Debunking in Live Debates

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
This thread created from original posts here, where Jay was discussing an online debate between a Pilot and some chemtrail believers:

Yes, [the pilot] definitely did [deny the chemtrail conspiracy]. He stated that in thousands of hours flying he had never seen any plane he could not identify, military or civilian, and that he had never seen anything similar to a contrail which was suspicious in any way. He had a good grasp of meteorology and atmospheric science and had taught the subject to aviators.

The session evolved mostly into a debate between the pilot and Russ Tanner. It should be listened to because Tanner is so extreme it is a good way to see what it is like to debate a very true chemtrail believer and how to avoid some pitfalls. Mick and contrailscience made a lasting impression on Tanner which he addressed at around the 2 hour mark onwards. The second part in the ustream link above with the recording is a worthless hour, just a couple of conspiracy theorists spouting off about unrelated stuff. The exchanges with Tanner had him filibustering and using a Gish Gallop. If you debate these people publicly you have to have a moderator insist on one point at a time to prevent them from monopolizing all the time and giving you 20 points to answer all at once. You have to take notes on what they say and have some basic rebuttals ready. You need to note when they say "proposed" "could" or otherwise qualify their statements, because they unconsciously tell the truth when they do that. Point it out when they do.

The pilot didn't have specific information we have here for debunking the specific claims, but he had a general idea and was able to handle them. He used logic well to counter, and made several references to how there is no consensus, and when one claim is countered factually or logically, they move on to expand the claim. For instance, when confronted with evidence of contrail persistence in the past, Tanner first claimed that it was rare, then later claimed that past peristence was spraying going back fifty years. Rather than getting exasperated, as the pilot did to some extent(you could hear it in his voice), these failures of logic need to be brought out, which he eventually did. He would have benefitted greatly from more speciifc knowledge of where their claims fall short.

BTW, Sylvain Henry took almost no part in the discussion, that was a mistake. The pilot should have steered the conversation towards him to avoid Tanner from monopolizing all the time with nonsense.

Some thing important to note is the consensus issue. When dealing with a radical like Tanner, the pilot did note that Rosalind Peterson had said in ten years study she had found no concrete evidence for anything but persistent contrails. The disparities between believers needs to be emphasized, I can't stress that enough. Pit them against each other as often and as far as you can, because taken as a whole, many of their claims debunk each other with no further work from you needed, you become the mediator, the witness, the public observer, not an adversary at that point. By doing this, you also sow seeds which may grow into a general refutation of the more extreme and outlandish of the claims or even a wholesale rejection of the individual making them.

You need to use the 'set up'. Take note of their factual or logical fallacies. These are your targets. They are the only things that matter. By taking brief notes you can recount their fallacy or false claim to the audience and explain the failure. Think about how their statements don't make sense or are contradictory.

If dealing with a Gish Galloper, don't ask a direct question of your opponent which allows them to take the floor. Instead, direct your questions to the audience or elsewhere in a rhetorical way. If absolutely necessary, ask a question they can only answer by yes or no, state it that way, "yes or no?", "right?" or "would you agree with that, yes or no?". You might have to interrupt, "hold on a minute.." do it politely but don't be afraid to do so or point out why you did. They will do so whether you do or not, so you have nothing to lose and much to gain.

Since this is public, you really need to avoid arguing with the opponent directly. Your audience is not your opponent, and your opponent is not your audience who must be persuaded. You are there to persuade the audience that the opponent is wrong, nothing more. Frame your responses to elicit a response from the audience, leave the opponent standing by himself, turn the audience into your sympathizer if the opponent
makes unclear, false, misleading, or illogical statements.

None of Tanner's extreme stuff can be documented or is confirmable. He won't give sources for them because they are total BS. You must point that out when an individual makes a claim which isn't part of the meme already, and how others contradict him.

For a committed chemtrail believer in the audience, none of what the pilot said made any difference. For that person, lots of what Tanner said will be entering the meme. His claims beyond the current meme need to be examined and refuted because of that. Maybe a thread here could get that done fairly easily. He sent this out yesterday from his "Global Skywatch". We need to oblige his request because he ijntends to become a "contender" .

We will be holding our first public phone conference to discuss chemtrails/geoengineering.

Time: Monday, November 26th, at 8 pm Eastern time, 5 pm Pacific time
Number: Call 702-589-8240 and use access code 9371679.
All are welcome to attend.
Details & Agenda

We will be discussing some very unique proposals to coordinate our efforts to expose chemtrails to the public and to raise the funds necessary to reach our goals.

We will also begin organizing our group so more people can get directly involved in a well-coordinated, well-focused group that gets things done.

You can join our Wiggio Group to stay connected with us by using this link.
Please enter your email when prompted. Your email address will not be published or shared: Global Skywatch Wiggio Group

Please join us!

Below is our general agenda for this event. This will be expanded as the event approaches, so check back often.
•Introduction◦Who we are; What we do, Why we do it

•Our Purpose & Goals ◦Ending chemtrails: The 5-step plan

•Overview: The Problems We Face◦The scope and effect of geoengineering
◦Two small groups trying to influence the public
Exposing Geoengineering/Chemtrails to the Public◦General Ideas ■Teaching the dangers of metallic aerosols to the public
■Encouraging public cooperation/education
■Blogging - Ideas for combining exposure with fund raising
■Managing newsletters and email lists - Tools & tips
■Contact local media
■Contact local health food stores
■Showings of "what" and "why"
■Partner with farmers and co-ops
■Centralized link sharing
■I Oppose geoengineering business signs with central webpage
■Where to find more ideas

◦Proposed Projects ■The "I Do Not Consent" Project

•Fundraising ◦Conventional donations
◦Creating a business model ■Proposal #1: A mutually beneficial group model
■Proposal #2: A flat business model

•Taking Legal Action ◦What is happening? A status report
◦What you can do

•Utilizing Our Talents◦A Model that Works: How the powers-that-be accomplish their goals
◦Burning DVDs
◦Website design/programming
◦Art work; Creation of flyers/brochures
◦Music writing/production

•Open Discussion for sharing ideas about achieving our goals
•Open Discussion for anything else
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Mick,that's pretty sage advice from Jay above,do you have post or sticky containing advice for debunkers about debating believers?

Jay Reynolds

Senior Member.
There's my "guide to debunking", with a few good references in the comments

The Debunking Handbook is also good:
Both of Mick's references for debunking are great.
Different tactics may be necessary during a live debate compared to a prepared debunking for later consumption.

Remember what you are up against. These are info-warriors and will use any tactic possible.
Tanner was full of scorn and directly called the pilot a liar and disinformationalist, even though a woman(a true believer) in the mix asked folks to not get personal.
The pilot should have brought this out to counter the tactic and gain sympathy with the undecideds. It would have flattened Tanners accusations, instead he let it stand and was not being countered the pilot was thus diminished in some eyes.
We need to use all tactics, except for dis/misinformation, which will come out in the end on either side.
The side that uses it, loses the info-war.
Last edited by a moderator:


Senior Member.
Around 1hour 2 the pilot tells Russ how wrong he is. "If you can smell trails 13km away, you should be able to smell your neighbour's cooking or the sewage plant some distance away"
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