Denial and soon, MetaDenial – Denial of Denial – are like a Black Hole Reality here on Earth, an Alternative Reality that bears less and less resemblance to Fact-based Reality. I challenge you to watch this 4 minute video and describe this Alternative Reality of what Reality is like inside a Black Hole. I’ve been an amateur scientist all my life and I have to admit, when it comes to Physics, I’m often left scratching my head. But I don’t deny what scientists come up with, no matter how fantastic, because I understand how science and knowledge work. Befuddlement and ambiguity are just one more part of living in the world of facts in this age. Being a realist means accepting things you don’t understand or don’t like as part of the collection of facts and reality, based on rational thought, discussion, and the steady extension of reality into the frontier of the unknown. When there is so much you don’t know or understand, its better to lean on science and consensus to define your Reality.
I’m with the Smart Guys, I choose Reality. But with the rise of modern Denial, we’re rapidly moving into our own version of Black Hole Reality here on Planet Earth. As we continue to accept and embrace alternative realities that deny fact-based Reality, we’re moving into MetaDenial by denying the creep of Denial and its negative impacts.
Denial is rooted in ignorance and human frailty. At times the bare truth is unbearable – challenging, unpleasant, threatening. My perception is that Denial, if not an outright lie, is still a rejection of Truth. When considering sin, religious leaders teach that omission can be as damaging as commission. With that reasoning, can’t Denial be just as bad as a Lie? In fact, Denial and Lies go hand in hand. Denial is a conscious action to step away from facts and choose lies over truth, where lies are alternative realities not in alignment with facts. There’s a Denial Continuum ranging from Lies and Conspiracy Theories on one end and the Reasonable Alternatives, pragmatic Denial on the other. But a Reasonable Alternative to something that is just too hard to swallow at this moment is like a White Lie, a convenience that can transform Denial into a conscious strategy to Delay facing Reality. But even Delay comes with consequences. It’s time to be concerned.
Reality is based on facts as determined by science, the systematic practice of deliberate, structured observation and collective, fact-based evidence to extend the boundaries of what we know – Reality – into the realms of what we do not know. Beliefs can co-exist with Reality, but beliefs must be adjusted when they come into conflict with facts and “what the facts and collective evidence indicate, what we consider at the time as the best representation of Reality.” It doesn’t work the other way around, Beliefs cannot deny Reality. We’ve come a long way from the house arrest of Galileo because his telescope let him experience new evidence that pointed to a new reality – the Earth goes around the Sun – that was an uncomfortable new fact in conflict with the Church dogma that the Earth exists at the center of the universe. His house arrest didn’t reorder the galaxy, as it turns out. That may seem quaint today because it was 400 years ago (but charitably, that’s only about 16 generations ago. We know we’ve come a long way in addressing Denial). Facts always trump Denial over time. But have we really come so far? Denial stubbornly persists.
Today, Denial is rapidly becoming a real and present danger, because it diverts our attention from facing an increasingly dynamic reality and the growing need to devise solutions as time runs out. When we fail to develop solutions our problems don’t go away, they just fester and grow. As problems grow, they shrink the range of possible solutions and raise the cost for when we finally do take action. In short, Denial costs us all by making the solutions we’re finally able to deploy less effective and more expensive. Selective Denial forces Collective Loss. We should all be wary of Denial because it comes with a grave cost and it threatens us all. Don’t agree with me? Then please argue the contrary, I’m listening. Or else we will continue creeping into what we might call MetaDenial – Denial that Denial is a Threat to Truth and Reality.
Politics aside, my reverence for science and respect for future generations put me squarely on the side of Climate Activism, which places me in opposition to Climate Denial and Deniers. I wish that Denial were not our reality, but – pardon the pun – I can’t deny it. If this makes one uncomfortable, I encourage more debate and argument. Take Discomfort as an indicator that something is not right, that Reality is misaligned, it’s a signal for further reflection and dialogue. Discomfort, discussion, discernment are all antidotes to Denial. We should/must go down this path. We need to address Denial in all its forms. Next, I’ll provide a Top Ten list of historic and modern Denial.
By John Cooper