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.