Well, folks, my debate with Ron at the Skeptics Society conference is coming up this Saturday. We did a virtual coin toss today and I won, which means I go first. Whatever else this event will be, it will certainly be illuminating.
The question at the center of the debate, you will recall, is, “Distorting Science: Who’s Worse, The Left or the Right?” Honestly, I’m not sure which way Ron will go on this. Given past comments from him I wouldn’t be surprised if he says, “both” or “impossible to say.” As for my own basic answer: You can probably guess, but the position will be suitably nuanced. (As I know Ron is reading, I won’t say more than that about my own strategy.)
Still, I’d love to hear more from all of you about possible angles to take on this debate. We already had a brief rundown of debating tips here, but I’d like to focus the discussion a bit. Namely, it seems to me that a central question in this debate will be how one defines “worse.” Worse can probably be defined in terms of consequences, or in terms of brazenness/outrageousness–or perhaps both. Clearly, it makes a difference.
More importantly, I’d like feedback on what Ron’s strongest argument might be, either for the “both” position or for the “left is worse” position. What’s the worst leftwing distortion of science? Are we going to hear a lot about nuclear power? GMOs? DDT? Paul Ehrlich and the population bomb?
I am not going to lay out exactly how I plan to approach this debate–that would give too much away–but suffice it to say that at this point in time, I can certainly be influenced in my approach by thoughtful, well-argued comments…
P.S.: In case anyone is interested, format as I understand it will run something like this:
Openers: Mooney 15 minutes; Bailey 15 minutes
Rebuttal: Mooney 10 minutes; Bailey 10 minutes
Closing Statements: Mooney 5 minutes; Bailey 5 minutes
Audience Q & A: 15 minutes