2011-05-26 09:06:17John Abraham in a hostile radio interview
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186

Quote from Peter Sinclair:

In the audio interview above, Abraham shows how to get the job done when faced with a hostile right wing interviewer – telling the truthe, powering thru the harassment and making them like it.

2011-05-26 09:21:20Okay, just listened to the whole interview
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186

John did a fantastic job in a hostile interview. He repeatedly took control of the discussion when the interviewer tried to go down irrelevant tangents. Also emphasised positive elements like increasing domestic security by diversifying energy sources. A great example of how to do these types of interviews.

One blemish - the interviewer has the chance to take control at the end and finish the interview with their own point - one of the downsides of going into someone else's turf.

2011-05-26 09:26:45
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

:) I love his enthusiasm, he seems passionate about the issue to be sure.  I'm about 3 minutes into the recording now, and I think that so far it seems less hostile than Jones' interview with Karoly.  Abraham is actually getting time to respond - yes, there are questions that imply a challenge to him, but I think they sound more typical of a reporter than, say, someone trying to make a point, which is wholly more appropriate.

(running updates)

• Woops, spoke too soon, interviewer almost came out with the "CO2 is a small portion of the atmosphere, human emissions are small portion..." argument - and Abraham shuts him down, excellent.

• Abraham is completely controlling this interview now, going on about clean energy...

• Ooh, funding question for a pin, Abraham escapes by saying "no funding for my science" (par.)

• Lecture on "theory" v. "fact" and "proof"

• Oooh, damn the interviewer got away with the CO2 lag argument and used the clock excuse...

 

I think he did a great job with the interview, a lot of analogies, and he took control of the conversation.  I personally think he was maybe a bit sloppy (rushing, perhaps) with some of his word choices in explanations, but overall he got several good points out and remained enthusiastic.

After listening to the whole thing, I can understand a bit the "hostile" label that Peter gave the interviewer, but I think a clear distinction between "Jones hostile" and "(whatshisname) hostile" is that while the question qualities were the same - same basic arguments, same lack of actual research - the latter delivered them more politely and let Abraham speak.

2011-05-26 09:49:40John Abraham interview vs David Karoly interview
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186

You're right, this interview was mildly hostile while Alan Jones is off-the-charts hostile. Alan Jones actually does these long tirades and when David tries to answer, Alan turns down his voice and talks over the top of him. So that's a very difficult environment to deal with.

Nevertheless, John Abraham took control of this interview in a way I've not heard a scientist do before - a really strong performance. It could easily have gone quite differently. There's something to be said for not letting interviewers get away with crap - John did this in spades.

That said, would love to see John take on Alan Jones. The irresistable force takes on the immovable object! :-)

2011-05-26 11:18:48
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.8.194

Excellent job. Notice how Abraham doesn't let bullshit slide by unchallenged. Uses simple analogies to explain complicated science - the humid summer/dry winter air example.

Abraham knows the modus operandi in these circumstances, is for the interviewer is to upchuck skeptic arguments. I wish more scientists would go into these "intervews" as well prepared. 

2011-05-26 11:47:50Tweeted this interview
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186

Tweeted this interview this morning and has been retweeted quite often, popular interview!

2011-05-26 12:01:54
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
121.79.14.98

The only bad part is where John Abraham says 40% of CO2 is manmade – actually 110 of 390 ppm is 28%. It’s a 40% increase.

2011-05-26 12:20:27
John Abraham
John Abraham
JPABRAHAM@stthomas...
166.137.143.2
Thanks for comments. My interview was MUCH easier than David's so there isn't much comparison. I really thought hard about simple analogies. You will notice that twice the interviewer and I talked over each other. When that occurs, my strategy is to talk in a low slow voice and repeat their name... I think I said something like, "chris... Chris... Chris.. You are just making this up as you go along". I thought that was effecive. My goal was to show so much confidence that the audience recognized it. With respect to the amount of co2 in the air, I should have said that humans have given a %40 increase in the amount. I was mistaken to say that 40% of the co2 is human caused. Any comments for improvement are welcome. John Abraham
2011-05-26 12:29:55Low slow voice
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186

Great approach, John, something we should all keep in mind in hostile interviews.

Alan Jones is way tougher but still, your interview could've gone a lot worse if you hadn't taken control - that interviewer could've walked all over you if you'd let him. That's my take-home from comparing both interviews - don't let the interview get away with crap, pull them up short.

The main goal is to have an impact on the listener and drowning them in science and factoids is not an effective approach. Instead, you have to realise people think in stories and you have to provide a story, an alternative narrative. John's approach achieves this - the narrative is that the interviewer is peddling false, debunked information that conflicts with the scientific consensus of climate experts and John is making that clear in both his content and approach.

2011-05-26 13:09:40
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.8.194

I think a good approach going in, is to have some simple analogies well rehearsed in advance. You can't anticipate which zombie arguments will be dredged up, but in the near future we're going to see more of the "climate's changed before" and "greater floods/droughts/storms happened in the past" memes as the world's weather grows increasingly more vigorous and calamitous.

John Abraham, what stood out for me is that you didn't get into a defensive mode. You were confident, assertive, and didn't allow yourself to be bullied, and that goes a long way in winning over the audience. Something I pointed out on the other media interview thread. As for the water vapor thing, there's always the hot steamy shower, versus a cold shower analogy to demonstrate the effect of temperature on water vapor. I thought the humid summer/dry winter analogy went perfectly fine though (through the eyes of a layman). I bet the interviewer was pissed he didn't get time to trot out more zombies too.

John Cook, alternative narrative - exactly. As mentioned above, we need to paint an alternative narrative to the "yeah, but the floods in Queensland in blah, blah were worse". That paints the false narrative that "bad weather happened before, and we're still here, so what?" I think the story that needs to be told, is that extreme weather events in the past shows us the path we are travelling on, we're going from a relatively stable climate suitable for cultivating our crops and supporting our infrastructure, to one that probably won't. Paleofloods on the Mississippi for instance, absolutely dwarf todays record floods. Doesn't bode well for the future. Anyway, what I'm getting at, is that that argument should be flipped on its head.     

2011-05-26 17:09:07
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
121.79.14.98

I wouldn’t know, never having been interviewed, but maybe it’s a good idea to practice with a friend beforehand – get them to throw random skeptic arguments at you Alan-Jones-style and see how well you can respond.

2011-05-26 17:36:21
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
121.79.14.98

“Oooh, damn the interviewer got away with the CO2 lag argument and used the clock excuse...”

Actually, what the interviewer said was “the Earth’s temperature increase actually followed CO2 levels, not the other way around”. He couldn’t even get his own argument the right way round!

2011-05-26 21:00:26Round tables?
John Abraham
John Abraham
JPABRAHAM@stthomas...
166.137.136.214
Perhaps we could have a round table of people to help prep for interviews? If someone gets a call to be interviewed, we could have 2-3 people practice with them ahead of time?
2011-05-26 22:46:29
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.8.194

So given the fact contributors are spread around the world, skype would be the go? Sounds like a grand idea to me (not that I have skype installed yet).

What would also be useful is to toss around some simple analogies and techniques, so as to build a bit of a database. I know everybody has a different idea about analogies, but we could perhaps reach a consensus on what's likely to broadly appeal. Guess we would soon see which approaches fall flat through trial and error. Better than the ad-hoc approach thus far.

Just rambling here, but I noticed Alan Jones tried this one on with David Karoly (it's an oldie): trotting out some contrarian kook, building him up to be a super-duper expert (40 years experience in blah,blah,blah) and then proceeding to rubbish mainstream climate science based on the opinions of aforesaid kook. What's the best way of dealing with that, y'all think?   

2011-05-27 03:41:10Skype?
John Abraham
John Abraham
JPABRAHAM@stthomas...
166.137.136.214
We wouldn't need skype... Phones would do fine.
2011-05-27 06:41:19
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

Erm, phones sounds expensive!

Skype is 'free'.

Actually I use Skype for making phone calls these days, it's cheap.

2011-05-27 06:59:05
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.100.209

Just thinking of the possible expense is all John A.

2011-05-27 07:14:52Skype round table
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186
Big fan of this idea, particularly if someone is going to face a conservative interviewer. I envisage it being like those debate camp episodes on West Wing where we all drill tough questions at the interviewee. Hopefully we'll have a few potential Alan Jones amongst us who excel at putting a climate communicator through the wringer. I would suggest if someone has an interview coming up and want to try this, start a new thread on this forum, give your skype account (note this forum is private, invitation only, not available to the general public) and hopefully others will respond in the forum and a skype session can be organized. That thread could also be used for post mortems on the session, fine-tuning ways to explain things.

Re Rob's idea of an analogy/metaphor database, I have actually been thinking about this. Collecting metaphors is why I started the metaphors thread which I've found quite useful already. It wouldn't be that difficult to create a metaphor database where we map metaphors to climate myths and set it up so authors can add/edit it wiki style. Then I'd display it like our SkS arguments page - myth down the left column, metaphors down the right column. If there's demand for this, let me know and I'll set it up.

2011-05-27 07:16:51Benefits of skype
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186
It's free, allows you to do video which is good for practicing TV interviews. However, I think there may be limitations on group sessions - one of the persons involved needs to have a certain type of account. Can anyone illuminate on this?