Book Review: Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Title: Merchants of Doubt – How a Handfull of Scientists obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

By: Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

ISBN: 978-1-59691-610-4

Published: 2010

Publisher: Bloomsbury Press, New York

Reviewer: Anthony

Book: Merchants of Doubt


Naomi is a Professor of History and Science at the University of California at San Diego. Erik is a science writer with four previous books including: Atmospheric Science at NASA; A History.

Merchants of Doubt shows how certain very right wing scientists in the United States of America used the very same tactics to cast doubt on several scientific issues such as the link between tobacco and cancer or the link between fossil fuel burning and climate change.

“Tobacco Strategy”

The book tells the story of the”Tobacco Strategy” and how it was used to attack science and scientists when they came up with certain inconvenient truths. This was to confuse journalists and the public about important issues affecting us and the planet we live on.

The same strategy has been widely used not only for Global Warming denial, acid rain denial, the ozone hole denial etc heavily funded by the industries who were going to be affected by correcting environmental problems.

Journalists, a Poor Filter for the Truth

You need to be very aware that most of what you read or see on televison or hear on the radio passes through a particular type of filter. This filter is called a journalist. A journalist is usually is a kind of Jack-of-all Trades and Master of None type of person. A journalist is a generalist and most lack the experience or education to fully understand or comprehend the sometimes very complex issues and science involved in issues such as Global Warming or Cancer from Tobacco Smoke.

Journalists, Under Time Pressure

They are under time pressure to produce popular, topical and newsworthy articles, shows, controversies etc. So rather than take the time to study the evidence and come to a conclusion on the evidence they put it out as if there are two equal sides to the issue even when the evidence is overwhelming.

A Chance for the Merchants of Doubt

This gives the Merchants of Doubt the chance to muddy the waters and delay regulatory actions needed to correct the harm being done. Journalists are complicit in this because of their shallow treatment of these important subjects. This is why I am very wary of taking anything in the Main Stream Media (MSM) at face value. I am a great believer in reading the evidence myself. Hearing it from the horses mouth so to speak.

In the Interest of Fairness

In the interests of “fairness” and to promote “debate” the mainstream media journalists have allowed the “Merchants of Doubt” and their industry paymasters to dominate debate on many issues.

Please read this book if you want to have your eyes opened as to how the real world operates.



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