Monday, 30 March 2009

how to argue...

I am a very strong believer (and this blog is indeed proof) that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, on any subject in the world. But there are ways of arguing your point that make you look intelligent and that your thoughts are worthwhile, and there are ways that make you look like you are having a kiddy strop and have thrown not just your toys out of the pram but the blanket and mattress as well.

I think I witnessed the latter whilst watching the latest hour long special edition of Gardeners' World last Friday.

This special was arguing the case for whether to use or not use peat, a subject close to my heart as you may well imagine. Although my mind was made up from the beginning as to what I would continue to use on my little bit of England, I was looking forward to seeing the case from both sides. This is what a debate is, and boy do I love a debate.

The programme rolled on quite well, highlighting the massive decline of the peat bogs, but also how critical it was for especially large scale horticultural growers, who rely on the qualities of peat to produce good plants in huge numbers. I empathised greatly with the dilemma they were faced. They understood the problem, but expressed their own problems with the planned Government switch to 90% peat free by 2010.

My issue with the programme came when dear old Peter Seabrook was brought to the table.

Now, before I get accused of attacking a national treasure, I love Peter Seabrook - what he brought to our screens in knowledge and passion was incredible, and maybe it was the editing, but I'm afraid it sounded to me that he was having a full on kiddy strop when approached on the peat subject last Friday.

He accused the environmentalists of lying about how peat bogs can regenerate, and exactly how much peat is laid down by the spagham mosses each year, and therefore how much we could use sustainably (along with MANY other strops...) I was shocked at how badly he came across when asked his opinion - instead of arguing the case for peat by calmly explaining the benefits, as others had successfully done earlier and later in the programme, he seemed to have a wide eyed rant at poor Toby, who defended the no-peat camp with a look of somewhat disbelief at the barrage being fired from Peter.

Not only was the mattress out of the pram, the pram itself was enduring a battering.

I think this is such a shame - every other argument, on each side, highlighted issues that each party has with using or not using peat, and you could sympathise with each person, even if you sat there and exclaimed that they were speaking drivel.

Poor Peter. Even when you are passionate about a subject, you need to know how to argue your point, lest you be labelled badly. True, passion can sometimes manifest itself in a rant - I myself have been rightly accused of ranting, but there are definite ways to argue. I think we can all learn from this as an example of how not to argue...


  1. It was slightly uncomfortable watching... Interesting show though!

  2. Rule Number One For A Peaceful Existence.... never argue with Peter Seabrook.
    Remember that and you will always be happy (there is a rule number 2 that I will share with you next time our paths should cross.)