An alert reader pointed out that the latest edition of New Scientist (May 15 Issue 2670) is dedicated to the phenomena of denial in contemporary society. Not just climate change “scepticism”, but vaccine denial, “AIDs” denialism and 9/11 Truthers and those who deny the link between smoking and cancer.
It’s a great series of articles, in particular the one by Michael Shermer, one of the world’s leading sceptic. Shermer draws the difference between scepticism (a healthy attribute) and denial:
WHAT is the difference between a sceptic and a denier? When I call myself a sceptic, I mean that I take a scientific approach to the evaluation of claims. A climate sceptic, for example, examines specific claims one by one, carefully considers the evidence for each, and is willing to follow the facts wherever they lead.
A climate denier has a position staked out in advance, and sorts through the data employing “confirmation bias” – the tendency to look for and find confirmatory evidence for pre-existing beliefs and ignore or dismiss the rest.
I don’t think anyone could have summarised it better.