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The Pizza Express Summits

July 17, 2012

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I published a blog on 15 July, 2012: Two Questions for Monty Don About Organic Farming.

If you visit the blog, then you will see that the 15th comment is a response from Monty Don. I have also pasted it below.

Unfortunately, he has chosen to ignore all of my points and questions. If I was a member of the Soil Association, then I think I would be disappointed that my President decided not to engage in discussion. Instead, he suggests that I am incapable of understanding the issues surrounding organic farming because I am not “temperamentally and intellectually suited”.

I have heard similar comments from homeopaths, who feel that I am not qualified to write about or criticise homeopathy. Indeed, homeopaths and organic farmers seem to have lot in common. Remember, the Soil Association supports homeopathy and many organic dairies use homeopathy.

So, where do we go from here? Well, here is my invitation to Monty.

Monty, I am disappointed by your lack of a serious response to my blog. This dialogue was initiated by you. You tweeted me, not vice versa. You tweeted and accused me of being “pathetic”, “mischievous, ridiculous, truly unhelpful”, “plain silly” and “silly” again. I offered to talk on the phone, as yet no response. I wrote a blog in order have a more mature discussion, but you have not addressed any of the points that I have raised.

I am still keen and willing to discuss organic farming with you. In the spirit of positive dialogue, please let me take you out to dinner one evening in West or Central London. By all means bring along a friendly expert and I will also ask an expert to join us, so you will have a chance to engage with someone who is both critical of and knowledgeable about organic farming. If possible, Wednesday evening’s are best, as we can then make the most of the Pizza Express Orange Wednesday offer. The rules are simple:

1. We all turn up with an open mind.
2. We all argue our points, discuss the issues and ask/answer questions.
3. We all leave as friends.
4. I will pick up the bill (dough balls and desserts included)

You can contact me via http://simonsingh.net/contact/ to arrange a date.

If the first dinner goes well, then we could continue with homeopathy and then GM as separate dinner topics. Or, if you want to change the order, we could start with homeopathy or GM.

 

Monty Don responded on 17 July, 2012:

It is helping no one by reducing this to itemised point-scoring. Surely the idea is to understand what is happening rather than prove things right or wrong? Suggest you inform yourself a lot more before taking this any further. If you are genuinely interested in understanding what it is all about start by reading Michael Pollan, Colin Tudge and Rob Hopkins. No specific scientific work so you may not feel comfortable with it but very good cross section of the field.

Importantly it is not a contest or case of anything being right or wrong. It is all about everyone concerned joining thoughts, practices and concepts to nurturing and sustaining all forms of life – and humans not least – as successfully as possible. That begs a thousand questions rather than trying to pick holes in one or two issues.

If that looks as though I am dodging your questions then so be it – and in a way I am because they are not sensible out of the context of the much bigger picture and I hate the idea of point scoring on something as important as this.

Having known you for nigh on 20 years – albeit with great gaps – I suspect that you are as temperamentally and intellectually suited to immersing yourself in organic, holistic agriculture as I am in particle physics. Your mind just doesnt work that way. That does not make you wrong or me right. Well,OK, I am just being polite but it doesn’t make you bad for being wrong…

with very best wishes
Monty

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5 Comments
  1. Michael Tonge permalink

    So the lives of millions of people are at stake and Mr. Don thinks that facts (Science) are not important.Mr. Don has every right to his idiotic ideas, but we also have every right to laugh at him and encourage others to do so.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    I just happened across this article by Monty Don on Biodynamics:http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2002/jul/21/gardensI think his concluding remark indicates a mistrust of scientists and a lack of understanding of the scientific method and the meaning of evidence."And if that is accompanied by the burial of dandelions collected at dawn or a chart of the phases of the moon, then is it any weirder than the damaging potions and incantations of scientists, ministers and so-called experts down the years?"Although this was published in 2002, his recent comments suggest to me that he has not changed his view since then.

  3. Skepteco permalink

    A few comments on the reading list Monty Don suggested for Simon:http://skepteco.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/monty-python-and-the-tale-of-sir-robin/

  4. Anonymous permalink

    I hope he agrees. It’s a bit depressing when you can’t even ask questions about these things without people getting incredibly defensive.

  5. promo codes for pizza hut permalink

    Well right… i agree with Michael Tonge……

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