Denialists’ Deck of Cards: The Second Hand, Consumer Education

Okay, you’ve tried denying that the problem exists, you’ve tried to trivialize the problem, and you’ve even argued that the problem causes so harm, so it isn’t a problem. Obviously, this no harm thing begins to have diminishing returns. What’s next?

i-760c0125e14b5a59a6f929828819c791-4c.jpg Consumer Education Solves the Problem that Doesn’t Exist.

Therefore, there’s no problem


While continuing to deny that there is a problem, argue that if it exists, it benefits the economy, and if consumers really care, they will become educated and avoid it. Therefore, no problem.

Denialists can endorse consumer education because they know individuals are busy and that most won’t pay attention to it. Tobacco is the obvious low-hanging fruit here, but remember, the same approach was taken with food safety until the creation of government agencies vested with inspection and safety duties, and expansion of legal liabilities. Prior to these developments, the argument was that consumers could educate themselves, and only choose brands that they trusted in order to avoid impurities and hazards.

8 thoughts on “Denialists’ Deck of Cards: The Second Hand, Consumer Education”

  1. You’re missing the context Lemming. It’s a frequent refrain from industry to explain away the need for regulation. The problem isn’t some terrible practice, the problem is that consumers don’t know enough about the problem, they need education. (but they’ll never actually bother to do the education)

    For instance, in San Francisco they banned plastic bags for grocery stores. Whether or not you think that was a good idea, the response in defense of plastic bags was classic, they said instead of banning plastic bags they needed consumer education! (Chris you better relate this story at some point, it was priceless!)

    To this you could only wonder, what education does the consumer need about plastic bags? Which end to put the food in? It was hysterical. It was just like a reflex, they couldn’t think of the right argument, so they just played the consumer education card.

    This doesn’t really apply to science debates, it’s mostly just a funny thing you hear a lot in policy debates.

  2. @Lab, I do think it backfires in a way. The education card really doesn’t make sense. As Mark relates above, here in San Francisco, when the city proposed a ban on non-biodegradable bags, the grocers said we should have consumer education instead.

    I don’t really understand that. We educate the public so that people will not use the bags? So, the problem caused by the bags will continue among the uneducated, but the educated will stop using them?

    The education argument, I think, starts to show how the Deck of Cards is just a bunch of delay tactics. It doesn’t make any sense to invest in an educational campaign when that money could be used to solve the problem by switching to biodegradable bags.

  3. wow, I’ve only browsed for a few minutes, but this seems to be the most ban- happy blog I’ve ever seen.

    So people that don’t agree with you really get kicked off? That is AWESOME. You guys rock!

  4. I don’t think you should ban people. Educate them instead. They aren’t causing any harm. It’s just a few bad apples. There is no problem.


    p.s. I love your blog. Even if I do hate bag bans. And over-regulation.

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