It was great to have Michael here for the debate this week. The last time we interacted, we’d a really good discussion off-air afterwards, so I was very much looking forward to meeting up again to continue the discussion. Of course, the debate was the main focus, but a few of us had the opportunity to meet him beforehand for something to eat and we’d a couple more opportunities after the debate to carry the discussion on a bit further before he left.
Clearly, Michael and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye and we’re both more than happy to criticize each other’s views, but based on the friendly nature of our previous discussion I knew there was no hostility on either side and so I was confident of a forthright, but good-natured debate. I hope that’s how it came across to others – I certainly enjoyed taking part. I think it’s great that whatever perspective people are coming from there are opportunities like this to hear both points of view. In this case, a lot of people did have that opportunity as the debate generated a lot of interest – the theatre was packed out and people had to be turned away – which I’m quite sure was down to Michael’s popularity!
After the debate, a few of us continued the discussion at the hotel. Now, at the debate there was a good mixture of viewpoints, but at the hotel I was definitely outnumbered! I think it’s fair to say all the others were closer to Michael’s viewpoint than mine, but we’d good fun going over some of the issues from the debate and many other points as well. Of course, we didn’t agree on the big questions, but I think they could see where I was coming from and there were definitely areas of common ground in terms of science, the importance of evidence, etc.
Michael and I had a further opportunity to chat about things which was great because it gave us the chance to discuss some topics in a more relaxed way rather than in the context of the debate. Some people might wonder what the point of a debate is. I’d say it gives other people a good opportunity to hear both points of view and while it’s true that the debaters themselves are unlikely to change their beliefs during the debate, it does raise issues which can be discussed in more detail later. That’s what happened in this case and I’m quite sure there are a few areas where Michael and I can reach some agreement (even if it’s mostly a matter of clarifying exactly where and why we disagree!). All in all, I really enjoyed it and hope Michael and I can continue the conversation.