Debunking Denialism

Defending science against the forces of irrationality.

Category Archives: Announcements

The Third Anniversary of Debunking Denialism

Today, it is three years since the Debunking Denialism website was created.

Posts and views

During the past year, a solid 70 posts have been published. The vast majority have been original, substantial and detailed refutations and covered a wide range of topics including genetically modified foods, cystic fibrosis, debunking Holocaust denial and revealing the tactics of alleged psychics. Debunking Denialism has taken on anti-GMO celebrities like Roseanne Barr, publicists and authors like Howard Bloom and writers like Stasia Bliss (who has spread nonsense on everything from cystic fibrosis to dark matter).

Third anniversary

The average number of visitors per month has climbed to around 4000 from 1600 during the second year and 100 during the first year. Debunking Denialism recently passed 80k views in total and will probably reach the 100k mark before the end of the year.

A number of new blog categories have been added, including debunking alleged psychics and crank claims about physics.

Social media

Debunking Denialism has also expanded onto the social media scene with a Facebook page and a Twitter account. The Facebook page has around 540 likes at this point and the Twitter account has a little under 90 followers. Most of the traffic to the Facebook page has come from other pages sharing the updates posted. Without question, the most supportive and share-generous Facebook page has been Skeptics; Atheists; Realists; Agnostics; Humanists managed by SARAH.Skeptic. Thank you so much for your unwavering support. I am in great debt.

Other helpful skeptical Facebook pages include IFHP, Punk Rock Atheists and Skeptics, Natural Born Skeptic, ‘No Bullshit’ Policy and Skeptical Spectacles. Thank you for your support. Read more of this post

So Another Year Has Passed…

second anniversary cake

Today is the second anniversary of Debunking Denialism!

A lot of things has happened since the first anniversary.

1. During the first year, only 30 entries were posted. Debunking Denialism is now at 122 posts (including this one), so the rate of new content has increased by almost a factor of three, fulfilling the goal set forth in the previous anniversary post.

2. The website has also expanded in terms of variety of content, making posts about such things as the poverty of race realism, the dangers with physical abuse of children, the abuse of statistics by some men’s rights activists, the abuse of biology by some radical feminists, praxeology, pH quackery as well as a few posts against the more traditional forms of pseudoscience covered on this blog, such as creationism and anti-psychiatry. The two most viewed article from this year, by a broad margin, are How to Limit Groupthink in the Skeptical Community and Some Falsehoods about the Y chromosome and Male Brains, the latter getting many comments (currently at 76) compared with most posts.

3. The average number of visitors per month has increased from a little over 100 to almost 1600. To what extent these are real readers and not just spammers, I do not know.

Where do I see this blog in another year? Hopefully I am able to put out more content faster and more regular in a way that is both broad (covering many different forms of pseudoscience) and deep (being able to dig deep into a topic and clear out the bunk effectively). Not just for my own learning and entertainment, but also for spreading scientific skepticism online.

New Swedish Site Takes on Anti-Vaccine Crankery

Today, a new Swedish website called Vaccininfo (Vaccine info) has been launched. What is special about this project is that yours truly is one of the writers! We have decided to bring the debunking of Swedish anti-vaccine crank into the online world to counter the increasing vaccine rejectionism presence in the mainstream media and in social medias like Facebook and Twitter.

Here is a description of the website that I wrote (my translation).

Vaccines is one of the greatest inventions of modern medicine. Today, children do not die in vaccine-preventable diseases to the same extend that they did before. During the 20th and 21th centuries, humanity has defeated many infectious diseases by extermination (e. g. smallpox and rinderpest) or radically reduced their incidence (polio, measles, whooping cough).

Despite this enormous success, there are dark forces in society attempting to undermine the public confidence in vaccines by spreading myths, conspiratorial thinking, scientific inaccuracies and fear propaganda.

With the emergence of internet, anyone can publish anything they want without it needing to be accurate. This has lead some to believe more in what they have seen on Youtube than read on the website of various infectious disease control authorities around the world.

Vaccininfo takes on these vaccine rejectionists and counter them on all fronts.

This does not mean the end of Debunking Denialism of course, but my time will have to be shared between these two projects.

Some administrative updates…

The About page has been updated to include a new comment policy. It is mostly just a clarification of the old one.

I wrote a new page called Why Read this Blog? where I attempt to spell out why I think this blog is different and why it stands out against many others.

I also removed the “Suggest a Topic” page, because I’m getting more emails that comments on that page at the moment.

What are the Most Popular Posts on Debunking Denialism?

Someone asked me what the most popular posts on this blog are.

Well, to be honest, this blog and most of its posts are not that popular compared with the blogosphere at large. Its Technorati Authority is just 104. In the Science category, it has rank 317, right between a blog about self-organizing networked system and a blog about medical treatments. Shockingly, the authority is the science category is 145, whereas the same figure for the popular blog Pharyngula (P. Z. Myers) is 144. Now granted, Pharyngula’s over all authority is 547 compared with just 104 for this blog, so maybe the ranking systems are a bit messy and flawed. Perhaps more attention should be spent blogging than looking at Technorati statistics.

In any case, here is a list of the posts with the top ten views.

  1. Why Jerry Coyne is Wrong about Medical Psychiatry (212). This was the first of my longer posts on this blog and the first one criticizing Jerry Coyne on his flawed views on medical psychiatry.
  2. Why Jerry Coyne is Still Wrong about Antidepressants (163). This was the second post taking on more of Coyne’s errors in the field of antidepressants and psychology.
  3. A Critical Examination of Stefan Molyneux’s Claims about Antidepressants (112). This was the first entry dealing with another person that I thought was being selectively rational.
  4. Refuting “Radiometric Dating Methods Makes Untenable Assumptions!” (63). I wrote this after reading a book focusing on creationist falsehoods about radiometric dating. The ironic thing is that this blog post is now the 6th hit on Google for “Refuting Radiometric Dating” and 1st hit if you search for the term in quotes.
  5. Appeal to Scientific Consensus is not an Appeal to Popularity or Authority (54). In this post, I made the case for the position that an appeal to scientific consensus is not a logical fallacy by pointing out that modern consensus is only made after a substantial part of the evidence points in this direction.
  6. The Problem with Most Conversations on Feminism (49). Here I reviewed the elevator gate event by suggesting that the problem with most conversations of feminism is prejudice, the failure to understand diversity and talking past each other.
  7. Harriet Hall on Kirsch and Efficacy of Antidepressants (41). A review of how Dr. Hall debunks Kirsch on the effectiveness of SSRIs.
  8. The Challenge of Pseudoskepticism (41). This was the first entry in a series of entries on the topic of debating tactics and pseudoskepticism.
  9. Henry Bauer and the Pure Virus Mythology (37). In this entry, I debunked the notion that HIV was never been isolated from “cellular contaminants”. The irony is that Bauer does not understand the basic biology of viruses: the virus hijacks the replication machinery of the cell to make copies of itself.
  10. Exposing Holocaust Deniers’ Quote Mine of Historian Arno Mayer (31). Here I pick apart one of the most common quotes out of context used by Holocaust deniers.

Maybe the number of views is not a good measure of popularity. Maybe spam bots selectively viewed some posts rather than others? What about controlling for time since posted? etc. At any rate, there you have it.

Debunking Denialism Reaches 2000 views!

Debunking Denialism Reaches 2000 views!

Yes, this is a completely arbitrary and silly number. There is nothing special about it, and it occurred a few days ago. Probably, most of those views are by spammers anyways. Still, it is interesting to note that it is steadily rising. Hopefully some of my more in-depth articles are useful to at least some individuals.

Carry on.

Debunking Denialism Will Remain Free from Commercial Advertisement

WordPress has recently introduced the ability for bloggers with custom domain names to put up certain forms of advertisements on their blog. Not any advertisements, but advertisement in the form of WordAds, which is allegedly “high quality ads from brand advertisers” (meaning what exactly?).

There are many reasons for this decision:

  • It makes the blog look less serious and I want to avoid being targeted with the “he is only doing that for profit!” argument.
  • I can probably not control content of the advertisement, so a blog post discussing something related to, say, homeopathy, may display advertisement for homeopathy products, which is bad, not wanted and absurd.
  • The money is probably not that great because this site is not yet that popular, but also because there are commonly available add-ons for e. g. Firefox to block advertisements.
  • I am not in financial trouble nor do I feel that this blog is costing me too much (only custom domain which is a one fairly acceptable payment per year), so it is not really something I need.
  • Commercial advertisements could potentially slow down the loading of this blog if they are flash-based or similar for those not using add-ons to block advertisement.
  • Commercial advertisements are just plain annoying!
  • etc.

So no commercial advertisement within the conceivable future and hopefully never.

Debunking Denialism Gets Custom Domain Name!

I have recently purchased a custom domain name for this blog: http://debunkingdenialism.com.

It is shorter, more to the point and special. It was also quite cheap and I figure that I might as well get the .com version before someone else does. Those accessing the blog from the standard WordPress subdomain will be automatically redirected.

Have a nice day.

Looking Back at the First Year of Blogging about Denialism

It has been over a year since this blog was started. The precise anniversary was 17th October, although the author of this blog has been quite busy. Despite not blogging between December of last year and June of this and only posting less than 30 entries, three important lessons have been learned.

1. Denialism is everywhere: There are a wealth of areas that have been infested with the tactics of pseudoscience and denialism, from the horrible events of the Holocaust and 9/11 to vaccines and psychiatry. It is hard to keep focused and sometimes it seems hard to feel motivated when the opposition feels overpowering on a PR level. Crap sells, that is for sure.

2. Trust no one, suspect everyone: After witnessing how otherwise rational people like evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne or philosopher Stefan Molyneux succumb to plain pseudoscience when it comes to medical psychiatry, it is clear that being rational in one area is by no means a guarantee that this rationality extends into other areas. Even the best can be mistaken, and sometimes profoundly so (because of their ability to rationalize ideas they have reached for non-smart reasons).

3. The value of intellectual self-examination: If brilliant people can be undermined by pseudoscience, why cannot the average person like you or me suffer the same fate? It is sometimes difficult to critically examine cherished positions, but I found it helpful to have multiple working hypotheses and to find the best arguments for and against these. Think slow and decide slower. Also avoid being a pseudoskeptic by reading up on denialist tactics, avoiding them and finally applying your own skepticism symmetrically to things that support or dispute your position.

What is in store for the next year of debunking denialism? Hard to predict the future, but more varied content on a more regular basis is one goal that has been established.

So it begins….

Modern life presents us with an interesting apparent paradox: science has a strong cultural authority, yet primitive darkness is creeping in just beyond the flickering flame of reason, threatening at any moment to extinguish that which we all have worked so hard for to attain.

It is time to work towards ending it. This blog will join the global community of supporters of science and reason and try to push back the forces of darkness.

“I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.” – Carl Sagan

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