In the last few years, the concept of denialism has gained currency among science writers. It first came to my attention with Michael Specter’s book of the same title, and shortly thereafter, in the Hoofnagles’ blog on scienceblogs.com. My concern is whether denialism is a useful and coherent concept. Should defenders of critical thinking and science add the fledgling term “denialism” to their vocabulary to help clarify talk about a particular class of unwelcome attitudes towards scientific progress and the scientific method? My judgment is negative on the question; we would do well to abandon the term “denialism,” just as we should abandon the use of any term that obscures valid distinctions while creating more confusion than it removes.
It pains me to come to this conclusion, because there… Continue reading