Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Denier or a Skeptic?

By Peter Bowditch

Deniers are rebadging themselves as “skeptics” by arguing that they are challenging scientific orthodoxy.

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I’ve written here before about the hijacking of the word “skeptic” by people who should properly be called “deniers”. It was even adopted by an anti-vaccination organisation when they were forced to change their deceptive name. They, like climate change deniers, insist that they are the true skeptics because they question the orthodoxy that is supported and promoted by the majority of scientists. They love to point out that science isn’t a democracy or a popular vote, that Ignaz Semmelweis was ignored, and that “they all laughed at Galileo”. None of this changes the fact that they are misusing the word “skeptic”.

I’m sure that many readers here will have the same reaction as I have to the appearance of the word “quantum” in discussions of alternative medicine and the magic power of devices advertised on late night television to cure baldness or remove wrinkles. Back in the day when they sold medications with radium in them and advertised that the radioactivity was a cure-all it might have been accurate to say that quantum effects were involved, but I don’t think that you can say the same thing about the sorts of things it’s legal to sell today. I’ve seen quantum effects claimed as a possible mechanism for homeopathy, but I think the only relationship is that a “quantum” as understood by a nuclear physicist is almost unimaginably small, as is the amount of active...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.