“Professor Dave” Farina indeed debated Professor James Tour at Rice University on Friday night. We’ll have commentary here in coming days on the encounter and the underlying science, but a few quick observations seem in order. One of Farina’s favorite tactics is to repeat things Tour says but in a sarcastic voice, while smirking and sprinkling insults in, and he (Farina) thinks that’s a legitimate response to substantive points about the chemistry of the early Earth. Obviously, this is a game that can be played, not successfully, in a range of contexts.
Speaker 1: “We the People of the United States….”
Speaker 2 (smirking): “Yeah, right. ‘We the People.’”
Speaker 1: “…in Order to form a more perfect Union…”
Speaker 2 (rolling eyes): “‘More perfect Union…’ Gimme a break. You’re such a liar, James.”
I was struck by how quickly Farina was dominated and deflated as soon as he had run out of script and had to speak on his own two feet. That’s not a sign of expertise. His boldest moments were reading his usual insults to Dr. Tour’s face, instead of via YouTube, and getting to use potty talk in front of an otherwise polite university audience, including professors and other adults. Are his most ardent fans the types who will savor these triumphs, such as they are? Perhaps.
Oh, and Professor Dave’s attempt to write “Not Clueless” on the board, while running out of space as you could see he was going to do? That was a memorably pathetic highlight. More to come.