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“Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire …” Differentiating Skeptic from Denier

July 16th, 2012 · 2 Comments

In discussion of one of my recent posts, Kyril reacted to a questionable question from another commentator with perhaps the clearest differentiation between a science skeptic and denier that I have ever seen. As we seek to inform others about the perils of anti-science syndrome, such a clear (if perhaps sophomoric) differentiation might have value. Kyril’s full comment follows.  The question: What do you think?

No, they’re not deniers, but you probably are.

Let me break it down for you.

Legitimate scientific skepticism:

“I found a flaw in one of your statistical methods. Here’s a better way to do it, and here are my results using the new method.”

Denialism:

“I found a flaw in one of your statistical methods. Pants on FireTherefore, you’re a liar liar pants on fire.”

Legitimate scientific skepticism:

“I think one of your data sets is questionable. Here’s an analysis of how that data set impacts your overall result.”

Denialism:

“I think one of your data sets is questionable. Therefore, you’re a liar liar pants on fire.”

Legitimate scientific skepticism:

“I think your model fails to account for a factor that I believe is significant. Here’s a modified model that accounts for the factor you left out, and here are my results with the new model.”

Denialism:

“I think your model fails to account for a factor that I believe is significant. Therefore, you’re a liar liar pants on fire.”

Get it yet?

Note: This typology of motivations for climate skeptics might be of interest.

Tags: climate delayers · global warming deniers · guest post · skeptic

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scepticism, denial and the high court | Open Parachute // Jul 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    [...] between scepticism and denial. It’s from Get Energy Smart! NOW! and the post is titled “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire …” Differentiating Skeptic from Denier. (I sort of think the childishness of the title is appropriate in this [...]

  • 2 Scientific Skepticism or Denialism | Brian Chapel // Jul 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    [...] and debated. In particular, I wish they understood the critical role of skepticism. Check out this blog post on the difference between scientifically required skepticism and mindless [...]

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