Living in denial: When a sceptic isn't a sceptic - by Michael Shermer

WHAT is the difference between a sceptic and a denier? When I call myself a sceptic, I mean that I take a scientific approach to the evaluation of claims. A climate sceptic, for example, examines specific claims one by one, carefully considers the evidence for each, and is willing to follow the facts wherever they lead.

A climate denier has a position staked out in advance, and sorts through the data employing "confirmation bias" - the tendency to look for and find confirmatory evidence for pre-existing beliefs and ignore or dismiss the rest.

Scepticism is integral to the scientific process, because most claims turn out to be false. Weeding out the few kernels of wheat from the large pile of chaff requires extensive observation, careful experimentation and cautious inference. Science is scepticism and good scientists are sceptical.

Denial is different. It is the automatic gainsaying of a claim regardless of the evidence for it - sometimes even in the teeth of evidence. Denialism is typically driven by ideology or religious belief, where the commitment to the belief takes precedence over the evidence. Belief comes first, reasons for belief follow, and those reasons are winnowed to ensure that the belief survives intact.
...


Views: 6

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Marshall on May 17, 2010 at 12:30am
Excellent article. Thanks for bring it to my attention. I've notices that the tactics employee by climate change deniers are almost identical to those used by creationists. Lots of quote mining and misrepresentations.

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

Latest Activity

Frank Moorman posted a status
"Heading to Las Vegas this weekend and hope to see the Tree of Knowledge, decorated with book covers, posted by the LV Coalition of Reason."
25 minutes ago
Frank Moorman updated their profile
34 minutes ago
Frank Moorman posted a status
"I signed up here four years ago, but did not participate, what with life taking some interesting turns. So I'll try again."
43 minutes ago
Frank Moorman replied to scott martins's discussion IS EVERYBODY 100% POSITIVE THERE IS NO GOD?
50 minutes ago
Daniel W commented on Dyslexic's DOG's blog post Wendy Wright (Creationist) arguably the Dumbest Person I've Ever Seen on Youtube!
1 hour ago
Loren Miller commented on Dyslexic's DOG's blog post Wendy Wright (Creationist) arguably the Dumbest Person I've Ever Seen on Youtube!
1 hour ago
Daniel W commented on Dyslexic's DOG's blog post Wendy Wright (Creationist) arguably the Dumbest Person I've Ever Seen on Youtube!
1 hour ago
Daniel W replied to James M. Martin's discussion Austin City Council Candidate Uses "I'm Devout Christian, He's an Atheist" Graphic on Her Website
1 hour ago
Pat replied to James M. Martin's discussion Austin City Council Candidate Uses "I'm Devout Christian, He's an Atheist" Graphic on Her Website
2 hours ago
Michael Penn commented on Visvakarman Svetasvatara-Upanish's blog post Einstein on God, narrated by Richard Dawkins
2 hours ago
Michael Penn replied to Pat's discussion Hello Dalai.., Err, Goodbye Dalai
2 hours ago
Daniel W replied to Daniel W's discussion "Pope Francis played Huge Role in Cuba Deal"
2 hours ago

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service