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Fear

Denialists have an obsession with fear.

“This summer, inaccurate and misleading information about B. pertussis whooping cough and the pertussis vaccine is being put out there by medical doctors, who should know better. Media campaigns designed to create fear about infectious disease are nothing new. This one appears to have three goals: first, to emphasize pertussis risks while ignoring vaccine risks; second, to place blame for whooping cough cases and deaths on the unvaccinated; and, third, to attack religious and conscientious belief exemptions, which serve as informed consent protections in U.S. vaccine laws..” Barbara Loe Fisher, Head of the Anti-Vaccine NVIC

Should our biggest climate change fear be fear itself?

Climatic change, as represented by the media, often prompts headlines predicting disastrous events, frequently adopting fear laden language including analogies with war and warnings of the imminence or irreversibility of pending catastrophes. For Professor Matthias Dörries from the University of Strasbourg, a culture of fear is alive, and doing very well.

As a scientist who has studied AIDS for 16 years, I have determined that AIDS has little to do with science and is not even primarily a medical issue. AIDS is a sociological phenomenon held together by fear, creating a kind of medical McCarthyism that has transgressed and collapsed all the rules of science, and has imposed a brew of belief and pseudo-science on a vulnerable public. Dr. David Rasnick

Some denialist movements do accuse scientists of fear mongering more than other movements. From my rather limited observations global warming deniers are probably the most obsessed while for anti-vaxxers the accusation doesn’t appear very often and I have never seen it from a creationist (feel free to correct me). Anti-vaxxers only bring up fear mongering when confronted with the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Even then they are more focused on what government or Big Pharma is hiding from you to get too concerned with the real risks of diseases. Note the implicit claim of the denialists superiority, how they are smart enough not to get fooled. Politicians and scientists can fool and manipulate the masses but the denialists are smart enough to see through that. They are not fearful people, they see the truth.

However, listening to denialists shows that they live in a fear-filled world. Their worlds are ones where Big Pharma companies hyped a pandemic and then gave people toxic drugs for profit. Poisonous vaccines were forced onto children who then developed autism, again because of profit hungry Big Pharma. Scientists manufactured a apocalyptic scare about global warming to bring about world communist government/ great control of the economy/more grant money. A world where atheist scientists promote Darwinism to subvert the culture and bring on moral decay. This shows that denialists, in contrast to how they present themselves, are clearly very fearful people.

As a brief note, some denialists promote the view that scientists are using feelings of caring and compassion to manipulate the masses. From The Galileo Movement in Australia:


Science and history show human survival and success are
due to care. It’s in our genes.

Think about it, do you not care about the environment? Do
you not care about humanity? Of course you care. We all
care. Care is inherent: for our self, family, friends,
humanity, fellow creatures, our beautiful planet.

Care though, can be derailed by ignorance of facts.

Overall The Galileo Movement has a sorrowful tone, “don’t judge them for what they believe in, forgive them”. But it is still scientists manipulating the public. As a new tactic I think its mildly clever but I don’t think it will convince many outside the Global Warming denialist movement.

Many skeptical bloggers accuse anti-vaccine groups and others of fearmongering about vaccines. Is this similar to what denialists do? I don’t think so. Anti-vaccine activists vastly exaggerate the risks of vaccines and downplay the benefits. Accusations of fearmongering are warranted in this case. However there are times when something really does pose a notable risk like global warming. Presenting an accurate picture of that risk and providing a plan to minimise the danger is most definitely not fearmongering. Accusations of fear mongering in cases like that are traits of denialism.

Welcome

Just a first post to a blog which if I’ve lucky will be read by 10 people. Anyway I’m interested in the similarities of various denialist movements. Hopefully some posts on this soon.