THE epithet “denier” is increasingly used to bash anyone who dares to question orthodoxy. Among other things, deniers are accused of subordinating science to ideology. In his book Denialism: How irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives, for example, Michael Specter argues that denialists “replace the rigorous and open-minded scepticism of science with the inflexible certainty of ideological commitment”.
How ironic. The concept of denialism is itself inflexible, ideological and intrinsically anti-scientific. It is used to close down legitimate debate by insinuating moral deficiency in those expressing dissident views, or by drawing a parallel between popular pseudoscience movements and the racist extremists who dispute the Nazi genocide of Jews.
The incredible wave of secular Catholicism, of stubborn, closed minds, that not only accept academic consensus as gospel Truth, but that also brand everyone with a different opinion as a fool, without, usually, ever really engaging with these opinions in a fair and open manner. After all, we know that everything sounds better with science, and pseudo-scientific explanations, no matter how hackneyed, are now the go-to response in all areas, and other voices are drowned out in ridicule and tags like “denier”. To quote Fitzpatrick again
As Skidelsky says, “the extension of the ‘denier’ tag to group after group is a development that should alarm all liberal-minded people”. What we need is more debate, not less.