How To Be a Denialist in Ten Easy Steps

In the latest New Scientist they cover the ever blooming fields of denialism that popped up everywhere or that bloomed anew in the first decade of the new millennium. One of their references is an important paper from Martin Mckee, and it’s at the European Journal of Public Health.
Here are his main points on how to be a denialist, I’ve expanded some bullets where I believe Martin conflated two separate tactics in the Denialist Arsenal.

  1. Allege that there’s a conspiracy. Claim that scientific consensus has arisen through collusion rather than the accumulation of evidence.
  2. Use fake experts to support your story. “Denial always starts with a cadre of pseudo-experts with some credentials that create a facade of credibility,” says Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut.
  3. Cherry-pick the evidence: trumpet whatever appears to support your case and ignore or rubbish the rest.
  4. Carry on trotting out supportive evidence even after it has been discredited.
  5. Create impossible standards for your opponents. Claim that the existing evidence is not good enough and demand more.
  6. If your opponent comes up with evidence you have demanded, move the goalposts.
  7. Use logical fallacies. Hitler opposed smoking, so anti-smoking measures are Nazi.
  8. Deliberately misrepresent the scientific consensus and then knock down your straw man.
  9. Manufacture doubt. Falsely portray scientists as so divided that basing policy on their advice would be premature.
  10. Insist “both sides” must be heard and cry censorship when “dissenting” arguments or experts are rejected.

2 Replies to “How To Be a Denialist in Ten Easy Steps”

  1. While both are logical fallacies and seem to be the obverse approach to the other, the average reader is not going to be able to detect the second as easily as the first. The second is also used more often by the well practiced denialists.

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