Some of my best adversarial debates, as captured in video

Over the past 15 years or so, I have engaged in a number of debates with other scholars, as I believe strongly that this kind of interaction is an excellent way to question and improve our culture's mainstream views. In this post, I'd like to highlight the more adversarial of these debates. By 'adversarial' I don't mean unfriendly; some may be, but many aren't. I mean simply that these 'adversarial' engagements entailed mutual critiques of different, perhaps even contradictory views. This helps us make the potential shortcomings of the respective views more explicit, which is surely a progressive thing.

The first is a debate with well-known materialist and skeptic Prof. Peter Atkins and Prof. Nancy Cartwright. I was surprised with how open to my ideas Prof. Atkins seemed to be already very early on in the debate.

The next debate is with Prof. Susan Blackmore, a well-known skeptic, and Prof. Tim Crane. The debate was moderated by Hilary Lawson. Here again I was surprised with Susan's relative openness to my views.

Now a debate with well-known atheist philosopher of religion, Prof. Graham Oppy, considered by William Lane Craig "the most formidable atheist philosopher writing today." We seem to be less distant from, and antagonist of, each other's position than I thought before this dialogue.

Next up is my debate with anaesthesiologist and well-known skeptic, Dr. Gerald Woerlee. After this debate I realized that many of Dr. Woerlee's views are actually in alignment with analytic idealism. The debate was done in two parts, and covers a lot of ground.

Now a conversation with my friends, neuroscientist Dr. Christof Koch and philosopher Rupert Spira. I list this as an 'adversarial' debate because, at the time, Christof and I thought we had sharply divergent views (which wasn't quite true already then). In a more recent discussion, also linked below, we show how much closer to each other's views we actually are.

Next is a debate with Prof. Carlo Roveli, who I am always delighted to dialogue with.

The next one is again a debate between very contrasting views, as Prof. David Papineau is a well-known physical realist, the antithesis of analytic idealism. Yet, I was again surprised with how seemingly open to other possibilities he seemed to be, provided that these possibilities are based on reason and evidence. At some point, if I recall correctly, he even granted that I was not crazy, which is high praise (I say this sincerely, only very slightly tongue-in-cheek). The moderator didn't allow us to converse as much as we would have liked, but perhaps we will do it again some time.

Now a debate with Prof. Susan Schneider and my friend Prof. Donald Hoffman. I list this as adversarial because Susan's views on the hypothesis of artificial sentience contrast very sharply with my own, which led to a fairly robust exchange between us at a certain moment.

And here's another debate with skeptic, Prof. Susan Blackmore:

Harvard Prof. Avi Loeb and I are both open to the possibility of alien life, but we differ in the ever so important details, so I list this as a friendly but adversarial debate.

Prof. Brian Keating and I hold contrasting views on a number of issues. Yet, our dialogue betrayed more agreement than disagreement, so I hesitated about whether to list this one as an 'adversarial' debate. But I wouldn't be portraying Brian's views properly if I suggested that we are on the same boat, so here you go.

Now a debate with arch-materialist and skeptic Prof. Patricia Churchland and, again, Prof. Carlo Roveli, this time moderated by Closer-to-Truth host, Robert Lawrence Kuhn. The biggest surprise here was Churchland's seemingly complete unawareness of over 10 years of psychedelic research and its most significant results. For a self-identified "neurophilosopher," this was rather embarrassing.

Finally, here's a very adversarial debate I had with YouTuber physicist Sabine Hossenfelder. I initially didn't intend to list this one here because I believe my interlocutor was deliberately, well, very misleading in the exchange and didn't abide by a bare-minimum level of debate ethics. But for the sake of completeness, here it is. To understand why I feel uncomfortable with what happened in this exchange, check out these posts:

Sabine Hossenfelder's bluf called
Hossenfelder digs herself into a deeper hole

Later I will post a similar list, but with non-adversarial conversations.



  1. All good, but another I recall was when you ran rings around T Jump.

  2. fascinating to see Bryan Callen hosting a debate on this stuff - when Joe Rogan?