Do New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry turn off more people than they persuade? I always emphatically argue no and the video below is solid evidence that I’m right. Before this debate the audience was polled on whether they wanted to support the motion, “The Catholic church is a force for good in the world.” Before the debate the results of the poll were 678 for the motion, 1102 against, and 346 undecided. After the debate they asked the audience again and the results were 268 for the motion, 1876 against the motion, and 34 undecided. That means he dissuaded roughly 410 people who came in favoring the view that the Catholic church was a force for good and persuaded roughly 312 of the undecideds. (Of course, he may have persuaded more than 410 of those originally for the motion and some of the original undecideds and opposers of the proposition may have wound up for the motion). In net sum, they gained 774 supporters for their position.
Watch the debate for yourself, determine what you think of the question in advance and see if you are persuaded one way or the other, and give us Your Thoughts.