Making Scienceblogs More International

I thought I’d survey the readership for some ideas on how to make Denialism Blog more interesting and accessible to an international readership. One of the goals of the Scienceblogs’ mothership Seed is to expand and get the whole world interested in scientific literacy as well as our little community and I realize that my topic is a little US-centric. However, I doubt that denialism is necessarily more prevalent in the US. For instance, the recent influence of HIV/AIDS denialism in Thabo Mbeki’s South African government is of particular concern (see Nick’s excellent overview of the problem).

So, what are some examples of denialism on the international level that the denialism blog should cover? What types of stories should we cover to get the message out on a broader level that the methods of subverting science are almost always the same? What kind of denialism is going on in your neck of the woods that you think needs more attention?

Consider it an open thread – tell us about the cranks, quacks and denialists in your backyard.


  1. I appreciate the enormous link… but I think you forgot to close your hyperlink tag. 😉

  2. Martin Pereyra

    Here in Mexico there is a small group opposing daylight saving time. In my perspective, their arguments reveal they don’t understand what DST is: for example, they insist that the electrical power saved at evenings are wasted during mornings so DST is useless, ignoring the fact that days are longer during summer than nights, and say that DST causes health damages and increases crime rates and car accidents. After 10 years of DST in Mexico, I think most of their arguments are bunkum.

    For now, this case is the only one I can remember that might be considered as “denialism”.

  3. Here in the UK one of the most prevalent denialist attitudes is from the alt-med crowd – the pro-homeopathy anti-MMR lot.

  4. Well, in Indonesia at least, “Chinese Medicine” is considered as valid (if not more) as Western Medicine. Which may explain their attitudes towards bird flu.

  5. Spelling denialism. The English, Canadians, and Australians think “color” has a U in it.

  6. Some of the most interesting things I have read on denialism are stories of foreign manifestations of familiar nonsense. Every country has their own medical woo. Every country that has ever lost a war has their own historical revisionism similar to Holocaust denial or romanticizing the Confederacy. More interesting are things like anti-Semitism showing up in countries with no historical experience with Jews (i.e. the Protocols being published in Japan). Anti-Masonic conspiracy mongering has a tendency to show up in the most unusual places. Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion ( is a great source for some of these.

  7. Gah! I’m always thinking “I wish denialism had open threads so I could mention so-and-so”, and now I can’t think of anything.

    So, signing in just to applaud your objectives and this thread.

    Actually – saw this a week ago: – while I’m not competent to say it’s outright deck-of-cards scaremongering, it seems so to this embittered old cynic.

    John, there’s no U in denialism. That’s gotta mean something profound, or profond, as yo no dobt wold say.

  8. Genocide denialism is a hot topic in many countries, and I’m not just talking about the Holocaust. The Armenian genocide in Turkey always sets off alarms.

    HIV/AIDS denialism is a huge issue in most of sub-Saharan Africa, not just South Africa. While I was teaching in Benin in West Africa, a lot of “respectable” people (who had engaged in dubious sexual affairs with multiple partners) slowly died of “le paludisme” (malaria) and never “le SIDA” (AIDS).

    Another variation on a theme is the common belief in many villages in West Africa, especially Nigeria, that vaccinations don’t work and are, in fact, tools of the developed world to keep the third world enslaved. That’s why Nigeria is one of the few places left in the world where you can still see child street beggars horribly disfigured from polio.

  9. In Japan too, Kanpo (chinese herb medicine) is very big; its practice is often mixed in with regular pharmaceutical prectice, making it hard to untangle (you sometimes really don’t know if the powder you got prescribed is a regular medical compund or some chinese herb mixture).

    Japan also has quite a high prevalence of the attitude that the Japanese people really are medically and physiologically completely different from the rest of the world, necessitating separate medical research, drug approval (from first principles, not just filling in regulatory nooks in approvals in other countries), you name it.

  10. I guess a problem is that most denialism stories rely on the media, which are largely regional. So, it might be difficult to cover, say, conspiracy theories that claim that Geoff Boycott isn’t God, because you don’ know the context. I guess that many stories you would be interested in are already covered by local bloggers (e.g. Ben Goldacre in the UK).

    For the international audience, I think this blog is useful because (a) we get to laugh at stupid Americans, and (b) you bring out the generalities in denialism very well, which is a useful service.

    (a) is, of course, a good reason why you shouldn’t cover more foreign stories. I mean, we don’t want you to know that Europeans (say) can be equally stupid.


  11. The denialist’s “big” topics are mostly the same in Germany. Medicine (HIV/AIDS, vaccination and alternative medicine in general), climate, evolution. We’ve our own local players, of course, but they’re spouting the same nonsense than in the US. They might be less obstrusive.
    I can’t think of a specific German denialism at the moment. Maybe the extreme form of “Ost-Nostalgie” was a kind of denial [people who pretended everything was better in the former East Germany/German Democratic republic] but that isn’t really a topic anymore.

  12. grasshopper

    John McKay said

    Spelling denialism. The English, Canadians, and Australians think “color” has a U in it.

    John, you left out the New Zealanders, who think sex has a EWE in it.

  13. Echoing some of the comments above, I vastly appreciate the idea of referring to non-USAian denialism in addition to the steady diet of USAian foolishness.

    Having said that, and despite living in France, I cannot think of a specific issue at the moment: Only an oddity… France has a generally excellent healthcare system, but it seems to me there’s a massive overprescription of drugs. It seems to be virtually impossible to escape a doctor’s visit without a prescription for some drug/medicine. I’ve no idea why, but it seriously bothers me. My experiences with the healthcare systems in the UK, and (such as they exist) in both Ireland and the USA, are very different. (All these claims are, of course, entirely antecedal and reflect my own experiences—a generally healthy individual—only.)

    (Apologies if this turns into a doubled comment: The SciBlogs server is acting cranky and issuing non-specific errors.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *