Denialist’s Deck Of Cards

This is a paper on the tactics used by denialists such as the American Enterprise Institute, CATO institute and other Libertarian organizations who’s only real purpose is to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt. However, the tactics discussed in this this paper are not only applicable in the public policy realm, I’m sure that if you just substitute a few terms and squint a bit, you’ll find that these same pack of cards are in wide use by others in your professional life. After all, people who are seeking an outcome and not dialogue aren’t limited to the public policy realm.
A very good read.
The Denialists’ Deck of Cards: An Illustrated Taxonomy of Rhetoric Used to Frustrate Consumer Protection Efforts

The Denalists’ Deck of Cards is a humorous illustration of how libertarian policy groups use denialism. In this context, denialism is the use of rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts. has identified five general tactics used by denialists: conspiracy, selectivity, the fake expert, impossible expectations, and metaphor.
The Denialists’ Deck of Cards builds upon this description by providing specific examples of advocacy techniques. The point of listing denialists’ arguments in this fashion is to show the rhetorical progression of groups that are not seeking a dialogue but rather an outcome. As such, this taxonomy is extremely cynical, but it is a reflection of and reaction to how poor the public policy debates in Washington have become.
The Deck is drawn upon my experience as a lawyer working on consumer protection in Washington, DC. Where possible, I have provided specific examples of denialism, but in many cases, these arguments are used only in closed negotiations. Some who read them find the examples humorous, while others find it troubling. But all who read the Washington Post will recognize these tactics; they are ubiquitous and quite effective.
This taxonomy provides a roadmap for consumer advocates to understand the resistance they will face with almost any form of consumer reform. I hope to expand it to include retorts to each argument in the future.

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