Organization of Topics

Category

Bad Science

Brain Science & Brainwashing

Climate Change

Conspiracy Theories

Cosmology & Astrophysics

Critical Thinking

Cyber Issues

Environment

Evolution

Genes & Genetic Engineering

Gun Violence

Medicine, COVID, and Vaccinations

Miscellany

“New Age” Hoaxes

Ozone Layer

Toxic Products

Blog Series or Posts

The Science Denier’s Toolbox

Profiles in Denial: Introduction

Eugenics in the United States

Bad Rx: Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos

The Initial Pseudoscience Awards

Violent Extremists and Psy-Op Victims: Trump’s Cult of Personality

My Brain Surgery

Brainwashing via Social Media

The Heartland Institute Strikes Again

Scientific Tipping Points: Lessons Learned for Climate Change

Climate Change Problem Solving

Will Happer, Climate Change Denier

S. Fred Singer, All-Purpose Science Denier

Richard Muller, Climate Change Skeptic

John Christy, Climate Change Denier

Ten False Narratives of Climate Change Deniers

Geoengineering

Debunked? A Review of Steven Koonin’s Book Unsettled?

Flat Earth “Theory”

Conspiracy Theory “True Believers”

Dr. Judy Mikovits, Conspiracy Theorist

QAnon: An Ominous Conspiracy Theory

Lies, Damned Voting Fraud Lies, and Statistics

Young Earth Creationism

Where Is Everybody?

How to Tune Your Bullshit Detector

Test Your Critical Thinking

Cyberweapons of Mass Destruction

The EPA’s War Against Science

Evolution

Philip E. Johnson, Evolution Denier

Michael Behe, Evolution Denier

William Dembski, Evolution Denier

Whither Homo Sapiens?

Gene Drives

Envisaging the Invisible Man: Forensic DNA Phenotyping

The CRISPR Arms Race

Sex, Gender, Genome and Hormones

Gun Violence Research

Vaccinations

COVID-19 Denial

COVID-19 Resurgence in America

Ten False Narratives About the Coronavirus

‘Natural’ Herd Immunity: A Really Bad Idea

Purdue Pharma and America’s Opioid Epidemic

The Disinformation Dozen

America’s Frontline Quacks

Bridging Partisan Divides Over Scientific Issues

Scientific Tipping Points, Introduction

Still Relevant: Three Classic Dystopian Novels

The “War of the Currents”

Reefer Madness: The War on Cannabis

Homeopathy

Wellness Fads

Astrology

Crystal Healing

Psychics Strike Out

The Ozone Layer Controversy

Scientific Tipping Points: The Ozone Layer

Scientific Tipping Points: The Banning of DDT

The Toxic Product Defenders

Date First Posted

06/27/2017

06/06/2019

12/01/2019

02/09/2022

02/21/2022

02/10/2021

06/30/2021

07/21/2021

08/31/2017

02/12/2019

05/27/2019

07/13/2019

07/16/2019

08/20/2019

04/01/2020

04/07/2020

08/04/2021

10/05/2021

02/06/2020

05/22/2020

06/20/2020

08/06/2020

12/15/2020

01/30/2018

05/26/2022

11/21/2020

01/18/2021

03/28/2021

08/12/2018

04/04/2019

06/06/2019

06/06/2019

07/13/2019

04/21/2022

12/02/2019

06/12/2020

10/25/2021

02/13/2022

08/29/2019

07/11/2018

05/01/2020

07/17/2020

09/22/2020

01/07/2021

07/09/2021

08/30/2021

01/04/2022

03/30/2018

09/19/2018

11/29/2021

03/23/2022

04/28/2022

08/07/2017

01/14/2019

05/08/2019

03/25/2020

06/08/2021

07/19/2017

11/08/2018

09/19/2018

07/02/2020

The War Against Facts

On November 30, 2016, Scottie Nell Hughes, in an appearance on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR, stated “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.”  She was appearing as a surrogate for President-Elect Donald J. Trump and discussing his tweets claiming massive voter fraud robbing him of a popular vote victory in the election just past.  Her statement came across more as an announcement of strategy than as an observation, a strategy boosted by the proliferation of media outlets that replace the New York Times’ old mantra of “All the news that’s fit to print” with “All the news that fits your preconceived notions.”  Indeed, nearly six months into the Trump presidency, the war against facts appears to be the central, perhaps the only, strategic theme of this Administration.

This war against facts is not a novel approach.  It is a standard propagandistic technique of autocratic regimes that value control of the narrative and maintenance of power above promoting the greater public good.  But when propaganda flourishes, democracy withers.  Flooding the market with “alternative facts” creates a fog of war that stands in the way of reaching democratic consensus.

The U.S. intelligence agencies and investigative journalists are so far keeping up their end of the bargain on navigating through this fog to some approximation of truth.  We are launching this blog instead to focus on combating the war against scientific facts being waged by systematic science deniers who have been emboldened by the Trump strategy and rewarded with collaborative roles in the making of public policy.  An essential part of this combat centers on fostering the education of future generations of young people, training them in critical thinking and the ability to distinguish fact from bullshit.

Currently widespread doubts about scientific results do not so much reflect a mistrust of scientists, but rather adherence to worldviews with which the science may conflict.  Scientists’ worldviews are often centered on the validity and robustness of the scientific method, a time-tested and self-correcting approach to determining facts.  But for non-scientists, worldviews are more often centered on religious or political identification, or on economic self-interest.

In some cases, the conflict is obvious.  For example, cosmology tells us quite definitively that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, while a strict reading of the Bible sets the age at just under 6000 years.  But in other cases, it takes decisive action on the part of affected parties and their funders to promote a sense of conflict where none need exist.  This is prominently the case today with climate science, where the technical issues have been counter-productively elevated to aspects of political identification.  Science denial is prevalent on many issues, from the origins and evolution of the universe and life within it, to human effects on Earth’s climate and environment, to the efficacy and dangers of vaccines.

To be sure, there are honest scientific skeptics — the scientific method relies on them and provides an approach to identify, debate and eventually resolve scientific disagreements.  But make no mistake, there is also a small industry of deniers, who cherry-pick, misrepresent or doctor data, in order to sow doubt, while insisting they be called skeptics rather than deniers.  The difference between the two will be elaborated in the next blog entry, but is pithily summarized in the quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson featured in the footer on this page.

In the face of manufactured doubt about science, how is an informed public to navigate through the fog of war against facts?  How are science teachers to handle the honing of critical thinking in young minds, in the face of science denial manifestos and politically driven mandates with which they are being bombarded?  In upcoming blog entries, we will explain the difference between scientific disagreements and science denial, and we will present the standard tools used repeatedly by science deniers, across a wide variety of issues.  We will illustrate elements of this standard toolbox in discussions of climate science, of ozone depletion, of Big Bang cosmology, of macro-evolution, of vaccinations against common diseases, among other questions, both old and new.  The goal is not to stifle debate about skeptics’ questions, but to recognize and call out dishonest points and foregone conclusions.