Science Denialists

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Libertarians overlap strongly with science denialists on Global Warming, epidemiology, vaccination, fluoridation, creationism, HIV, smoking, ozone hole, pollution, quack medicines, etc.


Motivated Rejection Of Science [More...]
They find that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science and other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer.
The Alcohol Industry (4 links)
The alcohol industry is responsible for roughly 6 times more deaths than are due to violence. In addition, there are high secondhand harms. Taxation to raise the price and bans on advertising are very effective at reducing sales and demand. Worldwide, public health measures are reducing consumption.
The Asbestos Industry (1 link)
The asbestos industry suppressed information about the hazards of asbestos for decades, and has subsequently been facing enormous lawsuits over many thousands of deaths. All the while fighting regulation worldwide.
The Chemical Industry (7 links)
The chemical industry is one of the greatest evaders of responsibility and greatest concealers of important information. Their products are extremely dangerous and require strict regulation. The horror stories are all too frequent and real.
The Lead Industry (8 links)
The lead industry obstructed government regulation of lead in paint, water pipes and gasoline for more than 50 years after it was discovered to cause retardation. This resulted in millions of children poisoned by lead, a process that is still continuing because of ubiquitous lead paint in older houses. Major government efforts worldwide have greatly reduced the problem.
The Mining, Fossil Fuels, and Petrochemical Industries (9 links)
Mighty industries whose bought legislators have showered them with enormously profitable tax favors and sheltered them from environmental regulations. Much of the Koch wealth comes from these industries, which is why libertarian propaganda promotes fossil fuels and denigrates global warming, regulation, environmentalism, and renewables.
The Sugar Industry (3 links)
The sugar industry has engaged in a decades-long public relations effort to stack the scientific deck to prevent government regulation of sugar (including corn sweeteners, honey and syrups.) In addition, it has obtained enormous subsidies and restrictions of trade.
The Tobacco Industry (11 links)
The tobacco industry is notorious for its enormous public relations battle to preserve its ability to addict new generations of children. Science denialism, suppressed and secret research, legislative blockages, avoiding FDA oversight, and other tactics result in an industry that is still responsible for 300,000 US deaths per year and 5 million worldwide (growing rapidly.)
Conservative Donors Pump $1 Billion A Year Into Climate Denying Groups, Study Finds [More...]
"Organizations that actively block efforts to address climate change are funded by a large network of conservative donors to the tune of nearly $1 billion a year [...]" Describes new "dark money" techniques for concealing funding sources, especially from the petrochemical industry.
Conspiracy Theories (7 links)
Libertarians frequently attempt to refute common knowledge (and scientific knowledge) with conspiracy theories. This is because such knowledge often conflicts with their ideology, and the cognitive dissonance must be somehow reconciled.
Cornucopism (2 links)
The crackpot idea that unlimited despoliation of the environment and unending population increase are a good. Makes the pollyanna assumption that technical solutions to problems of resource exhaustion and other crises will always arrive in time to prevent catastrophes. Promoted extensively by Julian Simon.
DDT (6 links)
The pesticide industry is attempting to blame Rachel Carson and her green followers for millions of malarial deaths because of "DDT bans". But in reality, that industry is responsible for the deaths because they have fostered pesticide resistance in mosquitos through indiscriminant sales of their pesticides. DDT has NOT been banned for public health use, only agricultural use. In addition, DDT is the cause of one of the largest SuperFund sites.
Debunking Denialism
"Debunking Denialism is a website dedicated to the refutation of pseudoscience and denialism by applying scientific skepticism and defending evidence-based science. Since its inception back in 2010, it has taken on a wide range of topics including creationism, HIV/AIDS denialism, anti-psychiatry, crank claims about physics, vaccine rejectionism, alleged psychics, opposition to genetically modified crops, climate change denialism, misuses of statistics and many others."
Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond? [More...]
"The employment of rhetorical arguments to give the appearance of legitimate debate where there is none, an approach that has the ultimate goal of rejecting a proposition on which a scientific consensus exists." Denialism uses 5 major tactics.
Fluoridation and Iodization (1 link)
Fluoridation is an amazingly cost-effective solution to the huge problem of dental caries. Libertarians who object to fluoridation ought not drink "guvment water" anyhow. Iodization is an important antidote not only to goiter, but to significant mental retardation.
Global Warming (30 links)
Libertarians generally align with "climate skeptics" (denialists of global warming) because market regulation by government is needed to reduce global warming. Opposition to global warming theory has been funded at very high levels by the petrochemical industry and the Koch brothers. Global warming is also an example of the Tragedy Of The Anticommons, where because ownership is divided, action cannot be taken.
Libertarian ideology is the natural enemy of science [More...]
"Whether the issue is climate change, healthcare or gun control, libertarians are on a permanent collision course with evidence"
On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs [More...]
David Grimes provides a mathematical model of how long conspiracies would take to unravel, showing that many popular conspiracy theories are implausible.
Patterson and Kehoe, and the great lead debate [More...]
How Robert Kehoe developed the strategy that the lead industry used to avoid regulation and liability over the course of decades of poisoning of millions. A strategy replicated for tobacco, innumerable other pollutants, and global warming denialism.
PolluterWatch [More...]
"PolluterWatch is a project of Greenpeace that holds polluters accountable for the work they’re doing to block the transition from the dirty fossil fuels of the past to the clean energy sources of the future."
Say What? Israel Just Outlawed Water Fluoridation [More...]
"The terrifying logic follows that this disturbing pattern (like many libertarian ideologies) trumps all logic and sound medical advice; the way things are going, mandatory vaccination could be next on the cutting block."
Science denial: A form of conspiracy theory [More...]
"Even if you do not accept the proposition that all science denial is a form of conspiracy theory, it is without a doubt true that all science denial relies at least in part on conspiracy theories to support it."
The Contrarian Trap: The Source of the Liberty Movement’s Dark Side [More...]
"I think it is no surprise that many libertarians are also atheists, climate change deniers, paleo dieters, anti-psychiatry, conspiracy theorists, transhumanists, cryonics-supporters and hardcore nativists about intelligence."
The Coronavirus Hoax [More...]
Crazy Uncle Liberty Ron Paul drinks the denialist Kool-Aid again, and presents another batshit screed that will contribute to increasing deaths. This is as foolish as Ayn Rand denying the harms of cigarettes, because he and his audience are at higher risk of death. He obviously does not understand epidemiology or geometric increase.
The Denialist Playbook [More...]
On Vaccination, Evolution, Global Warming, and more, rejection of science has followed a familiar pattern.
The Elasticity of Demand With Respect to Product Failures; or Why the Market for Quack Medicines Flourished for More Than 150 Years [More...]
Markets did not punish the quack medicine industry due to unusually low elasticity of demand with respect to product failure and bounded rationality. The conclusion mentions that recent resaerch shows the FDA increased consumer welfare.
The tobacco economists network - or how the Tobacco Institute recruited over 100 American economics professors. [More...]
"The tobacco industry used a series of scientists in so-called ‘truth squads’ to deny the harmfulness of second-hand smoking. Lesser known is how the industry handed out millions of dollars to a secret network of over 100 American economics professors, known as the "economists network". The aim of the network was preventing the government imposing higher excise taxes on tobacco to cover social costs related to smoking. The economists were hired to spread economic doubt on the effectiveness of social cost related actions by the government."
The Wall Street Journal Parade of Climate Lies [More...]
Jeffrey Sachs catches Matt Ridley in a blatant misrepresentation of scientific findings on The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. This is typical of Rupert Murdoch's publications.
Vaccination (13 links)
Libertarians are split about mandatory vaccination. Those opposed claim it "violates individual liberty" and/or buy into anti-vaxer denialism and conspiracy theories. Some support mandatory vaccination because otherwise you are putting others at risk. But the fact of the matter is that mandatory vaccination resulted in the only human disease eradication to date: smallpox, which killed roughly 5 million per year.


Similarly, those selling an ideology also take advantage of antiscience conspiracy theories, and vice-versa. In other words, many conspiracy theories are tactical. In other words, the origin of some conspiracy theories is not genuinely held erroneous beliefs, but rather they are the result of an intentional campaign of disinformation designed to produce a political or ideological end... Conservative free market fundamentalists, who abhor anything that would justify a larger role for government or increased government regulation, are more than happy to spread the conspiracy theory behind climate science denial.
David Gorski, "Science denial: A form of conspiracy theory"
The difference between a conspiracy theory and a real conspiracy is that conspiracy theories are virtually unfalsifiable and real conspiracies can be uncovered and demonstrated by standard investigative techniques.
David Gorski, "Science denial: A form of conspiracy theory"
My concern is that we’re dealing with an industry -- exemplified by creationism and climate change denial -- that has built up a body of well-funded propaganda which allows their believers to rear up and say, "Well, we are citizen scientists who have our own facts, and we say that the Earth is 6000 years old and global warming is just a natural cycle." They aren’t going to be impressed by published, verified facts about the natural world when they have something even more significant to them: validation of their biases, consilience with their holy book, resentment and paranoia about those damned ivory tower eggheads.
PZ Myers, "Science in America"
Free-market fundamentalists prefer rejecting science to admitting that there are ever cases when government regulation is necessary.
Paul Krugman, "The Id That Ate the Planet"