Mashing up the Walking Dead and science denialism

I am really impatient with science deniers, so I saw something that will allow me to mash up two of my favorite subjects – the Walking Dead and science denialism – and it makes me happy. I know, you want to know how I can possibly combine the Walking Dead and science denialism – you’re just going to have to read on!

I know it’s shocking, but I find it difficult to be really civil towards science deniers. Partially, it’s because no matter how much evidence you present, science deniers rely on logical fallacies like strawman arguments, arguments from ignorance, post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies, and so many others.

Or they rely upon all of their biases. Confirmation bias, yes. Selection bias, yes. Cognitive biases, yes. And that logical fallacy that’s also a form of bias – cherry picking. The denialist’s favorite fruit has got to be cherries, because they’re picking them all day long.

Then toss in a big dollop of Dunning-Kruger effect, and it’s really difficult to take any science deniers very seriously. They take themselves seriously, despite their total lack of affirmative or negative evidence.

The only thing that matters in science is evidence. That’s it, that’s the beginning and the end of the story. I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, alien, immigrant, liberal, conservative, a janitor, a professor, black, white, or a Nobel Prize winner. If you lack evidence, you have nothing.

If you think there are debates to be made in settled science, that means you get the denialism card, no matter who you are. If you are an MD, and think that vaccines don’t work, then why should I consider your opinion on anything in medicine to be valid, when you’re denying some of the basic principles of medicine – the Germ Theory, for example. 

Denying the science denialism

 

Evolution is a scientific fact. There were no magical beings in the sky that started life (not officially a part of evolution for the picky amongst us), or that directed the massive diversity of life.

The earth is 4.5 billion years old, another scientific fact. This is established by a veritable mountain of scientific evidence from a vast number of independent researchers using a huge number of techniques across several decades of research.

The safety and effectiveness of vaccines are a scientific fact. This is also supported by a literal mountain of evidence. All the vaccine deniers have is a molehill of logical fallacies, biases, and that Dunning-Kruger effect.

As a corollary, for the deniers, vaccines do not cause autism. Period. End of discussion. Shut up now.

Anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a scientific fact. Once again, this is supported by a vast ocean of scientific research.

GMOs are safe to humans and to the environment. This scientific fact is supported by a vast amount of evidence, published in real journals, reviewed by real researchers, and accepted as scientific consensus by major scientific organizations across the world.

AIDS is caused by HIV. This is a scientific fact.

I’m sure there are several other science denying, ignorant nonsense being foisted upon humans, but I’d like to keep this to less than 1 million words. More or less.

To those of you who deny science.

To those of you who think their 15 minutes of Google research is worth more than actually spending years upon years in real science research.

To those who waste their education to lie or misinform people, then deny science.

To all of you:

the Walking Dead and science denialism
And that’s what I think of science deniers.

 

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!


  • Ethyl

    I am sorry. I told my son about this and he pretty much told me it wasn’t you, it is me. I’m lucky to have such trust and love in my life. I won’t bug you ever again, unless for real the last screw came out and my mind totally falls apart.

  • Ethyl

    What is autism, Skeppy? Just give me the established facts. Love you, Rose

  • Ethyl

    . scientific fact – an observation that has been confirmed repeatedly and is accepted as true (although its truth is never final).

    You’re not really giving science it’s due when you use it as a weapon against what you perceive as ignorance. It’s bigger than that. Real science doesn’t fight ignorance, it continues to seek the truth. Science hasn’t arrived at the truth, it never will. It has arrived at consensus, truth until a better truth comes along. Any fact of today could arrive at a totally different place tomorrow, not only as understanding increases, but also as misunderstanding lessens. Also, the world is a fluid place, and what is true for one generation of men—because man is all science pertains to, unless animals become educated…no wait, even a dog is capable of learning and spreading what he has learned. Never mind … I was going somewhere and then I got lost…

    And this science, this science you speak to, isn’t really science. It’s more of a political bent. I can almost guess what the opinion of it’s high priests will be. It is an echo chamber brought about in ivory towers to fight from having to mingle among the ignorant masses. The dirty untouchables…the religious. For God’s sake, you’re messing with people’s Grandma’s there. Yeah, Grandma is ignorant AND evil.

    But I’ve got to tell you one thing, and it is MY truth, my opinion. Those who use the tenets or whatever you call it of logic —I don’t know why, but I always think of them as amateurs. There is BS, and not BS. That is all. I never bothered to learn all the strawmen logical fallacies stuff because they are used solely to belittle the thoughts of others. It’s so effing elitist…why not just say what you mean, more directly, look to your own argument without excuses rather than looking to see the fault in another’s argument? Is that illogical? Can you see Spock, the high priest of logic, at least of a character, laughing at people and calling them names? I know a lot of people who aspire to be logicians wouldn’t know logic if it bit them in the a……maybe I should shut up.

    Elitism is not logic. Using your intellect and your expensive training to belittle common men is elitism. I don’t care what you say, you could find a simple man who believed in religion who had the common sense to know how to lead others who would be better than the most brilliant man in the world. (In truth, ~really~ brilliant people are kind of scary. They have a wicked blindness they won’t admit to. We are all blind to ourselves.) I saw a tweet of Richard Dawkins where he said he wanted a president to be cleverer than him, thus dismissing that black surgeon, can’t think of his name right now. But in reality, _I_ don’t want a clever president. I want a wise leader. Clever takes a backseat to wise in my book. They’ve all got feet of clay, anyhow….and what does cleverness have to do with politics, anyway?

    I’m not making any sense, am I… Go ahead, let it out. What tenet of logic have I crossed over? I’m not kidding. Dad was a bartender. He always said, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh#t.”

    I bet you get tired of fighting the ignorant versus amusing the echo chamber, anyhow. Need somebody in the middle to shake it up a little.

    • Ignorance is only part of the story, and what I mean is willful ignorance, not a lack of education or other things. Moreover, it’s part misinformation, lying, and hate that is part of the story.

      And no, if you actually read what I mean, EVIDENCE is the only thing that matters. I don’t give a shit about politics, with regards to science, since both left and right wingers are generally science deniers, just on different topics.

      I loathe religion in all forms, because there is no evidence of magical sky beings.

      Science is evidence. That’s it. If you want to invent a strawman that it’s a religion, that’s on you, not me.

      • Ethyl

        No, it isn’t a religion. It is a way of thinking…a form of intelligence, among many others. The sun doesn’t rise and set on evidence alone, though. We can think whatever we like and the world, the universe goes on, at least for now. It is impervious to our opinions. As big as we think we are, it is a whole, hell of a lot bigger, and even our evidence is pretty inconsequential in the long run compared to all the secrets it holds.

        Science as a club is like a religion, though. Nice little parish you got here.

        The difference between you and I, I am guessing, is that I don’t think singularly atheist thought is a prerequisite to good science.

        • Lawrence McNamara

          Yet another strawman there too.

          • Ethyl

            How is this a strawman? Could you explain? I’ve studied a variety of ways of thinking, and as I see it, our minds are set to different tunes. For example,some are artists….and anyone can say they are an artist, but few have the ability of a true craftsman. Most people don’t have the ability to figure out the scientific way of thinking or even the language….that’s why most of us hold doctors in high esteem. Some have political prowess. If you move a person, no matter how brilliant they are in what they do, and force them to do something they lack the skill, the mental architecture…they will fail at what they do, no matter how hard they try. Dyslexics may have particularly strong gifts in certain areas, but they are seldom related to the “clerical” atmosphere of school, so they may be given far less credit than due. The most brilliant minds I’ve ever interacted with have all been Dyslexic.

        • apparently you flunked science, because you actually do not have one clue as to what it is.

          Oh well. You’re just a loser with her head up her ass.

          • Ethyl

            I don’t understand why you are saying that. It seems to be a personal attack, but maybe it is based on something I said. If you can direct me to a better explanation, I could learn.

          • Ethyl

            I looked up strawman…I guess I kind of do have my head up my ass.
            I feel kind of stupid, now…You are speaking only to established science.

            I’m practicing how not to be defensive in presenting my ideas. I’ve had some luck that way… I thought you might be a good teacher. You seem to use personal attacks A LOT. My initial post was in good faith, and when you attacked me it just turned me into a troll.That is my fault.

            I continue to be defensive, That also is my fault. I’ll learn.

            I do read your posts, not to criticize, but to learn. I don’t go to the anti-vax sites, because in the old days each time I did it ended being a rabbit hole. I truly am looking for reasons why some kids are prone to reactions. It isn’t an established truth, but rather a curiosity. Go ahead and call me an idiot, Ive got nothing to lose. I started taking a sophomore level class on immunity online from Rice University. I would love to take a similar class on genetics.

            I’ve looked for a science oriented person to listen to me for about 14 years. I don’t give up. Dorit Reese was the only person I have known to consider my argument…and a couple of days ago, a science writer did, too. I tried to get Matt Carey to listen for almost 10 years. Emily Willingham, too, but not nearly so long.

            You talk about established science. There is no established science that I am aware of when it comes to autism. There are educated guesses but the area itself seems to be in flux. Is it immune related, is it purely genetic, or is it a spectrum of humanity that has been horribly abused, most often by attempts to “cure”? So when you say, established science, when it comes to autism, it’s not so much. And I do believe vaccine reactions are a clue. Which is why I took the immunity class. That I will still be ignorant afterwards doesn’t concern me. Everyone seems to be ignorant about autism, except the autistic’s themselves.

            Love, Rose

            • Autism is unrelated to vaccines. Period, end of story.

              Autism is almost certainly related to genes.

              Just because YOU think there’s no research in autism, and that we don’t know what’s going on, doesn’t mean that’s a fact.

            • Ethyl

              I don’t know what to say to you. I hope you have a good life. You are wrong about a lot of things, and you are wrong about me. I am not a loser. Prove you aren’t a bully.

            • Ethyl

              I’m so sorry I’ve made you angry, honey, I hope you’ll forgive me.

              Love, Rose

            • Ethyl

              I remember once Matt Carey said that people used to treat scientists like crap. I’m glad to see you’ve turned that around.

            • Ethyl

              I am all by my self. I have no one to back me up. I have nothing to lose….and I aint going to live forever. Give me what you got.

              Love, Rose

            • Ethyl

              sigh…

    • Chris Preston

      I think you are making a number of mistakes here. Science is best described as a way of investigating the world. Science tests hypotheses and if the hypothesis is found to be wanting, that idea is discarded.

      In a sense science is always subject to change as new ideas are shown to better describe the world and the older ideas are discarded. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not some things that have passed the test of scientific inquiry so often that they may as well be taken as the truth. Things such as the theory of evolution. It is highly unlikely that these ideas will be overturned by new information. Likewise, if science does not yet support your most cherished belief about the world, it is fairly unlikely that new information will make that belief a reality.

      Science follows evidence. The question should always be: What is the evidence for that assertion? Holding beliefs in the absence of evidence, or against the evidence is religion. The main form of scientific ignorance is not ignorance of what science has found, but looking for evidence to support a pre-existing belief. Creationists (of various stripes) do this, anti-vaxxers do this, climate change deniers do this and anti-GM activists do this.

      Oh and logical fallacies are just ways that people get thinking wrong mostly so they can excuse themselves from following the evidence.

      • Ethyl

        There can be no creationist scientists? I have a friend whose children win statewide science awards every year…her oldest went to MIT and got a degree in Chemistry. I think she is a creationist, too. I still love her.We don’t talk about it. She teaches gifted math students.

        I don’t think being a creationist necessarily precludes the ability to think critically. I think you are either wired with that ability or you are not. Most people are wired to interact, not to keep their noses in books…to be a part of something larger, and they take in ‘religious’ beliefs because that is the cost of being part of the group. I don’t think it’s a conscious,or even ignorant choice…it’s just what you do. Looking out for one another is a very human endeavor. I think atheists do the same, in many ways. And there are good atheists and bad atheists, just as there are good christians and bad christians. (I, myself, think that guy…Pat Robertson is about as slimy as they come. I think it is sweet that Christopher Hitchens read G.K. Chesterton at his deathbed, even if it was to critique him.)

        My favorite teacher was Mr. Cordes, and I attended a parochial school. More doctors and scientists came out of that classroom than you can imagine, one of whom found the 22nd amino acid through his lab, if I remember right. There was no test of logic there…we learned science. Then we might go to our next class and learn religious tenants of Catholicism. They weren’t related. I never considered they were.

        • Chris Preston

          There can be no creationist scientists? I have a friend whose children win statewide science awards every year…her oldest went to MIT and got a degree in Chemistry. I think she is a creationist, too. I still love her.We don’t talk about it. She teaches gifted math students.

          Scientists are people and have all the faults that people do. This includes believing rather than assessing the evidence. That is why it doesn’t matter how big your name as a scientist is, if you don’t have the evidence supporting you, you are still wrong.

          Among scientists there does seem to be an over-preponderance of chemists among creationists, just like there are geologists among global warming sceptics. Being an expert in one area, does not lend expertise to unrelated areas. There is a thing known as the Linus Pauling Effect that seems to infect a number of Nobel Prize winners.

          • Ethyl

            You’d have to be pretty intelligent to get a degree in Chemistry from MIT. He has a family….I doubt his job is to back up the Creation Science museum with his “facts”.

            I still think science is a job, one that takes great skill and intelligence. I don’t think it is related to your views on creation for exactly the reason you stated. One only needs to be an expert in that area. Your views in other areas, would be inconsequential. Can you do the work, or not?

            Regarding “evidence”, shouldn’t it be reproducible? Having a son who was at one time labelled autistic, I’ve seen a lot of evidence that had no basis in reality, especially, but not exclusively, in Psychiatry. Before giving my son ritalin, all the evidence pointed to it’s effectiveness and safety. Nobody said it makes you feel like a zombie but my son. Evidence is relative…

  • Sandy Perlmutter

    I didn’t understand the picture – sorry!

    • If you’re not a Walking Dead fan, it wouldn’t make sense. Refresh the page, and watch the GIF.

      • Sandy Perlmutter

        Can’t see it (small dark picture?). I don’t live in your culture, just visit from time to time, to enjoy your writing.