Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

Category Archives: Announcements

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.

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The Fifth Anniversary of Debunking Denialism

Fifth Blog Anniversary

Today marks the fifth year since the founding of the Debunking Denialism website.

New content

During the past year, 44 new articles have been written and posted on Debunking Denialism. Topics ranged from the large Ebola outbreak and the conspiracy theories and pseudoscientific quackery that followed (such as homeopathy) to how an alternative medicine company threatened mental health blogger Natasha Tracy with a lawsuit unless she removed science-based criticism of their product from her website.

Several topics were explored in detail using peer-reviewed scientific papers, such as false confessions and genetic privacy in the age of high-throughput sequencing.

Otherwise credible sources were dissected, such as the promotion of detox regimes by Swedish Public Radio, a credulous blog post advancing anti-psychiatry at the Scientific American Mind website, Swedish Public Television inviting anti-vaccine activists to a “debate” about safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and Tim Wise blaming the Holocaust on “scientism”.

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The Fourth Anniversary of Debunking Denialism

Anniversary cake

Another year has passed here at Debunking Denialism and it is time to celebrate the fourth anniversary since the creation of this website.

New content

Since last year, a little over 50 new articles have been posted, discussing topics such as the pseudoscientific climate report published by the Heartland Institute, science and pseudoscience among law enforcement, anti-immigration advertisements, how race realists abuse heritability, Bosnian genocide denialism, the pitfalls of fMRI-based lie detection, Bayesian self-defense against paranormalist claims, spell casting against HIV/AIDS, pseudomathematical objections to genetically modified foods, fraudulent psychics brought to justice, extensive plagiarism in the renowned Genetics journal, homeopathic “treatments” for Ebola and how modern genomics crushed Bigfoot pseudoscience.

New sections started on Debunking Denialism during the past year includes cryptozoology and bad science journalism.

An explosion of page views

The activity here at Debunking Denialism has grown faster than ever could have been anticipated. The website passed 200k page views in early July, and recently passed 300k. Read more of this post

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.

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.

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.

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