July 2014




    • Denialism – RationalWiki – Denialism is the refusal to accept well-established theory, law, fact or evidence.[1]In scientific contexts, the denialist can deny a cause (carbon dioxide does not cause global warming), an effect (the earth is not warming), the association between the two (the earth is warming, but not because of carbon dioxide), the direction of the cause-and-effect relationship (carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing because the earth is warming) or the identification of the cause-and-effect relationship (other factors than greenhouse gases are causing the earth to warm). Often denialists practice minimization (the earth is warming, but it’s not harmful) and use misplaced skepticism to give an unwarranted veneer of scientific thinking.

      Major scientific targets of denialism include evolution, global warming, the link between HIV and AIDS, the link between smoking and lung cancer, and the lack of a link between vaccination and autism. Often self-interest is the motivation behind denialism, hence arguments are often politicised or financially motivated. For example, tobacco companies denied the smoking-lung cancer link as it would have hurt their profits, and Andrew Wakefield had a strong conflict of interest in ensuring people didn’t take established and effective vaccines. Similarly, global warming denialists tend to oppose the solutions that are needed to address the problem (see the logical fallacy of argument from adverse consequences), and are supported by energy conglomerates and others who could lose financially from reductions in fossil fuel use.

      Denial of fact is one of the foundations of woo. Denialism can also fill a deep psychological need, as in the question of why one’s child has autism – since in reality there is no known easy answer.[2]