Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merchants of Doubt: Global Warming Deniers in bed with Tobacco Industry?

The latest "scandal" in the "climategate" saga is a carefully orchestrated release of another batch of stolen emails. And once again, the conservative media are eating it up ... just like the fossil-fuel industry knew they would.

But here's something you may not know: the key scientists who are spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about global warming were also behind the Tobacco industry's campaign to deny that cigarettes cause cancer! Seriously.

Not only that, but this same small group of scientists defended the use of DDT, denied the dangers of acid rain, and claimed there was no ozone depletion.

In other words, a small group of scientists have been the main force behind every major anti-science campaign in the last few decades. Does that sound like whacko conspiracy theory? It's not.

I just finished reading a truly great book, Merchants of Doubt. The subtitle says it all: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway present a frightening story (all carefully documented) about how a very small group of scientists, most of whom were deeply conservative, have carried out a decades-long campaign to discredit legitimate science in the interest of libertarianism and anti-socialism.

In a nutshell, these scientists were rabid believers in individual liberties and small government. They saw every attempt at government regulation as a threat to our freedom. They believed in free-market enterprise no matter what, and believed that we each were responsible for our own fate. Asking the government to regulate industry or protect us from pollution and poison was, in their view, the first step on the road to socialism and communism.

But instead of making their case in the political forum, or contributing to honest science, they've devoted themselves to obfuscation, scientific dishonesty, outright lies, character assassination, and propaganda. In their eyes, the ends justify the means: it's OK to confuse the public as long as their political goals are achieved.

I highly recommend Merchants of Doubt to anyone interested in the politics of science. These anti-science "scientists" are doing incalculable damage to our environment, economy and to our very future. They need to be stopped, and the first defense against their propaganda is education.


  1. I'm not sure I'm understanding how global warming skeptics are spreading Fear... They're saying that global warming is Not going to happen; this makes people Less fearful, right? I understand how they spread uncertainty and doubt, but not the fear.

  2. The fear they spread is the effects on the economy and the country if we spend some effort to try to mitigate the effects of anthropomorphic global warming.

  3. Vid – they are spreading massive fear ... of a government takeover via liberal socialist policies. A lot of the rhetoric in the warming-denier crowd has little to do with science. It focuses on how global warming is a liberal conspiracy to erode personal freedom, destroy free-market capitalism, and impose socialist controls on America. If you just read the "scientific" discussions you'll miss this. Look at the motivation behind the FUD and you'll see what's really going on.

  4. It would be so nice of you if you share some links to other resources that open up this topic of course in case you are aware of any.


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