Portraying Science as Faith and Consensus as Dogma
Via Pharyngula, we find an article about HIV denialists. These are the people who claim that HIV does not cause AIDS. This belief is big in Africa, but even people in the developed world fall for it. At least with creationism, I can understand the appeal. I don’t understand the appeal of HIV denialism.
However, like the evolution denialists, the HIV-ignorers use a familiar approach. A section of the article is titled “Portraying Science as Faith and Consensus as Dogma”. Does any of this sound familiar?
Since the ideas proposed by deniers do not meet rigorous scientific standards, they cannot hope to compete against the mainstream theories. They cannot raise the level of their beliefs up to the standards of mainstream science; therefore they attempt to lower the status of the denied science down to the level of religious faith, characterizing scientific consensus as scientific dogma.
Deniers also paint themselves as skeptics working to break down a misguided and deeply rooted belief. They argue that when mainstream scientists speak out against the scientific “orthodoxy,” they are persecuted and dismissed.
HIV deniers accuse scientists of quashing dissent regarding the cause of AIDS, and not allowing so-called “alternative” theories to be heard. However, this claim could be applied to any well-established scientific theory that is being challenged by politically motivated pseudoscientific notions—for example, creationist challenges to evolution.