How to respond to subtil science denial?

How to respond to subtil science denial?

I noticed that science deniers are not all “simple and brutal” guys who simply shout “scientists are stupid ignorants who lie to us all day long”.

Many are much more subtle.

They will go with arguments such as “it is not that scientific research is irrelevant, but it is true that it is easy to make research tell the (ideological) narrative that you want, by using a specific sample, by interpreting the results in certain way, by synthesizing the results in certain way, again by using the results to benefit a certain (ideological) narrative.”

When you point them to the fact that there are mechanisms of counter-verification, including meta-analysis, they will point to the fact that most of the time the research replications are not well done for the reason no one wants to fund this kind of replication project, and that even there the meta-analysis replication most of the time gives negative replicability, or they will point to the problem of the positive bias in publication.

But behind these apparently rational arguments hides a deep cynicism about science (human) capacity to reach any kind of objective knowledge on reality.

I got another one.
When propagandists use exposed flawed psychology studies to attack various Earth sciences and scientists, and being totally oblivious to the radially different nature of the two and their study matter and process.

The guys precisely took the example that in social psychology, more than 50% of the studies were not replicable.

Also adding that even clinical trials are often not reproduced positively

This is such an important topic for the successful future of our species.

First, most societies have a poor understanding of math, statistics, logic, science, and physics. So, they are unarmed against charlatans.

Second, they are correct in observing that much of science is broken. There are people who fudge statistics/results to suit their biases or to get more grant money. Hell, there are entire industries dedicated to rejecting valid science.

Third, some people are simply ignorant and placed in positions of authority. For example, from the book, Merchants of Doubt:

The distinction between the troposphere and the stratosphere became part of the Supreme Court hearing in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA, in which twelve states sued the federal government for failing to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the clean air act. Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, arguing that there was nothing in the law to require the EPA to act - but the honorable justice also got lost in the science, at one point referring to the stratosphere when he meant the troposphere. A lawyer for Massachusetts replied, “Respectfully your honor. It is not the stratosphere. It’s the troposphere.” The justice answered, “Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to deal with global warming.”

And there are rogue scientists who arm the ignorant masses with doubt (E.g., Fred and Russell Seitz, and Fred Singer) as their articles would appear in business journals whose readers were all about free-markets and no government intervention. During the Reagan administration, it was frowned upon to mention acid rain just as George W, Bush didn’t want to hear about global warming. Think tanks like the CATO institute paid these scientists to publish misleading articles.

Most people do not place reason over emotion. It’s easy to scare/anger such people. As Fox News clearly illustrates.

Yes, but the arguments of these hidden science deniers is that the idea that we can use science in and of itself to come to a certain form of objective knowledge is basically flawed.

I can’t find the meme, but they can share memes where the whole of scientific publications is found unreplicated.

But the science deniers are wrong. Science is the best we can do.

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Dig it up.
That would be interesting to find out how that train of logic works.

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I really tried! But can’t find it…

This may have some information.

One of the first questions Lee McIntyre, a philosopher at Boston University, poses about those who insist the Earth is flat is: “Can these people be serious?”

As one of the most extreme examples of science denial, McIntyre starts his book, How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason , by describing his visit to the 2018 Flat Earth International Conference in Denver, US. The answer to his question, he quickly concludes, is “yes, completely so”.

McIntyre provides a useful analysis of how to identify science denial. He describes five elements that are almost always part of the arguments: cherry-picking evidence; belief in conspiracies around the issue; reliance on fake experts; logical errors; and setting impossible levels of evidence for any opposing views.

Given this, McIntyre explains that combating science denial can be done by correcting the inaccuracies of the science, but also by pointing out the fallacies in the mode of thinking, known as technique rebuttal.

He also sets out carefully the argument for why we can and should engage with science deniers. A study in 2010 demonstrated a “backfire effect”, where presenting the evidence against a person’s position causes an even stronger adherence to it – leading to the demoralizing idea that there may be no point in fighting back. But McIntyre reports that these results were never replicated. In fact, a breakthrough experiment done in 2019 by behavioural scientists Philipp Schmid and Cornelia Betsch from the University of Erfurt, Germany, showed that several methods of rebuttal were more effective than no response at all.


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But people need information, that’s why regarding climate science specifically some people created, they’ve rundown and examined pretty near every contrarian argument ever advertised. Then do a great job of dissecting the argument and then sharing the scientific understanding. Always based on actual published papers, and always share the sources of those papers, so people can do the research for the themselves. Or at least verify the story.’s Climate Myths sorted by taxonomy

Of course, this is where good faith curiosity, honest teaching, honest constructive debate, desire to learn, rather than a commitment to champion one position or the other come in handy.
Let the facts make up your mind, but that requires a lot of time and effort.
And most simply don’t care that much, none of all this connects with their emotions and concerns. That’s a tragedy.

And one reason I say it’s time to stop being so complacent about counter productive philosophical indulgences. Waking up to the new day we have created for ourselves and children and grandchildren.

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I have to agree. We’ll see how many care and if they care enough. Well, I don’t mean that I will see. I’m 70! :joy: