The Sixth Anniversary of Debunking Denialism

Cupcakes!

Debunking Denialism has now been active for six years. During the past year, a lot of things has been accomplished, but many challenges remain. Anti-science activists hold fake “tribunals” against GMOs, still oppose vaccines despite new outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, talk nonsense about quantum mechanics and abuse statistics for their own ideological goals.

The world has also changed over the past 12 months with direct or indirect connections to scientific skepticism: several large terror attacks occurred Europe, the rise of the alt right in the United States, Radovan Karadžić were convicted and sent to prison for 40 years for crimes against humanity, the Panama documents were released, the UK voted to leave the EU, the Paris agreement was ratified by the U. S. and China as well as 150 nations agreed to get rid of ozone-damaging HFCs.

Highlights

Here are some of the major content that has been covered on Debunking Denialism during the past year:

– One of the largest sellers of bleach as a cure for many diseases, Daniel Louis Smith, was sentenced to 55 months in prison.

– David Stephan and his wife Collet were convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life to their 19-month toddler Ezekiel. David got four months in prison and she got house arrest for a few months, but the crown prosecutor is appealing the case due to the lenient punishment.

– The article series refuting a popular anti-skeptic book that defended various paranormal and pseudoscientific beliefs was completed. Unlike previous critical commentary for the book, this article series focused both on logical fallacies and its scientific errors.

– The content that got most attention during the past year was undoubtedly the refutations of the poisonous M&Ms or poisonous skittles analogy, where some groups are compared with a bowl of candy. Since apparently some pieces are poisonous, it allegedly makes sense to avoid all of the candy even though most of them are not poisonous. This was originally refuted in 2014 in the post Poisonous M&Ms: The Irrational Monstrosity of Bigotry, but got more coverage in the past year when it metastasized to the Syrian refugee crisis and then exploded into the mainstream.

– Anti-GMO statistician Nassim N. Taleb came out as a defender of homeopathy.

– Debunking Denialism also published several basic coverage of scientific skepticism, such as how to avoid falling for bullshit on the Internet, preventing cranks from benefiting from your online skeptical activism, scientific skepticism in four easy steps, and a guide to how quacks and cranks abuse scientific terminology.

– Many other serious posts on science and pseudoscience were also posted, such as the scientific problems with the natural birth movement, asking if there are any extra risks with GM crops that cannot be found with any other breeding methods, setting the record straight on peppered moths and vigorously opposing forced anal examinations to “discover” and punish men who have sex with men. This method is scientifically invalid and unethical.

– I also took apart common race realist abuses of science, including refuting a three-part reply to that post in the comment section.

Skeptical coverage from Sweden

There were also many posts covering pseudoscience and scientific skepticism from Sweden:

– Debunking Denialism published a critical analysis of how anti-immigration activists abuse Swedish rape statistics for their nefarious goals. In reality, crime victim surveys show a decreasing trend in rapes committed, and the rise in reported cases of rape can be shown to be a result of widening rape definitions, doubling in propensity to report rapes compared with before and changing in the way police documentation procedure. Despite being written in the middle of December of 2015, it still is among the most viewed posts on the website almost every single day.

– In a similar context, Debunking Denialism explained recent research showing that at least 60% of reported shootings in Malmö were not actually shootings, but instead reports that did not require any credible evidence of a shooting. This change was made in Malmö (as opposed to other large cities like Stockholm and Göteborg) many years ago in an effort to capture convicted serial shooter Peter Mangs.

– Despite the ban on selling colloidal silver as a treatment for human diseases, some health stores continue to sell them. Anthroposophic homeopathy got an extended exemption for another six months, but special treatment will be removed over a period of several years. Debunking Denialism also reported that a Swedish alternative health store sold bracket fungus as a fake treatment against suicidal thoughts. This shows that there is a clear need for current legislation that prevents quacks from treating cancer need to be expanded to include severe psychiatric conditions as well.

– The food chain Coop that kept pushing organic food by abusing already flawed science in their “The Organic Effect” campaign were sued for misleading marketing by Swedish Crop Protection Association.

Statistics

During the last year, a total of 64 posts have been published here on Debunking Denialism. This is roughly 20 more than the year before. The total number of views surged past 600k, 700k and even 800k, a moderate increased compared with last year. Debunking Denialism also broke the best views ever record, having over 33k views on September 20, roughly coinciding with the poisonous skittles gambit used by one of the sons of Donald Trump. Having written at length about the scientific, statistical and logical problems with this gambit, it was not surprising that such posts would be popular.

Future

There are many exciting things coming during the next 12 months. There is a new companion project to Debunking Denialism under construction that will be released before the end of the year with about 300 original and newly written posts at launch. Debunking Denialism will also take on climate science hero Naomi Oreskes for her promotion of anti-GMO myths and monitor issues that have already been covered.

As a special gift to readers, I have now finally bought the personal plan from WordPress that removes all the WordPress ads from the website. These were annoying and did not bring any economic or benefit to me personally or any of my readers. I have not seen any of those ads for a long time because it is not typically shown to frequent visitors and I use adblock addons such as ublock origins, ghostery and adblock plus. But now they are gone. Enjoy an even more ad-free experience.

Emil Karlsson

Debunker of pseudoscience.

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