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Plimer has written a couple of books on geology and de-constructing the arguments for creationism (primarily Telling Lies for God) and debated with Duane Gish. The Gish-Plimer debate became famous for its most memorable moment where Plimer asked Gish if he doubted the theory of electromagnetism as well as evolution, then held out a live wire and offered to let him touch it. This was seen as either complete pwnage or a dick move, depending on your viewpoint; Plimer has been criticized within both evolutionist and creationist circles for this.
Plimer is also notable for his occasional use of creationist-style debate tactics (telling lies for science?), most notably his incoherent and baseless accusations of financial fraud against creationist outlets. The adjudicator wasn't impressed, saying that "rather than a debate, the evening was more like a presentation by Dr. Gish and a series of derogatory replies by Dr. Plimer." This kind of debating style is typical of Plimer, who, when called on anything he has said or done, will immediately make appeals to authority and attempt to denigrate the opposition.[note 1]
After the debates, Plimer heavily implied in writing that Gish was attended on by a gaggle of young catamites who stroked and fondled him throughout the debate, but, when called on it, insisted that he was simply referring to Gish's connections to a "pro-nuclear group" when he impugned his morals. Creationists have held up this debate as evidence of how evil the EVILutionists are. Creation Ministries produced a documentary interviewing those who became creationists as a result of this debate.
Global warming denial
Plimer has also become the go-to guy for Australian deniers and authored a book, Heaven + Earth, critical of climate science. Most of his objections consist of long refuted talking points about solar cycles and bad models. Ian G. Enting's lengthy analysis of Plimer's book ran to an impressive 64 pages of errors, misrepresentations and other such fudges.
Impressively, the book misrepresents the content of cited sources 43 times, the nature of recreated graphs twice and recorded data at least 10 times. However, he did come up with an original talking point that has become popular in denialist circles: Underwater volcanoes! Plimer argues that volcanic activity releases more CO2 than all of humanity combined. This was quickly refuted by actual climate scientists who noted that humans released over 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes. Like any good crank, Plimer has continued to put forth these debunked arguments over and over.
Any time he is questioned on the accuracy of his claims — even obvious ones like citing what he says is an ice core study in the southern hemisphere about the Medieval Warm Period when it's actually a borehole study from the northern hemisphere that doesn't address the MWP — he launches into grumpy-old-man rants about how young people these days need to learn some manners. When British journalist George Monbiot was less than enthusiastic about a flattering article in the Spectator about his work, Plimer challenged Monbiot to a debate, though this did not eventuate. Instead, Plimer sent Monbiot what amounted to a homework assignment containing incoherent questions of little to no relevance and frequently no scientific literacy. Some have tried to work out what he could possibly have meant by sending this bizarre "quiz", but it seems likely that this was simply an attempt to "pull rank" by a vain and deluded old man irritated that he hasn't been awarded the respect he believes he deserves.
In 2011, he wrote a piece of global warming denialist propaganda for children (yes, really), entitled How to Get Expelled From School. In truth, Plimer need hardly have specifically aimed his new book at children, as he treats his audience as children regardless of their age, and the arguments contained within were not noticeably different to usual.
Asbestos denial and other crankery
Like many cranks, Plimer seems to be possessed by crank magnetism. One-upping Christopher Booker, Plimer has not only denied any health risks from chrysotile asbestos, but that it is even asbestos at all. Unfortunately for him, this view came back to haunt him at the launch of How to Get Expelled From School, when a journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation brought it up. This led to a comically circular round of argumentation, before a predictable Plimer appeal to authority: "I’m sorry. You are just a journalist. I have spent my life studying minerals." This episode definitively proved that Plimer is impervious to irony, attempting to simultaneously encourage children not to mindlessly accept the word of scientists (see sheeple) and to silence a questioner with the KO riposte that he is a scientist who knows everything.
Even further into the depths of the uncharted jungles of crankdom, in Heaven + Earth Plimer repeats virtually word-for-word the conclusions of a paper that asserted (in defiance of all evidence and logic) that the Sun has a composition resembling that of a meteorite. Whether Plimer genuinely sides with lunatics of the Immanuel Velikovsky school of astronomy or is simply willing to repeat any "evidence" he believes will justify his belief that climate science is bunk is unclear.
- George Monbiot vs. Ian Plimer
- "Telling Lies for God"? on ABC
- Plimer debates George Monbiot on ABC
- Jim Lippard on Plimer, Deltoid
- Spot the Recycled Denial III - Prof. Ian Plimer, Barry Brook
- Geologists and Climate Change Denial, Skeptical Science
- Spectator recycles climate rubbish published by sceptic, George Monbiot
- The science is missing from Ian Plimer's "Heaven and Earth", Tim Lambert
- The ABC's Media Watch program investigates Australian shock jocks' obsession with Plimer.
- Many years later, Plimer was asked to comment on these criticisms. In a typically grumpy reply, he said that young Americans are "always trying to give you the benefit of their youth and inexperience."
- Full recording of the debate
- Plimer offers Gish the chance to electrocute himself
- See How Not To Argue with Creationists by Jim Lippard.
- Quoted in Lippard.
- Facing the Fire with Dr. Duane Gish
- A debunking of Plimer's book Heaven + Earth by Ian Enting. Tim Lambert also notices a little bit of plagiarism by Plimer.
- Volcanic Gases and Climate Change, USGS
- Eos, Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide, American Geophysical Union
- RealClimate marks Plimer's questions for accuracy and relevance, often poorly in both categories.
- Plimer Suffers from Crank Magnetism, Deltoid
- No science in Plimer's primer, Michael Ashley, The Australian, 9 May 2009