Just another quick word on this topic…. I talked about skeptics in the blog, Skeptics…. Gotta love ‘em, written April 23, 2010. So is there a difference between a skeptic and a denier? While I am a skeptic, I am defining myself as one who takes a scientific approach to evaluate something. Take climate change… I will examine specific claims one by one and will consider the evidence for each claim and I will follow the fact to whatever outcome… A denier, however, will have their position staked out in advance and will sort through the data looking for and finding one or two facts out of them all to confirm their pre-existing beliefs and ignore or dismiss the rest of the facts. They do not start out with an open mind… they start out trying to find that one gem that will “prove” themselves right.
Skepticism is important to the scientific process… you don’t just go out believing or disbelieving… you shift through all of it and let the facts decide for you. As things change, facts change, your beliefs change. Denial is different. It is the automatic believing of a claim regardless of the evidence… it is typically driven by ideology or religious beliefs where the commitment to the belief takes precedence over the evidence. Belief comes first, reasons for belief follow.
Denial is today most often associated with climate science, but also those who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS, the Holocaust did not happen or totally reject evolution.
The biggest difference in the two is that skeptics change their minds and deniers just keep on denying no matter what.
Why am I writing this? To keep an open mind… to be willing to change as we all evolve… not to believe what I believe (for heaven’s sake – don’t), be willing to take a good look at your own beliefs and make sure they are evolving as you are.
But, of course, my belief is still that I do need a cup of coffee this morning, so I am off…