How should scientists respond to science denialism? John Cook explains @ConversationEDU

A very good question indeed by John Cook.

This is probably one of the best responses to denialism of climate change: (I think that John Oliver knows pretty well how to tell the truth avoiding the backfire)

CF4K701W0AAmHmX (1)

CF5aT2UW8AAI7hU (1)

“Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The following quote for me is very important: always try to be kind with the person in denial, their feelings are as real as your feelings.

“In the way that scepticism is sometimes applied to issues of public concern, there is a tendency to belittle, to condescend, to ignore the fact that, deluded or not, supporters of superstition and pseudoscience are human beings with real feelings, who, like the sceptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.” Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

An extremely short futuristic story — Science at the beginning of the XXI century —

Once upon a time someone wrote:

“It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false”

and it was proved.(1)


1. Ioannidis JPA (2005) Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Med 2(8): e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

View more: Science

cognitive-slide-8-enlarged 1276_rhetological-fallacies_en

– more about science –

Science at-Large on Planet F345, Andromeda Galaxy, Year 3045268

By Jhon Ioannidis.

Hansson, Sven Ove, “Science and Pseudo-Science”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

First published Wed Sep 3, 2008; substantive revision Mon Feb 10, 2014

“The demarcation between science and pseudoscience is part of the larger task to determine which beliefs are epistemically warranted. The entry clarifies the specific nature of pseudoscience in relation to other forms of non-scientific doctrines and practices. The major proposed demarcation criteria are discussed and some of their weaknesses are pointed out. In conclusion, it is emphasized that there is much more agreement about particular issues of demarcation than on the general criteria that such judgments should be based upon. This is an indication that there is still much important philosophical work to be done on the demarcation between science and pseudoscience.”…

Read more:

Now, I am going to share some thoughts about vaccines. I think that the dichotomy of labelling vaccine discussions as science (if vaccines are promoted) or pseudoscience (if vaccines are criticised) is unhelpful, clear demarcations are difficult because there is not only one type of vaccines.

I think that the dichotomy of labelling vaccine discussions as science (if vaccines are promoted) or pseudoscience (if vaccines are criticised) is unhelpful, clear demarcations are difficult because there is not only one type of vaccines. The infamous Andrew Wakefield  scandal of research misconduct linking autism with the MMR vaccine mistakenly polarized the debate, when you speak about vaccines it is possible that you will be labelled as pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination, but it is much more complicated than recognizing what is the demarcation between black and white.

Please allow me to explain myself better:

I think that the papilloma vaccine is safe and effective and their studies have been sufficiently shared, especially the industry-sponsored studies (something very unusual). However, I still have some concerns regarding the cost of this intervention (HPV vaccine) especially in developing and emerging economies. I am still uncertain about the age groups, gender, and socioeconomic conditions of the population that could obtain the major benefit with a prophylactic application of the human papillomavirus vaccine. I also think that unfounded attacks to the vaccine by journalists with undisclosed conflict of interests are unhelpful and their claims are mostly pseudoscientific (e.g., repeatedly claiming that aluminium in vaccines is causing adverse reactions). Poor quality of scientific journalism about the human papillomavirus vaccine  open letter to Colombian news media   The BMJ

Re: “Usan el Nobel de Medicina para hacer marketing de la vacuna del papiloma” ―@MiguelJaraBlog by  • December 13, 2014 • 0 Comments

Let’s go to the other side of the coin: pro-vaccination.

I think that the arguments expressed by (Google search query = influenza vaccine) about the influenza vaccine are (paradoxically) pseudoscientific too.

Why do I think that a site self-proclaimed as scientific in their nature is making pseudo-scientific statements?

Please make yourself your own conclusions:

McCartney Margaret. Margaret McCartney: What use is mass flu vaccination?

Conflicts of Interest WHO and the pandemic flu “conspiracies”

Deborah Cohen features editor, BMJ Philip Carter journalist, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, London
Key scientists advising the World Health Organization on planning for an influenza pandemic had done paid work for pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were preparing. These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed byWHO, and WHO has dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as “conspiracy theories.” 

Finally, I would like to share additional information about vaccines to try to open (instead of ‘closing’) the discussion:

1. Suppression of dissent regarding the discussions of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines: Google search query = vaccines

The website of Brian Martin deals with matters specific with suppression, as you might read on their documents he does not take any side – that’s one of the aspects I like the most about the website of Brian – I do know from a personal experience the devastating consequences of suppression of dissent in scientific and academic matters.

2. Essays about papilloma vaccine via


Hat Tips: Marc Casañas Escarré

This post was found on – interesting comments there by Ken McMurtrie and Michael L. Langan (recommended):


Inoculating against science denial

John Cook, The University of Queensland

Science denial has real, societal consequences. Denial of the link between HIV and AIDS led to more than 330,000 premature deaths in South Africa. Denial of the link between smoking and cancer has caused millions of premature deaths. Thanks to vaccination denial, preventable diseases are making a comeback.

Denial is not something we can ignore or, well, deny. So what does scientific research say is the most effective response? Common wisdom says that communicating more science should be the solution. But a growing body of evidence indicates that this approach can actually backfire, reinforcing people’s prior beliefs.

When you present evidence that threatens a person’s worldview, it can actually strengthen their beliefs. This is called the “worldview backfire effect”. One of the first scientific experiments that observed this effect dates back to 1975.

A psychologist from the…

View original post 837 more words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: