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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

IQ2 debate on "Atheists are wrong" - the results (Lions defeat Christians)

Pre-debate: 28.5% for the motion, 56% against, 15.5% undecided. Post-debate: 28.9% for, 66.3% against, 5.7% undecided.

Actually, these figures from Twitter can't be quite right, as the second set of figures adds up to over 100, but presumably they are near enough to give a good idea what happened. Maybe we'll see slightly different figures for the debate later on. Or maybe the second group of figures contains more people if the first misses a few late arrivals. I really don't know.

Anyway, as the figures show, we had a pretty receptive audience for the speakers against the motion, which doubtless buoyed us. Still, nearly 30 per cent were prepared, before the debate started, to support a motion that "Atheists are wrong". Both sides received plenty of applause, though ours was louder. With 1200 enthusiastic people packed into Sydney's City Recital Hall, the debate had plenty of atmosphere.

The figure that matters with these debates isn't the ultimate number or percentage who support the motion, but which side of the argument produces the best shift in numbers. On the figures given, our godless team received a net 10.3 per cent of the audience (equivalent to two-thirds of the undecideds) shifting to us, while the speakers for the motion managed to get a net 0.4 per cent of the audience to shift to them.

As I think I've said before, debates like this don't necessarily prove anything. They can be won on the basis of tactics and imponderable factors, as much as on the merit of arguments. They do, however, create opportunities for reflection and discussion (as well as entertainment).

In this case, I think our ungodly team probably had better tactics on the night (as well as being correct of course!).

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. It was great working with the people at IQ2, who were efficient, helpful and friendly at every stage, and I very much enjoyed teaming up with Tamas Pataki and Jane Caro. We all seemed to establish a good rapport with each other, which surely helped us.

4 comments:

Darrick Lim said...

Nice work Russell and team. Godlessness FTW! :D

Andrew Skeg said...

I will be watching the debate tonight, but on the results I will already thank you :)

Marshall said...

A fair fight and I'm sure a splendid time was had by all. Congratulations on your victory!

... I don't think you're wrong ...

Russell Blackford said...

And the official figures are now on the iq2oz. The site now has:

Before debate
For the motion: 28.5
Against: 56
Undecided: 15.5

After debate
For the motion: 28
Against: 66
Undecided: 6