So I gave a speech to the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub group on Thursday night and, if I might say so, it went really well.


Here is some of the feedback from the events page:


“Amazing talk tonight, I'm still attempting to process many questions :) Thanks Johno Pearce.”


“Fascinating talk on free will tonight by Johno Pearce. Who knew philosophers could be so ... enthusiastic?!”


Which is great to hear – I’m glad I did not disappoint. However, to be fair, anyone can give a decent enough pre-prepared speech, even if it was enthusiastic and cogent! What I am more proud of, if I may take the time to convey, is the Q and A session, which will bring me on to the broader point to this post.


There was a long and challenging Q and A session involving many questions (which indeed had to be cut short in the end), all of which were wide ranging in their scope and discipline, and some of which were very tricky. They involved ideas about:


Quantum mechanics and indeterminacy

The ontology of maths

Actual and potential infinites



Morality, including:

Kant’s Categorical Imperatives and deontology

The Trolley Problem

Consequentialism / utilitarianism

Films such as the Adjustment Bureau

So on and so forth


So on to the main point of this post. As a philosopher who carries out a lecture / talk / debate in public and who will be cross examined at the end, it is paramount that I have a good knowledge of virtually all areas of philosophy as well as virtually every other relevant discipline such as maths, physics, biology, psychology and social sciences, amongst others. Although it may sound conceited to bring this up since I am implicitly (now explicitly!) admitting that I have such knowledge to a lesser degree, my point is that for anyone debating or talking about anything like this, to have a weakness or chink in the armour at any point; to not be able to answer any question adequately, can be terminal.


This is why someone like William Lane Craig is so successful. He has a vast knowledge outside his areas of direct expertise. He knows a great deal about all areas of philosophy, theology and a good deal about history and science. Which means when he debates a scientist, he has an advantage, or when he debates a philosopher, he has that same advantage.


At the end of the day, knowledge is power. That is why I spend all my time gathering knowledge in my tiny little brain in the hope that I will not be caught unawares! It is no good simply having expertise in one discrete area. One must be a jack-of-all-trades. And a master of them all too…


Thank the cosmos for the internet!