The Rural Reader. August book review.

Merchants of doubt – Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (2012)

Merchants of Doubt goes hand in hand with last month’s book “A Matter of Fact” by Jess Berentson Shaw. However, Oreskes and Conway explore a more sinister long-term, well-planned, and well-funded approach to misinforming and ultimately disinforming the public on matters of global concern such as the health effects of smoking, the impacts of fossil fuels and the broader climate change debates.

Among other things, the authors tell the story of respected scientists who are paid to set up a laboratory to conduct research in their areas of expertise, develop a positive profile for the new laboratory and then later, start producing research reports whose presentation contradicts (spuriously) the wider scientific view on topics of public concern – thus creating doubt.

Consider the impacts of the doubts created around COVID-19, dietary promotions, and functional foods. This widely cited book demonstrates the funding, power, and techniques, used in creating doubt to achieve the contradictions of selected large longstanding industries.

Patrick Aldwell
August, 2023

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