Blogger Mike Stark recently debated Myron Ebell about global warming. Apparently, Mike Stark did more than just hold his own, which is pretty impressive considering the debate was hosted by the ultraconservative Federalist Society. Stark had this interesting point about credibility, which is similar to a point I made about creationist credibility:
First of all, when arguing with somebody that either has no credibility or is not arguing a credible position, don’t donate the credibility they need to be seen as your equal.
You see, by calling his credibility into question immediately – and not letting him up for air – well, I’ve got no proof, but I really think that everyone in the room knew that Mr. Ebell had been bettered. When we ask policy or science questions of these charlatans, we give the impression that we care what they think. We don’t. We know they are rank liars, we’re just wondering if they’ll be able to spin a sufficient answer. But these guys get millions of dollars a year from the largest corporate titans precisely because they have the skill to ink up the issue. Why let them show off?
Secondly, don’t go out of your way to be nice or polite. Hell, I won’t afford these profit-gandists any respect on my blog, why the hell should I do it face to face? A large part of their professional career derives from their ability to mock me and the things I believe in. The Competitive Enterprise Institute once liked global warming to “being invaded by space aliens” for example. By addressing these people with the indignant scorn they deserve, you project the moral superiority of your position. To many times it seems that Democratic and progressive pundits are more interested in being our opponents’ friends than we are in vigorously arguing the issues. In this media environment – when equal time is given to global warming deniers… well, we just can’t afford the small talk.
In the end, these guys are not good people. This isn’t a case of principled people disagreeing. At this point in the global warming debate, the only principled disagreements to be had revolve around what we should be doing to address the crisis. The Myron Ebells of the world – the die-hard denialists… well, we need to move them off the stage by marginalizing them at every opportunity.
Amen brother Stark.