Part III of our discussion of the history of denialist movements is on one that should tie things together and one I hope some of my fellow sciencebloggers will realize speaks to the necessity of challenging denialists on every front.
My work in this instance is made extremely easy as Naomi Oreskes has done it all for me. Please watch her discussion on the history of global warming denialism, it takes a bit of time, but it is dead on and is one of the best discussions of the methods and strategy of denialism (not to mention free-market fundamentalism) I have seen to date.
For those of you who follow this site and recent postings you will see some consistent themes:
1) Well-funded think tanks are capable of derailing a scientific consensus, in this case the consensus on global warming which has existed for nearly 3 decades.
2) The goal of denialists is not to propose an alternative theory that is explanatory and useful, but to create controversy and doubt where it does not exist.
3) These attempts are highly effective despite a complete absence of controversy in the scientific literature. Attacks in the lay press are more than sufficient to create a false debate using an appeal for parity or balanced presentation of ideas.
4) The same strategies used by the tobacco companies to deny the link between cancer and tobacco smoke, and in fact, some of the exact same actors are present in both cases.
These efforts must not be ignored. The methods of denialists must be exposed and attacked, and the sources of denialism must be discredited.