“97 percent of climate scientists agree that human behavior is warming the earth. That’s not question or a controversy; it’s a fact. And surely we need to teach students the difference. Indeed, they can’t participate constructively in the real controversies of our time — about climate change, and everything else — unless they learn to distinguish fact from opinion, and knowledge from belief.” So far we haven’t done a very good job at teaching our students these skills. Given the significant challenges we face in our modern world, and the overwhelming amount of information found on the Internet (much of which is garbage), it is essential that we teach our students the skills necessary to evaluate truth claims.
Source: Jonathan Zimmerman: Thanks to right-wing deniers, schools still sow seeds of doubt over climate change | Dallas Morning News
Climate denialists (as well as other science deniers) present themselves as reasonable skeptics, when in fact they are anything but. Lee McIntyre, author of Respecting Truth, explains why they cannot honestly present themselves as skeptics: “True skepticism must be more than an ideological reflex; skepticism must be earned by a prudent and consistent disposition to be convinced only by evidence. When we cynically pretend to withhold belief long past the point at which ample evidence should have convinced us that something is true, we have stumbled past skepticism and landed in the realm of willful ignorance. This is not the realm of science, but of ideological crackpots. And we don’t need a poll to tell us that this is the doorstep to denialism.”
Read McIntyre’s trenchant critique of the proponents of denial: The Price of Denialism – The New York Times
Robert Goldberg explains why we need to take conspiracy theories seriously and challenge their problematic claims. “In a conspiratorial frame of mind, we open ourselves to the rants of liars and demagogues. Perhaps, it is now time, in this season, to end denial and quit dismissing conspiracy theories as merely harmless or foolish or the work of the uninformed. Confrontation and refutation offer more valuable strategies for defeating the real enemy within.” I agree!
Using examples from the history of science Dr. James Powell explains why it is unlikely that climate scientists are wrong about global warming. However his final consideration is probably the most apropos in the current debate over climate change: the possibility “that scientists are deliberately wrong, engaged in a global conspiracy,” and concludes that “this notion, [is] the intellectual equivalent of believing that the Earth is flat or that men did not land on the Moon. To claim conspiracy is to prefer a blatant absurdity over scientific fact and only because accepting global warming does not happen to suit people. But the implacable laws of science remain unaffected by what suits us.”
Read his useful review of the history of mistaken theories in science:
History News Network | Could Scientists Be Wrong About Global Warming?
Joyman Lee wrote an article at the HNN titled, “The Conservatives in Japan Who Are Refusing to Acknowledge the Crimes of World War II Think They’re Helping Their Country. They are Sabotaging It.” But rather than explaining why Japanese denialism is harming Japan, he explores the reasons why Japan has been able to engage in such denial. Nevertheless, it is an interesting perspective on Japan’s WWII denialism.
He writes, “The Cold War stands among the central reasons as to why Japan has not been compelled to address the war issue with more conviction. Whereas the political goal of European integration has helped to move forward Germany’s reconciliation with its European neighbors, no similar motive exists for Japan. The U.S.-Japan alliance and America’s reluctance to be directly involved
in disputes over war memory further eliminates pressure “from above” for Japan to placate its Asian neighbors.” Read the entire article here:
History News Network | The Conservatives in Japan Who Are Refusing to Acknowledge the Crimes of World War II Think They’re Helping Their Country. They Are Sabotaging It.
Today is the anniversary of the famous Doolittle raid on Japan. But before we celebrate we should remember the cost paid by innocent Chinese civilians for this act of revenge. James M. Scott explains that, “that success came at a horrible—and until now—largely unknown price paid by the Chinese, who were victims of a retaliatory campaign by the Japanese Army that claimed an estimated 250,000 lives and saw families drowned in wells, entire towns burned, and communities devastated by bacteriological warfare.” This story should remind us that revenge has caused more human suffering than any other human motivation and that it has done so with little or no benefit other than the joy some get from it.
Scott also raises the subject of Japanese attempts to deny their own history: “Unlike Germany, whose leaders have for decades attempted to atone for the Holocaust, the Japanese have increasingly tried to disavow their nation’s legacy of cruelty, from the use Korean comfort women to the Rape of Nanking.” So, in conclusion he implores us: “As we celebrate the rightful heroism of Jimmy Doolittle and the 79 volunteer airmen who flew with him on one of the most celebrated raids of the war, it is important that we take time to honor the sacrifice paid by a quarter million Chinese. It is equally imperative that we as a nation refuse to allow Japanese leaders to disown their nation’s role in this and other wartime horrors.” Read the entire article here:
History News Network | The Horrific Unintended Consequence of Doolittle’s Courageous Raid on Tokyo.
Cristina Valldejuli summarizes the history of mandatory vaccinations in the U.S. Given the current situation with the growth of anti-vaccers this history offers some important lessons. Here’s an excerpt: “Chapman states that few founders contested the federal government’s responsibility to protect the population from epidemics like yellow fever. The real issue, he reports, “was which level of government should enact and enforce quarantine.” This was the same question that arose years later when vaccination gained popularity in the medical field. Wendy K. Marine, George J. Annas, and Leonard Glantz explain that while Jeffersonians were uncomfortable with a strong federal role, Jefferson himself favored a bill that required the federal government to “guarantee and distribute effective vaccine” and signed it into law in 1813
. Ultimately, Congress decided that the best approach was to leave the implementation of vaccination efforts up to state and local authorities.” Read the entire article here:
History News Network | When Did Mandatory Vaccinations Become Common?.
More attempts by the Japanese government to deny the use of comfort women by the Japanese army during WWII. Nogawa Motokazu gives an update on the situation in Japan and concludes: “These moves of the government and the ruling party not only prevent any improvement of Japan-Korea relations but also inflict a second victimisation on the victims of Japanese military’s wartime sexual slavery, who are still living in many parts of the world. We should never forget this.” Read his entire article at:
History News Network | New Attack on the ‘Comfort Women’.
Credit: Robert G. Fresson from the New York Times article: “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth” (November 14, 2014)
Graham Readfearn of The Guardian interviews Naomi Oreskes about her new book. In the interview she explains why she believes that the denialists have been successful. There is also a really great clip of her trying to persuade Nick Minchin, a “climate skeptic” from Australia, that climate change is real. He seems reasonable in the clip but in a
short clip from the beginning of the ABC documentary “I Can Change Your Mind About Climate” that aired in Australia in 2012 he seems much less reasonable. (see the Skeptical Science blog for more on this documentary). There is no evidence that the documentary changing anyone’s minds. I’m not sure that anything will change the minds of the true believers. But I do believe that the efforts of Oreskes, Donald Prothero and others can make a difference.
Donald Prothero explains the nature of science deniers. His assessment is also useful for understanding history deniers (most infamously Holocaust deniers).