Over a year ago in one of the keynote talks at the Science Writing in the Age of Denial Conference, UW–Madison genetics and molecular biology professor Sean Carroll outlined what he calls “a general manual of denialism”. That basically consisted of six tactics that have been used time and time again in denial campaigns since at least the nineteenth century.
Curious as to what they are?
OK then, here they are with actual examples all from one single (delusional) individual to illustrate then …
1) Doubt, directed at the actual science related to the issue.
“Darwins theory is disproved long back also one of the Scientist who was responsible to derive the theory, it was shown in this page with evidence, we are not interested to repeat same arguments when a new person comes to the group.” – Link here.
2) Doubt, directed at the personal motives and integrity of scientists. In this case, it’s not the data that is dubious (as it is in argument #1), it’s the people behind the data.
“Read the confession of Darwin on failure of obtaining fossil records related to evolution.” – Link here
3) Magnified disagreements among scientists, often credentialed but non-expert people holding a minority opinion fuel unfounded debate.
“The false impression that paleontology supports the theory of evolution is described in an article in Science magazine:” – he then proceeds to cut and paste some quote-mined nuggets from a creationist site – Link here.
4) Exaggeration of potential harm of the science in question, this is an unreasonable perception of the risk involved.
OK, no specific example in that anti-evolution conversation, but I note that the group in question has this rule “Members are requested not to involve in debates based on pure logic and reasoning because it could lead to disbelief“
5) Personal freedom, an issue that is framed as an infringement on personal freedom (e.g. a child should have the choice of whether or not to learn about evolution)
While not directly this, he does claim the freedom for all Muslims to simply reject science, so he does indeed see science as something that needs to be rejected. “we dont recognize any peer reviewed science Journal because Science is ever changing since began to evolve.“. – Link Here
6) Acceptance of the science in question would repudiate a key philosophical belief.
“We people of Quran are the one to accept or reject claims of Scientists based on proof. Darwin’s theory till the date not proved, so rejected.“. – Link Here
So there you have it then.
I must confess to being quite amazed, he managed to tick almost every single box in just one single conversation, and for that I guess he deserves an anti-Nobel prize for such an impressive anti-science stance.
What is Anti-science?
Incidentally, I use the term “anti-science”, not to simply mock of rejection of evidence based science, but rather as a factual statement. In its most basic sense, science starts with the data and works towards a conclusion … this is all the complete reverse. He starts with a conclusion, and then works backwards, tossing the stuff the conflicts with the “Allah did it” conclusion, and mining out the data he needs to retain the conclusion in its initial intact state – in essence anti-science.
Is it possible to reach people link this?
To be honest, no not really, they are usually too heavily invested (culturally and emotionally) in the position being taken, so real-world facts will be rationalised away.
So why bother?
Well, because others not only watch and listen, but also change their minds. As a bit of encouragement, here is a posting from a Muslim yesterday who has decided that he is better off being an ex-Muslim (In fact a friend posted it because he wanted to keep his identify a secret … which is perhaps understandable).
I am posting it on my friend’s behalf as he is using his real id right now so he cant post it…
////Realizing that religion has nothing to do with one’s practical/normal life wasn’t easy at all. With all the childhood religious programing, it becomes so difficult to look on the other side of the road. But thanks to Jal Pari, a couple of other great/enlightened friends and HCMA which provided lots of information about Islam, I managed to come out and started thinking differently. I remember when Jal Pari first told me that she has made up her mind becoming an Atheist, I was livid. I was never a fundamentalist/Islamist, but it was so hard for me to accept something against Islam, the so-called complete way of living. But she kept on counseling me by showing me the facts about the religion. One thing I loved about non-believers is that they talk with references. I, being a journalist myself, would require proper citations when something is brought up to my attention. Atheists do that, and unfortunately believers don’t./////
… and so one more name was added to the HMCA group’s growing list of ex-Muslims. – Link here.