Denialism

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Denialists use rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts.

– Chris Jay Hoofnagle, 2007-02-09

About

Denialism is the repeated re-use of already-defeated but otherwise persuasive arguments -- an implicit denial that there are any valid counter-arguments. Denialism works when such arguments are presented to audiences which are either naive (unaware of the counter-arguments) or willing (being pre-disposed to agree -- "wanting to believe").

Denialist arguments typically have a strong emotional component, enhancing their reproductive fitness through memic evangelism.

This technique generally works best on those whose upbringing has been steeped in ideological protectionism, which renders them unlikely to use rational inquiry to verify information they receive in certain contexts (e.g. at a function sanctioned by appropriate authority, or by an authority-figure).

Nonetheless, it is also possible for skeptical minds to be ensnared in denialism by the use of straw-man packing and possibly other similarly subtle techniques.

Types

  • Emotional overload ("It hurts to think about it.")[1]
  • Category error ("I don't need any more worries to think about.")[1]
  • Learned helplessness ("It's futile to think about.")[1]
  • Tactical stupidity ("My livelihood depends on not thinking about it.")[2]

Examples

Links

Reference

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  • 2007-02-09 The Denialists' Deck of Cards "It is well known that businesses spend billions of dollars on lobbyists to affect legislation. They also spend untold millions on public policy groups that spread doubt about the need for any type of reform. Chief among these groups are the American Enterprise Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Cato Institute, but many other similar groups exist that focus on specific issues. Giveupblog.com has described these groups as "denialists." Denialists use rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts."
  • 2006-09-19 Denialists "...the type of person that refuses to believe in facts when they are indisputable. Topics of denial include the holocaust, HIV causing AIDS, global warming/climate change, evolution, the necessity of animals in research, cigarettes causing cancer, embryonic stem cells aren't as good as adult stem cells, the government blew up the WTC on 9/11 not terrorists etc."

News

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Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 suggested by 2013-08-02 Three kinds of denial by Ugo Bardi
  2. suggested by 2014-01-30 A fourth kind of denial: tactical stupidity by dredmorbius