This past Tuesday I had my debate at the Collision conference. You can watch here–although I can’t promise that you’ll find it worth the 25 minutes.
Even in advance I knew the debate would not live up to its initial potential because the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation pulled out of the debate, leaving former CO governor Bill Ritter as a replacement who would garner far less attention.
Unfortunately, the disappointments didn’t end there.
I was told to expect a crowd of 500. Instead, there were maybe 150 people in a room that fit maybe 300.
The audio had repeated problems.
Worst of all, the promised format of uninterrupted back and forth time-slots was completely violated. My whole approach to communication involves framing the issues in a new and unfamiliar (but very effective) way. I can only use it successfully in a debate if I have an opportunity to reframe what the other person says.
I was eager to take Ritter’s opening statement and show how it violated the goal of thinking carefully about human flourishing. But instead of allowing me to comment on Ritter’s statement, moderator Sasha Issenberg, an establishment, left-wing journalist, started asking us (biased) questions and allowed Ritter to ramble on as much as he wanted. Ritter later chuckled at another event that I didn’t get to talk very much and that (paraphrasing) “I’m a politician. If you give me a microphone, I’m not going to stop talking.”
This is exactly why I only agreed to a format where the moderator’s job was to hold us to the allotted time, not to determine what we talk about and for how long.
So the event was not nearly as good as I wanted it to be. On the plus side, I learned a ton about how to improve my arguments in unfair circumstances. Also, I got the chance later in the day to have a long discussion with the genius scientist Stephen Wolfram about climate science, entrepreneurship, intellectual strategy, etc. That was more than worth being part of a 25-minute pseudo-debate.
Also, some people definitely benefited: one attendee wrote “I really appreciated your logic and points about a generally biased and sloppy ‘clean energy’ argument.”
A two–minute video I love
In this video, a very thoughtful young man asks noted skeptic Michael Shermer, who has sympathized with climate catastrophism, about the arguments of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.” Here is the full transcript. It’s worth reading every word. This kind of exchange confirms to me that the moral case has a unique power to persuade people–and that all we need to do is spread it farther and wider.