Here’s why I want to debate you, Jennifer Margulis

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On Friday I wrote about Jennifer Margulis’ pride in being singled out as one of the birth blogger buffoons.

Margulis wrote on her Facebook page:

A midwife who just requested my friendship on Facebook pointed out that I made the hit list of a notorious internet troll yet again! I am in good company with Ricki Lake and Jen Vbacfacts Kamel…

In response, I publicly offered to debate Margulis:

… I’ll debate you in print on natural childbirth, homebirth, vaccines, whatever you prefer. We can publish the debate on both your blog and mine so there will be no chance of altering our words. Then everyone can vote in the comments sections about who was more persuasive.

I’ll be waiting for your response, but I’m not holding my breath because I could turn awfully blue (just like those hypoxic homebirth babies). You’ll never agree and like Jennifer Block, Henci Goer, Ricki Lake, et al. you’ll run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.

You know as well as I do that you would be eviscerated and publicly humiliated in no time at all, so you won’t dare agree.

Margulis took 24 hours to think about it and respond thus:

Jennifer Margulis 5-3-14

Amy Tuteur I would be delighted to debate you on the topic of your choice. I’m astonished and delighted at your invitation, since you have dismissed me as a “clown” and a “joke” in your latest blog post! But no worries, if you’d like to spend time exchanging ideas with a “clown,” I’d be glad to. Let’s find a neutral public space to do a live televised debate. I am not interested in a popularity contest (you win for having the most vociferous and best organized blog commentators out there), but I am interested in shedding light on these issues and helping women and their partners make informed choices about their health and the health of their children. I look forward to a rational debate that will not include words like those in your invitation like “eviscerated” and “publicly humiliated,” or the ad hominem attacks on your blog. Is that something you would be interested in? Please PM me your phone number so we can work out the details.

Margulis appears confused as to why I would want to debate someone I have dismissed as a clown and a joke, so I will explain:

Jennifer Margulis, I want to debate you because I think you are DANGEROUS.

I hold you personally responsible for putting children and babies at risk by your support of quackery. I would not be surprised if you are personally responsible for serious childhood illnesses in those who follow your advice about vaccination, and personally responsible for the deaths of babies whose mothers embraced homebirth midwifery after you needlessly scared them about the “dangers” of hospital birth.

Perhaps you think that your words are not particularly meaningful, just a way to sell articles and books, and draw internet traffic. Perhaps you consider them a proud defense of your own mothering choices. After all, you never face the inevitable result; you never have to sit with deathly ill children in ICUs; you never have to attend the funerals where they put the tiny white coffins of the babies who die at homebirth into the ground. But when you put words out into the public space, you bear moral responsibility for the consequences.

I realize that your understanding of science is poor at best. You have no understanding of immunology, virology and statistics. You are shockingly ignorant about everything from the dangers of childbirth to the causes of autism. Hence your “warnings” are sincere. But sincerity doesn’t prevent life threatening illness, and it certainly won’t bring babies and children back from the dead.

You potentially HURT and KILL children, Jennifer Margulis, and that’s why I want to debate you.

My desire is to protect babies and children, and therefore, I consider it an unpleasant, but morally necessary task to eviscerate your arguments and publicly show you up for the foolish, dangerous woman that you are. The fact that I personally have no respect for you is irrelevant. Other people do, and, as a result, they risk the lives and health of their children. I want to put a stop to it and I think that I can.

Obviously, you are never going to agree to a debate. You recognize that your arguments WOULD be eviscerated, and you WOULD be held up for public ridicule if you participated in a debate. Therefore, after no doubt carefully mulling how to publicly appear to agree to a debate that you can never let happen, you suggested debating live on television, which, as you know, is about as likely to happen as debating live on Mars. I doubt many people are fooled by your sophistry.

You are no different than Henci Goer, Jennifer Block and every other homebirth advocate I have offered to debate. You may not know much, but your survival instincts are keen. Even you (and they) know that your arguments would not stand up to scientific scrutiny. That’s why the natural habitat of a homebirth blogger is her own website and Facebook page, where she can control any debate by deleting inconvenient facts and keep her followers thoroughly in the dark, while simultaneously congratulating them on being “educated.”

The real question for you, Ms. Margulis, is whether you are willing to publicly own the nonsense that you promote as truth. Although I would prefer to eviscerate your claims, I will probably have to settle for the consolation prize of pointing out that you aren’t willing to face someone with actual knowledge of science in an open debate.

For now, I guess that will have to do.

189 Responses to “Here’s why I want to debate you, Jennifer Margulis”

  1. SilentSaturn
    May 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Why would Dr. A give out personal information like her phone number? It’s pretty creeptastic that she actually asked for that information.

    I honestly see no point in a live debate. One, I don’t have time to sit down and watch a lengthy video and I doubt most people do. Second, I like that print offers both women the chance to back data and arguments with links to peer-reviewed research, and also the opportunity for readers to cite specific parts of the debate without having to link to a video where viewers have to sift through the footage to get to the relevant part(s) being highlighted. In short, it’s a lot more convenient to have it in print form.

    • Anj Fabian
      May 8, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      gotta love the tags on the first link:
      Tags: Broken Health Care System, Carla Hartley, Cytotec, Gail Hart, infant mortality, Marsden Wagner, maternal mortality, maternal mortality rate, midwives, Trust Birth

      I nodded along with most, wondered where “perinatal mortality” was. (Missing, as usual.) Snickered when I got to “Trust Birth”.

    • Young CC Prof
      May 8, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      My favorite quote from the second: “Our Ratings reveal that C-section rates vary dramatically—even between neighboring hospitals.”

      You know, a hospital with a super-low c-section rate always seems to be right next door to one with a super-high rate? What’s up with that? Why are doctors at the second hospital too greedy, stupid or impatient to just let mothers birth as nature intended? I mean, there couldn’t possibly be any other explanation, women are assigned to hospitals pretty much at random from among the ones near their home, and they never switch from one to another during pregnancy, right?

      • February 9, 2017 at 8:16 am #

        (1) For what it’s worth, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been discouraging hospitals from performing un-medically necessary C-sections for over 5 years. It’s considered best practice in the nation to only do a C-section when it’s absolutely medically necessary to ensure the health of the mother or the baby.
        (2) It is a fact that the more a physician does a specific procedure, the better they get at it, and the fewer complications result from that surgery. If you have to have a C-section, only a fool would want someone other than the best there is.
        Those two factors are why you see one hospital with a low C-section rate, while a second one next door has a “super-high” rate. And you’ll find that the low rate hospital and physicians in the area will refer high risk pregnancies that may require a C-section to the high rate hospital, while the high rate hospital may refer normal pregnancies to the low C-section rate facility.

        • Daleth
          February 9, 2017 at 9:53 am #

          Interesting. But in the overwhelming majority of cases there is no way to know whether a CS is “absolutely medically necessary to ensure the health of the mother or the baby.” In other words, that cannot possibly be the standard because that standard is impossible to meet.

          The only exceptions–that is, the only time you actually do know a CS is “absolutely medically necessary”–are when you know that the woman has just suffered placental abruption or uterine rupture, either of which essentially guarantees death to the baby and could even kill the woman unless an immediate CS is performed. And there probably are a few other types of emergencies in which you know someone will die without a CS. But those are rare exceptions.

          In the vast majority of pregnancies/labors, all you know is whether the risk to mom and/or baby is below average, average, moderately high or very high. That’s all you have to go on: risk, not certainty. If the risk of waiting or of trying to power through a VB gets unacceptably high, it’s time for a CS–and what’s unacceptable varies from woman to woman and doctor to doctor, though most people are very risk averse when it comes to obstetrics.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          February 9, 2017 at 10:37 am #

          To be honest, I am very leery about recommendations made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about rationing of treatment. They are not being made on the basis of best medicine.

          I understand that it is absolutely an issue that we need to consider, because things cost money, but I don’t put too much stock in an organization that is desperate to cut costs saying, “Avoid things that cost more”

        • Young CC Prof
          February 9, 2017 at 10:52 am #

          That’s exactly what I’m saying (sarcastically), that the hospital with the higher rate is getting many more high-risk patients.

  2. Jennifer L.W. Fink
    May 8, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    You wrote, “Obviously, you are never going to agree to a debate.” after Jennifer agreed to debate you. (Her words: “I would be delighted to debate you on the topic of your choice… look forward to a rational debate… Please PM me your phone number so we can work out the details.”)

    • guesting
      May 9, 2014 at 9:55 am #

      Print debate was offered and denied by Jennifer. A “live televised” debate is not going to happen. I don’t want to watch a live televised debate on this subject. I want links and careful print.

  3. The Computer Ate My Nym
    May 6, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    (you win for having the most vociferous and best organized blog commentators out there

    I feel oddly complimented by this statement.

    • MLE
      May 6, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

      That’s an outright admission of defeat right there. Actually this is a hive of well informed, passionate people who by virtue of our united goal, the saving of babies, happen to swarm threads where the batlight of ignorance is shining the brightest.

      • auntbea
        May 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

        I know, right? If the other side is more organized than you, you lose.

        • Young CC Prof
          May 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

          As the military says, no organized force is ever outnumbered by a disorganized force, regardless of the actual numbers involved.

    • Lena
      May 6, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      That says it all, doesn’t it? She knows perfectly well her popularity is based on an ignorant audience.

    • Mariana Baca
      May 6, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

      Mostly I feel left out of these secret organization meetings.

      • Young CC Prof
        May 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

        Didn’t anyone tell you? We switched them to Tuesdays at the fallback site. The Primal Birth Warriors were closing in on the original meeting site.

  4. lawyer jane
    May 6, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    I actually don’t think there’s any point in a live debate. Hardcore woo-ists don’t engage directly with evidence that does not support their views, and they are not hesitant to lie about or distort the data they dislike. Since Dr. Amy actually adheres to facts, she stands at a disadvantage in a live debate – she won’t participate in their dirty tricks, so she will lose. Blogging is a much better medium, since people who are inclined to actually think about the facts will be able to find them in a more easily understandable way.

    • Guest
      May 6, 2014 at 11:15 am #

      Agreed. As well as we have seen Dr. Amy speak in the past, trying to decipher the message would get lost upon many who are trying to adhere to or keep up with the spin provided by Margulis. Blogging puts the facts to prints and allows time for processing of data and permanent record, whereas live debate will leave content lost on many.

      I see a live debate going something like when I was 6 years old and dreamed my favorite dog could fly. Oh how I can still see him now, flying through the halls and family room 6 feet in the air. Obviously, my mother tried to correct my comprehension with facts of physics and nature. She spoke with facts and reason, but at 6 years old I stomped my feet and insisted quite convincingly my dream was true because I didn’t want to hear facts. I just wanted to believe in my own little fantasy world. I see Margulis and the NCB followers lining up to stomp their feet loud enough only to hear what they want to support their little fantasy land.

  5. Megj86
    May 6, 2014 at 2:28 am #

    Dr Amy I really hope you do pursue this debate with Jen Margulis – to be honest this particular post came off as ‘here are the reasons I want to debate u but since u made a suggestion I don’t wholly agree with (and I’m surprised you responded with a yes) I’m going to throw it right back at ya and and claim u don’t really want to debate with me So that we don’t actually have to debate each other.’ (I truly love your work dr Amy but this is how the NCB’ers would construe this.)

    While her idea of a live televised debate is not your ideal method of delivery (excuse the pun), you still don’t know that she doesn’t want to debate you, so it seems wrong to make that claim in this post. I would suggest YOU should be taking control of the situation and you being the one to suggest how to deliver this debate? Either give her a non private number or ask for her number so YOU can call her? Or at the very least go along with her suggestion at least to prove whether or not she will pull out. If you don’t I fear it would give the NCB quacks even more ammo to try and call you out and disregard any of the intelligent, truthful, sane, information that you are trying to get out there!

    • Monica
      May 6, 2014 at 7:37 am #

      Except it’s not like TV is knocking down either of their doors and saying they want to host a debate. Other equally good forums were recommended to Jennifer and she still has not responded.

      • Ashley L
        May 8, 2014 at 10:29 am #

        You know, there is such a thing as youtube, hangout, facetime, etc. Hey guys, we live in the internet age! We don’t need an actual broadcasting TV station!!!

  6. Ducky
    May 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Amy, do you actually want to debate her? Why not pursue this and let her be the one to back off? Improbabilty of TV coverage or not, right now you look like the one whose bluff got called out.

    And Margulis seems sincere… If somehow she’s not bluffing, this would be a good opportunity to air the facts… which are the central point of this blog, right?

    • Trixie
      May 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

      Of course she wants to debate her. Why else would she write an essay stating that she wants to debate her?

    • Amazed
      May 6, 2014 at 7:07 am #

      They all seem sincere. Dr Aviva Romm also seemed sincere before flouncing off.

  7. Susan
    May 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    I just want to chime in that I DO like the idea of a live face to face debate. Amy’s demeanor any time I have seen her online video or audio is so calm, caring and professional that I know it must throw those people for a loop. We all know that she is accused of being abrasive or MEAN all the time. But that is so NOT the persona of the real live Dr. Tutuer and I think she would just blow anyone she was debating out of the water with her facility with all these facts. I strongly support the idea because I don’t think it would go extremely well.

    • May 5, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

      It’s a good point, and a Skype or similar debate can be streamed live without time limits. It needs to be recorded as well, but that’s totally doable.

    • Lena
      May 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

      My issue with a televised debate is–who’s moderating? I’ve seen Dr. Amy on tv a couple of times, and while she comes off very well I’ve disliked how the moderators led the debates, and I was left with the impression that for those who don’t know much about the topic, the NCBers looked like the winners.

      There’s never any good following up questions, the other side routinely doesn’t answer the questions that are actually asked and the moderator either is too ignorant to notice or chooses to let it slide , and Dr. Amy gets interrupted constantly.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        May 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

        HuffPost Live would probably be delighted to “air” this, but I’m not sure their hosts are up to the task of moderating.

        • Lena
          May 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

          I think one of the debates I saw was on HuffPost Live, and the moderator was AWFUL. Dr. Amy would make some point about safety to contradict what the other person was saying, and the mod would interrupt her with, “This debate isn’t about safety!”

          I can’t think who would be a good moderator here. Someone with a journalistic background but not knowledgeable on the subject will try so hard to be “balanced” that they’ll let lies and half-truths slide; anyone with any real knowledge will be unacceptable to Margulis.

          • Busbus
            May 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

            Maybe someone with experience moderating political debates? Someone who doesn’t have a horse in the game, but is used to high-flying emotions and keeping stuff “fair” according to some agreed-upon rules?? (Not that I think it works out so well in some political debates. But I think that’s the kind of skill set we would need.)

          • Carrie Looney
            May 6, 2014 at 9:13 am #

            If only you could get Gwen Ifill…

        • Chadwick
          May 8, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

          John Donvan did an excellent job moderating the debate between Novella, Carroll against Eben Alexander and Moody regarding the topic of “Is death final”. With that said, he wouldn’t be a bad choice.

      • Busbus
        May 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

        I agree that the choice of moderator (if there is one) is crucial.

  8. InvisibleDragon
    May 5, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    The idea of a live, face-to-face debate doesn’t work for me simply because it allows her a chance to interrupt, lie, encourage canned agreement from her dupes and generally run from the facts. But if it does come to a face-to-face, go on the offensive right out of the gate and shut her down that way. I expect she’ll run. Also keep in mind: never wrestle with a pig; you get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

    • deafgimp
      May 11, 2014 at 9:44 am #

      I’d be very sad for a live debate, because no one will caption it afterwards and I won’t be able to watch it at all.

      • InvisibleDragon
        May 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

        You’re absolutely right! Another reason for the NCBers to put it in writing. But they won’t. No room in their “tent” for anyone who isn’t in full agreement.

  9. Mariana Baca
    May 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    What about a compromise between on air and text, and have a series or Youtube postings each? You guys can prepare and have citations, but the verbal format will come through.

  10. CanDoc
    May 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Hmm. Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought her response was well-written and seemed sincere. Rather than continuing to flog her on this blog, I think you’d do well to take her up on her offer and see how it goes. Do I think her ideas are dangerous and her reliance on “anecdata” excessive? Sure. But do I think it’d be an interesting debate and worth having, to get the audience thinking? Absolutely.

  11. Captain Obvious
    May 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    I would just make a post calling her out. Break it out in paragraphs by topic. Start with Homebirth risk, the CPM v. CNM differences, then vaccines, then breastfeeding (shaming of). Start with 4-5 points about each with your views and wait for her to answer them.

  12. Just saying.
    May 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Google Hangouts On Air.

  13. Mary
    May 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Oh for cryin’ out loud…

    Hey Dr. Amy? Why don’t you send them a nice cruncy-sweet invitation to a debate like they seem to be making a point of needing. Then once they finally do sit down you can drill them another birth canal.

    Seriously, if they’re so hung up on being asked politely, then – in the interests of finally nailing them to the wall – why not just say pretty-please?

    You can always cross your fingers behind your back when you do. 😉

  14. HillieOnTheBeach
    May 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    “notorious internet troll” death count: 0

    What’s their excuse?

  15. lawyer jane
    May 5, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Check it out: Jennifer Margulis has a PhD, in ENGLISH.

    Her mother appears to be Lynn Margulis, a brilliant evolutionary biologist AND HIV DENIER.

    I guess it runs in the family?

    • Amazed
      May 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      Are you surprised?

      Never heard the chant of homebirth mothers? “My midwife is not uneducated! She has a PhD in music!”

      • Trixie
        May 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

        Most of them go for Women’s Studies, Anthropology, or Sociology.

        • Life Tip
          May 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

          Which is still mind boggling. If you spend any time studying humanities/history/literature/etc. you get women and babies dying in childbirth right and left. How someone can come away even from a ph. d in literature with “trust birth” is unreal to me.

        • Amazed
          May 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

          Which, of course, makes them experts in delivering babies with their own two hands.

          OK, the skill in that area is not all that important, I’ll give them that. After all, it’s all about the art to do nothing and hold the space.

          • theadequatemother
            May 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

            Phd in music = labour playlist selection expertise

        • Amy
          May 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

          The one with the advanced music degree is the ruler supreme of ICAN:

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

            Oh, wow. Never heard of her before. We really do need a hall of shame. It’s too much to keep track of.

          • Amazed
            May 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

            Damn it, I knew it was a real story and not something I made up to make my point. Wow.

        • MaineJen
          May 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

          I’m a fan of all 3 and still a skeptic…although I do have my degree in a “hard” science (bio and chem)

          • Young CC Prof
            May 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

            Hard science answers the question, “What will happen if I do this?”

            The question, “Should I do this?” is much more complicated and can draw on both hard science and various philosophical disciplines.

            The problem is when you start using philosophy to answer the first question.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

            And I contend that you can’t answer the second unless you actually know the answer to the first.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 6, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

            Oh, absolutely.

    • Renee Martin
      May 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      What? Going to college and ignoring ever single thing you learned in order to rebel against the man?

      Isn’t her mom the one that wrote the big HIV denial crap on MDC? I have heard her name before.

    • Renee Martin
      May 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      Um, if she is an HIV denier, she is NOT brilliant at all.
      Even a layperson knows better.

      • Julia
        May 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

        Her mother, Lynn, came up with the endosymbiont theory early in her career (i.e. bacteria started living within the ancestors of today’s higher organisms and became organelles – chloroplasts and mitochondria). this was indeed a brilliant idea, very controversial at the time and later shown to be correct with biochemical and genetic analyses. But she became a HIV denialist later in her life. So you can be both.

        • Young CC Prof
          May 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

          Yeah, there are quite a few examples of really groundbreaking scientists who went, um, offtrack, later in their careers.

          • attitude devant
            May 5, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

            cough! Linus Pauling…

          • Sue
            May 6, 2014 at 3:15 am #

            Yep – you beat me to it, Addie!

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            May 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

            You both beat me to it, but I didn’t realize until after posting…so how about what’s-his-name, the inventor of the PCR who is also an HIV denialist?

          • theadequatemother
            May 5, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

            Isaac Newton. Of course he was a bit crazy early in his career too. Although I should cut him some slack considering he was a product of his time

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

            I can’t really fault Newton for any of his woo. It was so long ago, and people knew so much less about the world.

        • Renee Martin
          May 5, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

          What an absolute shame that she went that direction. I wonder if she was infected with woo, and then followed it straight into la la land? Ideology that is so complete, and unbending (like some religion) can ruin even a genius that started out dedicated to the truth.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          May 6, 2014 at 10:48 am #

          It’s not even that uncommon to be both. Look at Linus Pauling: brilliant physicist and vitamin C cancer nut.

      • former student and tutuer fan
        May 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

        I took class with Lynn Margulis at UMass Amherst. She was a strong intelligent woman, and although we had differences of interpretation of scientific facts,many,she was an open person willing to debate, discuss and be skeptical. Those of you debating her beliefs, and I agree, some are abhorrent, merely show you do not get that she was full of ideas to consider, discuss, and hold up to the light. When you proved her wrong with fact, she was intrigued and delighted and considered a new way. Maybe she changed later in life, but when I knew her, she was everything a young female scientist should strive to become. Her daughter fell very far from the tree and does not deserve your pity. Her mother was a skeptical scientist; she held wrong and right beliefs that she tried with science. She published and held her views open to debate in the world, for ever and ever. She did not hide behind sound bites and shots on Facebook, TV and YouTube. And she never ever would have cared if you eviscerated her in debate. She would have dug deep, recognized her wrong, and thought about the next great problem that struck her interest.

        • Trixie
          May 5, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

          Except, there was something that went seriously wrong, because she was a Truther and an HIV denialist.

    • Dr Kitty
      May 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

      HIV deniers are the WORST.
      We’ve gone from a diagnosis that was a death sentence to medication that can give normal CD4 counts, negligible viral loads and an essentially normal life expectancy in less than 35 years.

      HIV causes AIDS, HAART prevents HIV developing into AIDS, nobody with AIDS is HIV negative.
      If you are an HIV denier you are immune to every kind of evidence, and you’re definitely doing science wrong.

    • Houston Mom
      May 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      She was also a 9/11 truther. Interestingly she says in this 9/11 conspiracy video that a scientist’s best friend is a valid critic.

      • Trixie
        May 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

        Wow, she used to be married to Carl Sagan?

    • Danielle
      May 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      9/11 truthism to boot. Hm! I would not run this horse too hard, but it is valid to point out (and keep doing so) that this family are big on conspiracy theories that most people consider to be loopy. This means nothing to those who are similarly extreme and simply assume the world is run by secret illuminati: to this kind of person, it’s only “obvious” that the gov’t rigged 9/11, big pharma rigs all the research, big hospital wants to cut you to bits, big agriculture is poisening you, and “the man [whoever he is] is keeping us all down.” Only a true folk hero can fight back against the alleged machine. But to everyone who hasn’t assumed that worldview, at least some of the beliefs in this cluster are suspicious, and can be used to get them to double-check the truth claims being made.

      • May 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

        Believing in one or two “conspiracy theories” but otherwise being an intelligent, rational, clear thinking person is certainly possible. It depends on the clustering of them (it’s ALL a conspiracy and EVERYONE’S in on it), the fanaticism/grandiosity (X is THE ONLY POSSIBLE ANSWER) the danger the conspiracy theory/ies carry (germ theory denial, anti vax, etc), and the amount of clear, factually and scientifically based evidence there is regarding said conspiracy.

        Sorry, I know and love a couple of scientists who believe in a few conspiracy theories, and have believed some myself. There’s a wide gulf there, there have definitely been documented conspiracies, and not everyone who is suspicious about some things (like 9/11) is automatically a crazy left-wingnut worrying about the illuminati. My sheepish two cents ($0.02, loose change, whatever)

        • Danielle
          May 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

          You are correct. One can have quite valid conclusions on one topic, and be wrong in another. I hesitated to post the comment for this reason. It’s bad argumentation to say, “You’re wrong, because you were once from on XYZ unrelated topic.”

          Still, when someone or some group of people can be found making very similar assumptions in multiple unrelated cases, they display what one might rightly term an interpretive bias. Pro-natural birth arguments often fall back on a meta-narrative of vested interests (doctors, “big medicine,” men, etc) acting in conspiratorial ways. This is why it is notable, but no unsurprising, to find people who accept this picture of how obstetrics works to think it is also going on in the area of vaccines, or HIV, or food production, or whatever.

          It is, of course, no sin to have a bias. We all have them, and cannot help but have them. (Most of the posters to this site inherently trust professional scientists and the conclusions they draw; in this we differ from fairly big swaths of the US populace.) Nonetheless, the ubiquity of bias is precisely what makes it useful to name and notice them. Biases are a clue into what someone’s insights and blind spots are likely to be, and also how much I might “trust” them, based on my own biases.

          You are basically correct, however. My comment did go a bit too far.

    • Trixie
      May 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      This makes me sort of feel sorry for her.

  16. Trixie
    May 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Ruh-roh. Jennifer just whipped out her own PhD.

    • Renee Martin
      May 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      LOL. Its not in Obstetrics or immunology is it?

      • Amazed
        May 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

        Where? On her own Facebook? Damn it, it looks like I’ll have to make an account, after all.

        • Renee Martin
          May 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

          Its in ENGLISH.
          If she is supposed to be an investigative journalist, then they better rewrite that definition.

          • ngozi
            May 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

            Journalism is supposed to be objective.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

            She fits in perfectly with the crap they label as journalism today…

          • ngozi
            May 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

            One reason why I got run out of journalism is because I was trying to be objective!!

    • Renee Martin
      May 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm #


      • Trixie
        May 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

        No! She reads to African orphans! Therefore she’s qualified!

      • ngozi
        May 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

        Ok, maybe I am just brain dead from dealing with hyper 9th-graders all day, but I am confused.

        • Renee Martin
          May 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

          You are right, I was looking at the pic of “Blossom”, which is HUGE and has PHD all across it. I only saw her byline with her degree after looking a few times.

        • Trixie
          May 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

          Jennifer Margulis shared a Natural News post and meme about how Mayim Bialik doesn’t vaccinate and holds a PhD. Jennifer’s commentary tries to make it sound like she can science better than the CDC.

      • Trixie
        May 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

        She claims she’s a vaccinating family, but yet appeared on Front line spewing anti-vax nonsense.

        • Jessica S.
          May 5, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

          I don’t get that. Why does she vaccinate her family but spout anti-vax crap? I wonder if she’s “selective”. Or lying. I don’t know.

          • MLE
            May 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

            Street cred

          • KarenJJ
            May 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

            Wasn’t she anti-vax until she travelled? Then when her kids were at a potential risk she decided vaccinating was OK? It’s why I see anti-vax as selfish – because it’s all about their kids and the threat to them – stuff everybody else.

          • Susan
            May 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

            I always hate that too. It’s like the people who drive the biggest car and aren’t ashamed to say hey, in an accident I want to be the one who lives. ( my life and my baby’s life are more important than yours)

          • Young CC Prof
            May 5, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

            Those people are also doing it wrong. Yes, the SUV is safest in a head-on collision, but due to the longer breaking distance and elevated risk of rollover, the safest way to drive your family overall is a station wagon.

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

            Are there even station wagons anymore? Minivans are pretty safe.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            May 5, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

            I don’t think anyone makes the old-fashioned kind with the rear-facing seats anymore for safety reasons. So if you have more than 3 kids to haul around, you’re pretty much stuck with a minivan or large SUV.

            The Subaru Outback remains pretty popular, though. Volvo and Volkswagen also make wagons.

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

            The minivan tends to be safer than SUVs.

          • Jessica S.
            May 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

            Maybe something like a Subaru Outback? Volvo and Audi make wagons, too, I think. I think they use a different term now, like cross-over hatchback or something. 🙂

          • Certified Hamster Midwife
            May 5, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

            Yeah, the Outback used to be the wagon model of the Legacy, like the famous Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable wagon or the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry wagons. Volkswagen still does this with the wagon version of the Passat. Now the sedan (Legacy) and SUV-crossover (Outback) are separate models instead of being the same car with a different roof. The Forester used to be the crossover model, and now it’s the size of a full SUV.

            Wow, this is far off topic.

          • Jessica S.
            May 5, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

            Ha! 🙂

          • Dr Kitty
            May 6, 2014 at 9:21 am #

            Station wagons are called “estate cars” in the UK. They are more popular than Minivans.

            From what I can tell European families like small SUVs (Nissan Qashqai, Toyota Rav4 etc) and estate cars, whereas Americans like Minivans and Big SUVs.

            In an ideal world I’d get a Volvo XC90 if we have more kids, but I’ve got my little VW Polo runaround for the meantime, which is fine with one child.

          • fiftyfifty1
            May 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

            Is it true that the station wagon really is a safer vehicle? Or is it just that slow-driving careful nerds like myself chose station wagons?

            Long live the Subaru Outback (with a fresh set of hakkapeliitta snow tires).

          • Jessica S.
            May 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

            That is selfish. Who cares about the risk your unvaxed kids might be to others. I hate to cut her any slack, but at least she vaccinated them, especially when traveling.

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

            My guess is selective.

      • Jessica S.
        May 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

        Mayim is definitely into quackery, but she’s not so washed up anymore now that she’s a regular on The Big Bang Theory. (Although she’s one of my least favorite characters, as a stand alone.)

        • May 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

          Her bullshit has totally ruined my love for the show Blossom. Damn her destroying my nostalgia!

      • Amazed
        May 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

        Even HER PhD was in neuroscience, then what? Gods, I know someone who teaches microbiology (a university professor) and she claims to know next to nothing about biology. When asked specific questions, it turns out she knows more than 10 of me… or 10 of Jen Margulis. But knowing all she knows in her FIELD OF SPECIALTY, she’s very aware of her limits in other areas, as linked as they might be to her field.

        Gotta suggest that she becomes a birth know it all. It’ll be easier than dealing with students who whine, “But why do I have to make 10 projects, just so you can choose 1?”

        She’ll love it, I’m sure.

    • Captain Obvious
      May 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

      Ahh, Blossom got a PhD in neuroscience.

    • Anj Fabian
      May 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      I’m biased in favor of the CDC because the international community considers the CDC teh authoritay.

      It’s one thing for an American to think that the CDC is way cool. It’s another thing when the rest of the world thinks the CDC is the bomb.

      • fiftyfifty1
        May 5, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

        I had no idea the CDC was respected (or even known) world wide. How nice! There are some things the US does well that make me proud. Our excellent public library system is #1 on my list of those things. I shall now add the CDC to that list.

      • Michelle
        May 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

        My take on the CDC being well known (well, mostly) is that the conspiracy theorists and otherwise deranged persons in my country all think we live in ‘Merica and burble on about the FDA and the CDC. It’s amazing how fazed they when confronted with the fact that we have our own organisations for licensing and approving medicines/medical devices and for public health and their policies are rather different due to our differing health system (which is public and provides care to all comers regardless of income and is funded by taxation).

        That said, all Public Health organisations share information, including the WHO and the CDC is an important part of that considering the large population it serves, it’s strategies for managing public health issues and the databases it has built. .

  17. Renee Martin
    May 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    Dr Amy would be excellent live. Sure, it’s not the first, or best, choice, but you are all underestimating her. We are not talking about a person that has no sound bytes, no fast points to make, or someone that must rely on lengthy explanations. Dr Amy is fantastic at the quick reply, and there is NO reason SHE cannot be the one going on the offense, redirecting, and repeating the basic facts over and over:
    HB kills 3-10x more, period.
    HIE is 18x more likely at HB.
    MANA stats show VBAC and breech to be even more deadly.
    MANA stats show CPMs kill a lot.
    CPMs are not trained nor educated.

    See, that was easy. You don’t need to refute every point they make, that just gets you tried. Go on the offense and make HER dance.

    • Young CC Prof
      May 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      I think I agree with you. I think the mistake a lot of pro-science debaters make is in trying to convince their opponent. The opponent is unconvinceable, play to the audience. Go ahead and make fun of his fallacies. This isn’t a struggling student in your classroom, this is someone who considers herself your equal and has set out to prove it.

      • Renee Martin
        May 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

        What Jennifer can do, Dr A can do better, whether its a scientific factual debate with footnotes, or a crowd pleasing entertainment fest.
        Look at Dr Amys persona, does she sound like the kind of person that would be unable to hold their own, and tops the crap right back into the face of these NCB liars? Come on.

      • Guest
        May 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

        I’ve done PR in a science setting and this is excellent advice. Dr. Tuteur is unusual among scientists in her ability to write very well and to tell a story well. It is the last two skills she would need to rely on in a live debate. Tell the story, make it compelling, don’t get dragged into a pissing contest and don’t aim for the converted. “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

        • MLE
          May 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

          Ah, I see you got there already (re: above PR comment)

    • May 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

      I think there are a tonne of good sound bites on our side of this debate and I think if anyone knows this issue inside and out it would be Dr. Amy.
      “Exchanging hypothetical risks for real risks is foolish.”

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        May 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

        It isn’t about knowledge. The top evolutionary biologists in the world have debated creationists and been destroyed, because in this format, it has nothing to do with reality.

        • May 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

          The top evolutionary biologists in the world are not debaters. I think Dr. Amy is – at her heart – not only willing to debate but capable of it, and furthermore – I think she is more capable than Mrs. Margulis. Dr. Amy writes for a living, further Dr. Amy writes opinion, and while that opinion is motivated by science, it is ultimately opinion.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

            You don’t think evolutionary biologists are debaters? That’s pretty clueless.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

            There is real, solid, scientific debate, and then there is Jerry Springer, dealing with fools debate. I am saying Dr Amy can do BOTH, and everything in between.

            If you rely solely on facts to win against these types, you will always come in second.

          • MLE
            May 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

            The PR war is important too. And it’s not dishonest or dishonorable to wage it when we have the body count at our fingertips.

          • May 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

            I think evolutionary biologists are scientists, able to defend and advance their ideas, but no they are not generally debaters. It is it’s own skill set – as evidenced by their performance when called to debate creationists.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

            Creationists spend all their time trying to shut down facts, in a quick way that is convincing. There is really no way to win, unless you do the same.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

            It’s not their lack of ability, it’s the format.

            You can’t win an honest debate against liars in this format. That has been demonstrated clearly in history.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

            Its true that lying liars that lie make things difficult. I would much rather see a debate in writing.

            Still, why are we assuming Dr A will be answering Jennifers nonsense, instead of Jennifer trying to explain away Dr Amys points? Isn’t this the idiot that said HB is safe if you leave out Portland?

          • Susan
            May 5, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

            Applause, is the really that idiot?

          • May 6, 2014 at 2:22 am #

            Well, Bill Nye did very well. But he had a lot of time to prepare for the types of arguments he would face, and the dishonest tactics of his opponent.

            Then again, so would Dr. Amy.

        • May 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

          Evolutionary biologists don’t deal with dead and disabled babies. They don’t deal with loss moms. They don’t deal with anything nearly as poignant – and for every story about a kid harmed by a vaccine, or a woman with a bad birth – there’s 10 other stories about women and children who benefitted from modern science or were incredibly harmed by this ideology. The reality is , this is a debate that is very winnable.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

            I agree. Biology is boring to people not into it, and to really appreciate the conversation you generally need some basic education. I love PZ Meyers, but his biology posts also go way over my head and are as such, boring. No matter how interesting HE is, the topic has limits.

            Dead babies and medical negligence? Pull up a chair and pop the popcorn/

          • Young CC Prof
            May 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

            I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Evolution doesn’t seem real to people, it IS all theoretical, no matter how strong the evidence is to people who understand it.

            THIS family, and THIS one, and THIS one lost a child from listening to people like her. It’s a lot tougher to ignore.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

            Evolution doesn’t seem real to people

            What are you talking about?

            Evolution is a very REAL threat to people’s religion (in their minds). Given that more than half of the country believes in some sort of god-guided process, that’s a lot more personal to most people than dead babies are.

            Why do you think evolution is even “controversial”? Do you think it actually matters in tangible way whether evolution is true? Aside from the underlying question of scientific literacy? Not in the least.

            Yet, everyone has an opinion on it. Why? Religion.

            Childbirth issues are life and death, for sure. But evolution? That’s got religious implications, and it’s serious.

            This is why Bill Nye took the approach that he did – to try to ease people’s fears about their religion.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

            I think you missed what she meant.

            Yes, evolution is a real threat, especially re some religions, but as a topic, its just not real. You cannot put your hand out and touch it, and it takes a lot of imagination to really get your mind around it. If you aren’t in a discipline that is directly influenced by it, you can spend most of your life ignoring this entire topic. Most people do.

            Babies ARE real, and everyone knows one. Disabled kids ARE real, we have all seen them. Birth IS real, and everyone knows what it is. Its here,its physical, and you do not need any special equipment of knowledge to understand what it is.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

            That’s part of the key. The people who are really REALLY excited about evolution are those who believe in biblical literalism. However, the average person who “believes in” evolution says, “Of course it’s true, anyone who doesn’t believe it is a religious nut, but their disbelief doesn’t harm me any.”

            The real problem with not “believing in” evolution is that you then can’t really understand anything about biology. Of course, you can “believe in” evolution and still understand it very poorly, in which case you still don’t understand biology. (Example, people who quote natural selection to “prove” that human reproduction works perfectly in nature.)

            With childbirth, perfectly ordinary people can be (and are) passionately in favor of making medical interventions available to every woman and child who needs them, because it saves lives.

    • Amy
      May 5, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      You realize the big problem, of course. Live, Dr. Amy comes across as a sweet, caring woman who delivers the facts in a no-nonsense but still gentle voice. The other side would lose the one argument they have, that Dr. Amy is MEAN.

  18. Kazia
    May 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    I read, and usually don’t comment. Today, I have to vent my frustration. I’m a student, and in one of my classes we’re doing presentations. Today’s was about birth practices. They said CNMs and CMs were equivalent. There was also the usual drivel about how evil doctors were out to get you, and home birth is safer than the hospital.

    It took soooo much self control to not correct them. I did pipe up at the end, during the discussion part when they were talking about cesareans. I just mentioned that the 1 in 3 statistic is misleading, and for low-risk women attempting a vaginal birth it’s much lower. Nobody seemed to care, but I tried, right?

    • moto_librarian
      May 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      What program are you enrolled in, Kazia? I sincerely hope it is not related to midwifery or obstetrics.

      And yes, good on you for trying!

      • Kazia
        May 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

        I’m studying psychology. The class is a child development class for my minor. The professor is lovely, but allowed a bit too much free reign for our presentations, in my opinion.

    • Renee Martin
      May 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      CNM and CM are roughly equivalent. One is a nurse as well, but both have the same standards and licensing, and require advanced education. CMs are rare, but ought to be the nationwide replacement for CPMs.

      CPM, and all their other names: LDEM, LM, DEM, lay MW, traditional birth attendant, whatever…. THOSE are all dangerous, untrained laywomen, and most are also birth junkies.

  19. Trixie
    May 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    I count 3 “eviscerates”. Oh, Dr. Amy, she’s never going to debate you if you keep using such meen meen words.

  20. ngozi
    May 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    I wouldn’t give out my phone number, unless it is one where you don’t mind being bombarded by crazy phone calls.

  21. Dr Kitty
    May 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Can you do a SKYPE/ Facetime debate and put it on YouTube?
    Would that work?

  22. Dr Kitty
    May 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Now we’re vociferous and organised, apparently.
    Isn’t that just a way of saying that the people who comment here are smarter, better educated and more able to write a convincing, grammatical post to argue their points than her own followers?

    Also, we’re better able to debate and more used to judging dissenting opinion, because Dr Amy doesn’t delete or ban people who disagree with her.

  23. May 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    What about a live debate at a conference that is broadcast via the internet? I mean live on TV, never going to happen – but live and broadcast…hard to see why not.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      May 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      Terrible idea

      • Life Tip
        May 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

        See: creation debates.

        Bad bad idea.

      • Young CC Prof
        May 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

        Well, most of the awful creationist videos ALSO involved selective editing. Really live might go better.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          May 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

          Not really.

          Text is how it needs to be done. A live debate is going to be a failure. Regardless of the venue or medium.

          • Life Tip
            May 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

            The Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate was live. Bill Nye had pretty much every advantage on his side: science, good teacher, beloved personality. Creationists still consider it a win.

            They rely on short, zingy sound bites. You need TIME to refute them. Which you don’t get in a live debate. It takes Ken Ham 2 seconds to say “where you there?” with an idiotic smirk on his face. It takes a scientists a lot of time to explain why that question doesn’t even make sense. They barely have time to do that, much less give evidence/explanation about the actual topic. And at the end, you have people who don’t even follow the answer. They just repeat the catchy phrase, “where you there?”

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

            “Herd immunity is a myth”

            Easily claimed in a live debate. Any attempt at refutation is going to roll eyes.

            She claims it in print, and all you have to do is run the math. Readers can skip the numbers and look at the bottom.

          • Anj Fabian
            May 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

            If vaccinations don’t work, why does the livestock industry use them?

            Maybe we can scare people into becoming vegan. “Did you know that chicken you are eating was VACCINATED?”.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

            Oh, it’s worse than that. They’re genetically modified organisms!

          • Carrie Looney
            May 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

            As are we! OMG! (And a good thing, too.)

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

            Yeah, when was the last time you saw a To Kill a Mockingbird Scenario play out in your neighborhood, with rabid dogs stumbling down the street towards your small children?

          • Siri
            May 5, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

            AND it is autistic. And wasn’t lotus birthed (egged?) or breastfed. Didn’t co-sleep, was never worn. In short, it isn’t an Attachment Fowl. Stay well clear if you wish to avoid contamination!

          • Danielle
            May 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

            That argument is in fact made by vegans.

          • Young CC Prof
            May 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

            I suppose that’s better than trying to buy “all natural” animal products. Which some nuts do, unpasteurized milk anyone?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

            I don’t know how far you could get by argument ad modern farming practice.

          • AmyP
            May 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

            One nice thing about print is it’s much easier to skim.

          • Amazed
            May 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

            Ultrasound is dangerous, a person from the inside says. You ask who this person is and she admits it was an anonymous cleaning woman in a hospital… who stated it in a reply to an internet article.

            How many people will remember this detail? You can be sure they’ll remember the insider’s precious view, though.

          • Anj Fabian
            May 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

            ” I have this book.”

            I give Nye enormous credit. He made his points well.

          • Life Tip
            May 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

            Oh, I agree. I’m a big Bill Nye fan myself. And I think he knew what he was getting into. I think he hoped that, somewhere among the sea of fundamentalists in that audience, were a few thoughtful young people that might have their little creationist bubble challenged. I hope so, at least.

            But my point is, he’s a great speaker and he knows his science. That doesn’t stop creationists from touting it as a “win”.

          • May 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

            I’m a hipster – I was a fan of Bill Nye way before he was the Science Guy. Almost Live! was his first show – it was a sketch comedy show out of Seattle. I still think of him as SPEED WALKER – fighting crime with the powers of heel toe, heel toe!

          • Jessica S.
            May 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

            So proud of that show, being a native Seattleite. Joel McHale, who was raised in the Seattle area and graduated from the U of W, was also part of the cast. It’s fun to see how big he’s gotten, even hosting the Correspondents Dinner. He got some great jokes in there, from what I read.

          • Danielle
            May 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

            And only three seconds to say “billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth!” In debates of this kind, the populist will always win, particularly if they are a good communicator speaking to established prejudices or “common sense.” The Populist tells people what they already know, phrased in a way that makes them feel clever.

            I agree: You want a format where you can lay out your arguments. The ideologues will never believe you, because they’re defending an identity and a philosophy. The people you can catch are the fence-sitters.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

            Just because the creationists think they won does not mean that they won!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

            But the question is, how many others think they won?

            Considering the reality is clear on one side, the fact that anyone would consider the creationist to have won is already a failure. If there are non-creationists who even think it is a question is already a failure.

          • Jessica S.
            May 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

            It reminds me a lot of political debates, which IMO are completely a waste of everyone’s time at this point. The declaration of who “won” has everything to do with show and nothing to do with substance. And both sides are likely to say they won the same debate. No one cares about whether or not what they said was technically accurate.

          • Busbus
            May 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

            But political debates do serve to bring up issues. Who knows if we would have Obamacare if John Edwards hadn’t made this one of THE issues in the 2008 democratic primaries? And he did so by raising this point in debates, over and over.

          • Jessica S.
            May 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

            That’s an interesting point. It makes me want to revise my comment: the primary debates (if you can suffer through all 150 of them, ha!) are much more useful than the general election. I had the general presidential election debates in mind when I wrote that above. By the time you get to the prez and vice prez debates, they’re so tightly choreographed that it’s more entertainment than anything else. There’s always exceptions, of course. But I agree, the other debates – partially b/c there are so many! – are great venues to drive issues home.

          • Busbus
            May 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

            Bofa, I disagree. For believing creationists, that is part of who they are. The chance of even the best debater swaying them (and them admitting it) is probably around 1%, if that high. Doesn’t mean you might not be able to sow some doubt, but for someone for whom this is part of their identity to come out publicly and admit that they were swayed? Come on.

            Saying, “we have won!” is a tactic. Every politician knows that after a debate, whatever happened, if you can pull it off in any way, you spin it as a win. People trying to put on their spin does not mean you have failed–just like a politician hasn’t automatically failed just because the other side claims a win.

            Like others have pointed out, the real target group in any debate are the onlookers, the doubters, the undecided. Dr. Amy swayed me. I think as long as the venue is truly neutral, Dr. Amy is quite capable of driving the points home.

            And in any case, a true debate like that would increase visibility of this issue. When I was planning my home births, until just a few weeks before my second delivery, I had never heard of Dr. Tuteur. I certainly did not know that there was a significant debate about homebirth safety going on. Had I come across this blog before I was 8 months pregnant and with a midwife at the ready, it’s possible I would have looked into it and made a different decision. The NCB world has good reasons for trying not to mention Dr. Amy’s name. Dr. Amy is very persuasive.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            May 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

            I wouldn’t be averse to a televised debate. The problem is that there is no one who would be willing to televise us.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

            You should be. You should be averse to any venue that allows her to run a Gish Gallop.

            There is a reason Gish invented the gallop. Because it works. There is no defense against it.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            May 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

            It’s not the format that I prefer, but I just want to be clear that I am not hesitating to debate her in a live format. My point is that she suggested it because she knows it won’t happen and she doesn’t want to debate at all.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

            You are making a huge mistake. Should have never offered it. Should have insisted that it be written format. You both have blogs that can be used for the exchange.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

            I disagree that Dr Amy cannot win live; she can take any of these idiots out, anywhere, anytime. Even if the debate ends up based on sound bytes and not scientific truth, so what?? You don’t think Dr Amy is also a master of this type of debate? If any science blogger could take someone on live, its Dr Amy!

            No one will convince the NCB fanatics. That is not what it is about. It is about the fence sitters, and showing that those people are dangerous. She can easily do this.

            You do not have to go into a debate like all other science people have. You do not have to be on the defensive. YOU can go on the offense too, and there is SO much she can use to make this happen.

          • ngozi
            May 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

            I was a fence sitter. And while I still like to do birth as natural as possible, I no longer sit and cry in fear of a C-section (and having one kind of cleared up that fear). I have learned a lot by looking at birth from more than just the natural childbirth side.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

            You do not have to go into a debate like all other science people have.

            …says every scientist who has tried to debate these loons since the early 1980s.

            You know what? They still have failed.

          • Renee Martin
            May 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

            We have plenty of catchy, quick, sound bytes on our side, and Dr Amy knows how to use them.

            But it really is irrelevant- NCBers think MANA stats show HB is safe, so they will think Dr Amy is wrong anyway. Who wins in the eye of the beholder. Will NCBers go and watch it a few times, maybe check her blog out? If even some do this, it will be a success.

          • Trixie
            May 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

            Margulis is never going to agree to it anyway. She further qualified her offer to debate with the rule that Dr. Amy can’t use any mean big words.

          • theNormalDistribution
            May 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

            I agree. In-person debates are never about who is actually right.

  24. thankfulmom
    May 5, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    I wouldn’t want to give out my number and allow the possibilty of it being put on her blog site. I know Dr. Amy wouldn’t make harrassing phone calls, but I’m not sure about other people who don’t agree with her.

    Is it even possible to find a place for a public debate? What kind of places if it is possible?

    My guess is she is going to say she doesn’t want to debate you because of your blog comments.

  25. May 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    These types love the “live TV debate” forum, where they can effectively filibuster, interrupt, redirect and not cite any actual sources. It’s a coward’s response; a debate via text medium (for example, a chat log over an IM service) means citations and links. Even via Skype or similar is too dangerous, as it isn’t limited by commercial breaks, show runtimes and tv personalities chiming in to make sure they stay on camera. No, it’s far easier to say, “you’re just too mean!” and go back to their own echo chambers where factual information can be screened or deleted and everyone agrees with her.

    And to include caveats about language and ad hominem attacks is particularly rich, given the vile, profanity-filled, easily disprovable attacks her supporters (and other NCB activists) regularly post here. I have never seen Dr. Amy use a C-word harsher than “clown,” but the language her detractors use would never fly on television.

  26. May 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    I hope you still sent her your phone number so if she can find away to make it happen, it happens, and if not she can’t blame you for not having it happen.

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