Hard on the heels of the news that a Harvard astronomer still thinks that long-vanished space rock Oumuamua is “alien tech,” we see—direct from Boilerplate Central—a screed by a Harvard science historian at Scientific American about “denialism.” She has a theory:
Those who argue that COVID-19 isn’t a real threat are mirroring bogus attacks on global warming and evolution…
Given how common it is, it is remarkable that philosophers have failed to give it a formal name. But I think we can view it as a variety of what sociologists call implicatory denial. I interpret implicatory denial as taking this form: If P, then Q. But I don’t like Q! Therefore, P must be wrong. This is the logic (or illogic) that underlies most science rejection.
Climate change: I reject the suggestion that the “magic of the market” has failed and that we need government intervention to remedy the market failure. Evolutionary theory: I am offended by the suggestion that life is random and meaningless and that there is no God. COVID-19: I resent staying home, losing income or being told by the government what do to.Naomi Oreskes, “The False Logic behind Science Denial” at Scientific American (August 1, 2020)
Actually large numbers of people have seen that, whatever may be happening with the climate, evolution, or COVID-19, much that has been shouted at us from the lectern is a legitimate source of grave doubt.
We don’t need a new syllogism to explain the resulting reaction from much of the public. It is called loss of faith. It happens when a creed does not provide a basis for reasonable belief.