Science Denial-Stems from Flawed Logic, Ignorance of the Scientific Process & Bias

Scientific American August 2020 pp75 “The False Logic of Science Denial”. “Arguments against the reality of COVID-19 mirror those against climate change and evolution”. By Naomi Oreskes

An interesting brief.

Just because B seems to always follows A does not mean that A is necessary or sufficient for B but if you can show that B happens without A then you have shown that “a single counterexample can prove a theory false”. As it turns out, it’s not that simple as experimental conditions or underlying drivers of data may lead us to incorrect conclusions. So science really depends on repeatability, others using different systems must confirm or extend findings (See figure for scientific level of proof in clinical studies) and in-the-end we accept “which explanation is most consistent with evidence from a variety of sources.”

“Logical fallacies are everywhere and not easily refuted” and this “helps to explain why science denial is easy to generate and hard to slay.” Why do these fallacies happen ? According to John Cook (George Mason University) studying climate change denial “fallacies and distortions…include cherry-picking data, raising impossible expectations, relying on fake experts, encouraging conspiracy theories and questioning the motivations of scientists.” He claims there is an “uber-fallacy” that being “implicatory denial” taking the form of If A then B but I don’t like B! “This is the logic (or Illogic) that underlies most science rejection.” For example “COVID-19: I resent staying home, losing income or being told by the government what to do”. This type of thinking likely hurt American efforts to contain COVID-19.

“In many cases, these objections are based on misunderstandings; evolutionary theory does not prove the nonexistence of God.”

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