Potholer54’s ‘Live Debate’ Turned ‘Private Discussion’ with YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) on Climate Change – A Partial Transcript

The science journalist Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) just released a new video on YouTube that reveals the first part of his “live debate” that turned into a “private Skype discussion” with the YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers).

Be sure to check out the series of four YouTube videos that led up to this whole exchange, which include: Ben’s original video, “Yale’s Two Climate Bombs,” Peter’s first debunking video, “Correction of ‘Yale’s two climate bombs’ by suspiciousobservers,” Ben’s response of “How Someone Tried To Debunk A Video,” and Peter’s “Second response to Suspiciousobservers” video.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read my previous blog article, “The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: What Constitutes Evidence for Claims (Prequel to ‘Potholer54’ vs. ‘Suspicious0bservers),” for a little more background on the two involved in this “discussion.”

I find it’s helpful to read the things that people say in order to read between the lines and discern the real meaning behind the words they’re using, because some people sure do say a whole lot! It’s important to note that not everything that someone says is true, even when they say that it is; this is especially true when the person making the claims has no relevant education or expertise to back up the assertions/interpretations they’re making.

Scripted “Discussion” & Tangential Responses (Ranting)

It’s pretty clear that for the first 20-minutes of this discussion Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) was reading off of a script that he’d prepared and was flat-out ignoring Peter Hadfield’s (Potholer54’s) outline for their “live debate” turned private “discussion”:

“The ground rules are that we are not allowed to simply spout belief and opinion – any two idiots can do that on the internet – we have to use facts published in respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals, and cite them. Give the other person a chance to read them and fact-check – you know, the way grown-ups do. Blogs, TV programs, opinion pieces or people we met in a bar are not legitimate scientific sources.

If we quote something I said, you said or anyone else said, it has to be a verbatim quote with the source cited. No making up quotes, paraphrasing or skewing. No interrupting, shouting or name-calling. If you thought a Skype ‘debate’ would be an opportunity to see who can make up the most amount of BS and shout the other down loudest, sorry, it doesn’t work that way” (Hadfield 2018).

While Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) tried his best to stick to scripted responses and filler phrases like “as I understood it,” “the way I saw it,” “I kinda figured,” “I have read,” and so on, Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) is constantly trying to keep him on point by asking questions relevant to their previous video responses to one another. It’s interesting how each question throws Ben’s scripted responses off the rails, if only for a moment; these are the only parts of this exchange that resemble an actual discussion.

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What did you think about the whole exchange? Let me know in the comments below. Be sure to bookmark this website and check back for the second part of the transcript of Potholer54’s video, “Discussion with Suspicious Observers.”

Transcript via “Discussion with Suspicious Observers”:

Peter @ 0:00 This is the first half of the discussion I had with Ben Davidson (a.k.a. Suspicious0bservers). This came out of his claims that I’d lied and deliberately misrepresented one of his videos and his call for a ‘live debate’ on my alleged misdeeds. Two days before we were due to talk, Ben told me that it wasn’t going out live after all and I had no time to get that organized from my side.

Peter @ 0:23 So I asked Ben to send me the audio file, which he very kindly did, and I’ve been matching it to the images I was showing him during our discussion. Since the discussion I’ve also fact checked some of his claims that I couldn’t check in the middle of the discussion and also added a couple of graphics to illustrate what we’re talking about – I make it very clear when these are added and pause the audio when I add them – without cutting the audio at all. The only things I’ve cut out, with Ben’s permission, are were we had technical issues of no sound or no images. 

Peter @ 0:54 So if Ben wants to post this on his channel, without the fact checks, he can do so seamlessly by simply cutting them out. Anyway, here goes…

Skype video of chat begins at the 1:02-minute mark:

Peter @ 1:03 Well listen, you go first cause you were the one who thought that my video was misrepresenting you, so, I’m happy to listen to that.

Ben @ 1:16 Alright so, um, I’d rather not hurl accusations at you, what I’d rather do is sort of go through some of the things right now, and you tell me where I’m going wrong. Peter responds, ‘Okay sure.’

Ben @ 1:32 Because um, and I’ll start with fact where you had crossed off ‘Ice Age’ and put ‘Interglacial,’ I kinda figured that all the stuff above that was what happened during the Interglacial – we’re in the Interglacial – and so, the way I saw it was, you know: we’re in the Ice Age for a long time, there’s glaciers forming at the poles obviously (there’s ice up there) and then there’s ice also at lower latitudes maybe not what we’d consider ‘low latitude,’ but at least at ‘mid latitudes;’ latitudes that are lower.

Ben @ 2:02 As I understood it, uh, earth was in an Ice Age and had been in many Ice Ages where unlike today, where we see ice semi-permanently at the polar regions or at some places of the poles permanently, right now; there were glaciers at lower latitudes as well (for example in the Great Lakes region and probably parts of Scandinavia and things like that).

Ben @ 2:30 And so, what happens is it doesn’t all just start to melt right away, what happens is the glaciers at mid latitude start to melt, but while that is happening – at the polar region there is much more accumulation of ice, there’s a lot more…it’s not like the whole planet starts melting all at once. So, were’ in an ice age and that’s how it is…and that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 was supposed to be the story of the Interglacial and ‘5’ was supposed to be a question mark as to how that was actually going to happen.

Ben @ 3:06 So, as I saw it, as opposed to ice accumulating everywhere, the first thing we notice in an Interglacial is that the ice is accumulating only at the poles, as opposed to everywhere, and that is what drops earth’s albedo; the fact that we went from having ice everywhere to ice being accumulating at the poles.

Ben @ 3:32 Now, because this is just apparently the first video in this series that you’ve commented on and it is a bit like coming into Wednesday in week nine in a seminar class, and so we’d been talking about the different phases of ice: there’s ice accumulating everywhere, there’s ice accumulating at the poles, and then there’s ice melting everywhere; those are basically the only three phases earth has.

Ben @ 3:56 And so, as we come out of a glacial period, and we go into the Interglacial, the story of that is: we go from having ice everywhere to ice accumulating at the poles only. When this happens earth’s albedo drops, the planet warms up even further; eventually that warmth over takes the poles too. CO2 is released, even more methane is released, while it’s heating up more water vapor is going into the atmosphere and yet the question mark, number ‘5′, always an Ice Age has followed.

Ben @ 4:29 And that seems to, we didn’t attempt to give an answer to that we just sort of said, ‘that is what has happened.’ And I’m, correct me if I am wrong: there was still CO2 and methane releases and water vapor increases in the atmosphere during the previous Interglacials, right? And something always throws us back into an Ice Age.

Peter @ 4:51 Okay, right…can I stop you there, because I’ve been taking notes and there’s a lot to get through on that, uh. The first thing is, I did get the impression from a lot of your subscribers that they saw some sort of hidden references behind all this, that clearly now that you tell me that this is a part of a series of things that you’ve been doing – that makes a lot more sense – because taken on its own this video um, did suggest that ice accumulates…well, okay, I won’t go into that – I’ll show you the timeline a bit later, but…

Peter @ 5:26 I think what you’re not getting, I’m sorry just let me say that – let me ask you what you think…what you don’t get it: is why we go from an Interglacial (you can understand why we go from a Glaciation into an Interglacial) but what I noticed was you said, ‘somehow we go from an Interglacial back into a Glaciation,’ that’s going from a warm Interglacial, like we have now, back into what you call an ‘Ice Age.’

Peter @ 5:52 Now, you said, ‘somehow,’ which suggests that you don’t think there’s any scientific explanation for that, so, first of all let me first clarify: do you think there is a scientific explanation for that, and, do you know what that scientific explanation is?

Ben @ 6:06 I have read it and I think that your video did a very good job explaining…um, you know I sort of mentioned Milankovitch Cycles in a moment and you just sort of did a much better job of explaining what those are. Um, I have read a good deal about that. Um, at the moment, you know, there’s a big disconnect because the same things that were happening in the atmosphere every previous time, or the same things that were happening in space, with earth, every single time…those things are happening again now.

Ben @ 6:45 And so, what is the disconnect? What is happening now? That isn’t just a faster version, a more extreme version, of what happened before. If you have a good answer to that…

Peter @ 7:00 Okay, I’ll answer that, I’ll answer that. The first thing I can tell you that’s happening now, that never happened before, is that we’re getting carbon dioxide levels up to concentrations that we have never seen in any Interglacial before. So, the first thing that’s extraordinary about what’s happening now is the level of carbon dioxide.

Peter @ 7:18 If you look back at Interglacials in the past there was never this kind of CO2 concentration simply because there was never this kind of fossil fuel burning. So we’ve had basically 50% increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere because we’ve been burning fossil fuels; that’s one thing that’s different.

Peter @ 7:35 But I want to bring you back to one thing you said, which was that, ‘what is happening now is what happened before,’ in the sense of, from what I understand of your hypothesis (your idea of how this works): you think that ice melts at the poles, comes down to the lower latitudes, cuts off circulation, ice forms at the lower latitudes, this causes us to go into an ‘Ice Age,’ or what geologists would call a ‘Glaciation.’

Ben @ 8:05 Not quite. That’s not quite it, um, it’s a larger process of things but the desalinization is a big portion of it, I mean, the salinization level of the ocean could be as important as the CO2 level in the troposphere, and um, you know, what I, my question to you would be, is: do you believe that everything we pump into the troposphere can just stay here at higher and higher densities without bleeding more and more into the oceans and up into the stratosphere. And in the oceans…

Peter @ 8:42 No, no, no. Because the science, now look, I can only follow what the researchers have measured: 50% has stayed up there, 50% basically goes into the biosphere and the oceans. But I’m sorry, I don’t want to stray away from this point, because it’s an important one: I want to establish what it is you think that is happening now, that also happened to bring an end to the Interglacials in past. It’s something that you think that is happening now that also happened that brought the past Interglacials to a close; I’m trying to establish what that is.

Ben @ 9:25 What I’m saying is the only thing that is different is how much pollution humans have put into the atmosphere, that’s the only thing really that’s different…

Peter inserts a ‘Fact Check’ @ 9:26 Just a quick fact check here so that you can see what we’re talking about: the level of CO2 during most Interglacials doesn’t go much above 280 parts per million; that’s the blue line. In the last 200 years, it’s gone from 280 to over 400 parts per million in just 200 years; that’s the red line.

Ben @ 9:45 I mean, if you look at the timing, if you look at the timing of this Interglacial, this has been fairly long Interglacial, um, you know?

Peter @ 9:56 Really?

Ben @ 9:57 I mean compared to the last couple, wouldn’t you say?

Peter @ 10:01 Well, the one that you pointed to when you did your second video rebutting mine, ah, you actually clarified what you were talking about, which was then clear you were talking about coming out of a Glaciation. You were looking at ‘termination four,’ that was the example you gave of us coming out of a Glaciation, well, out of termination four the Interglacial last about 50,000 to 60,000 years, now, we’re only about 11,000 [years] into our Interglacial so we have a long way to go yet. Others are much shorter, but you also get Interglacials that are much longer, and so I mean, these are not insignificant time periods.

Peter @ 10:39 But again, I’m…I don’t want to stray away from the point I am trying to get to, you said, ‘somehow we come out of this Interglacial,’ I am trying to establish what it is you think scientists say, because you’re suggesting that maybe scientists don’t know.

Ben @ 10:58 No, I am not suggesting that. And it’s not like every scientist in the world says it’s the exact same things and puts the exact same attribution on all of them. You know, I am not sure whether your fully understand what we were trying to do or what we were trying to communicate there. Um, but, this is not always meant to be, um, towing the exact line of what peer-reviewed science is. Because…

Peter @ 11:33 Okay. Alright, but let me just tell you what the science says, and then you can tell me why they’re wrong.

Ben @ 11:40 Fair enough.

Peter @ 11:41 According to…according to the science: these cycles happen (and they’re very regular cycles, I mean, they’ve got a periodicity of about 100,000 years) and they happen because of Milankovitch Cycles. So, we go into a Glaciation, because the earth gets less sunlight, because of the tilt and wobble of the earths axis (and its orbit) we get less sunlight and that little bit of less sunlight causes the earth to cool a little bit which gives us more ice, which gives us more albedo.

Peter @ 12:14 (Error corrected for the sake of continuity): That causes the oceans to absorb CO2 and that takes CO2 out of atmosphere and that continues the cooling; so there’s a kind of positive feedback, which accelerates this cooling. Now, coming out of that is when we get Milankovitch Cycles working the opposite way, where we get an increase in insulation and that causes less ice, that means less albedo, CO2 is degassed from the oceans, and CO2 is a powerful Greenhouse gas, so it warms the earth even further; and again, we get a positive feedback. You suggested that that ought to cause runaway warming, but there’s no reason…

Ben @ 13:00 I did not suggest that that would cause runaway warming. I put that at the end as a, as a sort of like a footnote or ‘endnote’ to the end of the very clear periodicity. And one of your commenters hit me hard and said, ‘Hey look, take a look during your supposed Ice Ages there’s little spikes here and there,’ and I had to explain that I wasn’t suggesting that Milankovitch Cycles were responsible for every up and down on that chart, but the very clear periodicity that I imagine a five or six-year-old could say, ‘Hey do you see the pattern of things going up and down, of spiking up and going back down…’

Peter @ 13:35 Absolutely. Yeah.

Ben @ 13:38 What I was saying was, ‘Hey, if you wanted to know more about that you could look into Milankovitch Cycles.’ That was all I said. 

Peter @ 13:45 Yeah, and so there’s no real mystery there about why we’re going in and out of Glaciations or do you still think there’s a mystery…

Ben @ 13:51 No, but so, so here’s the point and let me, if I may, run you through weeks one through eight that you missed; and you can maybe tell me if something’s going wrong here. Alright, so, sooner or later, and I have actually read a couple of different things about where we are in the Milankovitch Cycles but we are not exactly in the favorable side if you want a warmer planet. Ah, we are gonna, basically from here on out we are going towards the colder period. Now, that’s not something that’s going to be playing in our lifetimes, but it is something that should be thought of when they’re talking about hundreds, thousands of years ahead of time.

Ben grandstanding @ 14:35 For right now, here are the points that we have made, that make us think that the planet is about to cool-down: and first, and foremost, is combination of political pressure, continually worsening extreme weather and technological innovations are going to reduce carbon emissions; never underestimate human ingenuity or the power of disasters and propaganda, both good and bad propaganda.

Ben @ 15:02 There is almost no question in my mind, that if you have any foresight you can see the wild reduction of pollution of this planet; it is not at all hard to see. If that occurs, it’s not like the desalinization of the oceans stops immediately; those do increase the freeze potential of the oceans in the winter and they disrupt critical ocean currents. They do help stratify the ocean and partially incarcerate the sea-floor methane releases. 

Ben @ 15:35 Now, while that is happening, and it’s not like if we stop polluting tomorrow the warmth in the arctic that we’ve been noticing anomalously is going to just suddenly disappear. But we’ve learned that the warm arctic is not the, you know, is another way to have a weaker polar vortex, early sudden stratospheric warming events and create more jet stream blocking; that is what I showed in the actual video.

Ben @ 16:02 Now what I brought back in, during the discussion, was the fact that we had seen tons of articles about how ‘low solar activity,’ weakens the polar vortex, increases early sudden stratospheric warming events and creates more jet stream blocking. And so, what we will have here is: the sun entering a significant minimum, the arctic will still be warm (even if we stop pollution) and both of those things will force weaker polar vortex, increases in sudden stratospheric warmings and more jet stream blocking.

Peter allows Ben to continue with his scientific Gish Gallop for another minute making it crystal clear that Ben has no intention of talking about the actual topic at hand, which was Ben’s “official accusation of [Peter] misrepresenting [him] with intent” in the videos that Peter had made about Ben’s public videos on YouTube.

Ben @ 16:35 Now, specifically on the decreased solar, you know, this idea of 0.1% change over the solar cycle being the suns influence on climate is absolutely preposterous. And if you saw the solar forcing for CMIP6, when that does come out, it will no longer be restricted to that 0.1%. The solar scientists have stood up and said that is uncharacteristically preposterous. Because there’s also x-ray radiation and there’s also solar energetic particles along with the indirect connection to galactic cosmic rays, the ionization of the cloud layer, etc. offering less energy while earth’s albedo profile goes up due to cosmic rays. And so that’s going to be happening more and more as we enter into that significant solar minimum this century; all of these things should be happening this century.

Peter @ 17:31 Okay, you know this is all fine, but I mean [laughing] I really thought we were here to talk about my misrepresentations about what you’d said, so, I’d really like to get back onto that. I mean, all your theories are great, and I have no idea how much of evidence you have to support this because what I would need to do is look at your sources and go through them.

Peter @ 17:57 So, could we just go back, would you mind if I talk about, you know, what we were here to debate, which was my ‘misrepresentations’ of your video and what you said in that video. I’m sure that you’ve said a lot of things in other videos and I’m sure that this is the eighth in a series, and that one through seven talked about all sorts of other things, but I can’t really get into those now, because I haven’t seen those videos, so let’s just deal with this video.

Ben @ 18:23 What I want to know is: why, and I don’t know if you did this in comments or if there was some other video or if you did this on Facebook, or whatever, because I don’t understand how this happened: but I got literally over 800 comments, within the span of 24-hours, all saying virtually the same thing, ‘that I didn’t understand what those papers were saying and that I didn’t have any basis whatsoever in talking about…’

Peter @ 19:00 Okay, then. Let’s talk about that, because I suspect the reason they said that was because you didn’t understand what the papers were saying. Now, if you want to say, ‘you did understand them.’ That’s absolutely fine with me, and that’s what I would like to talk about…

This was essentially this “discussions” equivalent of:

Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) was kind enough to let Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) talk for over 16-minutes, an opportunity that Ben took to read (verbatim) from a script he’d prepared, which included several loaded questions, half-baked tangents and insipid attempts at grandstanding.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first part of science journalist Peter Hadfield’s (Potholer54’s) discussion with the YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) and this transcription of what was said. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of this transcript!


Davidson, Ben. “How Someone Tried To Debunk A Video.” YouTube: March 17, 2018. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7okeDIxHGSE

Davidson, Ben. “Yale’s Two Climate Bombs.” YouTube: March 14, 2018. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh2nGqy9KVw

Hadfield, Peter. “Correction of ‘Yale’s two climate bombs’ by suspiciousobservers.” YouTube: March 17, 2018. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOfqOsuEIVI&t=1s

Hadfield, Peter. “Discussion with Suspicious Observers.” YouTube: April 03, 2018. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttmQbCeSQAg

Hadfield, Peter. “Second Response to Suspiciousobservers.” YouTube: March 19, 2018. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xS13WYen0k&t=34s

Author: Reality Challenged

I have created this blog to record, analyze, investigate and report on the ideas, events, and people that would otherwise mislead you and waste your time.

3 thoughts on “Potholer54’s ‘Live Debate’ Turned ‘Private Discussion’ with YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) on Climate Change – A Partial Transcript”

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