Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Gentleman/scholar/acrobat owns coward/blaggard

On 12th October, Jerry Coyne debated the theologian John Haught about whether science and religion are compatible. SPOILER ALERT: they aren’t.

Both parties gave their permission for the event to be filmed and it duly was.  But now Haught is blocking its release to the public because, he says, it “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange.”

He doesn’t say what standards those are or how the debate somehow doesn’t meet them.  And he says he won’t comment further.  You can read more about this on Jerry’s site and on Pharyngula.

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Haught recognises that he lost the debate in a spectacular fashion and is trying to stop people finding out.  This doesn’t really meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange.

So I wrote him a letter:

Professor Haught,

I was disappointed to read on Jerry Coyne's site that the video of your debate with him on 12th October will not be released to the public because you've blocked it. Your statement that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange" might be a lot more plausible if you'd explain it further. What standards are those? In what way do you feel they weren't met? Please feel free to be as specific as possible.

I'd like to encourage you to change your mind and agree to release the video or at the very least explain in much more detail why you will not. While you refuse, the only conclusion we can glean is that Jerry made you look like a fool through superior argument and you're embarrassed.

Don't be embarrassed, Professor Haught. If you were beaten fair and square, chalk it up to experience and face the consequences. If you feel there was unfair play or that you won the debate but for some reason the public shouldn't see it, by all means tell us why.

Kicking over the Scrabble board fails to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Regards,

r

I don’t expect he’ll reply.

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