lp30 Invitation to public debate consistently declined by my opponents

There were various attempts by different people to arrange debates between myself as a proponent of the association-induction hypothesis and proponents of the membrane-pump theory. On my own initiative, I also urged the National Institutes of Health on 9/18/1986 to organize and sponsor such debates as mentioned in linked page lp20a but was consistently refused. Indeed, NIH Director, Dr. James Wyngaarden through his Deputy Dr. George Galasso argued that such a debate should be held at the Federation Society Meetings at Atlantic City, New Jersey..

Apparently neither Dr. Wyngaarden nor Dr. Galasso knew that attempts to arrange just such a debate at the Federation Society Meetings was initiated in 1967 by the President of the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology, Dr. Edwin Linnette The Federation Meetings (comprising the American Society of Physiology, the American Society of Biological Chemistry, the American Pharmacological Society and other Societies) usually held a big meeting in Atlantic City in April every year. Dr. Linnette appointed a young Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Carlton Hazlewood to arrange the debate in the spring of the following year (1968). The debate was to be broadcast in a local closed -circuit television for viewing by the participants of the Federation Meetings.

Dr. Hazlewood had no difficulty getting me to participate in such a planned debate. I immediately accepted the invitation. I was also certain that if I did have an earlier engagement for that date, I would have moved that appointment to a different date so that I could take part in this important debate. Dr. Hazlewood approached no less than six prominent cell physiologists whose work linked them closely to the membrane-pump theory. Every one declined the invitation, offering an identical explanation: they had another engagement even though this scheduled debate was not to take place until the following year.

Learning of his difficulty, I volunteered to approach one of the scientist Dr. Hazlewood tried to invite but failed. This was Sir Alan Hodgkin, Nobel Laureate of the Cambridge Physiological Laboratory, Cambridge, England, whom I had known for some time. I pleaded with him to come in the name of Science. But I got only a minimum answer: "Dear Gilbert, Many thanks for your letter. It was kind of you to write. Owing to previous engagements, I(I)t is impossible for me to attend the Federation Meetings and I shall not be participating in the close-circuit television programme. Yours sincerely, (signed) Alan [A. L. HODGKIN]

Scientists of the 19th century engaged in public debates. Thus again and again Pasteur challenged his opponents to engage in public debates. Again and again his opponents accepted and participated in the debate. It seems that they did so not because they necessarily relished the debate---which they often lost--- but because they felt that they were honor-bound to do so. As a result, Science made rapid progress.