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

July 16th, 2012 · 4 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.

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

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