Important issues like the negative effects of tobacco and global warming are being manipulated by a small and select group of scientists and institutions in the USA. So claims Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at the University of California, San Diego.
Oreskes refers to specific scientists and institutions including the Marshall Institute, known for creating confusion about the negative effects of tobacco during the 1980s.
Doubt is the product
»The merchants of doubt are very skilful; they are offering people freedom from guilt and they are convincing. They have made a lot of market research to determine ways that they can change public opinion,« she said to the University Post following a presentation Thursday in Copenhagen.
»’Doubt is our product’, said a 1969 industry memo, since it is the best means of competing with the body of facts that exists in the minds of the general public. Fighting regulation meant creating doubt about the [adverse… ed.] health effects of smoking,« she said at the presentation.
Space to manipulate
The Merchants of Doubt obscure the truth not because of money, but because of something more complicated, namely the belief in something Naomi Oreskes calls Free Market Fundamentalism.
»They are against the free market and they believe that capitalism will provide all the necessary regulation for society. Market fundamentalists see the growth of environmental regulation as a form of creeping government control,« she said.
Scientists are generally ignorant about how the public thinks, and this gives the Merchants of Doubt the space to influence public opinion, she explained.
COP 15 made Americans doubt
»In 2007 a poll showed that 72 pct. of Americans were convinced that global warming is happening. This shows that the scientific message is getting to people. The other 25 pct. of Americans are hopeless!,« she said to the University Post.
However the disaster of COP 15 in Copenhagen has had an affect on public awareness, she reckoned:
»Instead of making people more aware of the importance of climate change, the failure of the conference has made more Americans doubt government policy on climate«.
See a video of another recent presentation by Naomi Oreskes below:
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