Conspiracy Theories

Science denial and conspiracy-mongering is an ‘elite’ brand of mental illness

Considering that social media is the tool I use to make a living, interacting with the myriad personalities that use this tool as a vehicle to amplify their voice is a given.

I’ve learned things through these interactions, but nothing good. Unfortunately, the very thing I rely on to drive traffic to DeadState is responsible for a specific, almost ‘elite’ form of mental illness afflicting the human race.

“Science denial” is a broad term. All of us, at some point in our lives, have denied the realities of the natural world in some form or another. But there’s a special kind of denial that prompts certain adult humans to see all forms of scientific consensus which conflicts with their ideology as a conspiracy.

For anti-vaxxers, it’s the constant regurgitation of debunked studies claiming a false link between vaccines and autism. For 9/11 truthers, simple physics and the widely corroborated historical record is thrown out in favor of out-of-context witness statements and myopic interpretations of video footage. For climate change deniers, their ideological opposition to all forms of regulation leads them down the rabbit hole of suspicion, convincing them that the majority of climate scientists are in it for the money. For anti-GMO crusaders, the scariness of a centuries-old practice being done by scientists in a lab trumps study after study deeming GMOs to be safe. The examples are almost endless and these people are no longer on the fringe.

Engaging with these people is useless. They won’t be swayed, regardless of how much the scientific method reveals the childlike nature of their ideologies.

This week, I came across a 2009 comic strip by Wiley Miller for his Non Sequitur series. It’s a perfect characterization of the futility of debating with this elite form of mental illness, and a good reminder of why I won’t do it anymore.

Check out, The Invention of Ideology, by Wiley Miller:



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    March 21, 2016 at 11:39 am

    This author misses the issues. There is one thing to straw man science deniers. However, the bigger issue is that, while appreciated science, we do not idealize science. One needs to be aware of how wrong science is most of the time. Take an illness to 3 different medical specialists and see how much harmony you get between the specialists. You realize that science is very much faith based.

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    Michael Vinson

    March 21, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Science is faith based? What are you smoking? There is nothing about science that says, “We’ll just believe it because we want it to be true, and ignore anything else that comes along”. THAT would be faith. When you come to a possible conclusion based on existing and testable evidence, and say, “This is what we believe to be true, based on what we have. But we’ll keep looking, and if something comes along to prove this wrong, we’ll change with it”. There’s nothing about faith there.

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    Tom Moe

    March 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Just talking reality here. You are 100% correct in theory but way off in reality. If science was completely fact based it would have 100% accuracy. How are those experts doing in your area predicting weather? No speculation or faith based reports I presume? it is noteworthy that you ran away from the discussion of the physicians. If medicine was strictly science why do so fe physicians ever agree on a disease or a plan of care?
    Am presuming that your knowledge of science is taken as seriously as your knowledge of faith. Your pathetic understanding, “We’ll just believe it because we want it to be true,” is an entertaining piece of ignorance of faith. Am thinking that you are describing statistical analysis where it is often said, “we want this to be true so let’s come up with some statistics to prove it.”

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