New Point of Inquiry With Naomi Oreskes, Co-Author of Merchants of Doubt

By Chris Mooney | June 4, 2010 12:37 pm

Merchants-of-DoubtThe latest episode of Point of Inquiry has just gone up. My guest this week is Naomi Oreskes, science historian and author (with Eric Conway) of the new book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

You can stream the eposide here, and download/subscribe here. Here’s part of the write up:

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.

Once again, you can stream the eposide here, download/subscribe here–and order Merchants of Doubt here.


Comments (2)

  1. Sean McCorkle

    Good show! I wasn’t aware of Oreskes/Conway’s work at all. A fascinating story.

  2. Brian Too

    Oops, lost my first posting.

    As I was trying to say, if the Marshall Institute is repeatedly arguing against the facts, how has it retained enough standing to keep doing it? They should have taken a pretty serious reputational hit one would think.

    Is it because they act through proxies? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them before and that would explain the low profile. There have long been stories of mysterious (and even not so mysterious) sources of funding for the cultivated expert witnesses that Oreskes talks about.

    Or is it their nuanced argument? “We never said (tobacco/acid rain/whatever) harm wasn’t real, we said it wasn’t proven.”

    And yet over that span of years, one would expect some of the mud to stick to them anyways.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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