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Hydroplate theory debate reality check

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Walt Brown, originator of the hydroplate theory

A challenger of Walt Brown’s Hydroplate Theory now accuses Brown of demanding sensitive information that might, if released, get him killed. He is due for a reality check.

The latest Hydroplate Theory debate challenge

Mr. Fergus Mason, address unknown, offered his challenge to Brown on December 3, 2011, in this comment thread. First he said that he had degrees (of Bachelor of Science) in biology and astronomy. (Brown is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA). CNAV suggested that he debate the hydroplate theory directly with Brown, if Mason was so confident that he could show it up as “rubbish.” Mason elected the recorded-telephone-conference debate challenge. That challenge involves far less effort to meet, and does not depend on the qualifications of the challenger. But Brown does ask any challenger to “have some skin in the game,” and to be willing, literally, to stake his reputation on his challenge to the Hydroplate Theory.

Mr. Mason believes that he can discredit the hydroplate theory on this point: the subcrustal ocean that the hydroplate theory assumes, would be hot enough not only to kill everyone and everything aboard Noah’s Ark but also to make the earth permanently sterile. (To digress briefly: Mr. Mason here defines the word sterile as “permanently lifeless.” He defines that word in a different way in the context of a food container having enough bacteria to consume rapidly any abiogenetic material that appears, but not enough to threaten human health.)

Dr. Brown points out that the supercritical water, upon its release, would rush out of the first breach of the earth’s crust faster than sound. Indeed some of it would move fast enough to escape the gravity of the earth and even of the sun. Under that circumstance, it would shed nearly all of its heat, in the same way that water vapor coming out the nozzle of a jet engine will condense or even freeze. (Anyone who has ever seen a jet contrail will recognize the effect.) Dr. Brown explains this in detail here. (Brown’s book, In the Beginning, has copious technical and other notes that explain every part of the Hydroplate Theory and what it predicts.)

Mason does not accept that. He insists that the water that stays on earth would still be too hot to leave the earth alive or livable. This comment (emphasis his) is a prize example:

“Other jetting water rose above the atmosphere, where it froze and then fell on various regions of the earth as huge masses of extremely cold, muddy “hail.”” – Walt Brown

This stuff is priceless. Doesn’t he even realise that if you throw something up out of the atmosphere and it falls back, all its potential and kinetic energy GETS TURNED BACK TO HEAT on the way down? This debate is going to be fun. I’m going to incinerate his arguments the way his idiotic “hydroplates” would have incinerated the planet.

Brown is confident that he can meet that argument also, along with any other argument against the Hydroplate Theory that Mason cares to raise.

Mason also charged that Brown often avoided debates. Not so. Rather, Brown insists that anyone accepting the written or verbal debate offer must read his book first. He has also set forth certain terms and conditions that will ensure that:

  1. Whoever challenges him can present a worthy challenge, and will not be ignorant of certain key facts that Brown lays out.
  2. Whoever hears about the debate will find it worthwhile.

What does Mason object to?

Gish Gallop?

Walt Brown, originator of the hydroplate theory

Col. Walt Brown, USAF (Rtd). Photo: self.

Mason started to object to some of the terms, or what he thought the terms might be, within days. He seemed to see little point in reading any part of the book other than the part that he wished to challenge. His reason was that he did not want to counter many arguments in a short time. So he said that if Brown started challenging him with many arguments, in rapid-fire order, in a debate lasting only one hour, he would stop the debate at once.

In fact if he DOES try that tactic I’m simply going to say “Gish Gallop” and put down the phone. Points will be raised and answered one at a time.

The phrase Gish gallop is evolutionist slang for proposing too many things at once for the opponent to answer effectively in a short time. Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center for Science Education coined the term to explain why she never debates creation advocates. (Scott and others always define the phrase in such a way to accuse the other side of lying with full intent.) The term takes its name from Duane Gish, who has often overwhelmed his opponents in this way. Brown points out that neither side in his debate could ever overwhelm the other in such a way. The moderator wouldn’t allow it, in the interest of making the best use of everyone’s time.

Must he identify himself?

One week later, Mason objected when Brown asked him to furnish identifying information, in case any listener to the debate might want to contact him to make sure they understood anything he said. He had by then said that he was

Just a random ex-soldier with an interest in science and a deep dislike of unqualified charlatans like Brown.

Now he returned to that theme, and said that he did not want to reveal his identity on-line.

Brown is now insisting that, among other things, I tell him my employer’s name as a condition of the debate. Why does he need this? He also seems to be insisting that it be possible for the debate audience to “locate” me afterwards. As the audience is likely to include a large number of wingnuts, and I work as a military consultant, this is not going to happen. I’m negotiating with Brown to come up with mutually acceptable terms for the debate. Frankly I don’t see why he needs my postal address for an audio debate, and while I may consent to let him have it there’s no way I’m agreeing to him telling even one other person what it is.

[ezadsense midpost]

In reply, CNAV advised Mason that Brown shared his correspondence with your editor. This news made Mason terrifically angry, and he next made a comment that violated CNAV‘s editorial standards, and which CNAV “threw in the trash.” But CNAV did share the comment directly with Brown.

At issue, ostensibly, is where Mason lives and works, and whether some person or persons who might object to what he does, would seek to kill him if they knew how to find him. But when Brown pressed him for details, Mason did not limit his concern to members of Al-Qa’ida, or the Taliban, or some such organization named either in the US Congressional Authorization of Use of Force (2002) or any equivalent or relevant Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Instead he named Conservapedia, at which your editor has been an administrator since shortly after its founding. Specifically:

While I didn’t make it clear before, it is not acceptable to me for any of my personal information (especially not my address) to be shared with [Terry A.] Hurlbut or anyone else associated with Andy Schlafly’s “Conservapedia” blog. In my opinion this blog is frequented by what are, quite frankly, wingnuts. They are extremists, they express views that I find horrifying and it is not acceptable under any circumstances for people like that to be given the ability to locate myself or anyone associated with me. Therefore I do not wish any more of my emails, including this one, to be forwarded to them until all identifying information – which, to avoid misunderstandings I will highlight in yellow – has been removed. This is not negotiable.

In return, Brown said this:

I have no desire to embarrass you, divulge any proprietary information, or jeopardize your life, family, job, or country.  In your letters to me, you can highlight anything that falls in those categories and I — not you —  will seriously consider deleting it.  With those exceptions, I will continue to keep Dr. Hurlbut fully informed, so no one posts false stories or allegations on Conservative News and Views, as you have done.  After all you have posted on CNAV, you can expect to “eat a lot of crow” if you back out of this debate or continue to stall.  (Our complete correspondence — open for all to see — lays out our respective positions.)  I have given Dr. Hurlbut permission to use anything I write or say as he wishes.  To save us both time, he doesn’t even need to check with me.

CNAV will say again: the comments that Mason has made, and CNAV’s reply to same, are available for anyone to view, except for the comment that CNAV found not only slanderous but also offensive.

Mason said this, in part, in answer:

Have you actually been to Conservapedia and looked at the vicious nonsense they post there? Without suitable assurances from you that my personal information will not be passed to anyone associated with that blog, you’re not getting it. That isn’t negotiable. It is up to me who I release my details to, not you, and while I am willing to give them to you I’m not willing for you to disseminate them any further.

I already told you what my job is. I am former British Army and now work as a consultant. There are a variety of people and organisations in the world, most of them religious fanatics on a par with Schlafly’s little clique, who have no reason to like me simply because of my job. This is why I control the information I make available. It’s not a matter of national security; it’s a matter of PERSONAL security.  Europeans have different standards for this that you may not be accustomed to, because we’ve been dealing with terrorism for a very long time; attacks on serving and former military personnel, and others who work in the military and security fields, are far from unknown.

 I’m quite happy to be introduced as “This is Fergus Mason, a security consultant who lives in the Bigtown area.” I am NOT happy to be introduced as “This is Fergus Mason, an employee of Multinational Mad Mercenary Management, who uses the skills he learned in Belfast and Londonderry to help UK and NATO troops blow up beardy pork dodgers. Mr Mason lives at 123 That Street, Bigtown, and drives a red 2002 Mercedes C-Class with the VRN A456BCD and a Darwin Fish sticker on the back. His house has security lighting at the sides and rear, but the guard dog is sick just now and is kept indoors on rainy nights.” And I’m not happy for anyone from Conservapedia to have that information either. If you read their blog you’ll understand why. So the question is, basically, this: are you willing to give me assurances that you’re not going to pass my address and other personal information to third parties without my permission, or aren’t you?

Any reader can judge for himself whether mentioning Conservapedia in the same sentence, or even the same paragraph, as a Muslim terrorist or terrorists, is a legitimate expression of concern, a paranoid rant, or an irresponsible slander. Nevertheless, Dr. Brown generously offered to Mason that the two first work together to recruit a debate moderator. Then Mason could furnish his identifying information to him, and let him decide whether his security concerns were valid, and to what degree.

Mason has made no further reply directly to Brown. But in a comment at CNAV, he said:

The information Brown requires before he’ll have a telephone debate with me has now expanded to include much of my military service record, including but not limited to my rank, the operations I served on and whether or not I received an homourable discharge.

This information is not relevant to the proposed debate and, needless to say, he’s not getting it.

Here is what Brown really said:

I will assume that what you say below about formerly being “British Army” is true.  But by being as guarded as you are, many people in my country will start to ask questions: When did he serve? Did he receive an honorable discharge?  What was his rank, branch of service, job, or theater of operation?  When someone in the United States says they are a consultant, many wonder if they are effectively unemployed and trying to put the best face on it.  (You certainly showed on Conservative News and Views that you have a lot of time on your hands and are willing to vent your biases and rant against “religious fanatics” without providing much specific information, evidence, or insight.)  Furthermore, when you say you have “security concerns” and are a “security/intelligence consultant,” most people (here at least) think of James Bond (007) or some spy movie.  You would be less suspect if you had simply said you were a “security consultant” or detective.

In other words: Mason, by making himself seem so mysterious, might provoke others to ask such questions in their own minds. As an alternative, Brown offered this:

You are implying that you could be killed or maimed if you revealed who you are and what your true job is.  Surely, you could describe yourself in an accurate but less dramatic way.  What’s wrong with saying something like, “Mr. Fergus Mason, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, served in Afghanistan in 20xx and  since then has worked part time for the ABC Company as a night watchman”?

Or however he wishes to describe himself.

Analysis

This conversation started after Fergus Mason came onto the comment space of Conservative News and Views to object to a key finding of the Hydroplate Theory. Dr. Walt Brown, who invented the Hydroplate Theory, has a standing offer to debate directly anyone who objects to it on any scientific grounds. That is, Brown will debate any challenger willing to stake his reputation, personal or professional, on whatever he says. Anyone can say that the Hydroplate Theory makes unsound claims. But showing that needs more than the media equivalent of a drive-by shooting.

Brown suggests to CNAV that Mason’s real trouble is that he has by now read the key parts of Brown’s Technical Notes that answers the argument he raised. Does Mason fear that his arguments against the Hydroplate Theory are not as sound as he first thought? That others have objected on similar grounds ought to give Mason confidence, if he is on firm scientific ground.

But the argument has gone far beyond the Hydroplate Theory or its merits. On one hand, Mason does not want a terrorist to find him. On the other hand, he does not want someone from Conservapedia to find him. Why mention both concerns in the same paragraph? Does he truly believe that Conservapedia shares with the Wahhabi sect of Islam a wish to enforce its tenets at gunpoint? Or is he indulging in puerile melodrama? You decide.

However, CNAV can guess at one other possible motive. Conservapedia has, again since its founding, been subject to repeated  cyber-vandalism and even Distributed Denial-of-service Attacks. Now if Fergus Mason has in any way involved himself in such behavior, he might fear legal exposure, or even an investigation by Scotland Yard. (Or possibly Europol or the Bundeskriminalamt. The one telephone number he submitted has a country code that resolves to Germany, not the USA or the UK.) He would not fear assassination, or vigilantism, or whatever he wants people to believe that he fears.

But if he has not indulged in such passions, then he has nothing to fear from Conservapedia by placing his views in the public eye. (Any fears he has from the Muslim quarter is something that a neutral observer, like a prospective debate moderator, could judge.) The administration of Conservapedia will, CNAV is sure, let its own record speak for itself: never once has any administrator or regular editor of Conservapedia ever commandeered a commercial airliner, much less tried to fly it into a building.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Donald R Laster Jr

In reading the article its sounds like someone has gotten caught lying.

DinsdaleP

I’d like to offer a different perspective on this, but first, an important disclosure. I am not writing this through any coordination with Mr. Mason. I don’t know the man, I’m not speaking on his behalf, and quite honestly, I don’t agree with everything he posts here or the style in which he chooses to express himself at times.

If a debate between Mr. Mason and Dr. Brown happens, great. If not, I have no stake in that, so I’m not writing to influence the outcome either way. That said, there’ a legitimacy to his desire for privacy that’s not being given proper consideration, and I can offer an example of why from personal experience.

I used to edit on Conservapedia under the pen name “DinsdaleP”, and since my views didn’t align with the leadership’s, I was used to getting reverted and blocked for that from time to time.

One of the senior admins there, recently memorialized as “The greatest CP champion”, was Terry Koeckritz, a.k.a. user “TK”. After he blocked me from the site for 5 years, we traded a series of emails where I asked him to justify his action. Our dialogue was civil until I confronted him about his condoning certain parodists and socks on CP because they entertained him, and used his own statements to prove it. My last email to him ended with the following:

“Wow, Terry. People like me get banned for being a member of RW without ever having done wrong on CP, but you’re condoning a RW sock continuing to be run on CP because you are impressed by it? The only thing that amazes me about this is that Andy is still not able to see you for who you are.

I’m going out to play with my kids, now. Have a nice day doing whatever it is you seem to call fun.”

That pressed a button with him, and his response ended with this:

“If I did know who you were, or even bothered to try and find you, I would report you to whatever passes for children’s services in your area, and have them placed in foster care.”

This would be easy to write off as a simple rant, but Koeckritz was known for using the CheckUser feature on CP to trace the origin of editors, and would drop comments about the school, town or even place of business people were editing from to intimidate them. The sad truth is, there is no shortage of petty, malevolent individuals out there who not only enjoy making intimidating threats like he did, but have the capacity to act on them given the right motivation.

I’ve often thought about dropping the use of my pen name when posting to sites like this, but TK’s threat drove home an important lesson I’ll never forget. I’m a father and family man, and while I choose to engage in these online discussions and open myself up to public scrutiny, my family and kids did not. I have no problem sharing my identity and contact info privately in good faith, as I’ve done with you, Terry, but that sharing is on a need-to-know basis.

I respect people like you and Dr. Brown for engaging people online as yourselves – whether one agrees or disagrees with your viewpoints, that is a stance of integrity. At the same time, I would hope that you both could respect that others wish to have tighter control over the public sharing of their identity for perfectly valid reasons.

The litmus tests for shaing information prior to a phone debate should be straightforward. All parties have a right to know a minimum about each other so their time isn’t being wasted. Outside of that, requests for other documentation add little value and only provide distraction. Mr. Mason’s military record is irrelevant to this debate, and frankly, if he’s lying about it that’s equally irrelevant to the debate topic. Two parties hsould also be able to debate without sharing their contact info with the world, in case the world wants to reach out to them for clarification. Professional athletes play their games without giving every viewer their contact info so their in-game decisions can be reviewed and questioned afterward. Asking that of someone challinging Dr. Brown to a debate is equally unnecessary and unreasonable.

If Mr. Mason is legitmiate but values his privacy as I do, that should be accepted in good faith, and you’ll have a good debate. If you believe he’s a poser who’s been doing this for laughs, then call his bluff, move ahead with an expedited debate plan, and let him be skewered in an embarrasing audio record that will live on the internet as an example to others.

We’ve seen in the Republican debates how people fare when their inflated sense of self meets the reality of actual encounters with skilled, prepared opponents. If Dr. Brown proceeds without requiring excessive preconditions, he faces three general outcomes – he does well in a legitimate debate, he does poorly in a legitimate debate (and has learned where his theory needs work), or he embarrases a pretender, discouraging others from wasting his time like that in the future. Seems like time well-spent in any scenario.

Fergus Mason

“a slanging match with an impostor”

Uh what? An IMPOSTER? Brown’s telephone debate challenge is open to anyone, as you know, so how can I be an “imposter” when there isn’t any required standard for me to impersonate?

Fergus Mason

As the challenge is for a TELEPHONE debate, if I say I’m an adult male then participate as a preteen girl that’s already going to be a serious blow to my credibility, wouldn’t you say? So this argument doesn’t hold water.

Nigerian bank scam? That becomes an issue when I ask Brown for his bank account details. I haven’t done so and I’m not planning on it. Another non-starter.

A means to identify me? He can have my address, just as soon as he assures me he’s not going to pass it on to anyone else. I’ll even phone him to verify my species, if he insists. But as you are perfectly well aware he has also asked for the name of my employer – which he’s not getting – and has at the very least seriously implied that I should give service details – which he isn’t getting either.

As Brown says the telephone debate is open to anyone I completely fail to see why he’s interested in employment details. It isn’t relevant.

Donald R Laster Jr

Having read Dr Brown’s book the debate requirements are quite reasonable. And all the opposition is required to do to have the debate is establish the person’s identity – i.e. they are who they say they are, and prove they have the requisite credentials. The impression I got from reading the various post is Mr. Fergus Mason, if that is who he or she really is, got caught in some lies, distortions, and misrepresentations. I have seen nothing in the requirements to reveal information that would put anyone in harms way.

But as seems to often when people challenge something they don’t like they want to throw stones but then don’t want to have the stones to come back at them. Here in the U.S. we call that hypocrisy. And I believe that is term used elsewhere as well. What is saying – it you live in a glass house don’t throw stones.

Fergus Mason

Why is it reasonable for Brown to demand the name of my employer, the operational theatres I served in and the right to pass on my home address to anyone he feels like?

Fergus Mason

Actually he DID ask for the name of my employer and he DOES insist on the right to decide what he does with my personal information – you even helpfully reproduced that statement above – and he at least strongly implies that he wants me to give him service details; note that he suggested that operational details be given in the introduction. Brown is expanding the information he requires FAR beyond what is sensible.

I have emailed Brown again and made my position quite clear. This is the information he will get in addition to what he already has, as soon as he gives me the required assurances about what he’s going to do with it:

My postal address
My academic details

You might want to have another look at DinsdaleP’s comments about privacy. For a retired officer, Brown’s views on personal security strike me as naive to say the least.

Fergus Mason

I also have to ask if you think it’s reasonable for Brown to pass my emails to him on to a third party against my express wishes, and for that third party to then post extracts on his blog.

Brown is not acting in good faith here and until he gives me an assurance that he will not pass on ANY of my personal details without permission, he’s getting nothing.

Fergus Mason

“You forced him so to act when you willfully misrepresented him in public.”

Actually Brown has passed ALL my emails to you, and we both know this. It has nothing to do with me “misrepresenting” him; it’s been his policy right from the start. Anyway, just to make this clear, I regard my emails to Walt Brown as private communications between the two of us and, should he insist on forwarding them to you, you do NOT have my permission to put any more extracts on your blog.

Brown will get his debate, but there is a limit on the information I’m willing to give him and he’s going to have to accept that. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable; most serving and former soldiers would be at least as reticent as I am.

Geno

With respect to the privacy issue…..

Terry writes:
“Brown does ask any challenger to “have some skin in the game,” and to be willing, literally, to stake his reputation on his challenge to the Hydroplate Theory.

Geno comments:
Fair enough. Frankly, I have my own “bone to pick” with Dr. Brown over privacy issues.

Does this mean Dr. Brown should release personal information before there is an agreement on the debate?

######
Terry writes:
Mason objected when Brown asked him to furnish identifying information, in case any listener to the debate might want to contact him to make sure they understood anything he said.

Geno points out:
That argument is valid only if there is a debate.

#####
Terry writes:
At issue, ostensibly, is where Mason lives and works, ….

Geno comments:
Where I work was a non-issue as Dr. Brown was given that in my initial contact. However, that information was provided to him on a “need to know” basis…. not for publication.

Dr. Brown’s unauthorized release of that information in your forum was a clear breach of my privacy.

Now, if Brown and I had agreed to the terms and conditions of a debate, that would be a different story.

#####
Terry cites Fergus
The information Brown requires before he’ll have a telephone debate with me has now expanded to include much of my military service record, including but not limited to my rank, the operations I served on and whether or not I received an homourable discharge.

Geno comments:
Based on the statement you provided from Dr. Brown, it’s safe to say Brown was deling in hypotheticals rather than making an actual request for the information. In my own experience with Dr. Brown, I gave him a link to my employer’s web site and my email at work as part of my initial communication. That seemed to satisfy any requirements he had for personal information.

Fergus Mason

Needless to say the issue of my service record only comes up if someone insists on mentioning it in the debate, which I certainly wasn’t planning to. As for the rest, well, if any listener wants to contact me afer the debate the obvious means to use is email; I certainly don’t want them phoning me or turning up at my door. There is no requirement for Brown to publicise this information and I’m not willing to let him do it.

It seems that Brown is determined to make any debate about trying to embarrass his opponent personally, rather than sticking to the subject in hand, which is energy.

ORavenhurst

I’d like to point out that under United States copyright law, the copyright to all correspondence is held by the individual writing it. This means that by passing on e-mails against the wishes of the original writer is not only profoundly unethical, it is a violation of U.S. copyright law.

On a completely unrelated note, the issue here seems to be respect. If the debate is open to anyone, the identity of the person being debated shouldn’t matter. Period. Regardless of the reasons behind why Mr. Mason does not want to reveal this information basic human decency should dictate that Dr. Brown accede to his wishes. Mr. Mason is not trying to back out of any debate, as you have so disingenuously suggested, and Mr. Mason is not even trying to hide behind a screen. Respecting a basic right to privacy and the wishes of others should be a basic conservative value.

ORavenhurst

That is true only in the same way that purchasing a book means you own the book. All original works, unpublished or no, are copyrighted by their creators. The nearest equivalent to e-mail is physical correspondence.

Here’s one explanation of the copyright status of e-mails (see item #10) http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

While legal action would not likely be successful due to the lack of any commercial value, reproducing copyrighted material is copyright infringement. Fair use is a legal defense, not a right. Note that copyright laws are federal, not state laws as well. Here is the government circular that deals with this issue:http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

The fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law actually state “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”

and “The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.”

Since e-mails and other correspondence are not generally considered “secret” unless their author explicitly states so (although it sounds like Mr. Mason has now explicitly requested that this information not be shared) this is a gray area, obviously.

I’d note that I have absolutely no connection to Mr. Mason and certainly wouldn’t encourage anyone to pursue legal action against CNAV – that would be silly, petty, and absurd.

Fergus Mason

“it sounds like Mr. Mason has now explicitly requested that this information not be shared”

This is correct. In fact I have asked for assurances on this several times and haven’t received them. Actually Brown said this:

“I have no desire to embarrass you, divulge any proprietary information, or jeopardize your life, family, job, or country. In your letters to me, you can highlight anything that falls in those categories and I — not you — will seriously consider deleting it.”

To me it’s perfectly clear that Brown is insisting on the right to reveal what HE thinks is appropriate, with no consideration for my wishes. I note that he’s already sent my phone number to Terry without even informing me he was going to do so.

Fergus Mason

As you won’t allow me to make the minor correction that I actually haven’t said a word about pursuing legal action against CNAV or anyone else, I’m going to make it known at Rationalwiki.

ORavenhurst

This is not a gross distortion of copyright law. Consider the following, from PubLaw (http://www.publaw.com/)

“In Salinger v. Random House, Inc., the author’s use of extensive quotations from unpublished letters written by J.D. Salinger, the subject of the biography, without Salinger’s permission was deemed to be copyright infringement.”

Sending an e-mail to the author of a blog does imply implicit consent for that e-mail to be published. Requesting that an individual not share information and then having that individual share that information regardless is completely different.

ORavenhurst

Additionally, here are some relevant aspects of copyright law in the UK (Not where CNAV is hosted, I am aware. This is an attempt to demonstrate how my observations on copyright are fully in line with how courts interpret the law.)

“… copyright in the letter belongs to the writer, so that the recipient may not copy or publish it without the writer’s consent but, as with any other copyright work, information contained in the document, though not its precise words, may be communicated to a third party without the writer’s consent, unless – which leads me to the second qualification – such information is of a private and confidential nature or unless, where the writer himself has published the letter to a third party, the recipient also needs to publish it in order to refute an attack on his character or reputation contained in it.”
from http://www.thestage.co.uk/connect/eagle/0520.php

Also, as the mess surrounding Princess Diana’s letters demonstrated, the recipient of a letter does not “own” the item. Here’s a brief explanation of what happened: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/230311.stm

Geno

Leaving aside the material that is claimed to be escaping to space which I’ve addressed in my “fire and brimstone” work….

Terry writes:
Dr. Brown points out that the supercritical water, upon its release, would … shed nearly all of its heat, in the same way that water vapor coming out the nozzle of a jet engine will condense or even freeze. (Anyone who has ever seen a jet contrail will recognize the effect.)

Geno points out:
Is Dr. Brown seriously arguing this steam will actually cool the surroundings? Really? This is almost bad enough to make me want to accept the verbal challenge.

In the interest of full disclosure, here’s why jet contrails do NOT result from a cooling effect of engine exhaust. Contrails are formed because jet exhaust contains LOTS of water vapor (as steam) which quickly freezes. Keep in mind, temperatures where jets fly are around -40C (which coincidentally is -40F). This steam freezes quickly not because of expansion but because it is released in extremely cold temperatures. Notice, you don’t see contrails behind low flying jets or at take off (when the jet is at full power and acting most like Brown’s model). The fact is this steam doesn’t cool the surroundings, it heats them. As a bona-fide rocket scientist, Brown should be fully aware of this.

If Dr. Brown, or Terry wish to prove their point, I propose they stand at a distance of their choice behind a jet airplane with thermometer in hand and measure the “cooling effect” of that exhaust.

Here’s what will happen ….
Once that water drops below critical temperature or pressure, it is no longer supercritical. It will certainly boil agressively, as Brown says. It will then expand and cool until it reaches the dew point. At that temperature, it will condense from vapor to liquid. In doing so, it will release LOTS of heat energy.

If I recall correctly …. it has been a few years now …. my calculations showed that if less than 1% of the water Brown says ended up in the oceans entered the atmosphere as steam, the latent heat of condensation would increase atmospheric temperature by over 100C.

Fergus Mason

This is indeed the fatal flaw in Brown’s ideas. No matter what mechanism he comes up with to explain away the energy contained in the supercritical water his model requires an amount of water equal to at least half the volume of the present day oceans to go from a start state of being compressed at supercritical temperatures to being on Earth’s surface as a normal liquid. Whatever he proposes for it, there is no way for that water to end up there without ultimately dumping its energy on Earth. And the energy involved is HUGE.

So far I’ve not even considered the climatic effects of dumping that much heat and water vapour into the atmosphere, but I suspect a Venus-style runaway greenhouse effect would be the probable outcome.

Geno

Terry wrote:
You two keep saying that, but you won’t talk to Dr. Brown about it when he offers you the opportunity. How sure of your ideas can you really be?

Geno answers:
I’m absolutely certain of it and I have talked to Dr. Brown about it. Unfortunately, I find his terms and conditions to be anything but fair for a half dozen reasons that have already been explained in this space multiple times. In fact, Terry has pretty much confirmed my concerns regarding Dr. Browns conditions.

Let’s put it this way….. here is my proposed statement for debate:
“The energy released by Dr. Walt Brown’s Hydroplate Model will destroy all life on Earth.”

Affirmed: Geno Castagnoli
Denied: Dr. Walt Brown, Dr. Terry Hurlbut

Does that correctly represent our positions? Is there an agreement on the topic of the debate? Is Dr. Brown willing to debate that issue or does he demand the debate cover topics in his model that are unrelated to my assertions?

Geno

One more thing….

Dr. Brown declines my offer of a written debate because he doesn’t want to be accused of a mis-match. I know of nothing that avoids that accusation in a verbal debate. In other words, the same “mis-match” will exist in the verbal debate as in the written debate, but that doesn’t seem to concern him. I have to wonder why there is a difference.

Also….
Terry says he holds an engineering degree. Since Terry and I would be fairly evenly matched I have offered (for more than a year now) to engage Terry in that written debate. To date, he has declined.

Ok… that was two things.

Fergus Mason

I don’t know what the mis-match would be. Brown has engineering qualifications, but when it comes to geology – which is what the hydroplate idea is all about – he’s as qualified as my cat.

Fergus Mason

I stand ready to be corrected on Brown’s geology qualifications.

Geno

Fergus wrote:
I don’t know what the mis-match would be. Brown has engineering qualifications, but when it comes to geology – which is what the hydroplate idea is all about – he’s as qualified as my cat.

Geno points out:
The heat issue is much less about geology and much more about the behavior of water. That’s an engineering issue.

That said, you aren’t going to get this escaping water to the kind of temperatures Brown suggests (near absolute zero) without having it first condense, then freeze. Both processes (condensation and freezing) release energy.

In the case of condensation, water releases about 2.5 million joules of energy per kilogram. For those not familiar with the metric system, a kilogram of water is a little more than a quart. One watt is a unit of power equal to one joule of energy per second. So, the condensation of one quart of water per second is roughly the energy equivalent of operating 25,000 light bulbs of 100 watts each for one second.

All that heat has to go somewhere.

Alex M

Geno:
All that heat has to go somewhere.

Alex’s response:
And equally as important, all that energy has to come from somewhere. Unless Dr. Brown chooses to ignore (or challenge, which would be fascinating) what is possibly the most fundamental law of physics, his theory needs to provide an explanation on how all of that energy came to be. This hydroplate business appears to have just “happened”. There must be a scientific explanation as to how it occurred. And as to why it happened when it did.

Fergus Mason

Is Brown going to have anything more to say? I only ask because, by not having answered any of my emails for four days now, he’s effectively refusing to organise the debate he claims to want.

Fergus Mason

Oh the contrary. I have offered to provide Brown all the remaining information in his original list – my home address and the details of my academic qualifications – just as soon as he gives me a suitable assurance that he won’t pass it on to third parties.

He’s not answering.

Fergus Mason

I already know how sensitive the information is, thanks; I was informed of that in plenty of annual security briefings given by people a lot more qualified to decide than debating society members.

As I said, I’ve told Brown that he can have the information he requires just as soon as he assures me that he’s going to stop forwarding it to other people. And he’s not answering. I’m increasingly convinced that this is his equivalent of [extraneous reference deleted]; his way of avoiding debates while blaming the other side.

Fergus Mason

“he puts his own address and telephone number out there, does he not?”

I don’t know because I haven’t bothered to check. I don’t care what his address and phone number are because I don’t need them to debate him. Similarly I haven’t bothered to check if he has a real doctorate or a Hovind-style one, and I haven’t bothered to check if he ever actually served in the military or if he’s a Walt in more ways than one; neither of these things are relevant either.

Fergus Mason

“You admit that you haven’t bothered to check?”

Sure I “admit” it, as you insist on making it look like a failing on my part. Why do I care what his address and phone number are? As for his website, yes, I’ve read most of it. I don’t really know why I’m bothering though. Pretty much all I need to know to debunk the hydroplate idea is the specific heat capacity of water.

Geno

Terry wrote (about Dr. Brown):
“Tell me this: he puts his own address and telephone number out there, does he not?”

Geno points out:
Irrelevant. Dr. Brown may do what he wishes with his own personal information. That does not give him the right to publish the personal information of others. This is especially true when the other has expressly stated a desire for privacy.

In my own case, students often do internet searches on their teachers. Some have found Dr. Brown’s article on our debate discussions and have asked me about it. (It’s not like there are a lot of Geno Castagnoli’s around.) None of them would accept Dr. Browns requirement of disqualification for failure to do their “homework” on “related” (but undisclosed) issues either.

Fergus Mason

All my emails to Brown from 16 December onwards have gone unanswered. It is now clear that he has no intention of debating me, just as he had no intention of debating Geno Castagnoli, and is once again insisting on unreasonable conditions as a way to avoid it.

Fergus Mason

“Dr. Brown has already said that you can give that information to the neutral moderator.”

And I’ve said no, I’ll give it to Brown himself. Just as soon as he assures me that he won’t forward it to anyone associated with Conservapedia.

“Let the moderator judge whether you are serious and have a legitimate security issue”

And what qualifications and experience will the moderator – a university debate club member – use to make this decision? No thanks.

“you must let the audience know who you are and what qualification and background you bring to the debate.”

I’m perfectly willing to do that. I’m just not willing to have my home address and career details publicised. That’s my decision to make, not Brown’s.

“Brown told you in his last email (and you might as well know that I have seen all three of your exchanges) that he was not going to respond to you until you provided what the agreement calls for…”

Then we have a standoff, because while I’m happy to give him that information I’m not going to do so until he assures me that he won’t forward it to you. That is what my last emails to Brown have all said.

“your full (and true) name, address, phone and FAX numbers, present job (not a phony sounding claim that you are a “security/intelligence consultant”), and academic credentials (schools and years).”

He already has my full name and phone number. He can’t have my fax number because I don’t have a fax machine, just like I don’t have a chequebook, washboard or flint axe; it’s the 21st century where I live. He already has my present job. The rest will be provided soon as he gives me the assurances that I’ve asked for. However he is NOT getting the information if he continues to insist on the right to pass it on to anyone he wants even against my express wishes, which I think is an entirely reasonable position to take.

“Any public release of that information will be subject to the discretion of the moderator”

No, any public release of that information will be subject to the discretion of me.

“Dr. Brown (and I) are quite prepared to release all three of your exchanges with him”

Just so long as you both understand that I explicitly do NOT give either of you permission to release my private emails to Brown.

Fergus Mason

“That’s the law in New Jersey and in Arizona.”

I’m fascinated as always by the law in places I’ve never been to and never intend to visit. Oh wait, I tell a lie, I have been half a mile into Arizona when I visited the Hoover Dam.

Well, never mind. What’s the law in the court of public opinion?

Fergus Mason

“The context here is whether your statement about “not granting permission” is enforceable.”

Enforceable? Probably not. However Col (Ret’d) Brown does not have my permission to forward our private correspondence to you, and if he does so again I will write to the USAF Academy Honor Division and inform them of his actions. I know that this organisation is established to deal with unofficerlike behaviour by cadets, but I’m sure they’d be interested (and disappointed) to hear about such behaviour by a senior retired officer.

In the British forces there are no such “honour” organisations; any transgressing officer is expected to do the decent thing, sign out the mess Webley and redecorate his bedroom ceiling in an interesting colour known as “hint of brain.” However I am quite willing to adapt to foreign customs if required, although I am sure that won’t be necessary as Brown will from now on be acting in accordance with the standards expected of a retired officer.

Fergus Mason

“I can already hear the guffaws from the Academy Superintendent, the Commandant of Cadets, and sundry other officers too numerous to name.”

Can you? Strange; I can’t. I dropped out of Sandhurst after one term and opted for soldier service instead, but I learned enough “Oily Qs” (Officer-like qualities) to know that passing on a chap’s personal correspondence just isn’t really the done thing.

Of course if you’re claiming that US officers have lower moral standards than British ones I’m willing to listen to your argument, but having served under several I’d have to say that in general they don’t.

Naturally I’ll make an exception for that lying [censored] Stanley McChrystal.

Fergus Mason

“I can already hear the guffaws from the Academy Superintendent, the Commandant of Cadets, and sundry other officers too numerous to name.”

The Honor Division, Terry, is staffed by cadets. Officer cadets, especially in the US system, are naturally rebellious. Given a legitimate reason to attack an officer – especially a former lecturer at their own academy – I would expect them to exploit it ruthlessly.

Personally I’d hate that to happen to Col (Ret’d) Brown. He’s just an old man with some strange ideas, and there’s no reason to unleash the fury of a cadet honour investigation on him when he could simply either debate me or honourably withdraw and take down his website.

The ball, as ever, is in his court.

Fergus Mason

“Brown graduated from West Point”

Yes, I know. West Point has an Honor Committee. too.

“I cannot imagine that a group of cadets would have anything to do with a case involving a retired officer.”

Your limited imagination isn’t my problem. However, try to imagine a scenario in which a retired lecturer comes back for a function, is given an award or whatever, and is blanked for an honour offence by the assembled cadets. No applause, no handshakes, no recognition. Maybe you can’t imagine it; Brown certainly can.

“if I had to testify before such a body”

You won’t. You’re not a veteran, Terry. Those kids don’t care about you. Given the choice of some random blogger or me with my seven medals, I know who they’ll choose.

Fergus Mason

“So you think I wouldn’t even have standing to testify”

No. As a civilian, why WOULD you have any standing in a military honour court? Don’t be silly, Terry. At best you’d be a witness, and you’d get asked rhetorical questions like “Did the accused forward you personal emails from Mr Mason?”

Be serious. What status do YOU expect to have in a military tribunal?

Fergus Mason

“The context here is whether your statement about “not granting permission” is enforceable.”

Not really. The context is what your court of public opinion will make of someone who insists on releasing private communications against the declared wished of one of the participants. I think the verdict on those doing that is going to be a common abbreviation of Richard.

Fergus Mason

“When said participant turns out to be a liar, a fraud, and a troll…”

Very true.

IF said participant turns out to be a liar, a fraud and a troll.

Fergus Mason

Anyway, just to reiterate, the situation as stands is this:

I have repeatedly emailed Brown, informing him of my continued desire to debate him on his hydroplate claims and confirming that I will give him all the information required in his debate offer just as soon as I receive reasonable assurances about how he’s going to handle that information.

And he’s not answering.

Fergus Mason

The so-called “out” is a red herring. As I’m quite willing to give the information to Brown himself it isn’t required, and in any case, as I have said, a university debate club member isn’t qualified to judge the sensitivity of the information.

As soon as Brown confirms that he won’t pass my home address etc on to third parties without my permission, the debate planning can proceed. But it will proceed without your involvement.

Fergus Mason

“Neither Dr. Brown nor I will accept your unsubstantiated word on (the requirement for secrecy.)”

Col (Ret’d) Brown most certainly would accept my desire for privacy if he knew my service record, which he can have as soon as he assures me it won’t be passed on to anyone else. As for you, I don’t care what you accept because you’re not involved in the debate.

Fergus Mason

“A G-2 is a General-staff intelligence officer.”

Only in the US military. In the UK, G2 is all levels below joint headquarters, when it becomes J2.

The reason I’m not going to find one is because it isn’t me who’s making absurd demands for disclosure of irrelevant information. Brown’s conditions asked for my phone number, address, current job and academic qualifications. He already has half of that and he can have the other half just as soon as he assures me it won’t be passed on without my permission. This whole red herring – although by now it’s bloated into a red whale – of outside valiation of the sensitivity of my career has been hatched by Brown and propagated by you. It’s an irrelevance, but if Brown insists on making an issue of it then it’s up to him to find a USO.

Fergus Mason

I just explained that, Terry. As far as I’m concerned my military career is not relevant to the debate. If Brown insists on sticking to this issue, such as his absurd suggestion that my introduction to the audience contains details of my operational service, then it’s up to him to sort out the mechanics. I’m quite happy to drop the whole irrelevant subject and actually make some progress at arranging the debate. Except Brown isn’t answering my emails, is he?

Fergus Mason

“He suggested that your guarded attitude might make the debate audience ask for that.”

Well, the (potential) debate audience wouldn’t even be aware of the fact that I’d ever been in the Army if Brown hadn’t forwarded you my emails and you’d then splattered extracts all over your blog, would they?

Fergus Mason

“Dr. Brown is not asking for details of your military service record, operational or otherwise.”

So why did he suggest that I be introduced as “”Mr. Fergus Mason, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, served in Afghanistan in 20xx”? On this planet, at least, that looks like operational details. And those are NOT going to be publicised.

Fergus Mason

“And I would not have done that, had you not provoked us both with your trolling.”

Bollocks. Brown by forwarding my emails to you without consent, and you by publishing extracts, have both committed egregious breaches of courtesy and good faith. Frankly Brown is extremely lucky that I’m still willing to debate him given his conduct so far. British officers are required also to be gentlemen. I hope that this was also instilled in Col (Ret’d) Brown and will reassert itself soon enough to allow the debate to proceed.

Fergus Mason

“Scatology aside”

My comment contained no scatology. I’d suggest you do some research into human anatomy and medieval daggers.

“Those are not operational details.”

The theatre and dates of operational deployments? Of course they are, and the audience isn’t getting them. Col (Ret’d) Brown can have them as a courtesy, just as soon as he extends ME the courtesy of giving me his word that he’ll keep them to himself.

Fergus Mason

WHAT is a matter of opinion?

Fergus Mason

[Edited for content…]

The dates and locations of any operations I may have taken part in, either during or after my service, are not relevant to the debate and will not be made known to the audience. That’s utterly non-negotiable and Col (Ret’d) Brown, if he was acting in good faith, would back me up on that 100%. PERSEC, old chap; loose lips sink ships, and all that.

Fergus Mason

OK, now that we’ve established that my previous job isn’t relevant to the debate and isn’t going to be discussed, does Brown want a debate or not? I haven’t heard a squeak out of him since 16 Dec 11, despite having sent him four emails in that time asking him to proceed with the debate. People are going to start drawing conclusions from that, you know.

Fergus Mason

“Rest assured, he watches this thread.”

I’m sure he does; so what? That wasn’t my question, was it?

Are you and Brown still communicating about this debate, Terry? Because if so, in the interests of fairness, I think you should publish those emails here. Either that or delete the extracts from mine.

Fergus Mason

“I’ll be the judge of that, not you.”

That’s OK. If you want to publicise my private conversations with Brown while keeping your own, well, PRIVATE, that’s entirely up to you. I’ll be the last one to accuse you of hypocrisy. Because I’ll let everyone else do it first.

Fergus Mason

“You, in fact, have to regain his trust.”

Regain the trust of a man who forwarded private correspondence to someone else, who promptly published it on his blog?

Yes Terry, on my list of things to do that’s right up there with learning to play the Tibetan nose flute. Now, does Brown want a debate or not?

Fergus Mason

“Yes, he does.”

Then why the nine-day silence? Why isn’t he answering my emails any more, Terry? It’s me who’s trying to make this debate happen; Brown has gone very, very quiet on the subject.

Fergus Mason

“He doesn’t miss a word.”

Good for him. However he doesn’t SAY a word either, does he? How am I supposed to arrange a debate with a man who won’t answer my emails?

If you’re reading this, Col (Ret’d) Brown, it’s time to put up or shut up.

Fergus Mason

“It demands that you, in turn, demonstrate, to an outside, neutral observer, the requirement for secrecy.”

OK, I agree, on one condition – that the observer is appropriately qualified to make the decision. A serving British military Unit Security Officer or the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand or USMC equivalent will be fine. A debate club member? No.

“And as for my involvement, that is a matter for Dr. Brown to decide.”

No. It’s a matter for Dr Brown AND MYSELF – as the participants in the debate – to decide, and I have made my decision. CNAV, Conservapedia and you personally will have no role in the debate beyond that of spectators. My emails to Dr Brown will no longer be forwarded to you without my express permission.

Fergus Mason

That’s OK. I’ve got used to waiting to hear from him.

Fergus Mason

“Does Mason fear that his arguments against the Hydroplate Theory are not as sound as he first thought?”

No. Absolutely not. In fact this whole conversation, and its spinoffs on blogs such as http://cpmonitor.wordpress.com/, have massively reinforced my conviction that the hydroplate “theory” can be demolished by the application of secondary school-level physics.

If, that is, the “inventor” of this “theory” can be persuaded to debate.

Fergus Mason

Reasoned scientific discourse will be provided, just as soon as Brown answers my emails. That’s what the debate – if Brown is really willing to have one – will be about. Science.

Fergus Mason

And I have to say, Terry, that if Brown isn’t missing a word of this discussion he’s been extremely pusilanimous in his reaction. I’ve been trying to make this debate happen but I haven’t heard a word from Brown for NINE DAYS.

Looks to me like his bluff has been called and he’s running, but of course you may not agree.

Geno

If I may……

As stated before, I have my own issue with Dr. Brown’s release of my personal information. He didn’t actually publicize anything someone with my name and internet access couldn’t have found out. That said, the infomation was sent to him on a “need-to-know” basis, not for publication. Anyone with the security clearances Dr. Brown has certainly held fully understands the meaning of “need-to-know.”

I also resent Dr. Brown’s accusation, made in one of Terry’s forums, that I’m “ducking” a debate with him. Not once have I ever accused him of “ducking” me. My position has always been that we have been unable to agree on the terms and conditions. I’m not even sure that we have agreed on the exact topic.

Now, with the understanding that I’m completely in agreement with Fergus on the matters of science and mostly in agreement with him on the privacy issue……

Sorry, Fergus….
Academy cadets have no authority in any way, shape, or form to judge retired military officers. Nor should they. Further, nothing Dr. Brown has said (so far as I know) or done is deserving of the attention of any active duty or retired review board. About the only time action will be taken by the military against a retired officer is after conviction of a serious felony.

(Yes, Terry… I keep some strange hours.)

DinsdaleP

Pretty laughable for you to be talking about slander and defamation of character, Terry. You can continue to press the “discard” button, but the shame of being a hypocrite remains…

Have a nice Christmas, anyway.

Fergus Mason

Jesus associated with hookers and tax collectors. Did you have a point?

DinsdaleP

“Shall I describe the full disgusting extent of your absolute refusal to participate in the proper spirit of Conservapedia? No, I don’t think you want me to do that. I just want all these people to understand that you are not repeat not the innocent and honest man you portray yourself as.”

So after all that bluster, your only evidence of the “full disgusting extent” of my not participating in “the proper spirit of Conservapedia”, and that I’m not “the honest man you portray yourself as” is that I have an account and post comments on Rationalwiki? That’s about as weak as it gets.

Since when does posting comments on an Internet group’s site constitute proof that you are in full agreement with the thoughts and actions of every member on that site? That makes as much sense as saying that if I post on a pro-life site and others on the same site advocate damage against abortion providers, then that’s my position too.

You’re a Conservapedia admin, Terry, and so is the user who calls himself “Conservative” – do you endorse every screed and article he creates? Just repeating the titles of some of his *cough* articles *cough* on this site would likely have this reply blocked for inappropriate content. Do I expect you to run around Conservapedia keeping him in check, and hold you responsible for his actions as well as yours? Of course not, so it’s a lame double-standard for you to pull out the “I judge you by the company you keep” when the membership of that “company” is as open as the Internet.

I don’t consider you responsible for the actions of anyone but yourself, Terry, and in return I expect the same from you. I’m civil to you despite disagreeing with you, and stick to facts and reason when I do. However, you’ve characterized me as a disgusting and dishonest character, so I’m taking you up on your offer – prove it, and present whatever evidence you think I don’t want people to know about, or apologize and try something better than a weak ad hominem if you feel a need to rebut something I said.

Fergus Mason

“I am sure that you do not repeat not wish me to reveal the blood-and-flame details of your edit warfare.”

Are you? He just said he does.

Geno

Terry wrote:
” … the secrets belong as much to others as they do to him.”

Geno notes:
That doesn’t seem to bother you with regard to the release of personal information even when non-disclousre was specifically requested. In fact, you have gone to considerable length defending your legal “right” to do so.

(Note: Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.)

Geno

You have been provided with the complete coorespondance between Dr. Brown and myself. Are you suggesting I was being “deceptive” in my comments, therefore Brown was justified in releasing my personal information? If so, please be specific. As I see it, if there was any deception at all, it was on the part of those who claimed Brown was not advised of my objections to his model.

Do the laws you used as a defense that allows Brown (or you) to release personal information despite the express objection of the individual mention anything at all about deception?

DinsdaleP

“I am sure that you do not repeat not wish me to reveal the blood-and-flame details of your edit warfare.”

I believe I said you can in my post above from 12/27, because there’s nothing you’re going to be able to produce as “evidence” that shows me being dishonest. In frequent disagreement with the opinions of Conservapedia leadership, yes, but what’s dishonest about civil disagreement?

“Blood and flame?” If it was that epic I’d have written a book about it. It was just debate.

Let’s be clear about a few things though, because this has already drifted from the original point. You made some characterizations about me way up at the start of this comment thread, calling me, in effect, a disgusting and dishonest character. Rather than hijack this thread to settle the matter, I emailed you privately and asked you to prove it or apologize. I received no reply for days.

When you finally responded to me on the 25th, your only “proof” was to imply that my having an account and posting on Rationalwiki made me complicit in all the activities you accuse certain individuals of. I think I answered that thoroughly enough yesterday, so all I’ll repeat here is that my posting on a site doesn’t mean that I’m in full agreement or conspiring with any other specific person or group on that site. I’m only accountable for what I post there, not what anyone else does. I don’t hold you responsible for the postings or actions of other people on Conservapedia, so it’s consistent and fair for me to expect the same from you.

Let’s also be clear about something else – I never claimed to have quit or resigned from Conservapedia. Terry Koeckritz kicked me out for being on Rationalwiki and openly acknowledging there that I posted on Conservapedia.

Here’s truth, Terry. My involvelement with CP was driven by pure curiosity to see how long I’d last there if I was civil, contributed to articles in good faith, and made sure everything I posted was true and verifiable — BUT — if I also presented a contrarian point of view on matters where I felt a need to speak out.

I lasted about a year.

Over the course of that year I’d present facts that couldn’t be rebutted, and instead of admitting error I’d get blocked for “Talk, Talk, Talk”, “Promoting a liberal POV”, “disregarding an Admin’s instructions”, or similar nonsense, which was all a form of fingers-in-the-ears denial on the part of whoever was blocking me at the time. I don’t take it personally, and if you want to change my 5-year ban there to infinite go right ahead.

Everything I did there was done in good faith, and CP has some good, unbiased article content that I provided – it was not always about arguing.

What no one will deny, including me, is that I developed a reputation as a troublemaker on CP because I’d challenge the groupthink now & then. It didn’t surprise me when TK kicked me out, but I objected to him doing it simply because I had a Rationalwiki account, rather than for anything I ever did on Conservapedia.

So there you go. I never lied about being a poster on Rationalwiki, and I never said I quit Conservapedia – that’s your statement, not mine. Disagreeing with someone is not being a liar, and you’ve yet to back up your character defamation with any evidence.

Finally, you really need to show more consistency. You’ve made a great deal about how you have the right to share content you’ve received from others as you wish, and yet in this case you show a sudden concern for privacy when I’ve said to show your evidence. You claim privilege to share based on being in NJ, where I live as well, but you’re afraid that the second you do I’ll sue you?

Terry, you’ve all but committed libel and defamation of character against me from the earliest posts in this thread, and I’m not threatening to sue over that – I’ve simply said, “prove it, or apologize”. Sticks and stones, and if you never responded at all then I’d have to live with your fans on CNAV thinking that there’s a guy named DinsdaleP out there who’s a real jerk. Somehow I think I’ll survive.

But is it really so hard to say, “I apologize Dinsdale – I called you a dishonest person but I have no evidence for it, and I take it back.” You can even follow that up with, “On the other hand, you’re no longer welcome here, so this will be our last exchange. Hit the road, Jack.”

I can live with that, too, but it would say a lot about your ability to respond to criticism instead of dodging it.

Fergus Mason

“You are a prize example of one who would dispute the sum of two plus two if it suited your political agenda to have someone declare that sum to be a number other than four.”

Actually that statement would be better applied to Andy Schlafly and his stubborn insistence, in the face of all the evidence, that major earthquakes are doubling every 40 years; in fact even a cursory glance at the figures shows no increase at all since 1900 and plotting them on a graph actually shows a slight DECREASE over that period. There were more major earthquakes between 1900 and 1910 than between 2000 and 2010. Nevertheless Schlafly just keeps repeating the claim, reverting any attempt to remove it and blocking anyone who challenges it. Now, would you call THAT an example of saying 2+2=5 in order to fit a political agenda? I certainly would.

Fergus Mason

“Seems to me that he’s right.”

From 1900 to 1909 there were 120 major (7.0 or higher) earthquakes; from 2000 to 2009 there were 99. He’s wrong.

Fergus Mason

“But the magnitudes, and the damages, are getting worse all the time.”

The magnitudes, again, are not. Between 1900 and 1909 there were 28 earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater; between 2000 and 2009 there were only twelve.

The reason that damage is increasing is simple: there’s more to damage. In 1900 the global population was about 1.7 billion; in 2000 it was well over 6 billion. That’s nearly 4 times as many people complete with all their houses, offices, cars, pianos and microwave ovens. It’s hardly surprising that more stuff gets broken, is it? The last earthquake I experienced dropped a colleague’s laptop off the shelf and broke it, adding an instant $1,000 to the damage bill. I don’t imagine many San Franciscans in 1906 were putting in insurance claims for broken laptops, do you?

Fergus Mason

“Between 1900 and 1909 there were 28 earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater; between 2000 and 2009 there were only twelve.”

Just to expand on that, between 1900 and 1909 23.3% (28 out of 120) major earthquakes had a magnitude of 8.0 or greater. Between 2000 and 2009, however, this figure was only 12.1% (12 out of 99.) So the claim that earthquakes are becoming more severe is just as wrong as the claim that they’re becoming more frequent.

Fergus Mason

“Unless the reports are incomplete”

Oh absolutely, unless the reports are incomplete. I’ll take that possibility seriously as soon as you show me a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake that isn’t in the NOAA database, which you can find here: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nndc/struts/form?t=101650&s=1&d=1

In any case incomplete records is more likely to be an issue for the EARLIER records, when there were fewer seismic monitoring stations, than for the later ones. So the effect of incomplete records is going to stack the numbers even more firmly against Schlafly’s claim.

Fergus Mason

I can even tell you WHY he’s wrong; it’s because he’s using only one source of information, which just coincidentally is arguing for exactly the same thing as Schlafly is, and rejecting all the others. However among the ones he’s rejecting are the very databases claimed as sources by the document he accepts.

This document, of course, isn’t just wrong; it’s blatantly fraudulent. Its own cited sources don’t back it up. For example it claims that between 1986 and 1996 there were only 15 major earthquakes worldwide, The correct figure is 84, as shown by the very database cited by the author:

http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/nndc/struts/results?bt_0=1986&st_0=1996&type_17=EXACT&query_17=None+Selected&op_12=eq&v_12=&type_12=Or&query_14=None+Selected&type_3=Like&query_3=&st_1=&bt_2=&st_2=&bt_1=&bt_4=7.0&st_4=&bt_5=&st_5=&bt_6=&st_6=&bt_7=&st_7=&bt_8=&st_8=&bt_9=&st_9=&bt_10=&st_10=&type_11=Exact&query_11=&type_16=Exact&query_16=&bt_18=&st_18=&ge_19=&le_19=&display_look=1&t=101650&s=1&submit_all=Search+Database

Schlafly is knowingly using a fraudulent source and refuses to admit that it’s been debunked.

Fergus Mason

“That’s only part of the story”

Actually no, it isn’t. If someone claims a statistical trend is happening the whole story is the statistics, and in this case they comprehensively disagree with the claim. Major earthquakes are NOT doubling every 40 years and Schlafly is wrong.

DinsdaleP

Terry, I’m totally open to being proved wrong, and if I am, I appreciate having learned something instead of remaining in the dark. I also have no problem acknowledging where certain conservative positions are more consistent than my own, even when I don’t fully agree with them. Want an example? Look at the “North Dakota measure regarding the start of human life” section in the following link:

http://www.conservapedia.com/Talk:Main_Page/archive72

Meanwhile, let’s look at your assertion:

“You are a prize example of one who would dispute the sum of two plus two if it suited your political agenda to have someone declare that sum to be a number other than four.”

Facts are beyond interpretation; 2+2=4, and A=A. When I was challenging points on CP that were not strictly idealogical, I found credible sources for supporting facts and presented them. That’s when the leadership would resort to blocks and removal of said evidence rather than admitting they were wrong about something. It was done when I produced documents proving something unflattering about Sarah Palin, and again when people didn’t believe me about Ben Stein making an outrageous statement, and I produced the video of him saying it.

As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts. Unfortunately, there are many, many examples of the leadership there blocking someone and erasing the record when facts are presented that counter an Opinion that is being treated as if it were the Truth. The earthquake dialogue today makes the point beautifully – why is it so much harder to accept objective data as the factual truth than to admit that Andrew Schlafly is wrong about something? For someone claiming to maintain a “no-spin” zone of his own, your immediate reaction was to go into spin control to defend Schlafly.

Regardless, your response to me was just a diversion from the original point. You’ve attacked my character on this site without evidence, and your “prize example” line just adds to the defamation, claiming behavior on my part without proof.

I’m not interested in any of the legal drama you speculate about, but I’m still expecting that you either prove it with evidence or apologize in this space. Anything less shows that your talk about supporting integrity and Christian values is just lip service.

Panegg

Hate to break it to you, Dinsdale, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Your efforts and facts will only be met with the same reaction here, as you did there. That whole paranoia of lawsuits is amusing,, but its just an excuse. Your comments can just be deleted and censored, anyway, probably like this and all the others I’ve made.

Fergus Mason

“On one hand, Mason does not want a terrorist to find him.”

Well, obviously.

Anyway, just to put the lid on this old topic, when I accepted Brown’s debate challenge I found out that he wanted rather a lot of personal information from me, none of it particularly relevant to the debate. However, to show willing, I bought a new mobile phone SIM card – which naturally came with a new number – and I gave that number to Walt Brown. Only to Walt Brown. Nobody else had it.

Well, guess what? I started getting threatening calls on that number. Yes, people called me up at 4:00am and told me I better watch what I was saying on the internet or I’d be sorry. Text messages warned me that my days were numbered. I wonder how these scum got my number? >i>Someone gave it to them, and the list of suspects is fairly short.

I wonder what would have happened if I’d given him my address, as he demanded?

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