Debating skeptics is like mud wrestling with pigs

In an article entitled “Exeter University Prof: ‘Debating skeptics is like mud wrestling with pigs’” a guest poster on the “Watts Up With That” blog quotes my fellow Exonian Dr. Stephan Harrison of Exeter University, whilst simultaneously managing to misspell his name:

Them:

Dr Harrison [was] asked about climate skeptics and he goes on to say that they are not worth debating their viewpoint as it’s “like mud wrestling with pigs. Firstly you get covered in mud and secondly, the pig loves it” he then goes on to say he won’t debate skeptics because geographers don’t debate with people who think the world is flat and biologists don’t debate with people who think evolution isn’t happening or that the world is only 6000 years old.

Us:

Fresh from indulging in some “mud wrestling” with Anthony Watts myself, I felt compelled to contribute my own two new pence worth to the ongoing “debate”:

I don’t know if this counts as “mud wrestling with pigs” but here at WUWT seems to be no place to “engage in a fair public debate”. By way of example see:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/09/study-wuwt-near-the-center-of-the-climate-blogosphere/#comment-1611483

et seq.

Them:

Your comment is so cryptic it is worthy of Mosher. Whatever your comment/link means, I don’t understand it.

 

Us:

A recent screenshot of some mud being flung at WUWT:

2014-04-29_1557_WUWT

 

Them:

Jim,

After reading your comment on WUWT, it looks like you thought the moderator who snipped your comment was me. It wasn’t.

In fact, I made the moderator’s comment under the comment you made on April 12, 2014 at 10:25 am on the ‘Study: WUWT near the center of the climate blogosphere‘ thread.

I don’t like it when an anonymous moderator snips a comment without a good reason. In your case it was done improperly. I am sorry about that.

Sincerely,

 

Us:

Thanks for your note. I previously hadn’t the faintest inkling that you are one of the moderators at WUWT, let alone a senior one. It did however seem to me that your comment on the “Mud wrestling” thread deserved to be balanced by recounting my own recent experience on the “Study” thread.

That said, my riposte to GreggB’s long list of wholly unjustified accusations remains “snipped”, and my request for Anthony to reveal his sources remains unanswered, so I remain an unhappy bunny!

Best wishes,

Jim

 

Them:

We’ll keep you posted!

6 thoughts on “Debating skeptics is like mud wrestling with pigs

  1. I did, at one time, receive an apology from the WUWT admin. That was before they lost their senior admin. Since then it’s become a serious slagfest with any dissenting voice vanishing. The better the dissent, or the more true the dissent, the faster it vanishes.

    I have, on several occasions, pointed out to them that the huge variety of “opinions”, if taken together, cancel each other out. Even worse, the tub thumping “shouters” will support someone shouting the exact opposite of what they are saying, so long as it supports their diatribe on reasonable, reasoned, climate science.

    I call them on it from time to time. My posts vanish from time to time.

    I spend a lot of time online and I often hear, “I don’t care what you say, I’m entitled to my opinion”.

    My stock reply to this, today, is “strong opinion, in the absence of knowledge or supporting evidence, is nothing more than bigotry”.

    WUWT is a site of bigots. There is no other word for it. Unfortunately it’s supported by a disinformation factory which manufactures “evidence” to feed the bigotry.

    1. Hi Neil,

      I did in fact eventually receive a private apology of sorts from a WUWT “senior moderator” in this case, but nothing changed in public.

      I’ve added the details to the post above.

  2. Jim,

    From the WUWT site :

    “Dr Harrison [was] asked about climate skeptics and he goes on to say that they are not worth debating their viewpoint as it’s “like mud wrestling with pigs. Firstly you get covered in mud and secondly, the pig loves it” he then goes on to say he won’t debate skeptics because geographers don’t debate with people who think the world is flat and biologists don’t debate with people who think evolution isn’t happening or that the world is only 6000 years old.”

    That sounds pretty reasonable, but I wanted to hear that quote in context, so I checked the video link they provided :

    http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/stories/8834229/wild-patagonia-the-glaciers-that-hold-a-dire-warning-for-earths-future

    And you know what ? Nothing like that statement shows up in the piece.
    Not at 5 minutes 40 seconds, nor anywhere else.

    So I wonder, did the TV program “60 minutes” cut out this statement by Harrison after Watts published this story ?

    The WUWT guest author (a guy by the name of Paul Burtwistle) clearly states (on April 28, 2014) :

    “Last night I watched an item on Channel 9′s 60 minutes here in Australia which covered Dr Stefan Harrison of Exeter University in the UK and his work studying the Exploradores glacier in Patagonia, Argentina.”

    So did someone else, and they put this transmission on YouTube (on April 27) :

    And, surprise, surprise, again NO evidence of Harrison’s statement in that presentation, and that is one day before WUWT’s post !

    WTFUWT ?

  3. Ah !
    I found the quote, in part 2 :

    Start around 5:00 for the context of his statement, including how fast this glacier is retreating, and the humbling implications for the future.

    “If the skeptics want to debate the science, then the only way to do that is in the scientific literature”.

    Which is exactly what Watts is NOT doing on his mud-throwing-at-scientists tabloid.

  4. Hi Rob,

    I’ve taken the liberty of replacing the links to YouTube with videos embedded in your comments. To quote from the second extract from the TV programme:

    Stephan – Even since I was here 20 years ago it’s retreated something like 2 kilometres, just in the time I’ve been going here.

    Natalia – Why’s that?

    Stephan – Global warming! We’ve got more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than the Earth has experienced for at least 750,000 year, and actually we’ve got geological evidence to show it’s more than we’ve had for 20 million years.

    I haven’t spotted any Anthony Watts et al. papers in the learned literature refuting that statement.

    1. Jim, as I recall, the only paper Watts has been involved in is the one designed to rubbish good science in the temperature records debate.

      The huge investigation into that had to eventually admit that the climate science records and interpretation were correct and the allegations that they had manipulated these data spurious.

      It was then decried as “political” and disowned.

      I haven’t heard of him working on anything else.

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