Letters to the Editor

Skepticism is not the same as denialism when it comes to science

What Russ Surber needs to understand in his letter, “Climate ‘deniers’ stay true to spirit of science by asking questions” (May 5), is that skepticism is not the same as denialism.

Skepticism is already built into the peer-review method that scientific journals use. Reviewers look for mistakes prior to publication to weed out errors. Denialism, on the other hand, is about using information selectively to fight a rhetorical battle.

The cited Chicago Tribune editorial (The heretical heart study: When science stops asking questions) refers to a medical study on fat consumption that was supposedly suppressed for decades. Science deniers use it to “prove” that policy cannot be based on science because science is never settled.

But this was a flawed study that deserved burial. The test subjects were fed diets that reduced saturated fats by 50 percent, but increased corn oil consumption by 280 percent. Guess what? The test “failed” to prove saturated fats were unhealthier than corn oil. But today, we know that corn oil is filled with omega-6, which is associated with multiple diseases. Doctors still recommend unsaturated fats, just not corn oil.

The “suppressed” experiment only proves we shouldn’t gorge on Mazola. It falls far short of getting us off the hook with climate change.

Michael Segor, San Luis Obispo

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