Plimer chickens out

After George Monbiot panned Plimer’s book for his grotesque scientific errors, Plimer challenged Monbiot to a face-to-face debate. Of course, Plimer would do his usual Gish gallop with such a format, so Monbiot agreed with just one condition:

Last week I wrote to Professor Plimer accepting his challenge, on the condition that he accepts mine. I would take part in a face-to-face debate with him as long as he agreed to write precise and specific responses to his critics’ points — in the form of numbered questions that I would send him — for publication on the Guardian’s website. I also proposed that there should be an opportunity at the debate for us to cross-examine each other.

The result was predictable:

This morning I received a message from Professor Plimer, rejecting my challenge. So much for his enthusiasm for debate.

Update: Plimer has agreed to answer the questions. If he actually does, the debate will happen.

Comments

  1. #1 Chavez
    August 10, 2009

    >Because you and your pal Chavez have been posting a bunch of adulatory crap about Hugo Chavez and I’ve been responding to that.

    Pardon me Barton, you cannot substantiate your claims (closing newspapers?). Stop slandering the guy and study US code 18.

  2. #2 Jeff Harvey
    August 10, 2009

    BPL writes, “We have freedom of speech and of the press in the U.S. They don’t have them in Venezuela any more, which is a shame, because Venezuela used to be a democracy”.

    I agree that the US people live in a society that is very open. But puh-lease don’t suggest to me that your media is ‘independent’. Its beholden to powerful vested interests. There’s volumes of evidence to support this.

    Of course Venezuelans have freedom of speech. If they didn’t why are 85% of the media owned by right wing elites who vociferously attack Chavez every minute of the day? Moreover, there are a few outliers in the US media, but by-and-large it is dominated by interests supine to concentrated power. The US media isn’t a fraction as independent as that in Venezuela, as Mark Weisbrot said in the article I linked yesterday.

    Read my last post Barton. It shreds your dumb argument that Venezuela isn’t a democracy. In fact, its miles more democratic thatn the US, where one has to be vetted by powerful itnerests to stand any chance of being elected. Polls over the past 5 years by Latinbarometro, the most prestigious polling agency in Latin America, have consistently shown that the Venezuelan people feel more empowered by their democracy than people in just about every other Latin American country. As I have said, BPL, Ben and their ilk are only rehashing the views of Venezuelan elites, which represent about 10-20% of the population. Why should their views count over more than 70% of the electorate? If the US media wasn’t so idealogically blinkered by its supine subservience to wealthy, powerful interests, it would realize that Chavez, for all of his faults, has improved the lot of the poorest 50% of Venezuelans by a great deal. All BPL and Ben do is apparently soak up propaganda from the US corporate MSM and rehash it here. Are you nalso telling me Venezuela was more democratci when Carlos Andres Perez was president in the 1980s and 1990s and saw wealth concentrated even more at the top? When he sent the national guard out to shoot protesters by the hundreds in 1989? It seems to me, Barton, that in your view a democracy is one where US interests are supported. Any country that refuses to do as it is told by the US is no longer democratic. Is this what you are saying?

    I also find it amusing that so-called liberals in the US constantly downplay or ignore the fact that their own country is hardly a healthy democracy. They also downplay or ignore the often horrific consequences of US foreign policy, and instead often focus their wrath on non-alinged countries while ignoring huan rights violations and a lack of democracy in US client states.

    Note also how Barton didn’t address the point I raised regarding the fate of any network that actively supported a coup in the US. Would they only lose their license, or would they be thrown in jail for lengthy prison terms? RCTV supported the coup all along, and ONLY lost its operating license (it retained a cable license) after Chavez was reinstated. What would happen to any network in the US that supported a coup of the president after he was returned to power?

    Sorry BPL; I like your posts on climate change, but your views of Latin America and Venezuela in particular are utter nonsense.

  3. #3 MAB
    August 10, 2009

    >Sorry BPL; I like your posts on climate change, but your views of Latin America and Venezuela in particular are utter nonsense.

    I agree on both points. I’m a BLP fan usually, but ignoring the facts and restating false arguments, its not up to BLP’s excellent standard.

    For me, a moderate assessment would be Jeff’s:

    >I agree that Chavez has many flaws, and that there is certainly corruption in the country, but certainly its not worse than Colombia and its miles better than previous regimes in the country …

    But I’d go further, I say Chavez is better than a lot of other leaders, he just faces stronger opposition due to the strategic wealth of his nation’s oil. He can be better than many and still have big room for improvement.

    Chavez is substanitially shaped by the power of those who oppose him. He is in part an reaction to oligarchs and concentrated corporate control. But he is also limited in facing a multilateral neoliberal opposition.

    How do you be a true people serving democrat in a nation with entrench interests for ripping off the assents of that nation? You can’t serve the people by rolling over and letting the exploitation continue. You can’t serve the people by siding with the corporate masters and aiding the exploitation.

    Increasingly it looks like you can only serve the people by facing up to the towers of power and hope you will have the people’s backing for a length of time sufficient to make dent in the corrupt oligarchical control.

  4. #4 Mark
    August 10, 2009

    > > The problem with BPL here is that he loves the US like an ex-smoker loves talking of the dangers of smoking. Because he sees the US as better than the place he fled,

    > I was born in the US and always lived here.

    Then what was your rant against me when I found similarities between you and Stalin? You posited then that you had lost people and KNEW how bad Stalin was.

    Were you telling porkies? Or were you missing out context that let it be thought you may have lived in russian-controlled territories?

    Which do YOU think it is?

    Feel like pulling back your asinine accusation now? Or are you going to pull a Shrub on this?

    Or are you going to threaten shooting me again (nice example of Free Speech [as long as I agree with it], isn’t it…)?

  5. #5 Mark
    August 10, 2009

    > The US has done a lot of wrong, much of which I have protested publicly, even on this blog.

    > Posted by: Barton Paul Levenson

    Not if it means treating Venezuela (who are one of the Axis of Evil and, like the other members of that august group, want to sell their products in Euros rather than US Dollars. A strange coincidence, yes?) with the correct level of cynicism.

    You INSIST that the US is freer.

    It isn’t.

    Hardly recognising the wrongs done, isn’t it.

  6. #6 Mark
    August 10, 2009

    > Yeah, I guess that’s why George Bush and Barack Obama are identical on every policy question.

    > Posted by: Barton Paul Levenson

    Ah, now you sound like Max Anacker or Billy Bob and other whacko denialists.

    ‘cept you deny any corruption is endemic in the US.

    Who said that they were identical?

    You.

    Who seems to think they have to be identical for the US to be corrupt?

    You.

  7. #7 Brian D
    August 10, 2009

    Jeff: I am not knowledgeable enough about the situation in Venezuela to hold an informed opinion on the subject (though I am inclined to side with you based on the summaries presented here, I must caution that as ill-informed opinion for the time being). I was merely providing an example of a US media source essentially advocating for treason. It’s very, very rare that Ben and I agree (it was rather amusing when he realized that my political views weren’t textbook Democrat/Republican and thus he couldn’t shoehorn me), and like you, I respect Barton’s scientific knowledge while arguing with him over other matters.

    Mark Byrne: I’m Canadian and not a lawyer. I can’t speak authoritatively on US Code 18. However, Beck did take some flak for it, with the official defense from Fox being that it was ad-libbed (a la a Freudian slip), which is more damning for Beck and defensible for Fox. You can view the clip yourself here.

    Mark (not Byrne): You’re being deliberately provocative again. You can disagree with Barton without invoking that hateful episode involving comparisons to Stalin and death threats. I say this as one inclined to side with you here (though I again caution this with my own unfamiliarity with the subject).

  8. #8 Mark
    August 10, 2009

    > You can disagree with Barton without invoking that hateful episode involving comparisons to Stalin and death threats.

    > Posted by: Brian D

    Would this be in the same vein as we can disagree with denialists without mentioning Plimer’s “The sun is made of iron” or “It’s the sun/GCR/not happening [delete as appropriate]”, etc?

    No, BPL brought up the “I’ve never lived in Russia” and the REASON I said he did was because I thought he was going on about personal experience in that episode.

    So how do I respond to BPL’s claims of lying about him without mentioning The Stalin Incident?

    And isn’t the “I will KEEEL YOU!!!” episode another example of how BPL WILL NOT believe some things with no thought of rationality in response (which is, after all, why he demonises Chavez so badly [as in ‘not well’])?

    Maybe a little reflection of his problems will make him realise he HAS a problem.

    Which is the first step on the path to health.

  9. #9 Mark
    August 10, 2009

    Didn’t Fox say in court that the First Amendment meant that Fox didn’t have to tell the truth, just say stuff?

    Which is quite ballsy.

    But means that their rhetoric is trivially ignorable. However, they only preach to the converted, so no problems there for them…

  10. #10 Mark Byrne
    August 10, 2009

    BrianD, thanks for the clip, and your comments.

    I can see how Beck would not be prosecuted for this comment, he wasn’t really advocating assassination or overthrow of the government. But my oh my, what kind of a mind finds that skit funny?

  11. #11 Brian D
    August 10, 2009

    Mark Byrne: If you’re interested in brain rot, spend as long as you can stomach looking up some of his ‘greatest hits’ – most of which can be found, probably, by googling “Glenn Beck conspiracy” (he discovers a new liberal conspiracy roughly twice a week). Alternatively, you can focus on the rebuttals – Stewart and Colbert’s jabs at him are far more entertaining, and are usually made in response to the kind of lunacy that I’m referring to. (Being Canadian I can’t check these links for accuracy (curse you, Viacom!), but a sample Stewart and Colbert should get the ball rolling.)

    Unrelated note, now that I’m not posting from an iPhone and can easily include links, here’s the story I mentioned earlier. Imagine what had happened if she had been more careful – particularly in the context of this report*. If you’re more familiar with US code than I am, would repeated lines like Beck’s in the mass media count as inciting such violence?

    Mark (not Byrne): Fair enough. However, despite disagreements over political and religious positions, I still consider Barton an ally – and a valuable one at that! You’ve probably seen it yourself in any thread with bad physics in it. I’d rather not alienate allies, particularly while climate denialism runs rampant. Understandably, I may come across as accomodationist on these regards. (I am not accomodationist myself, as I hopefully made clear the last time we got involved in discussions like this. I just believe that satire and irreverance are more useful tools than insult and injury.) On an unrelated note, have you read this (or the Cosmic Variance original)?

    For the record, if Barton’s personal attacks had been as central to his argument as Plimer’s bad science is to his, your analogy would be fine. Sadly, Barton provided more substance to his position than that (statistics, quotations, and similar), both in our previous discussion and here, which means that discussing behaviour rather than substance is invalid. There’s still room for refutation within that information, though I admit my own unfamiliarity with the issue makes me a poor judge of how strong either argument is. I merely think addressing the argument rather than the techniques would be more apropos here, in much the same way linking to Skeptical Science is a better response than yelling at inactivists.
    .
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    * For the record, there was also a similar report slightly earlier on left-wing extremism. It focused more on electronic warfare rather than guns-a-blazing assassination attempts. The right-wing report had piles of outrage thrown at it, but the left-wing one barely got any press at all, leading some to think it didn’t exist. This should head off any complaints about referencing this report.

  12. #12 Andrew
    August 10, 2009

    Looks as if this “debate”, or what passes for it, will continue even when people stand with water up to their eyeballs trying to escape searing heat waves.

    You can’t argue with the laws of physics and chemistry, particularly if you don’t understand them in the first place, or if you have an inclination of going back to the caves, as some members of H. “sapiens” seem to.

  13. #13 MAB
    August 10, 2009

    >Didn’t Fox say in court that the First Amendment meant that Fox didn’t have to tell the truth, just say stuff?
    …However, they only preach to the converted, so no problems there for them…

    Except many of Fox’s converted are angry crazies with lots of guns. One might expect stiring them up (even with BS) would have some anticipated consequences.

  14. #14 Barton Paul Levenson
    August 11, 2009

    Mark: The problem with BPL here is that he loves the US like an ex-smoker loves talking of the dangers of smoking. Because he sees the US as better than the place he fled,

    BPL: I was born in the US and always lived here.

    Mark: Then what was your rant against me when I found similarities between you and Stalin? You posited then that you had lost people and KNEW how bad Stalin was.

    BPL: Well, Mark, as it turns out, people can have relatives in other countries. My wife’s family, for example, mostly lives in Canada.

  15. #15 Mark
    August 11, 2009

    > BPL: Well, Mark, as it turns out, people can have relatives in other countries. My wife’s family, for example, mostly lives in Canada.

    > Posted by: Barton Paul Levenson

    And so did you ever say that you were living in the US and were, in fact, talking about relatives who lived in russia?

    No, you didn’t.

    So what’s wrong with assuming someone who complains about living in russia with stories of personal family tragedy actually *lives* in russia?

  16. #16 MAB
    August 11, 2009

    Mark, I remember BPL talking about his relatives that suffered under Nazis and Stalin.

    Can’t remember for sure but I think it was in the page were you went toe to toe on religion etc.

  17. #17 Janet Akerman
    August 11, 2009

    This debate seems to be deteriorating. On the other hand, I thought [this was](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/08/two_weeks_from_blog_post_to_pa.php#comment-1829864) a very effect reply.

  18. #18 Mark
    August 11, 2009

    > Mark, I remember BPL talking about his relatives that suffered under Nazis and Stalin.

    > Can’t remember for sure but I think it was in the page were you went toe to toe on religion etc.

    > Posted by: MAB

    It was.

    And having relatives *usually* means you live there too.

    It’s quite common, isn’t it.

    So hardly an unusual assumption to make.

    PS there were more than just myself and BPL toe-to-toe.

  19. #19 MAB
    August 11, 2009

    Agreed.

    Mark BTW, are you in the UK?

  20. #20 Mark
    August 11, 2009

    What does that have to do with the price of tomatoes, MAB?

  21. #21 Chris S.
    August 11, 2009

    Is that tomatoes or tomAYtoes?

  22. #22 Mark
    August 11, 2009

    Yes.

    :-P

  23. #23 Mark Byrne
    August 12, 2009

    Plimer [has reneged](http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/aug/12/climate-change-climate-change-scepticism) on anwering Monbiot’s questions. Plimer has instead asked Monbiot questions. Can Plimer not cite his comments or back them up?

  24. #24 Former Skeptic
    August 12, 2009

    Pilmer’s response to Monbiot are those I would expect from my 3 year old niece.

    “What ice cream do you want, honey?”
    “The car is green!”
    “I said, what ice cream do you want, honey?”
    “The sky is blue!”

    At least with my niece, she’ll eventually directly answer one question out of the five or six I’ll ask. That’s a better return than Pilmer.

    What can we conclude? Pilmer = Epic Fail. Monbiot is the clear winner in this debate.

  25. #25 frankis
    August 12, 2009

    Plimer’s unable to justify anything he says or writes yet is paid to teach students, as a full professor no less, by Adelaide Uni. This is …. marvellous!

    It should be an impossible picture but no, just a normal day in denialism’s looking-glass world.

  26. #26 Former Skeptic
    August 12, 2009

    Whoops. Obviously I meant PLImer.

  27. #27 Mark Byrne
    August 13, 2009

    Michael,

    If you are interested in testing for yourself some of the criticisms of Plimer, here are [a range of reviews](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/global_warming/plimer/) and critiques by people who address specific issues.

    Though it sounds like you may have already made up your mind, without the need for reading further.

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