1) A person willing and able to be an advocate for any claim, regardless of the merit of the claim.

2) A person hired by a company to hold a view that advances the company’s interests.

3) A person who subordinates the facts and their own convictions to the interests of the company that hired them.

Corporate lawyers and people in advertising are sophists. Such people are hired to advance ideas and claims which may be at odds, prior to the payment, with what they believe and which may be at odds with the facts.

Q: “What view will you hold today?”

A: “It depends on who’s paying me.”

A sophist can and is willing to advocate any idea or claim. But there are many ideas and claims that are not profitable to advocate (such as trees are important to ecosystems) and therefore funds are not allocated to advance these claims. However, others claims—such as those that give a company access to resources and those that allow companies to pollute—are not only profitable but fundamental to a company’s operations.

In corporate law and advertising, the sophists are hired to advocate the claims of corporations. When they select a claim to advance it is only because it is in their vested interest to do so. If the claim is accepted by the public or by legislatures then company will be allowed to strip a resource from an ecosystem, pollute or avoid liability. This reduces costs for the corporation and increase profits. Because it is in the interests of corporations to gain access to resources as inexpensively as possible and to push the costs of pollution its operations produce, they hire sophists to defend those practices, conceal them, mislead the public about them, or argue that these practices are beneficial to us.


One example of the work of sophists are the television commercials claiming that natural gas is good for the environment when in fact CO2 concentrations are already causing the extinction of many species. Another example of the work of sophists are those lawyers representing the coal company who challenged the Clean Power Act, which sought to reduce CO2 emissions, at the Supreme Court.


A company selects a claim  >  a sophist is hired  >  the sophist finds the best way to persuade others of that claims  >  the sophist presents that argument to the public (via the media) or the courts or via lobbying of legislators  >  the argument is accepted as a fact  >  the decisions and behavior of public change accordingly  >  ecosystems bear the consequence of those actions and behaviors.


It is unique to humans to be able to propose an idea that is in opposition to the laws of evolution or that harms ecosystems or construct an idea in contradiction of the laws of physics, chemistry and biology.

Belief-induced Blindness

1) The inability to perceive sights and sounds and phenomena that contradicts existing beliefs or the inability to receive information that conflicts with those same beliefs.

2) A person unaware of the process in which beliefs are shaped (or how error prone and indifferent to reality this process is) and so invests more his or her beliefs than in any type of evidence.

Invented Reality

An invented reality is an idea or thing that exists only in the imaginations of human beings and has no reality outside of it. By existing in the imaginations of human beings and being believed by them, an invented reality can produce the conditions necessary for mass cooperation between humans, a level of cooperation that would not otherwise be possible.

Invented realities do not exist in the biological realm—that is, they have no biological reality—but invented realities can produce behaviors in human beings that are destructive to ecosystems or are complicit in this destruction. Markets are one example. Markets do not exist in the biological sphere but it is due to markets that human being ignore the function of certain things within ecosystems and see them only in terms of a fluctuation price given to them by the markets.

Here is a video about invented realities and how we use them for mass cooperation.

Denial (aka Closed Cognition)

1) A act of willful ignorance that is often described, or excused, by the person doing it as an act of skepticism.

2) The act of holding two different standards for an idea; the person holds a very high standard of evidence for the side of the argument they don’t like (and this standard may be even higher than scientific procedure requires) while simultaneously holding a very low standard of evidence and support for ideas and the side of the argument they like.

3) A phenomenon whereby a person 1) fears what a fact or scientific finding would mean to them if it were true and so 2) denies the fact or the validity of the scientific finding.

4) It is being closed off from knowledge.

For example, let’s say a person considers the fact that scientists have found evidence to support the idea that greenhouse gasses will increase the planet’s average temperatures to the point where much current life on the planet will be unsustainable. This person then sees this evidence through the lens of their lives. They think, “If this is true, and I agree that it is true, then I’ll have to burn less gas and less home heating fuel. I’ll have to increase the insulation in my home and reconsider my consumption of meat. But I don’t want to do any of those things. So I’ll deny the validity of the scientific evidence.” By rejecting the person can then continue their current behaviors—and do so without a sense of guilt or shame that would come with accepting the scientific evidence and not changing their behavior.

Denial can serve a number of purposes for those who resort to it. One. It can be a way to avoid responsibility. If a person a polluter, for instance, they may deny the harms caused by that pollution. Two. Denial can be a way to defense in favor of a person’s near-term financial interests. If a person is making money from a company or investment which is polluting or causing harm to ecosystems, denial allows the person to avoid the conflict their financial self-interest and their obligations to others and to the planet. Third. Denial can be a way to please those within your social and ideological tribes. If a person denies the validity of facts and evidence that others within your tribe are ideologically against, then you can increase group cohesion and show your loyalty to that group and foster your identity as a good member of that group.


Those who opt for denial and willful ignorance may justify their behavior by calling themselves skeptics. But there is a wide gulf between the skeptic and the willfully ignorant. The skeptic studies the evidence but avoids making a conclusion. The willfully ignorant refuse to study the evidence and come to a conclusion. The skeptic is open, awaiting new evidence and new information, and the willfully ignorant is closed, certain of their conclusion even if evidence is found to support a claim or scientific theory. The skeptic accepts uncertainty. The willfully ignorant refuse it.


Denial can occur when our invented realities (religions, ideologies, currencies) come into conflict with the fundamental laws of biology, chemistry and physics or when it comes into conflict with the viability of ecosystems. As a cooperative species human beings invent and then cling to these invented realities (which often have no basis in the physical world) as a way increase the cooperation between large numbers of people. However, because of their social role or their role in establishing a person’s role and membership within a group, these invented realities can seem more urgent and emotionally salient than the laws that govern the planet’s ecosystems.