Friday, August 26, 2011

Meanwhile, in other anti-science denier news, vaccines are safe, and Hitler is dead

Yes, the frustrating refusal of climate deniers to acknowledge the massive weight of empirical evidence has its analogues elsewhere . . .

Yet another panel of scientists has found no evidence that a popular vaccine causes autism. But despite the scientists’ best efforts, their report is unlikely to have any impact on the frustrating debate about the safety of these crucial medicines.

“The M.M.R. vaccine doesn’t cause autism, and the evidence is overwhelming that it doesn’t,” Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, the chairwoman of the panel, assembled by the Institute of Medicine, said in an interview. She was referring to a combination against measles, mumps and rubella that has long been a focus of concern from some parents’ groups.

Denialism exists in many fields:

The foundation of this cognitive glitch is debatable, but in addition to preexisting ideology that is threatened by science, an additional requirement -- or consequence, or both -- of denialism is a paranoid belief in the sinister power of the evil puppetmasters who have semi-successfully suppressed the truth:

Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust
by Jerry Bergman

© 1999 Answers in Genesis
First published in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 13(2):101–111, 1999
All Rights Reserved.

Leading Nazis, and early 1900 influential German biologists, revealed in their writings that Darwin’s theory and publications had a major influence upon Nazi race policies.

The addition of a psuedo-scholarly citation in a "Technical Journal" (hey! They must be trustworthy! They have "Technical Journal" right in the title!) points to another phenomenon endemic among deniers: even as they vilify scientists, they seek to impersonate scientists, and ape the forms (though sadly not the substance) of science. They recognize the credibility scientists have, and they alternate between attacking that trust and seeking to exploit it through fraud.

With Rick Perry surging in the polls, we are witnessing the opening of another silly season of American politics, but the examples of anti-evolution crusaders and anti-vaccine crusaders should give us hope. They're still around; no one ever talked them out of their beliefs, no evidence changed their minds; yet they are as marginal as they deserve. Hopefully as the evidence continues to pound away relentlessly at the foundations of their nonsense, their climate-denier fellow travelers will join them in relatively obscurity.

Epilogue -- NAZIS!

Landing believers claim that rocks brought back from the Moon prove that the landings took place; ... hoax believers raise concerns about ex-Nazi and NASA's chief rocket scientist Wernher von Braun's trip to Antarctica two years prior to Apollo missions. They contend that no credible explanation for the trip was ever offered, and that he would have been susceptible to pressure to agree to the conspiracy in order to protect himself from recriminations for his Nazi past.

(Moon landing deniers get partial credit for identifying an actual, literal Nazi in connection with their conspiracy theory. Metaphorical Nazis are overdone and trite. Vaccine and climate deniers, take note.)


  1. "Hopefully as the evidence continues to pound away relentlessly at the foundations of their nonsense, their climate-denier fellow travelers will join them in relatively obscurity. "
    That has been one of my continual hopes for a while now. If anything, I don't understand how they're still taken seriously by anyone

  2. Here's to hope.

    I will say this: with matters of right and wrong, people can bang away at each other for centuries and not see the debate move. With climate change, we can take cold comfort in the fact that it's going to get clearer and clearer as time goes on. The current stalemate will never last.

    Whether we win in the long run is not in doubt. Whether we win in time is another question.