7th March 2021
From election results to mask and lockdown mandates, and from vaccines to the very virus itself, denialism has seemingly made the move from the fringe of public discourse to its very centre. And yet many questions about denialism remain unanswered: what actually is it, what is underlying it and where will it lead? And that’s where sociologist Dr Keith Kahn-Harris comes in.
Denial, according to Dr Kahn-Harris, is a hard-wired psychological tool we’ve all used to avoid difficulties, threats and embarrassments, whereas denialism is an expansion of denial to encompass an entire worldview. Denialism, Kahn-Harris continues, fosters hate and suspicion, is doubtlessly dangerous and is driven by a desperate desire for something not to be true.
The end of denialism, is not, however, Kahn-Harris hastens to point out, necessarily a good thing. Without denialism the denialists would have to admit some terrible truths, such as not caring if the vulnerable die as long as they don’t have to wear a mask. However, Kahn-Harris warns, this epochal shift to post-denialism seems to be almost upon us and we need to be ready to react to it.