Letters and Politics

Merchants of Doubt

With Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard. In 2010, Oreskes co-authored Merchants of Doubt: : How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming and the science fiction work The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. 

About the book: 

The troubling story of how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.

The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on public health, environmental science, and other issues affecting the 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.

In their new book, Merchants of Doubt, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway explain how a loose–knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. In seven compelling chapters addressing tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming, and DDT, Oreskes and Conway roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.

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