Oz Blog News Commentary

Gullible ignoramuses

October 3, 2019 - 15:34 -- Admin

There are many people in parliament and
elsewhere who deny various aspects of science: creationists deny evolution;
flat-earthers deny most of physics; antivaxxers deny biochemistry and
immunology; and AIDS deniers deny microbiology. There are lots of other
denialism targets in science and history. For instance: people deny the holocaust,
in which up to 6 million Jews and others died; the moon landing in which
several spacecraft transported a few blokes to the moon and back; the link
between smoking and lung cancer; the age of the earth, as well as numerous other

While some of these seem simply silly and largely
harmless, others have been devastating. South African President, Thabo Mbeki’s denial that that HIV caused AIDS prevented many thousands
of HIV positive mothers in South Africa receiving anti-retroviral drugs so that
they transmitted the disease to their children. His health
minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, rejected evidence of the efficacy of anti-retrovirals,
instead advocating treatment with garlic, beetroot and African potato. This has
been estimated to have caused the premature deaths of up to 330,000 people. It
was ironic that Mbeki’s departure from office coincided with the award of the
Nobel Prize to Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi for their discovery
that HIV is indeed the cause of AIDS2.

Those who deny climate science probably have
already caused some deaths, and may well be responsible for millions in future.
There are many who are paid by fossil fuel corporations and other organisations
to deny climate change is happening, and they are guilty of a crime against
humanity, and should pay for that crime by facing justice3, but they
are not my concern here. However, there are many who have no financial interest
in denying climate change but still deny vehemently that it could happen. They
are simply exceptionally gullible and will believe anything they want to hear. Some
deniers I have bumped into seem to think that it is impossible for so many
people to be that gullible (‘we aren’t stupid, you know’[?]). To understand how
gullible people are, all you have to do is realise that, across the western
world, people in their tens of thousands fell for the Nigerian scam. Just think
of what they believed: ‘I am a prince (or politician, wife of dead politician,
bank chief), and I have millions of dollars I want to hide; if you let me hide
it in your bank account, you can keep a proportion of it; so, give me all you
bank account details’. That some people could fall for this, when it was so
obviously a scam, demonstrates how supremely gullible they are. When you couple
such gullibility with an abstruse field such as climate science and the
constant manufacturing of doubt by the fossil fuel industry and their purchased
politicians, you have a recipe for large-scale denial.

Most of these gullibles denying science
have absolutely no understanding of how science works. They seem to think that
a scientific consensus is simply the opinion of a group of scientists, and that
a contrary opinion is just as valid. What these people do not understand is the
huge amount of evidence that it takes to achieve a scientific consensus. That
is the same lack of understanding that allows creationists, flat-earthers and
antivaxxers to believe they have something sensible to contribute to humanity.
What these gullibles are effectively saying is that their ignorance is as valid
as others’ deep knowledge of a subject. The 21st century is an age
of information, and to be ignorant is a choice. That is what makes people such
as these gullibles beneath contempt.



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