notes on denial culture

Just a couple of disorganised thoughts on this. There’s a sort of integrated cultural package of denialism out there; rather like Michael Berube’s Wingnut Software Package.

Key components: Computer hate. I encountered people complaining that the Eyjafjallajokull ash cloud was being forecast with “the same computer models that forecast global warming”. No doubt we’ll soon see the reverse argument. In general, anything involving a computer is wrong.

Bending it like Ulrich Beck-ham. There’s a sort of bastardised version of the thesis of Beck’s The Risk Society, which is that “politicians” or “bureaucrats” are uniquely risk-averse. This isn’t content-specific; any and all decisions get the same response. It also doesn’t preclude you from attacking them for being incautious if the decision is later reversed. Essentially, the notion of taking precautions that you might then reverse in the light of better information is unacceptable.

Hating women. Intelligent men in positions of responsibility were willing to blame Harriet Harman for a volcanic eruption. This is literally a witch-hunt.


  1. Tom

    It’s actually a form of religious thought, isn’t it? Nothing happens by chance, everything was planned by someone and everything evil was done by someone evil. Satan can quite easily be a woman or a volcano; both are hardly unknown as fiendish archetypes in human societies.

    The depressing thing is that this shit is as old as humans. We’ll never shake off the inner Andrew Gilligan.

  2. Neil

    It doesn’t help that our wonderful news media presented the whole incident as a simple Us vs Them (where Us = The Airlines, Them = The Bureaucrats), without once thinking to speak to the engine manufacturers.

    Luckily the CAA *did*.

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