Climate change deniers: failsafe tips on how to spot them
In a previous post on this blog, James Randerson recognised the similarity between creationists and climate change denialists and their tactics of sowing confusion and doubt about established science.
But the similarities are not just with creationists. The same tactics are used by those who deny the link between HIV and Aids and those who subscribe to any number of bizarre conspiracy theories from 9/11 conspiracies to lizard people.
At denialism blog we have identified five routine tactics that should set your pseudo-science alarm bells ringing. Spotting them doesn't guarantee an argument is incorrect – you can argue for true things badly – but when these are the arguments you hear, be on your guard.
• First is the assertion of a conspiracy to suppress the truth.
• The second tactic is selectivity, or cherry-picking the data. Creationists classically would quote scientists out of context to suggest they disagreed with evolution.
• Instead, let's talk about the third tactic, the use of fake experts, where both creationists and global warming denialists truly shine. Creationists have their Dissent from Darwin list of questionable provenance.
• The fourth tactic – moving goalposts or impossible expectations – is the tendency to refuse to accept when denialists' challenges to the science have been addressed. Instead, they just come up with new challenges for you to prove before they say they'll believe the theory. Worse, they just repeat their challenges over and over again ad nauseum.
This may be their most frustrating tactic because every time you think you've satisfied a challenge, they just invent a new one. The joke in evolutionary biology is that every time you find a transitional fossil all you do is create two new gaps on the fossil record, one on either side of the discovery.
• Finally, the fifth tactic is the catch-all of logical fallacies. You know you've heard them. Evolutionary biologists are mean! God of the gaps, reasoning by analogy, ad hominem, you name it, these arguments, while emotionally appealing, have no impact on the validity of the science.
It is important to filter information so that scientific discourse and debate can stay within the confines of rational argument and reason. Otherwise we get sidetracked and paralysed by denialists who are not honest brokers in a debate. Their goal isn't to promote science, or truth, or human knowledge, but to delay and deny.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Debunking Corner; Creationist techniques roundup
Get the full version from here;