Friday, May 04, 2007

Greetings to a New Debunking Blog

Go check out Denialism, a new science blog, written by (apparently) two brothers, one a PhD candidate at Virginia and the other a practicing attorney in Sacramento. From their opening post, you can see that we have a lot in common with them:

Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their tactics include: Creationism/Intelligent Design, Global Warming denialism, Holocaust denial, HIV/AIDS denialism, 9/11 conspiracies, Tobacco Carcinogenecity denialism (the first organized corporate campaign), anti-vaccination/mercury autism denialism and anti-animal testing/animal rights extremist denialism. Denialism spans the ideological spectrum, and is about tactics rather than politics or partisanship. Chris will be covering denialism of industry groups, such as astroturfing, and the use of a standard and almost sequential set of denialist arguments that he discusses in his Denialist Deck of Cards.

What I like about their blog is that while they do focus on individual denialist topics like those above, they tie their conclusions with solid generalization, like this:

Denialists tend to cite single papers supporting their idea (often you have to squint to see how it supports their argument). Similarly they dig up discredited or flawed papers either to suggest they are supported by the scientific literature, or to disparage a field making it appear the science is based on weak research. Quote mining is also an example of "selective" argument, by using a statement out of context, just like using papers or data out of context, they are able to sow confusion. Here at denialism blog we'll use the cherries to denote the presence of selectivity in a denialist screed.

Hoo-boy have we seen a lot of that or what?