My Mazamet

Life at № 42

Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth by Keith Kahn-Harris

“In recent years, the term has been used to describe a number of fields of “scholarship”, whose scholars engage in audacious projects to hold back, against seemingly insurmountable odds, the findings of an avalanche of research. They argue that the Holocaust (and other genocides) never happened, that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a myth, that Aids either does not exist or is unrelated to HIV, that evolution is a scientific impossibility, and that all manner of other scientific and historical orthodoxies must be rejected.”

Source: Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth | News | The Guardian

Best essay I’ve read in quite a while.

I love the way he examines (lays out) logical progressions – in the case of climate change in particular.  The aim of those who created and push the denial has very little to do with science or genuine scepticism and a lot to do with being legally permitted to pollute. I hope he delves further into that angle in the book (available from September 13th.) Looking at logical progressions carefully allows a much deeper (and balanced) understanding of most issues. It would be a good thing for the thinkers of our time to map out ways for the general public to be better able to analyse information.

Also on my mind this weekend: How zero tolerance (policy) doctrines are a way to establish and cement sociocultural hierarchies. They remove reasonable/proportional punishment from the equation. Notice that financial crimes can cause widespread devastation yet the consequences to the perpetrators are rarely of any import. This is the modern version of a nobleman’s word being worth (in court) more than that of a commoner. Titles and social station have just been renamed – and privilege based on status has been absorbed into legal systems. Often a wealthy person or politician takes money they’re not entitled to and the punishment is simply to pay it back (like in the cases of the Tarjetas Black in Spain, or the expenses scandal in the UK.) A poor person takes an aubergine and spends the next 9 years in court.

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35 comments on “Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth by Keith Kahn-Harris

  1. inspiredbythedivine1
    August 5, 2018

    Gonna peruse the article slowly. It looks superb on my first quick glance. People reject the truth, then so often create their “alternate” version of it. QAnon and flat earthers come to mind. Thanks for posting this link.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 5, 2018

      It’s worth keeping. He does an amazing job dissecting the methodology of holocaust denial (as in, how denial is the precursor to outright racism.) People often get stuck in the minutiae and that’s exactly what denialist leaders are banking on.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Arkenaten
    August 5, 2018

    At least no one ever denied man went to the moon, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    • inspiredbythedivine1
      August 5, 2018

      Just had this conversation with a whacko at the dog park. “Well, it really is most likely the video we saw of the moon walk was fake. I’m not saying we didn’t go there, but no way was that film real.” Un-fucking-be-lievable! We live in a worldof fucking IDIOTS!!!

      Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 5, 2018

      It’s particularly fascinating in the context of your nobs post(s). If you look closely you realise that behind their interactions is the creation of a whole denialist universe.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Arkenaten
        August 5, 2018

        Indeed. All because they want cheese and wine and sex with virgins in the after life. Oh, well ….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. john zande
    August 5, 2018

    Saw this earlier. A great read.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. foolsmusings
    August 5, 2018

    Sadly I think that much of this stems from mental illness. Many of these people are in desperate need of help for their sake and ours.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 6, 2018

      That does account fora section, but have the impression the vast majority of the people starting these movements are master manipulators.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Robert A. Vella
    August 5, 2018

    Denialism as an institutional ploy to support special interests, such as the fossil fuel industry’s opposition to climate science, is plainly evident. Therefore, the sociological aspect of truth avoidance is relatively easy to understand. What is much harder to understand are the psychological factors which lead to truth avoidance in individual people. From the article:

    But denial and denialism are closely linked; what humans do on a large scale is rooted in what we do on a small scale. While everyday denial can be harmful, it is also just a mundane way for humans to respond to the incredibly difficult challenge of living in a social world in which people lie, make mistakes and have desires that cannot be openly acknowledged. Denialism is rooted in human tendencies that are neither freakish nor pathological.

    In other words, it is part of our basic human nature. I have done a lot of observation, research, and investigation recently on the increasing prevalence of truth avoidance. It appears there is a great collision taking place within our modern civilization between two opposing forces. The traditional, orthodox, maintain-the-status-quo side is being met by the realities of globalization, scientific advancement, and philosophical evolution. The world is getting more complex, more stratified, more polarized, and more existentially threatened. Resistance to change is spreading both organically and artificially in response, and it is manifesting itself in places and ways which are surprising many observers.

    I think this is a very troubling situation. Large segments of the population are becoming antithetical towards science, education, and social institutions like government and the media. Eventually, something has to give.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory
      August 5, 2018

      Yes, it’s part of human nature to deny reality, and it starts with out perception of ourselves – we are always and forever the heroes of our own mythology. But the purpose of a society, any society, is to put in place, and maintain, the structures that allow all these heroes to co-exist. Things are changing so quickly, that structure is failing. The more it fails, the greater the denial becomes.
      I sometimes wonder whether we are living through the ‘fall of Rome’ without knowing it.

      Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 6, 2018

      The advent of the internet has allowed for the creation of echo chambers to a degree that’s never before existed. It used to be that when people said ridiculous things at work or in a coffee shop, there was push-back. Now between the home computer, the smartphone and the partisan television station, people can live almost full time within skewed reality.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Robert A. Vella
        August 6, 2018

        Indeed, technology has changed the public discourse. Although, it is more like a megaphone than a Pied Piper. The ideas and sentiments being expressed are not new. What is new is the sheer scale of this social phenomenon, and that is extremely troubling.

        Liked by 3 people

      • ashiftinconsciousness
        August 22, 2018

        An important aspect of this phenomenon is that technology has allowed and encouraged a lot of people to withdraw from the real world and hide in a personal world of their own – or actually with people who share their fears and dysfunctional tendencies – instead of exposing themselves to people from all walks of life. As we know, diversity allows us to share views with others based on curiosity and the desire to grow as a person. This is much more likely to lead to a balanced life.

        It’s a complicated issue that can be discussed on different levels, but may have solutions that are simple in theory.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. acflory
    August 5, 2018

    ‘financial crimes can cause widespread devastation yet the consequences to the perpetrators are rarely of any import.’

    Yes, I’ve never understood this. Unless an employee steals from the company itself, a crime which is punished harshly, theft from the public is okay. Corporations have become robber barons, and the ‘crown’ is incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robert A. Vella
      August 5, 2018

      In America, and surely elsewhere as well, there is a strong political push to legitimize the “robber baron” mentality. The U.S. Supreme Court in recent years has done great harm to the idea of “equality before the law” with a series of controversial rulings which particularly favored corporate power over democracy and individual rights.

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        August 6, 2018

        Ugh, I didn’t know that. Not sure what the situation is like here in Australia. I think maybe we’re a little less enamoured of the corporates but I could be wrong. :/

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 6, 2018

        Very much the case everywhere else too. The idea of the elite being more deserving and more (naturally!) virtuous than the rest of the population is deeply ingrained into most cultures.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Osyth
    August 5, 2018

    What an excellent and troubling article. Thank you for drawing attention to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Bela Johnson
    August 6, 2018

    “This is the modern version of a nobleman’s word being worth (in court) more than that of a commoner. Titles and social station have just been renamed – and privilege based on status has been absorbed into legal systems.” Bam.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. makagutu
    August 6, 2018

    That was quite a read. Thanks Pink

    Liked by 1 person

  10. makagutu
    August 6, 2018

    I will leave this here

    https://t.co/wlpYz56RI5?amp=1

    Liked by 1 person

  11. agrudzinsky
    August 6, 2018

    There is no such thing as denialism!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. agrudzinsky
    August 6, 2018

    Denial is a very common way to cope with cognitive dissonance. I’m surprised that “cognitive dissonance” is never mentioned in the article.

    Liked by 2 people

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