How To: Debunk a myth

I'm going to bookmark The Debunking Handbook, a quick-read pdf with all sorts of great advice for effectively countering misinformation. It's put together by the same people behind Skeptical Science, my go-to source for detailed, easy-to-understand debunkings of pretty much every climate-science-related myth you can rattle off.


  1. I’ll check it out.

    One of the things I know is that the line from Sinclair Lewis still applies to today, ” “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
    The is an assumption that people, when given the facts, will make a rational response and would change their mind in response to said facts. But the whole issue of “facts” has been debased and turned into a question. This has been a conscious decision on the part of the myth pushers.

    I’ll never forget my RW relative telling me one time. “Even if you gave me proof I wouldn’t believe you.”

    To deal with that level of denial is a bigger issue.

    1. ‘I’ll never forget my RW relative telling me one time. “Even if you gave me proof I wouldn’t believe you.” 

      It’s great when people make statements in political discussions that are more revealing than they realize.  

      My dad gave me a good one today at lunch:  “If there were more than two political parties people would get confused.”

      1. I have a friend who has discussions with right wing radio hosts all the time. Some times he even ‘wins’ the discussion. But the second he gets off the phone the hosts hit their reset button as if the conversation never happened.

        This is a problem.  It’s intellectually dishonest, but the goal of the right wing host is not to be intellectually honest, it’s to entertain and to push and agenda.

        Myths get perpetuated not just by the people who don’t know the truth, but by people who DO know the truth and don’t care about truth.   It is willful ignorance.  It is a malicious spread of misinformation.

        How do you battle willful ignorance? How to you fight people don’t care about reality?

        You can try and play in their sandbox where they set the rules and the field is always tilted in their favor, or realize that there is no “winning” in their world. 

        When I came up against this situation and realized that even “winning” the conversation was pointless, I decided to see how I could have take the battle to a higher level in a venue where truth mattered.

    1. More precisely, reality has a liberal bias in regard to evolution and climate change. On other scientific issues, not so much. The noted progressive RFK jr. was the major proponent of Wakefield’s anti-vaccine woo in the US, and the Huffington Post is well known for providing a soap box for “quantum” medical crackpots like Deepak Chopra. Basing scientific opinions on politics is never a good idea no matter what the politics are.

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