FLICC: The Five Characteristcs of Science Denial | Vol. 2 / No. 45.1

FLICC | John Cook
FLICC | John Cook

Ran into this over the weekend, and thought it was worth sharing. It’s a video by John Cook in which he explains what he calls the Five Characteristics of Science Denial. You can remember them with the acronym “FLICC,” and they stand for Fake Experts, Logical Fallacies, Impossible Expectations, Cherry Picking, and Conspiracy Theories.


I came across this video because John Cook, the man who made it, recently had the unpleasant experience of having Rick Santorum use some of his research to refute… well… other parts of his research. You can read that story over at Huffington Post. In the meantime, here’s a little transcript of part of the video. Enjoy!

From the video:

Firstly, fake experts are used to create the impression of an ongoing scientific debate. The general public rely on expert opinion as a guide for their own beliefs about science. For this reason, casting doubt on a scientific consensus is a key strategy for those looking to manufacture doubt about the science. Fake experts appear to be highly qualified but don’t have actual expertise in the relevant scientific field […] Number two is logical fallacies. These are logically false arguments that lead to an invalid conclusion. […] The third characteristic of science denial involves impossible expectations. This demands unrealistic standards of proof before acting on the science. […] Fourth, there’s cherry picking, which focuses on specific pieces of data, often out of context, while excluding any data that conflicts with the desired conclusion. […] Fifth and finally, when someone disagrees with an overwhelming scientific consensus, there is always the resort to conspiracy theories. How else would you explain that all the world’s experts, scientific organizations, and journals agree on something you disagree with?”

Watch the whole video below (it’s from a free online course!), or go to LifeHacker¬†or John Cook’s Skeptical Science site for more.

Happy Monday, everyone.