Merchants of Doubt


for Members

Merchants of Doubt

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The New York Academy of Sciences
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose knit group of high level scientists and scientific advisors, with effective political connections, ran a series of campaigns to challenge well established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly; some of the same figures who have claimed the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it. Here, we explain both how and why.


Naomi Oreskes

University of California

Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her study “Beyond the Ivory Tower,” published in Science, was a milestone in the fight against global warming denial and was cited by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth and by the Royal Society in its "Guide to Facts and Fiction about Climate Change.

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