Do not debate Marc Morano.
I could fill a few pages explaining why. But let me put it simply. I interviewed him in 2007 for my movie “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.” He’s a great communicator, but is not bounded by the truth. I put this on display in my film when he claimed that all the predictions of environmental doom of the 1970′s didn’t come true, including the demise of the oceans. The oceans are my one area of scientific/environmental expertise. I stopped him on that point. He didn’t argue, but instead replied, “Well, they’re not dead.” Case closed.
By 2009 he had built a solid, widely known reputation for distorting the truth. Rule number one for debating is don’t debate such a person. You won’t win. They can talk endless circles around you using inaccuracies that you don’t have a chance to check during the debate.
And thus I was stunned to see that ANYONE in 2009 would debate him, especially on television. But it happened several times, hitting a dramatic peak with Professor Andrew Watson ending his debate by summarizing his frustration in saying, “What an asshole.”
So this is my overall summary and piece of advice to the climate science community. DO NOT DEBATE MARC MORANO. And if you do, and you lose, which you almost certainly will, don’t say we didn’t warn you. I tried to warn everyone with that scene in “Sizzle.” Now I’m spelling it out plain and simple. DO NOT DEBATE MARC MORANO.
WHO SHOULD DEBATE MARC MORANO: BILL MAHER
Okay, it would have been nice to have kept this as a trade secret. I’ve been saying it for a couple of years, but because the climate science world is run by classically literal minded science thinkers, they’re not about to listen to me. But the cool thing is the number of graduate students I’ve been getting emails from who are indeed here reading The Benshi (I spoke to several at the Arctic Workshop last week in Colorado — great folks!) and understanding what I’m talking about. So this is maybe mostly for you, because you guys “get it” better than a lot of the older types.
You want to know who should debate Marc Morano? A comedian. Why is that? Because when one person is not constrained by the truth in a debate, the discourse becomes irrational. And as soon at that happens, a rational person is at a hopeless disadvantage. So you know what you want then? You want someone who can meet that irrationality with an equal and opposite amount of irrationality. And you know who has that capability? A comedian.
Last year I tried to talk to a group of scientists/environmentalists about the idea of having a panel discussion that would include a climate skeptic and a comedian. They ridiculed the idea. They were … SUCH scientists with everything they said. So literal minded.
Well, now let me SHOW you EXACTLY what I was talking about.
This past Friday night on HBO‘s “Real Time” with Bill Maher, he had on a climate skeptic of sorts — a woman named Amy Holmes who is a conservative and co-host of something called, “America’s Morning News.” They began talking about climate change, and you can see in the dialogue that I’ve transcribed below, EXACTLY the dynamic I’m talking about.
Just look at what happens. Ms. Holmes tries to make serious skeptic points, but they are the usual inaccurate nonsense (there’s your irrationality). And look at what Bill Maher does — he uses his comic skills (his equal and opposite irrationality) to pull the rug out from under her before she can even make a single major point. And he does it in a way that is likeable — its pretty funny when he’s talking about pot smoking and citing a Beatles line. These are elements of STYLE, and guess what — debating, ESPECIALLY on television involves a great deal of STYLE in addition to substance. And guess further what the subtitle of my book was — “Talking substance in an age of STYLE.” What you see here is the essence of what my book was about.
THIS is how you debate a climate skeptic. YOU KEEP YOUR LITERAL MINDED SCIENTISTS AS FAR AWAY FROM THEM AS POSSIBLE (read the second chapter of the book!). The evolution science community managed to figure this out a few years ago, and Eugenie Scott of the NCSE pretty much formalized it as a blanket rule — “Don’t Debate Creationists or Intelligent Designers.” That sort of thinking apparently still hasn’t made it to the climate science world.
Anyhow, you want to know how to “debate” a climate skeptic — here you go:
BM – Bill Maher
AH – Amy Holmes
BM: Are you a global warming skeptic?
AH: I am a skeptic.
BM: You are? How could that be?
AH: How could that be? Because I don’t think the science is settled. Scientists who are involved in it themselves — Phil Jones who is the head of research in England –
BM: Come on, you know that’s a red herring.
AH: You know that Phil Jones also said — hold on –
BM: You’re so smart –
AH: He also said that in the middle ages –
BM: You don’t smoke the pot –
AH: It may have been hotter –
BM: You didn’t blow your mind out in a car because you didn’t notice that the light had changed like I had –
(MORE LIGHT LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)
BM: How can I see this and you don’t? That’s what I can’t wrap my head around.
AH: One of the top climate researchers — he admitted now that the middle ages may have been hotter than it is now, before there were cars or CO2 –
BM: I’ll be lucky to get out of MY middle ages.
AH: We know that sunspots for example — changes in the currents — all of these things –
BM: This is not anything anyone — before — for people who are watching and don’t read all the minutia — this is nothing any serious climate scientist signs on to — sunspots — you know …
NOTE: Comments sent in about the Morano interview will be summarized next Monday. Thursday, Ed Begely, Jr. interview.