Refining Anti-Science to a New American Art

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I can’t recommend Chris Mooney’s interview with Naomi Oreskes any more vehemently, except perhaps with shout caps.

Through extensive archival research, Oreskes and Conway have managed to connect the dots between a large number of seemingly separate anti-science campaigns that have unfolded over the years. It all began with Big Tobacco, and the famous internal memo declaring, “Doubt is our Product.”

I can’t recommend Chris Mooney’s interview with Naomi Oreskes any more vehemently, except perhaps with shout caps.

Through extensive archival research, Oreskes and Conway have managed to connect the dots between a large number of seemingly separate anti-science campaigns that have unfolded over the years. It all began with Big Tobacco, and the famous internal memo declaring, “Doubt is our Product.”

Then came the attacks on the science of acid rain and ozone depletion, and the flimsy defenses of Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” program. And the same strategies have continued up to the present, with the battle over climate change.

Throughout this saga, several key scientific actors appear repeatedly—leaping across issues, fighting against the facts again and again. Now, Oreskes and Conway have given us a new and unprecedented glimpse behind the anti-science curtain.

I want to read Orekes’ book, to see the docs – that’s the line between conspiracy theory and fact. But, in this second of podcasts on abuses of power, what I think is important, is not only the campaign to sow doubt, but that executives thought they had to take the fight into consumers’ heads and popular opinions on science. It wasn’t enough to tell smokers, that cigarettes are beneficial, but that any criticism from a scientific researcher provoked a higher-level battle against academia and scientific theories. Maybe it’s revenge for depicting capitalists in a certain way, but using science against science is a tactic only a pure political junkie could love. Mercifully, though, there’s no religious angle. The bottom line: it all eliminates the last fire break on cynicism.

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Filed under: Academia, Books, Business/Economy, Education, Movies/Media, Podcasts, Science Tagged: certainty, chris mooney, naomi oreskes, point of inquiry, the merchants of doubt



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