control of agriculture are the solution. Even a WWII or Apollo program-type mobilization will only get us to renewables meeting maybe 50% of our energy needs over a decades-long timeframe.

This is a long-winded way of saying “more debates grounded in scientific reality and political plausibility, please”

Expand full comment

We're seeing the impacts now. More energy on the climate system means worse weather.

The demands for action are not fear-mongering.

Expand full comment

Brian, please keep commenting on this blog and elsewhere. At the risk of sounding like a fan, you have such a nice way to consider an argument, agree with some points and disagree with others, support your own arguments with quality references, and focus on the big picture. I'm learning a lot by reading you.

I think your point #4 (balancing the relative costs and benefits of inaction and action) is the crucial one. Unfortunately, at least in the US, it often gets drowned in the binary thinking that someone either denies climate change or thinks we must reach net zero emissions very quickly using mostly wind and solar. We need to discuss what kinds of tradeoffs we're willing to make. Ultimately those tradeoffs will depend on our values, beliefs, and personal situations.

Sorry for the nitpick, but the current "target" (as defined by the Paris Agreement) is actually 2C. I'd call 1.5C a stretch goal: https://substack.com/@tianwen/note/c-17463290.

On a side note, I appreciate Joe Rogan's "talk to me" attitude. He strikes me as a smart person who is curious about various subjects and lets his interviewees tell their story. The first few minutes of his interview of Mark Zuckerberg were very interesting.

Expand full comment

<i>Joe Rogan ... strikes me as a smart person who is curious about various subjects and lets his interviewees tell their story.</i>

What is the average IQ in America?

Expand full comment

My feelings are kind of mixed about all this. Especially in the case of the covid/vaccine debate.

Personally, I have barely listened to public officials' claims and have instead sought out the current state of scientific research and formed my opinions/decisions based on that, and changed them as more research was done and the state of knowledge shifted. This is, I think, the best way to go about it, and is a way of 'doing your own research' or at least checking/verifying other people's research.

That is also why I have been so bothered by both public officials and scientists making absolutist statements of certainty (presumably for most of them well-meant, though not always) regarding efficacy of the vaccine, masking, lockdowns etc. There was simply no/flawed research to back it up, or it has since been proven otherwise. Stuff like that undermines people's trust in both political and scientific institutions, especially when it has been communicated as an unquestionable certainty before, with good reason. So when someone comes along who does acknowledge some of those issues with 'facts' that turned out to be untrue, like rfk jr, they seem more trustworthy than the people who are not publicly admitting they were wrong, even if they make claims like 'vaccines cause autism' when there is a mountain of research that did not find any evidence for this claim. But at least he was not caught suppressing information about covid coming from a lab..

I think not debating is probably the right call, but the underlying causes of distrust that feed those kinds of narratives should be addressed instead of suppressed, so that people regain their trust in science as well as public institutions. There should be accountability and transparency, as well as honest reflection. The scientific process, if done right, will eventually weed out the untruths, but will most people even hear about this? I don't think so. All they will remember are the lies/disproven claims.

Science and 'what people claim about science' are two different things, but I think the latter has really undermind trust in the former these past few years, especially as 'we are just following the science' has been used to deflect criticism and suppress discussion.

How do others feel about all this?

Expand full comment

"That is also why I have been so bothered by both public officials and scientists making absolutist statements of certainty"

100%. This is very frustrating to me and (probably) a reason I trust less media and most experts today than a decade or two ago. For instance in macroeconomics, experts like central bankers and their staff were confidently asserting the US economy was on a solid footing before the GFC and, more recently, confidently mischaracterized inflation as "transitory."

Expand full comment

Nobody should be forced to debate if they don’t want to. But climate change policies or COVID policies have MASSIVE impacts on the public.

there has to be someone who is in favor of these policies who can stand up and defend them in public.

Policies which no one is willing to fight for will fail.

So yes, there is a risk of losing a debate to someone who is full of crap but rhetorically skilled , but there’s also a risk in never engaging with any criticism.

Expand full comment

Yes these debates are for media and clicks and not the right forum for scientific discussion. However it's interesting what you say about Peter Hoetz and RFK Jnr as it reveals your stance. ALL climate scientists are pro-vaccine and nearly ALL anti -vaccine are climate deniers. NO ONE has looked into the science of both vaccines and climate.

There are no long term safety trials on vaccines as RFK rightly says. Placebos contain aluminium or other adjuvants to hide adverse reactions in trials. The measles vaccine was introduced in 1968 when deaths and cases ~zero. The Pfizer 'covid' vaccine had an absolute efficacy of 0.85% over placebo in preventing non specific symptoms or getting an arbitrary number of cycles on a DNA amplification PCR technique ( never validated with a physical entity shown to cause disease) in a trial done by Pfizer itself, who have paid $trillions in fines for fraud and misrepresentation.

Darwin's friend Alfred Wallace was gobsmacked that the smallpox vaccine had been accepted as effective by many experts on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. Smallpox disappeared because of improvements in child labour laws and sanitation. The vaccine, which has the same principle as now, was often lethal. Wallace's 1898 presentation is well worth a read https://georgiedonny.substack.com/p/lets-hope-the-monkey-pox-nonsense


Expand full comment

I agree with you, Joe Rogan getting his minion to 'fact check' in real time is not ideal, nor is the fact that one of Rogan's main sponsors is a meat manufacturer, but I came across this amazing destruction on Rogan of Chris Kresser's alleged debunking of Gamechangers by James Wilks, its director, who had hundreds of slides and papers to explain and back up his argument https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stn5JaQmAak


Expand full comment

Depressing reading some comments. Like listening to Trump and the Republicans.

Homo sapiens has gone barking mad.

Expand full comment

How a debate that isn’t rushed? I agree with the limitations argument but this is a big deal and there’s still not a lot of people that know the full scope of the science.

Expand full comment

This articulates some of my back-of-mind concerns. And also applies, IMHO, to 2024 presidential debates, given who’s vying to fly R-flag.

Expand full comment

Hey there, I really enjoy your writing and I believe writing about this is very important, and while I do agree with your sentiment that there is a potential negative outcome that can arise from having such debates.

I cannot help but think that the lack of formalised discussions around contentious issues is always going to be a net negative for all parties involved. We are in dire need of more trust in the institutions, and if the only way we can reassure the public expressing doubt is a debate/discussion. ( I prefer the term discussion tbh, debates tend to be competitions of rhetorical flex as you mentioned ).

I am sure there are means of circumventing these downfalls.

For example:

1. Prior to the debate, all studies and papers that are cited must be read by both parties, and verified.

2. Mediators must be impartial and true.

I really hope this isn't my last comment, I do think your concerns are very important prior to any such debate.

Ultimately, the goal as scientists is to pursue the truth about our world and communicate it to the general public, who pay our salaries. By every means possibly. <3

Expand full comment