Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Who are the science deniers?

with 7 comments

One of the most frustrating issues with the current political climate is the endless Leftist claims about science, about X* deniers, about the Democrats (!!!!!!) being the party of science, etc. These are good examples of the Left claiming the opposite of the truth. (Cf. e.g. some heuristics to understand the Left.)

*Where X is any of a growing number of terms, including e.g. “climate”, “COVID”, or even “science” outright.

Let us look more closely at this nonsense:

Firstly, the modern Left has a very anti-scientific and anti-intellectual streak, beginning with Post-Modernism and its attempts to truly deny the legitimacy of science and scientific endeavours, its attempts to blur the difference between mere opinion and well-founded scientific results,* etc. As if this decades-long issue was not enough, we now have to contend with absurd claims that scientific endeavours, giving correct answers on a test, “showing the work” when solving a math problem, and even math it self would be “White Supremacy”. Long before even Post-Modernism, we had issues like Lysenkoism and other pseudo-scientific fields pushed by Leftist regimes. (This despite Lysenkoism having a massively negative impact on the local agriculture and the sustenance of the locals.) Indeed, Marxism, it self, is a pseudo-science (at least by today’s standards), while many of the important Leftist “intellectuals” of the 20th century depended on psychoanalytic theories (also pseudo-scientific by today’s standards).

*I am tempted to write “established scientific facts”, but that far Post-Modernism gets it right—perfect knowledge is impossible and science is a process of revising the established. Of course, the scientists had this insight much earlier and Post-Modernism goes off the reservation immediately after this insight.

These problems extend deep into the Left-dominated social sciences or, increasingly, “sciences”, which by now have more-or-less abandoned scientific ideals and the scientific search for truth in favor of Leftist agenda pushing and ideological distortions not dissimilar to Lysenkoism. This up-to and including absurdities like Gender Studies and CRT, where the entire fields seem geared at “proving” and pushing certain pre-conceived opinions, with no regard for the evidence at hand—which is usually strongly contrary to these pre-conceived opinions.

Secondly, if we look at various areas of denialism, the Left does not fare well. Consider some prominent areas:

  1. There are mountains of evidence from various fields, including physiology, psychometrics, and genetics, of in-born differences between various groupings, including between men and women, between sub-Saharan Africans and Europeans, and (to a lesser degree) between Swedes and Russians.

    These do not fit the Leftist agenda and “blank slate” ideology—and are alternately ignored and condemned as e.g. “racist”, with no regard for the actual evidence.

    This applies in particular to the area of IQ*: IQ has a proven track-record as a predictor** of e.g. success in life, is hard to change within the parameters of modern society, and would, if properly considered, reveal many Leftist programs and ideas, especially relating to education, as wishful thinking. But, no: instead we get to hear that IQ is “racist”, or see IQ “debunked” by some ever recurring and highly contrafactual claims, e.g. that “IQ only shows how well you do on IQ tests”***.

    *More accurately, the underlying g. As the latter concept is poorly known among the broad masses, I will ignore the difference. I note, however, that there appears to be some training effect to IQ, which is not reflected in g, and that the “Flynn effect” might be restricted to IQ.

    **Strongly so on the group level and for differences in e.g. distributions of outcomes. Less strongly so, but still on a valuable level, for the individual.

    ***On the contrary, there is a very wide range of correlations and likely causalities to various other measures, e.g. of scholastic success.

    Then we have issues of “gender” and sexual preferences, where the Left jumps between denying any biological involvement (“X is a social construct”) and declaring something in-born and inherent depending on how it fits the ideology and agenda, with no care for consistency of thought or that pesky evidence.

  2. Partially overlapping, we have the area of Evolution:

    It is true that U.S. Democrats almost invariably claim to believe in Evolution, while their Republican counterparts are much more likely to be sceptical or even outright Creationist. But:

    Firstly, this is a U.S. issue and does not reflect the global situation. In e.g. my native Sweden and adopted Germany, Evolution is usually taken for granted outside the Left. At the same time, the aforementioned Lysenkoism was a severe mistreatment of Evolution pushed by the Left.*

    *At a minimum, the Soviet Left. I have not looked into details, but chances are that parts of the Left elsewhere had similar ideas, notably the parties/countries under strong Soviet influence.

    Secondly, this is not a matter of Democrats vs. Republicans, per se, nor Left vs. Right, but of religious opinions. In the U.S., and many other countries, the Left has a very strongly atheistic or even anti-religious angle, which has almost necessarily forced the strongly religious to take shelter in non-Leftist groupings, including the Republican party. In the older days, when Christianity was more widely popular this was different. For instance, the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial was based on the Butler Act, passed by a Democrat legislature (cf. [1]) and the vociferous and strongly religious prosecutor was none other than William Jennings Bryan, one of the leading Democrats of his era and one of the most influential on Democrat thought in any era.

    Thirdly, the Leftist claims are typically nothing but lip service: Ever and ever again, the Leftists show that they simply do not understand how Evolution works. If they do not understand how Evolution works, a profession of being an Evolutionist carries no more value than the claim of being Christian from someone who has no clue about Christianity. Worse, by this lack of understanding, they quite often combine a de facto denial (!) of Evolution with their de jure acceptance, e.g. by denying that humans have evolved over the last few thousand years, that Evolution applies to humans too (not just animals), or that differences in life style, societal roles, whatnot could* have an Evolutionary effect.

    *Here and elsewhere, legitimate questions may be raised as to how large a certain effect might be, how long a time is necessary, how large the differences must be, etc. However, the Left does not, or only very rarely, raise such questions—instead, there is typically a blanket denial of even the possibility.

  3. COVID is an area of many, many examples. That there were great doubts about what was true to begin with is understandable; however, even then the Left* tended to discount established ideas and there seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction that “Trump said that X; ergo, X is wrong”—without any actual investigation of plausibility and proof.**

    *In particular. Unfortunately, the problem occurred to some degree outside the Left too. Witness e.g. Merkel in Germany and, to a lesser degree, the early acts of Trump in the U.S.

    **Consider e.g. the possibility of a lab leak, which was mentioned by Trump, immediately considered discredited for a long time, and then suddenly considered legitimate again when a journalist raised the suggestion. Similarly, Trump suggested that Ivermectin might be a viable early treatment and Ivermectin was immediately considered discredited. (I am not up-to-date, but the last I heard, the jury in the non-ideological community was still out on Ivermectin. Note that the research has been scarce and that some trials have misapplied it, notably by missing the “_early_ treatment” aspect. Indeed, some have raised the accusation that some trials were deliberately designed to fail. However, the question is not whether Ivermectin works, the question is the anti-scientific approach to the matter. Ditto, the question is not where COVID originated, but the anti-scientific approach to the investigation of the origin.)

    Since then, we have seen a long line of scientific investigations and practical experiences indicate e.g. that lockdowns and masking bring at most a minor help (and do more harm than good through side-effects), that those not in a risk group are not at risk, that the effectiveness of the vaccines is dubious and that the vaccines come with side-effects, that various predictions and models were wide off the mark, etc. Still, the current, highly anti-science, stance of the Left is that we need more lockdowns and masking, that absolutely and categorically everyone, children included, must be vaccinated for their own safety, that the vaccines work well and have no side-effects whatsoever, and that renewed predictions “prove” that renewed countermeasures are direly needed. Oh, and did anyone notice how slowly and reluctantly natural immunity was accepted? This despite the natural expectation being that natural immunity would come and be at least as good as vaccine-induced immunity.

  4. Accusations of climate denialism is a Leftist staple.* (And a horribly illogical expression—who would deny that there is a climate?!?)

    *Unlike most other points, this is an area where I do not necessarily reject the Leftist position, as I have done too little leg-work. However, I do reject the Leftist methods, distortions, anti-scientific approach, … (Note that the use of such methods by the Left do not automatically imply that they are used by the climate scientists—this is a discussion of Left vs. non-Left, not of the work of the actual climate scientists.)

    Nevertheless, the Left seems to be the greatest source of poor science, unscientific thinking, and misleading or outright faulty claims. This includes uncritical acceptance of poorly tested and poorly performing models, exaggerated reporting, blanket ascription of this-or-that (e.g. forest fires) to global warming, misrepresentation of past data, and a failure to discuss the many past predictions that have failed—society should have been destroyed several times over by now, had they been correct.* Then there are those constant claims of the “Hottest July of All Times!!!” (or whatever the latest hottest was). Really? Four-and-half billion years and this July was the hottest? Oh, you meant the hottest July since the beginning of measurements. Well, then say so you f-ing moron!!!

    *Of course, for someone who does have a scientific mind, repeated failures are cause to be very cautious and critical. (But not necessarily to reject in a blanket manner—the boy who cried wolf was actually taken by a wolf in the end.) Ditto, poor reasoning, exaggerations, etc.

    Moreover, the accusation of climate denialism often arises merely through questioning some portion of the narrative, pointing to errors or exaggerations, or asking for actual proof—implying that the accusation is raised in an anti-scientific manner against someone (often) scientific. A good example is the debate around “Unsettled”, as I discuss in an earlier text: a real scientist who appears broadly supportive (!) of the claims around climate change is hanged to dry for questioning individual flaws with good arguments.

  5. Related, we have many misrepresentations of an unscientific nature in various other environmental areas, e.g. in that the dangers and disadvantages of nuclear power have been horrifyingly exaggerated, that the disadvantages of favored technologies are swept under the carpet, that only “run-time” greenhouse-gas emissions are considered when making comparisons and not the life-cycle costs/emissions/whatnot, etc.
  6. Then there is the topic of Economics, where members of the Left seem to be either ignorant or to cling to outdated (e.g. Keynesian) thought or wishful thinking (e.g. MMT). Established and proven principles are ignored, e.g. that (all other factors equal) an increase in the money supply leads to inflation—witness Joe Biden. Or consider the known negative effects of high taxes and the danger of big government or regulatory capture—no, the Left wants higher taxes, bigger government, and more power to regulators. Or consider the benefits of market forces*—no, the Left does whatever it can to remove their effects or to supplant them with government controls. The effect of incentives and principles from game theory are equally ignored. Etc.

    *Arguably, the single most important thing to understand about economics.

    (Additionally, I have a fear that the field of Economics, it self and as a consequence of Leftist influence, is drifting from an attempt to explain and understand to an attempt to push specific political goals, e.g. “exterminate poverty” and “reduce GINI”. Effectively, it is moving from a science or proto-science to an unscientific field of activism.)

  7. As a bit of a meta-item, consider fact checking. The way that fact checking, usually run by Leftists, works is that claims are not judged on their merits but on (a) whether they fit the Leftist ideology and agenda and (b) who made them. This well illustrates the analogous Leftist approach to science—what supports the Cause is “true”; what does not is “false”. This in a blanket manner, without any scientific investigation, and with a thoroughly anti-scientific mindset.

    (The reader familiar with my early texts will note how many of them deal with Feminists, Feminist censorship of dissent, statistics, and factual arguments, and Feminist misinterpretation, distortion, or outright invention of statistics.)


Written by michaeleriksson

July 28, 2022 at 10:11 pm

7 Responses

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  1. […] to engage in severe misrepresentation in these areas, however, and point to e.g. a recent text on science denialism with a brief climate discussion and a link to an older text on “Unsettled”. (A book that I […]

  2. […] while back, I asked who the real science deniers are. In the same vein, who are the real extremists? (See an excursion for some other “same […]

  3. […] have already written ([1]) about how accusations of e.g. “science denialism” are more appropriately directed at the Left […]

  4. […] a highly naive manner, or, worse, trust others when they claim-that-science-claims. (Note e.g. [3], [4].) However, even highly critical thinkers, those who think for themselves, who are aware that even […]

  5. […] the family of texts on who the real extremists and the real science deniers are, there is room for a text on “Who are really the angry ones?” (“Who are the real angry […]

  6. […] least, [1] and […]

  7. […] ask again, Who are the science deniers?—and, again, the answer is “the […]

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