Skepticism, after all, is a rational, intellectual process that involves critical analysis of the facts and reasoned doubt applied to all evidence and hypotheses.
“The key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between “know nothing” skepticism and “anything goes” credulity.” skeptic.com
In contrast, Climate change Deniers:
- ignore the facts and evidence;
- do not critically examine any evidence or hypotheses;
- unquestionably embrace any counter proposal, no matter how transparently absurd or false.
You have but to check any site in the Denialosphere to see the truth of this. We may not agree on exactly what they are, but it is quite clear that they are not skeptics. However, agreeing on what they are not does not give us a consensus on what they are.
The discussion is not new, but fired up again with the column by James Randerson Climate change creationists in The Guardian. I appreciate Randerson’s concern about the politicization of climate change science and his desire to avoid that, and particularly the alleged reference to Holocaust Denial.
As a substitute he offers “climate change creationists”, but I believe that it is not accurate and that it creates it’s own problems.
1) The arguments and tactics used by the Deniers are political, not scientific, so trying to avoid politicizing the issue with this crowd is not an option; that horse was never in the barn to start with.
2) Whether “Denier” invokes the Holocaust or not, “Creationist definitely invokes Evolution Denial, and that is not appropriate. I suspect most if not all Evolution Deniers are Creationists, but not all Creationists are Evolution Deniers.
Indeed a good many Creationists do not find Evolution to be incompatible with their faith and have a cosmology that quite comfortably accommodates both faith and scientific fact.
3) The only one’s who bring up the imaginary Holocaust connection are the climate change Deniers themselves. It is part of their meme that they are the innocent victims of persecution. This is a deliberate attempt to distract from thoughtful consideration of just what “Denial” means and whether the term is appropriate when applied to them.
In fact most of us frequently refer to this or that person as being “in denial” and no one is attempting to invoke the Holocaust or suggest anti-semitism. We are merely attempting to accurately describe a particular collection of behaviours.
George Monbiot discusses the issue in Climate change – the semantics of denial and states “I use the term deniers not because … I can’t think what else to call them.” Certainly it has been discussed on this blog repeatedly.
While I believe that a pretty strong case can be made for the appropriateness of
Septic Sep”tic\, n. A substance that promotes putrefaction.
using it would debase a perfectly good word, and so I do not actually suggest it, tempting though it may be to adopt this term.
UPDATE: :LOL: Digger lostlyrics suggests that we need anti-septics to combat climate Denial … a suggestion that has me seriously reconsidering adopting the term:-)
UPDATE 2: Stoat has taken umbrage (a fine purgative, good for gout, shingles, and high in vitamin D) at perceived plagiarism of his coining of “septic” to refer to Deniers.
He offers the indisputable evidence of The septics are cr*p (part XVII…) and Septics and skeptics; denialists and contrarians, although his REALITIES OF GLOBAL WARMING reference is a bit dubious, it may be a typo😉
Anarchist6[zero]6 discusses the similarities between Climate Change, Holocaust, and Evolution denial in (not surprisingly) “Denialism: Climate Change, Holocaust & Evolution.” The similarities between Evolution Deniers and Climate Change Deniers has been discussed before, both on this blog and (elsewhere. Another parallel often drawn is “Climate change deniers are ‘flat-earthers’.” (BONUS Nicholas Stern warns of ‘absolute lunacy’ of Vaclav Kalus).
Those similarities are not because of any relationship between Evolution, Climate Change, the Holocaust, HIV, etc. It is because the are all Deniers … it’s really that simple.
“Denial” is not a fuzzy epithet to be hurled at anyone who disagrees with you. As Mark Hoofnagle discusses on his excellent denialism blog, denial is a well defined set of behaviours and actions. A Denier is someone who selects the term for themselves through their actions.
Now Mark has brought us Climate change deniers: failsafe tips on how to spot them:
- First is the assertion of a conspiracy to suppress the truth.
- The second tactic is selectivity, or cherry-picking the data.
- The third tactic, the use of fake experts (everybody sing “you say Singer, I say Lindzen, let’s call Theon a fraud”)
- The fourth tactic – moving goalposts or impossible expectations
- Finally, the fifth tactic is the catch-all of logical fallacies.
Regardless of their conclusions about climate science (or tobacco, evolution, HIV or the Holocaust), someone who engages in these behaviours is a Denier, pure and simple.
Yes it is an ugly word. “Racist” is an ugly word, and the only one you
should use to describe racists. “Sexist” is an ugly word, and the only one you should use to describe sexists.
Denial is an ugly behaviour, and the only word we should use to describe those who practice it is “Denier.”
They avoid calling things by their true names because they know that if we do not know the true names we will not be wise enough to act.“
Johnny Rook – The Power of True Names
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 138 … still no evidence.