Why I Won’t Debate Science

Kate Marvel in Scientific American:

The US Environmental Protection Agency has, of late, been operating on the principle that you can prevent environmental disasters by simply getting rid of the environment. As part of this mission, the EPA has considered a plan to put climate science up for public debate. This “Red Team, Blue Team” exercise would have pitted scientists against people who do not like them in order to cast doubt on the consensus that human activities are warming the planet. I am completely on board with this, as long as the Blue Team also gets private jets and enormous security details. We will, however, take a pass on the used Trump Hotel mattresses.

I’m kidding, of course. In fact, as a general rule, I refuse to debate basic science in public. There are two reasons for this: first, I’m a terribledebater and would almost certainly lose. The skills necessary to be a good scientist (coding, caring about things like “moist static energy”, drinking massive amounts of coffee) aren’t necessarily the same skills that will convince an audience in a debate format. It is very fortunate that things like the atomic model of matter do not rest on my ability to be charming or persuasive.

But second, and maybe more importantly: once you put facts about the world up for debate, you’ve already lost.

More here.