BPSDBAs part of analysing the Plimer Monbiot debate I thought it would be useful to critically examine Plimer’s final communication with Monbiot. As Plimer’s letter is rather lengthy I am posting this as a separate piece. Having set this debate in motion Plimer is caught and is seeking a way out, but we’ll let Plimer speak for himself.
Dear Mr Monbiot,
I return from abroad, interstate and outback to a very large number of emails, including a number from you.
As you are aware, I challenged you to debate me. Contrary to normal debate procedure, you imposed a condition (i.e. I answer your questions)
As has been discussed previously and repeatedly,
- the condition was unusual, but nothing more;
- Plimer was free to refuse or negotiate further, he was under no obligation to accept;
- He accepted, so abide by it like a grown up.
hence my condition for a debate was that you also answer my questions. My questions derive from some 40 years of examining students to ascertain whether they have actually undertaken the minimum amount of reading, whether they understand the subject, whether they have critically analysed the validated available information, whether they have plagiarised and whether they have the basic skills to communicate knowledge.
His questions were demonstrably sophomoric nonsense and nothing more. While there were no particular preconditions set for the questions, it was not unreasonable that they should be relevant and rational, which Plimer’s questions were not.
It is comic that Plimer should be treating the questions as though they were some kind of qualifying examination given that:
- What is the alleged point of such an “examination” in preparation for a debate? this is so transparently bogus petty politics that it’s breathtaking;
- Plimer challenged Monbiot, and now he thinks Monbiot must prove he is good enough?
- If Monbiot was not “competent” in Plimer’s estimation, was Plimer going to pull out of the debate?
- Plimer himself clearly does not meet any of the mentioned criteria, from minimal reading to communicating knowledge.
Further, his pompous attempt to cast himself as the intellectual superior would be a nauseating conceit even if there were any reason to believe that he actually was superior (his questions put the lie to that supposition). The arrogance and condescension of it suggests a degree of self-absorption, self-importance and self-delusion that rivals that of Anthony Watts‘.
By contrast, your questions appear to derive from a person with an unhealthy incandescent anger hence the lack of structure, coherence, internal consistency and hints of irrationality.
Monbiot’s questions were rational, relevant, to the point, and for any author with a shred of academic integrity and competence, easily answered within minutes. Rather than deal with them honestly Plimer attempts to deflect with a crude, irrelevant (Red Herring) attack (ad hominem) and undocumented, false claims about the questions.
My thirteen questions were also to check whether you have really read Heaven and Earth
Who cares? what possible relevance could that have?
because this is where the answers to my questions lie.
No they don’t. As RealClimate noted, the questions are largely error filled bafflegab, meaningless, and/or impossible to answer given the current state of the science. However, notice the attempted bait and switch; this is set up such that he is saying in effect ‘I will agree to debate the accuracy of my book after you acknowledge my book as accurate and authoritative with respect to climate science.’ Right
This was a double blind test to see if I could validate your claim that you had actually read my book or whether you had plagiarised questions from the handful of Australian critics with undeclared interests in the matter of human-induced climate change. In any University examination, plagiarisation means instant failure and dismissal from a degree course. I impose this test on my students and I have also imposed it on you.
What kind of unmitigated aging porcine fecal matter is that?
- A debate is not an exam or paper for grading;
- Monbiot is not Plimer’s student, and pity anyone who is;
- It is not plagarism unless you claim to be the author;
- Even if the questions were “plagarised”, so what?
- Nice try at slandering the legitimate critiques of his book
- None of the false and irrelevant claims are grounds for not answering the questions.
This goes well beyond dishonest weaseling, this is pathetic. How can anyone author such drivel and not be profoundly humiliated at the thought that anyone might some day see it?
There are now nine print versions of Heaven and Earth, your description of the cover of a UK edition (August 20 email) does not mean that you have actually read the book and, because all nine print runs are different, your questions show that they derived from a print version that you did not describe. At the debate, I will expand on this will leave it to the debate audience to make a decision on your claim that you have actually read the book at the time you made that claim.
Again, whether Monbiot read the book or not is completely irrelevant. It has no bearing on the debate whatsoever.
Most of my critics have not read Heaven and Earth which demonstrates that critics’ arguments have no intellectual basis.
An unsubstantiated, irrelevant claim, apparently made to bolster his sense of martyrdom. A little hint to Plimer, the way to demonstrate that your critics have no intellectual basis is to refute them with credible facts, not juvenile whining.
If you had actually read the book, you could not have escaped the central themes: (a) the past is the key to the present, (b) that integrated interdisciplinary science shows that Earth is a very complex non-linear open system and (c) that science does not operate by consensus, bullying, fads, fashions, authority, government decree, beliefs, intuition or vested interests.
Another irrelevant comment. Additionally, these are feel good universal truisms (see here for how Deniers use these to cloak lies). Few would dispute the truth of those statements as presented in this context. The point in dispute is whether Plimer applied them appropriately in his book, and all of the evidence is that he did not.
If you had read the book, these themes would have been reflected in your questions.
If there is any supposed logic to that statement it utterly escapes me. The questions were about the blatant fabrications and errors in the book, not it’s themes.
You asked me no questions about these three themes, if your claims of reading my book are correct then one can only conclude that you have accepted my arguments. My questions to you were such that you could calculate and prove the validity of two of these themes thereby showing that human-induced global warming is a tenuous hypothesis. This may change your thought processes from unhealthy dogma to a healthy uncertainty and scepticism which underpin all science.
Once again a pathetic attempt to create the Catch 22 of “I will debate whether my book is error filled nonsense after you acknowledge that it is authoritative and accurate.” This logical fallacy is known as a Bulverism, ie Plimer takes as true the very thing he needs to demonstrate. Further, Plimer wants Monbiot to concede the debate before Plimer is willing to debate. Let me guess, then he says “what’s the point of a debate since you agree with me.”
I just can not accept that you are unqualified to answer my questions (September 1 email) and I ascribe this comment to post-surgery traumatic confusion or, perhaps, an eclectic sense of humour. Maybe you are astute enough to realise that my questions forced you to demonstrate to yourself from first principles that human-induced global warming is a discredited hypothesis.
More attempts to claim to have already won the debate while throwing in some pointless insults.
You have established yourself as a populist scribe on matters concerning the environment, especially in the area of human-induced global warming. To write incessantly on such matters, you must have scientific training to be able to understand the basic science and the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific arguments concerning human-induced climate change. If you do not have such knowledge, qualifications and training on matters scientific, then this should be declared in your writings on human-induced climate change. Such a declaration was made by James Delingpole in The Spectator, you have not made a similar declaration hence your readers can only conclude that you have the qualifications to write on a scientific matter. Without such a declaration, you would be engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.
Fallacy appeal to misleading authority and another ad hominem. If what Monbiot writes and says is correct then it is correct regardless of his training. Either Plimer cannot fathom that the only thing that matters are the facts, or he is perfectly aware that the facts expose him for a lying fraud and is hence desperate to avoid them at all costs.
You have the honour of being the UK journalistic expert on matters concerning human-induced climate change, a subject underpinned by science. It is just simply not possible to bathe in this reputation yet claim that you are now suddenly unqualified to answer elementary scientific questions on matters of human-induced climate change in the absence of a declaration similar to that of Delingpole. Furthermore, I was told that you have read for a degree in science and, unless this degree was obtained from a US degree mill for $20, you certainly have the training to answer simple questions concerning elementary science.
More Bulverisms and appeals to misleading authority. Plimer acts as though his questions are rational, relevant “simple questions concerning elementary science” on the basis of his saying so. As documented his questions are none of these, and it his own competence to understand basic science is not merely in dispute, at this point it has pretty much been demonstrated not to exist.
If you can not understand elementary science, then as a journalist writing on matters underpinned by science you are certainly not qualified to write a balanced newspaper article or provide dispassionate comment. Blog and WWW sites are quite correctly the places for anonymous unbalanced unsubstantiated opinion which is why my one and only blog entry was to challenge you to a debate. Until blog and WWW sites are edited, peer reviewed and transparent, they remain an outlet for ignorance, anger and misinformation and do not constitute the process of science. Scientists who spend time on blogs and their own narcissitic WWW sites are not undertaking science. They are involved in political activism, which is not a process of science. If you have no scientific training or now, because of probing questions, suddenly claim that you are unqualified to answer my questions, then you are not qualified to write on matters concerning the science of climate change. In financial circles, there are very strict laws to stop financial advice and opinion unless that opinion is delivered by a person of standing.
- Continued total irrelevance to the debate; so far nothing Plimer has said has been relevant.
- If Monbiot was not an appropriate debating opponent why did Plimer challenge him?
- More ad hominem attacks, appeals to misleading authority fallacy, and an appeal to motive fallacy, all of it no more relevant than the rest (red herring fallacy). Is Plimer trying to commit every possible logical error in a single letter?
- So scientists who blog and post on the web are “narcissitic”? Let me guess, ones who write idiotic, error filled books are gifts to humanity? Regardless, irrelevant.
It is the same in my field of geology. The same should apply to you. If you can not answer my questions of science, you are not qualified to ask me questions of science because my scientific answers therefore become pearls to swine.
Now we get to his real point … Monbiot is not worthy to ask Plimer questions, so Plimer will not answer them.
I foolishly assumed you had a bachelor’s degree in science and had some scientific knowledge, I will now amend my answers to a language suitable for a scientifically illiterate person. It is very simple. Either you answer my questions or you declare in public that your writings on scientific matters such as the environment and human-induced climate change are unrelated to science hence totally ill-informed.
Now Plimer’s delusions of adequacy have swollen into the misapprehension that the whole debate is some sort exercise that he assigned to a student, and that he may change the conditions on a whim. Wrong, never mind the repetition of all of the aforementioned fallacies. It really does appear that his terror at the thought of having to answer Monbiot’s questions have made him delusional.
The fact is that he is refusing to answer Monbiot’s questions on the most blatantly false and disingenuous of pretexts while simultaneously attempting to change the terms and conditions for Monbiot. Dog ate his homework? this is not nearly that credible. It beggars belief. Does he honestly imagine that any thinking adult could take him seriously after this diatribe?
The debate topic, Global Warming: Myth or Reality, is a matter of science and I look forward to hearing the science that supports your beliefs. I regularly engage in such debates, the last of which was yesterday Sunday 6th September in Sydney. I will, of course, interrogate you on matters of science or may demand you to undertake a number of simple mathematical calculations to substantiate your beliefs on matters of science. This will demonstrate in public that you actually understand elementary science. [emphasis added]
Who does he think he is?
In my book Telling lies for God, there was a section on debate tactics of the creationists. The parallels are uncanny. Just for my own peace of mind, can you please assure me that you are not a young Earth creationist?
The only one using intellectually dishonest tactics is Plimer; talk about projecting your own failings on others
I have booked and paid for travel and organised accommodation in London. I arrive in London on 9th November, depart on 13th November and will attend the debate at the Savoy Place on 12th November. If I pay a few thousand dollars to come to London to debate you, then I have put my money where my mouth is. This trip is not being paid for by my publishers, The Guardian or The Spectator. Time for you to also put your money where your mouth is and answer elementary questions of science and justify your beliefs on a scientific matter in a public debate.
No, time for Plimer to answer Monbiot’s questions, something he should have done a month ago. Also time for him to honestly address the critiques of his questions, or acknowledge they are the imbecilic nonsense that they are.
To avoid answering my questions or to claim that you are now suddenly unqualified to answer simple questions of science demonstrates that you are unwilling to be intellectually challenged and that you can only provide unqualified unbalanced opinion on blog sites. I have only ever looked at one site and your supporters demonstrate that they can not spell, do not write in English and hence demonstrate a lack of clarity of thought. If this is the level of the intellectual foundations and public support that underpin your beliefs, then I feel very sad for you. In former times, such troubled people were sent from the UK to Australia to connect with Nature, spirituality and the real world. I have an outback station (31 deg 51 min 30.29 S, 141 deg 11 min 31.19 sec E) some 30 km west of Broken Hill (NSW) and would be delighted to have you as a guest to allow what may well be a necessary reflective monastic period of time. I have recently used my station for this purpose to recover from the emotional trauma of international cricket and rugby losses.
One presumes that you will continue to refuse to answer my simple questions of science. I will submit my answers to your questions when you simultaneously submit your answers to my questions. This is because the tone of your emails (e.g. Phoebe Vela, September 3) is ungentlemanly and you have already telegraphed that you may not be answering my questions. It now looks like an event of theatre on the stage immediately before the debate at the Savoy Place. I will hand over my written answers to your questions concurrent with you handing over your written answers to my questions.
Monbiot is ungentlemanly? Does Plimer imagine that because he somehow mastered some words with more than a single syllable that it makes his puerile condescension and insolence acceptable? How Monbiot managed to be a civil as he was in replying to this buffoon is beyond me. I guess a real gentleman does rise above the crassness of his inferiors. The real irony is that it was Plimer who insisted that “My condition is that the written and verbal debates have an air of civility,” Apparently Plimer finds the concept of “civility” as difficult to grasp as “facts”, “intellectual honesty” and “basic science.”
Of Plimers tedious screed: Less than 10% of it is of any relevance to the debate, and that is purely administrative in nature. Most of the preachy diatribe is self-absorbed posturing mixed with numerous logical fallacies of various types, unsubstantiated and patently false claims, insults, delusions of adequacy, and a pathetic attempt to get out of answering Monbiot’s questions.
And this is the Champion of the Denier cause? He’s an embarrassment. The man is an immature, dishonest, pompous, self-important cretinous ass utterly beneath contempt.
Thou marvell’st at my words, but hold thee still; Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
Macbeth III, ii
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We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 327 … still no evidence.
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