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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Science Bullies

If you've stuck around the internet long enough, chances are you've come across the elitist club of fakers calling themselves Skeptics. They eagerly patrol social media sites, chat rooms, Wikipedia, and reader comment sections enforcing their bastardized brand of 'science' and 'evidence'. I'm currently watching this group in action as they attempt to exert their influence on the reviews of a newly released book. The crime? The author dares to document the behavior of Monsanto surrounding their blockbuster chemical product glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.

Despite their declarations, their activities actually have very little to do with science and evidence. These bullies do not employ the scientific method, nor do they practice ethical skepticism, but a twisted pseudo-philosophy called social epistemology.

This behavior manifests in many ways, including but not limited to:

Portraying those advocating for precaution as 'fear-mongers' 
Talking about science and evidence, endlessly at times, while demonstrating a lack of science literacy
Making appeals to settled science and consensus where it does not exist
Using social pressure to suppress and discredit evidence that runs counter to their 'facts' 
Pigeonholing those with legitimate concerns, criticisms or requests for more evidence as one of their favored pejoratives - 'denier' 'anti' 'illiterate' "conspiracy nut' etc.
Presenting as 'bad guys' the aforementioned, as needing to be stopped from their unscientific activities, lest we face dire consequences 
Recycling the same information through their social networks via blog posts, Twitter, and Facebook to rally followers and present the newest target being deemed 'woo' or 'pseudoscientific' and in need of being taught a lesson by their cabal

The 'celebrities' inside of this online club have at their disposal the already existing network of SSkeptics, primed and exploited by industry PR.

Fake skeptics, the self-appointed 'immune response system' of the internet. PR much, Vance?

These followers are ready to begin drooling like Pavlovian pooches when their masters ring the bell to signal a threat to their carefully crafted correctness. Their bastardized version of science, and the power it gives them must be defended vigorously.

In the current example mentioned at the outset of this post, a SSkeptic bell ringer claimed censorship of their verified purchase, one star Amazon review with no explanation. They claimed the author herself somehow had the review removed, and the troops rallied to the cause and the one star reviews poured in. Most on the same day that the SSkeptic reviewer reposted their reportedly deleted review.

Serious charge against an NGO - making death threats! Should we ask for evidence of their claim?

Do we really think all these people actually read the book?

SSkeptic leaders got in on the action, writing at least three different blog posts about this cruel injustice - the review you couldn't see for half a day but is back up now - and asking for followers to upvote the new review while admitting they have yet to read the book personally.

If you think this is just a one-off, try this example of science bully mob mentality documented by A Science Enthusiast. Because nothing will teach these science illiterate heathens a lesson quite like a good old fashioned DHMO trolling perpetrated on an organic farm owned by an elderly woman.

And for an even more egregious example, go ahead and type 'seventeen reasons to ban glyphosate' into Google. Or click here. I'll wait...

Okay. Notice anything strange? The real link by Nancy Swanson can be found here. What has been done in this instance is much more sophisticated than your typical DHMO hoax or flooding a site with negative reviews.

Dr. Swanson's list was deemed such a threat, that someone went to the trouble of flooding Google search results with links to gibberish. Who would be motivated to do such a thing, and why? German blogger Nico DaVinci has followed the breadcrumb trail a bit on his site, however it doesn't take much to see that this was a deliberate act meant to suppress information that runs counter to someone's interests.

While most SSkeptics you are likely to run into are not operating on such a sophisticated level, they can still be a royal pain in your ass at the very least. Science is not a weapon to be used to exert power over someone else yet, to so many of these fakers, science has become an excuse to work out deep seated issues on unsuspecting bystanders. A socially acceptable form of bullying - at least, it is in their social club anyway.

graphic by @EthicalSkeptic 

As for the rest of us, we can readily see this perverted method at play and should not back down to these tactics.

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