Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Anti-Science Disinformation and How it Works

If you have an hour and are really interested in how anti-science disinformation works, listen to this University of Rhode Island lecture by a gifted woman professor from UC San Diego (Naomi Oreskes)who speaks on "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscure the Truth About Climate Change."  She has an upcoming book (late May) with that title.

Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that 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.

Comment:  Oreskes says we need a more realistic view of science and I agree.  Just because we say things are complicated or lack certainty, doesn't mean the data are not real and that we don't need to pay attention.  We work through the issues and if the data do not support our hypothesis, the hypothesis goes away and does not survive.  If the evidence is there, the science is accepted by consensus.  This does not mean that every scientist is on board, but it does mean that most are.

We have  released increasing amounts of carbon and other pollutants into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began and have exceeded the capacity of our planet to cope.  We in the industrial world have benefited greatly from this development, but if we do nothing, our children and grandchildren are going to pay a terrible price.


Doorman-Priest said...

Thanks for carrying the flame.

motheramelia said...

It's near and dear to my heart.