Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Denialists' Deck of Cards


The Denalists' Deck of Cards is a humorous illustration of how libertarian policy groups use denialism. In this context, denialism is the use of rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts. has identified five general tactics used by denialists: conspiracy, selectivity, the fake expert, impossible expectations, and metaphor.

The Denialists' Deck of Cards builds upon this description by providing specific examples of advocacy techniques. The point of listing denialists' arguments in this fashion is to show the rhetorical progression of groups that are not seeking a dialogue but rather an outcome. As such, this taxonomy is extremely cynical, but it is a reflection of and reaction to how poor the public policy debates in Washington have become.

Full paper here. It is more relevant to consumer-protection debates (the original Giveupblog post is better for climate change denial), but still quite funny.

(Hat tip: Crooked Timber).


Conspiracy has to be used by Libertarians because Libertarianism is highly axiomatic.

They can never admit even *one* instance of government intervention doing good overall for society as opposed to the effects of the market. This isn't a matter of preference, it's absolutely crucial to the function of the ideology. To admit so would send their intellectual foundations crashing down.

This is not at all obvious or what people tend to think when they're told the song and dance about rights and freedoms.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/28/2007 07:13:00 PM

It works quite well for anti-immunisation arguments too.

Posted by Amanda : 2/28/2007 07:27:00 PM

I/S, even if you accept the package deal of "denialism" as some sort of defining characteristic -- which I don't -- and ignoring the comment of your insane first respondent here -- which I've learned to do -- what on earth have "libertarian policy groups" got to do with this accusation of yours?

Here's what your friend calls a "denialist": "You know, the type of person that refuses to believe in facts when they are indisputable. Topics of denial include the holocaust, HIV causing AIDS, global warming/climate change, evolution, the necessity of animals in research, cigarettes causing cancer, embryonic stem cells aren't as good as adult stem cells, the government blew up the WTC on 9/11 not terrorists etc."

Sounds to me more like that's more characteristic of a conservative, to me -- with some of whom this libertarian has been arguing on many of those very points in recent days, and on the side of scientific certainty I might add -- or even just a plain old fruitbat. Like Ian Wishart. Or Ruth.

Posted by Peter Cresswell : 3/03/2007 06:06:00 PM