Much of our activity in online forums and groups involves debating others about any of a wide range of topics. Wouldn’t it be nice to know which debating techniques should work best? The Debunking Handbook, by authors John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, offers some answers to that question and is now freely available for download. Here’s a blurb, from SkepticalScience.com, about the 2 authors . . .
John Cook is the Climate Change Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. He created and runs Skeptical Science and co-authored the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand with environmental scientist Haydn Washington. In 2011, Skeptical Science won the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for the Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge.
Professor Lewandowsky is an Australian Professorial Fellow and a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia. He received a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council in 2011. His research examines people’s memory, decision making, and knowledge structures, with a particular emphasis on how people update information in memory. He has published over 120 scholarly articles, chapters, and books, including numerous papers on how people respond to misinformation. (See www.cogsciwa.com for a complete list of scientific publications.) Professor Lewandowsky is an award-winning teacher and was Associate Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition from 2006-2008. His research has been funded continuously since 1990 by public agencies in 5 countries, but he has no commercial interests of any kind. He has also contributed numerous opinion pieces to the global media on issues related to climate change “skepticism” and the coverage of science in the media. A complete list of his public essays can be found athttp://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/inthemedia.htm, which is a blog run by academics from W.A.’s three major universities.
Although their primary concern is climate change, their handbook contains guidelines valid for any situation in which entrenched notions are being debated. I, personally, will keep their points in mind as I respond, on AtheistExile Member Forum’s “The Apologist Challenge“, to the many anti-atheist arguments of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM). Actually, I’ve already posted my reply to CARM’s first argument, so it doesn’t incorporate the advice from the Debunking Handbook. I’ll make sure that future replies to the remaining points benefit from the handbook’s solid advice.