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Christopher Monckton – Credit: abc

Stephan Lewandowsky from the University of Western Australia has a very topical opinion piece in The Drum (see  The difference between scientific debate and phoney talkfests). Topical here as well as Australia because some local climate change deniers/contrarians/sceptics are attempting to finance a visit from Lord Monckton at the end of his current Australian tour. That may not come off (they are currently attempting to find a few donors willing to put in large amounts of cash) but the article is still relevant.

Stephan compares two events:

1: “The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) General Assembly, which attracted 3,200 of the world’s leading experts to Melbourne earlier this month to debate the state of the planet and its future,” and

2: The Australian visit of Vaudevillian climate “sceptic” Lord Monckton, who is currently scouring Australia for venues for his theatrical performances but has given wide berth to the IUGG meeting.”

And we should keep this comparison in mind when these local organisers demand that scientists debate Monckton at public venues. We should recognise this is just their way of attempting to get credibility for minority ideas be getting a place on stage with the real experts. After all, aren’t we justified to ask – if Monckton has any credible point to make why did he not attend, and contribute to, the IUGG General Assembly?

As Stephan says; “For scientists, there is no reason to engage with individuals in an academic setting who refuse scientific debate and accountability, and who demonstrably have nothing to bring to a debate.”

But Stephan finishes with an excellent point:

“Does this mean no debate is ever possible?

No, of course not.

Science is debate.

And the door to scientific debate, on climate or HIV/AIDS or Prospect Theory, is wide open to anyone, even occasional travel photographers: all they have to do is to become knowledgeable in a field and subject their ideas to scrutiny by publishing in the peer-reviewed literature.

If their ideas survive scrutiny, they are then worthy of the public recognition that deniers so crave but which they cannot responsibly be given until then.”

See also:
A letter to Viscount Monckton of Brenchley from the Clerk of the Parliaments
Astroturfing works, and it’s a major challenge to climate change

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