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Tom Tomorrow rounds up the crazy

Tom Tomorrow rounds up some denialist, right-wing, anti-science, creationist crazy… all in one comic.

This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow

Refusing to debate denialists

Orac, over at Respectful Insolence, has a post titled “Debating Denialists” that talks a bit about how pointless it is to debate denialists, whether they be Holocaust deniers, anti-vaxxers, creationists, or 9/11 Truthers. Deborah Lipstadt, a Holocaust historian, uses the phrase “trying to nail a blob of Jello to the wall” when referring to debating them.

Orac explains…

[…] for a debate to be an intellectually useful exercise, there have to be two reasonable points of view being argued, points of view that have evidence to support them. The evidence doesn’t have to be of equal quantity and quality on each side, of course, but it should at least be somewhere in the same ball park–or on the same planet.

He goes on to say that denialists crave the respect that real science receives and desperately want to be taken seriously by people in relevant fields of study. Being put on the same stage or the same screen as genuine, respected scientists and scholars gives them exactly what they want, so it’s best to just avoid the debate in the first place. Richard Dawkins has taken the same position for the same reasons, refusing to debate creationists.

In his article, he quotes Lipstadt’s listing of a number of tactics that I see all the time from denialists and it’s disheartening to see them, especially when otherwise intelligent people fall into the denialist sewer and veritably flaunt their ignorance and misinformation as though they are spreading enlightenment to the huddled masses. “We need to educate people,” they claim, while deliberately spreading misinformation. “People need to hear the truth,” they say, while making certifiably false claims. “People are just falling prey to the mainstream media,” they cry, while basing their own claims on religious and political ideologies rather than facts.

Regarding the denailist tactics, Orac says [emphasis mine]…

[…] there is a commonality among cranks in the types of fallacious arguments and twisting of data that they engage in. Being a “denialist” is not a matter of what is being argued, but how it is being argued. It’s about bad reasoning, bad science, cherry picking data, and misrepresenting sources to support a preexisting agenda.

Which is why in a debate they are so damned hard to pin down. Like Jello.


If it’s cold, it’s evidence!

I find it noteworthy that the global warming deniers, many of whom were touting the recent cold snap in the USA as evidence against global warming, are strangely silent about the recent warm temperatures we’ve been having. In Pennsylvania, it was about 60 degrees this morning, which is pretty high for this time of year… not unheard of, but definitely high. The entire past week has been warmer than usual, actually.

Now, those who understand anything about climate change understand that local temperature variances really say nothing about global climate change (hence the word "global"), but the deniers latch onto this sort of thing and wave it around as if it somehow validates their conspiracy theories. The caveat is that they only do it when it suits their purposes. If there is contradicting "evidence," it is ignored.

Evolution deniers do the same thing… tout irrelevant things as evidence in support of their delusion, but ignore (or deny) evidence that refutes it. Anti-vaxxers do it, too… as do moon hoaxers, flat earthers, 9/11 truthers, and Obama birthers. It’s a common theme among conspiracy theorists.

And all that is fine… unless they have any political clout.

Sadly, that seems to be the case in some instances.