Friday, February 15, 2013

Conspiracy Theorists and Other Enemies of Science

Journalist Will Storr recently wrote a book called The Heretics: Adventures With The Enemies Of Science which explores why so many conspiracy theorists seem to have trouble accepting facts... even when those facts are right in front of them.

This is an interesting subject and one which I've explored myself - which is why I'm certain this book would be an interesting read (the book was just published this week and I haven't had a chance to read it yet). Chris Parsons over at Yahoo! News wrote an article about the book entitled "Exploring the minds of Holocaust deniers and UFO-spotters who deny common sense".

Parsons' article begins:
"Will Storr is a man who deals in facts. As a journalist of more than 10 years, undeniable evidence and rational data are his bread and butter.
There are groups of people, however, who deny the irrefutable; who see cold, hard facts as mistruths or simply inconvenient.
Whether they are Holocaust deniers, creationists, or those who believe in UFOs - there are plenty out there whose view of the world defies centuries of scientific evidence. 
So why are there intelligent, seemingly rational people like this, who are capable of such unreasonable logic?"

Although I do agree with much of what Parsons wrote in his piece I would take issue with his statement that speaks of "intelligent, seemingly rational people", because the truth of the matter is conspiracy theorists are the farthest thing from rational. I might even debate whether most of these people are intelligent, although perhaps my personal bias is due to the lack of intelligence presented by the typical antivaccinationist. Rationality however... well there isn't much room for debate on that point. Not only do antivaxxers trample upon basic common sense, but they do so with impunity almost as if they have no desire to engage in any sort of discussion which may require it.

Either way, Storr's book might help shed some light on the thought processes that so many conspiracy theorists seem to share even when faced with evidence that counters their opinions. Unfortunately, Storr didn't include antivaxxers within his book that I've seen, but the same lack of logic and unreasonable nature most certainly applies to all conspiracy theorists regardless of form.

Whether it is someone who denies the moon landings, a Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist, a 9/11 "truther", an antivaxxer, or simply someone who believes Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent they all seem to share several things in common - a blatant disregard for logic, a stubborn refusal to accept facts when presented to them, and an complete and total inability to admit when they are wrong.

I wonder what it might take to get an antivaxxer to review Storr's book? If you are interested, you can pick up a hardcover copy from Amazon, or if you are patient you can probably wait for the paperback or (hopefully) even the ebook version.