“Merchants of Doubt”
How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming
‘Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have demonstrated what many of us had long suspected: that the ‘debate’ over the climate crisis - and many other environmental issues - was manufactured by the same people who brought you ‘safe’ cigarettes.' Former US Vice President Al Gore
In this public lecture, Naomi Oreskes will "roll back the rug" on the dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.
She will tell 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.
When: Tuesday 16 November 2010, 5.30pm
Where: Abel Smith Theatre (Bldg 23), The University of Queensland, St Lucia (map)
Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
Her research focuses on the historical development of scientific knowledge, methods, and practices in the earth and environmental sciences, and on understanding scientific consensus and dissent.
In 2004 Oreskes wrote an essay on science and society Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (Science, December 2004). In the essay she reported an analysis of “928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 and published in the ISI database with the keywords ‘global climate change’” After the analysis, she concluded that 75 percent of the examined abstracts either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.