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Denial: The Unspeakable Truth

The Holocaust never happened. The planet isn’t warming. Vaccines cause autism. There is no such thing as AIDS. The Earth is flat.

Denialism comes in many forms, dressed in the garb of research proudly claiming to represent the best traditions of scholarship. Its influence is insidious, its techniques are pernicious. Climate change denialists have built well-funded institutions and lobbying groups to counter action against global warming. Holocaust deniers have harried historians and abused survivors. AIDS denialists have prevented treatment programmes in Africa.

All this is bad enough, but what if, as Keith Kahn-Harris asks, it actually cloaks much darker, unspeakable, desires? If denialists could speak from the heart, what would we hear?

Kahn-Harris sets out not just to unpick denialists’ arguments, but to investigate what lies behind them. The conclusions he reaches are disturbing and uncomfortable:

Denialism has paved the way for the recent emergence of what the author tems ‘post-denialism’; a key component of the ‘post-truth’ world. Donald Trump’s lack of concern with truth represents both denialism’s final victory and the final collapse of its claims to scholarly legitimacy.

How should we adapt to the post-denialist era? Keith Kahn-Harris argues that there is now no alternative to enabling denialists and post-denialists to openly express the dark desires that they have sought to hide. This is a horrifying prospect, but perhaps if we accept the fact of ‘moral diversity’ and air these differences in the open, we might be able to make new and better arguments against the denialists’ hidden agendas.

Book cover of Denial: The Unspeakable Truth

Formats available: Hardback, ebook

First Published: August 2, 2018

Publisher: Notting Hill Editions

Reviews for Denial: The Unspeakable Truth

An elegant exploration of how frail certainties really are, and how fragile truth is. While Kahn-Harris offers no easy answers in how to deal with ‘post-truth’, he does inspire you to act

Peter Pomerantsev, Author - 'This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality'

This powerful book dives deep into the darkness that drives denial. A very useful book for anyone who is concerned about the state of the world, and a must-read for anyone who is not

Naomi Oreskes, Co-author – 'Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming'

Kahn-Harris captures the seductions of organised denial, the creative energy which goes into it, its love-hate relationship with the Enlightenment, and the strange mutations through which it is passing

Dougald Hine, Writer and co-founder of Dark Mountain

An essential guide to the phenomenon of denialism in the so-called ‘post-truth’ era.

Dr Nicholas Terry, University of Exeter, Department of History – co-editor of 'Holocaust and Genocide Denial: A Contextual Perspective'

I admire Keith Kahn-Harris's optimism. However, partly as a result of reading this excellent little book, I cannot share it.