Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Peas In a Pod
Here's something I did not know before.
Anti-vaccination denialists share more in common with creationists than just a disdain for science. Of course, I knew that they shared many of the same tactics: appeals to a nonexistent scientific "controversy;" argumentum ad populum; claims of scientific "elites" choking off "debate;" etc. But I did not know to just what extent they follow the same trail.
As pointed out by Orac, they even have tales of "deathbed conversions" by scientists.
Supposedly, Louis Pasteur recanted the germ theory of disease on his deathbed.
In the clip of Bill Maher Orac points to, Maher seems (or feigns) hurt that he has been described as being a denier of the germ theory of disease but Orac also shows where Maher has propagated the myth of Pasteur's recantation. Apart from the fact that, logically, the fact that one person, even the originator of a scientific idea, might change his or her mind does nothing to refute all the other science done by other scientists, the people who trot out these myths never seem to consider the possibility that people in extremis might not be the most reliable of witnesses.
Maher's reaction is so like the Discovery Institute's faux outrage at being described as evolution deniers, while still sending out their attack puppy, Casey Luskin, to make a fool of himself in arguing against transitional fossils.
Maybe there is something in the architecture of the brains of denialsts that attract them to these kind of "arguments." A "just so story" to explain such an adaptation would be a doozy.
Before that, I think you'd have to know a lot more about the psychology of science-deniers. I've always thought that really good psychological work could be done in understanding how cranks think.