Jeff Masters writes about the manufactured outrage, statistics and special interests players that seem to dominate the discussion of social policy and the environment and health in particular, The Manufactured Doubt Industry and the Hacked Email Controversy
In 1954, the tobacco industry realized it had a serious problem. Thirteen scientific studies had been published over the preceding five years linking smoking to lung cancer. With the public growing increasingly alarmed about the health effects of smoking, the tobacco industry had to move quickly to protect profits and stem the tide of increasingly worrisome scientific news. Big Tobacco turned to one the world’s five largest public relations firms, Hill and Knowlton, to help out. Hill and Knowlton designed a brilliant Public Relations (PR) campaign to convince the public that smoking is not dangerous. They encouraged the tobacco industry to set up their own research organization, the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR), which would produce science favorable to the industry, emphasize doubt in all the science linking smoking to lung cancer, and question all independent research unfavorable to the tobacco industry. The CTR did a masterful job at this for decades, significantly delaying and reducing regulation of tobacco products. George Washington University epidemiologist David Michaels, who is President Obama’s nominee to head the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), wrote a meticulously researched 2008 book called, Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health. In the book, he wrote: “the industry understood that the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad. Create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion. Throw mud at the anti-smoking research under the assumption that some of it is bound to stick. And buy time, lots of it, in the bargain”.
While we still have free speech in America – though expect death threats, slashed tires, being tasered and the possibility of being murdered for exercising those rights. These extreme reactions seem archaic, well because they are and because the voices of a few individuals, not always, but much of the time is drowned out by the well oiled, well financed PR machines. Sure the net gives dissenters a new venue, but it also gives the PR machine another podium too. Masters does his homework on the latest fabricated outrage on the e-mails that were hacked from the Climate Research Unit of the UK’s University of East Anglia ( a Canadian Climate Center was also recently burglarized and hacked). Whatever your cause its money that amplifies and usually wins the message war so it’s no wonder that doubts about global warming have up ticked of late. Its Goliath outspending David,
If you add it all up, the fossil fuel industry outspent the environmental groups by $36.8 million to $2.6 million in the second quarter, a factor of 14 to 1. To be fair, not all of that lobbying is climate change lobbying, but that affects both sets of numbers. The numbers don’t even include lobbying money from other industries lobbying against climate change, such as the auto industry, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc.