The word “debunked” has gained such popularity among journalists and pundits over the past several years because it helps them achieve one of their primary goals, which is to project the unearned impression of moral and political superiority. If you’re in a position to declare to the public that a Bad Idea has hereby been “debunked,” that must make you a Serious Person with access to Serious Knowledge, or otherwise in possession of some status marker associated with authority and expertise. This appropriation of status is fake — a scam — but that’s irrelevant to whether the status can be
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