I’ve been in debates and arguments where I felt I missed the mark or didn’t do my best job, and I shrug and move on — and I also figure it’s all public and it’s all going to end up on youtube. It also ends up on youtube when I do a good job, which is a bit of a pain in the butt: I have to keep coming up with new talks because I know the crowd that listens to me tends to churn through internet content so thoroughly. It’s part of the job nowadays, I fear. Talks aren’t just public, they get preserved forever on the internet.
John Haught doesn’t get it. Maybe it’s because he’s a really, really old guy (why, he’s got to be a whole ten years older than me, and even has a few years on that geezer Coyne) and hasn’t kept up. Maybe it’s because he’s a Christian and thus unaware of the nature of the universe. Maybe it’s because he’s the opposite of a gentleman and a scholar. John Haught is suppressing the video of the debate he had with Jerry Coyne. He signed off on permission before the debate, but has now reneged, claiming he did poorly because of the presence of “Jerry’s groupies”, and that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange”. He got his ass kicked, in other words.
I find this deplorable and disgraceful. As I say, it’s a nuisance that I have to keep writing new talks because they get so thoroughly exposed on the internet, but that’s also a benefit: it means tens of thousands hear a talk that I gave to an in-person audience of only a few hundred, and it means my words are not only heard, but are open to criticism. That’s important. That’s also an obligation and responsibility of any public intellectual.
Oh, well, as it stands, that just means Jerry Coyne’s account of the debate is definitive.
By the way, it’s not just Haught that fails the test of a scholar: the Gaines Center at the University of Kentucky, which sponsored the debate and recorded it, must also be held accountable for going along with the craven suppression. Their reputation is being sacrificed on the altar of John Haught’s vanity — I’m not impressed.