Looking Back at the First Year of Blogging about Denialism
November 9, 2011
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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.