January 24th, 2013
How long will this continue? The evolution folks figured this dynamic out a long time ago. What’s wrong with the climate crowd? Doesn’t everyone realize it’s a no win situation? Why do it? NONE of Morano’s opponents have ever been any good. Is the opportunity to be on TV just too hard to resist? And hasn’t anyone in the climate community heard of “The Gish Gallop“?
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, TRY TO DISCREDIT ‘EM?
IF YOU THINK THE GUY IS DISHONEST, THEN WHY DEBATE HIM?
In 2010, when I first started the Benshi, I did a lengthy interview with longtime climate skeptic Marc Morano. He was in my movie “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy,” in 2008 and we’ve remained friends, trading emails occasionally. I periodically enjoy his jabs at the environmental community, and he has a better grasp of the broader aspects of showmanship than most enviros. He also joined our post-screening panel discussion at Syracuse University a couple years ago.
As part of my interview with Marc I had a couple of professors of rhetoric, view all the clips present at the time of him “debating” climate folks — which was 4 then, but is probably about a dozen now. Both of them had the same observations. That it’s largely hopeless.
First off, rule number one for debating, which they both cited, is “attack the argument, not the man.” If you think your opponent is a dishonest liar then why debate him? Seriously. Why? Proper debate is meant to be a rational process of laying out arguments. Lying is irrational. If you show up for a fencing match and your opponent has a Bushmaster semi-automatic weapon are you going to ask the judge to disqualify him, or are you going to just call the entire thing off.
It’s the same deal — these climate folks are trying to convince the moderator Morano shouldn’t be listened to. In this latest case, this guy plays the oil companies card, which you can see Marc disagreeing with and I know that at least in the past that has not even been the case — he is not very well funded — it really is kind of a lie propagated by a lot of climate folks who do not know the facts but it makes for a good story. I know Marc. I have plenty of complaints about him and have criticized him firmly in my film and blog posts. But I also know he has not gotten wealthy from what he does, was not supported by the oil companies (at least last time I checked with him), and I really hate people who just run with that sort of dishonesty in trying to discredit opponents.
EVOLUTIONISTS FIGURED OUT “THE GISH GALLOP” LONG AGO
If you want the best possible advice on how to deal with this problem of being “challenged to a debate,” you should probably consult Genie Scott, Director of the National Center for Science Education (which despite its name is not a government organization — it’s the sort of independent, highly motivated and highly focused organization the climate world needs).
She coined the term, “The Gish Gallop,” which is presented in great detail here. It’s what Morano skillfully does. And Genie has recommended not “debating” these types of folks.
So why do the climate folks continue to do so? And now Morano’s upped his game to Piers Morgan on CNN twice (he “debated” Bill Nye a few weeks ago who was just as bad as the others), who may not be your favorite host, but has a very high profile these days. Way to go, climate folks — way to help your opponent work his way up the ranks.
He’s already had an 8 page spread in Esquire magazine. How long until he’s on “60 Minutes”? And when that happens and everyone wonders how, a key part of the answer will be all these white knights who tried to ride into battle with him on TV talk shows. They have paved the way upwards.
P.S. MY BROWN UNIVERSITY TALK FEB. 13
Next month I’m doing a week-long visit to Brown University. On Wednesday February 13 I’ll be giving a talk titled, “CLIMATE SKEPTICS: There here, they’re “queer,” get used to them” — with the “queer” part meaning out of the ordinary. The title is prompted by a run-in with a climate scientist last month who was STILL spouting the old 2006 line of, “we need to ignore them and they will go away.” That didn’t work. They ALREADY succeeded. Catch up with the times. There is no climate legislation today. The “ignore them” strategy failed. Move on.