If strategic defense is 90 percent effective, then 10 percent of the warheads still get through. It’s a matter of arithmetic. So now there were two different versions of the problem. If secondhand smoke was “environmental,” then there was no question that it fell under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency. Just as the tobacco industry had created an institute to foster its claims, so did they: the George C. Marshall Institute, promoting “science for better public policy,” with Frederick Seitz as the founding chairman of the board. Most recently—over the course of nearly two decades and against the face of mounting evidence—they dismissed the reality of global warming. These are obvious exaggerations—totally disconnected from reality...but they resonate with the uninformed. “The absence of a deployed system by this time is difficult to understand,” they wrote. But in reality if ten thousand scientists are telling you something is true, would you take the claims of this lone wolf seriously? You will see these six weapons come up time and time again on each one of the stories covered in the book—and it is very easy to see their similarities in politics. It contained over two hundred pages of snappy quotes and reprinted editorials, articles, and op-ed pieces that challenged the authority and integrity of science, building to a crescendo in the attack on the EPA’s work on secondhand smoke. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that the media did present the scientific debate over tobacco as unsettled long after scientists had concluded otherwise. Nobody can publish an article in a scientific journal claiming the Sun orbits the Earth, and for the same reason, you can’t publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal claiming there’s no global warming. When they got wind of the studies showing the harmful effects of smoking, the tobacco companies in the US came together and did the only thing they could: spread confusion. “Only one-tenth of one percent of a cigarette is nicotine, and it should not take a rocket scientist to devise a means to volatilizing that small drop of active ingredient without generating a thousand times its weight in burning leaves.”. When the working group results were summarized, the U.S. versions were much weaker than the Canadians expected. Rainfall in the northeastern United States was many times more acidic than it used to be. Carson killed more people than the Nazis. Click here to watch a video on the notes from this book. In Bill Nierenberg’s files, there is a second copy of the telecopied Executive Summary from May 21, but this time dated, by hand, 7/10/84—and the note next to the date reads: “Changes wanted by Keyworth.” Nierenberg had changed the Executive Summary, and it was the science advisor to the president who had asked him to do so. Hirayama’s study was a first-rate piece of science; today it is considered a landmark. People do it all the time. The study was long-term and big—540 women in twenty-nine different health care districts studied over fourteen years—and showed a clear dose-response curve: the more the husbands smoked, the more the wives died from lung cancer. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Claims that have not gone through that process—or have gone through it and failed—are not scientific, and do not deserve equal time in a scientific debate. It was a foolish argument, and no one on the committee accepted it, not even Bill Nierenberg. 47 votes. Read More on Amazon Get My Searchable Collection of 250+ Book Notes. But ordinary journalists repeatedly did. In 1983, the technical working groups established under the 1980 Memorandum of Intent affirmed that acid rain caused by sulfur emissions was real and causing serious damage. The second weapon is just straight up lying—or denial. As you will see (once I get to the first story in the book), the Tobacco Industry held firmly that tobacco smoke was NOT carcinogenic...for decades!… So, Weapon 2: bullshit or denial. Maduro had concluded that the ozone depletion theory was a “fraud” after interviewing Reid Bryson for an article on the “hoax” of global warming. The IPCC had not described global warming as the “greatest global challenge facing mankind.” The words Singer attributed to the IPCC don’t appear in either the Working Group I Report or in its Summary for Policymakers. He did his job so well that there is even proof of him editing the document at the government’s behest. The members of these panels came to be known as “Team B.” While they were supposed to provide an objective review of the NIE, their composition ensured otherwise: the membership was composed entirely of foreign policy hawks who already believed that the CIA was underplaying the Soviet threat. Unfortunately I have to start by saying that I would not recommend this book to anybody that is looking to entertain themselves with fun facts and witty anecdotes. Nearly a quarter still think that there’s no solid evidence that smoking kills. The majority of the warming had been prior to 1940—prior to the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions. German scientists had shown in the 1930s that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer, and the Nazi government had run major antismoking campaigns; Adolf Hitler forbade smoking in his presence. No. The problem then, as it largely remains today, is that it is easier to calculate the cost of a pollution control device than the value of the environment it is intended to protect: who can calculate the benefit of a blue sky? back to contents. The Internet is flooded with the assertion that Carson was a mass murderer, worse than Hitler. Not only that, the characters of the different parts of the story are always the same too. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. A mass media echo chamber of your own construction. The industry promoted the idea of “sick building syndrome” to suggest that headaches and other problems suffered by workers in smoky atmospheres were caused by the buildings, not smoke. “CO2+volcanoes+Sun” fit the observational record best. One aspect of the effort to cast doubt on ozone depletion was the construction of a counternarrative that depicted ozone depletion as a natural variation that was being cynically exploited by a corrupt, self-interested, and extremist scientific community to get more money for their research. Eventually, scientists linked this to the burning of fossil fuels and found that sometimes it can occur in places far from where the pollution happens. Several Team B members—including Wolfowitz and Perle—became advisors to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign; Reagan’s victory made them the “A Team.” Their views became the basis for Reagan’s confrontational foreign policy during his first term in office, and, most famously, his decision to pursue the Strategic Defense Initiative—better known as Star Wars. It is about evidence. This is a characteristic pattern in science: first there is scattered evidence of a phenomenon, published in specialist journals or reports, and then someone begins to connect the dots. They are not necessarily lying, but they are waving their handkerchiefs to call the other person’s attention using a colorful argument while avoiding the uncomfortable truth. If that were true, then no nuclear war was winnable. Some decided it was appropriate to complain. And worse still, it didn’t make trying ways to remedy the problem seem worth it. The tobacco industry went as far as to fund their own studies about the effects of smoking. 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. Your submission has been received! “The implication could be that the Soviets have, in fact, deployed some operational non-acoustic systems and will deploy more in the next few years.”, “The very lack of evidence is thus treated as evidence; the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden.” Such arguments are effectively impossible to refute, as Lewis noted. But that admission would only be read by the scientists who read Science; once again, scientific claims were being published in scientific journals, where only scientists would read them, but unscientific claims were being published in the mass media. So they got to work trying to produce less harmful sidestream smoke by improving filters, changing cigarette papers, or adding components to make the cigarettes burn at higher temperatures. But Seitz had found other allies, and by the mid-1980s a new cause: rolling back Communism. This story goes way deeper into the foundations of our political and economic systems—even our cultural tendencies—and I’m afraid we are all partially responsible for what has happened. It was equivalent to arguing that medical researchers shouldn’t try to cure cancer, because that would be too expensive, and in any case people in the future might decide that dying from cancer is not so bad. You could make general claims about “smoky” environments, but to make a scientifically robust causal claim, you should, ideally, measure exposure levels and show that the more exposure, the more risk. It also included a list of experts with scientific credentials available to comment on any issue about which a think tank or corporation needed a negative sound bite. Who can blame us? Meanwhile, corporations reap fruit that these doubt mongers have sown. As I was reading the book I managed to narrow down the strategies of doubt to six main arguments or “weapons” (as I like to call them). Quote, in fact, yourself. Everywhere we turn someone is questioning something, and many of the important issues of our day are reduced to he said/she said/who knows? The Merchant of Venice is the story of a Jewish moneylender who demands that an antisemitic Christian offer “a pound of flesh” as collateral against a loan.First performed in 1598, Shakespeare’s study of religious difference remains controversial. The uncertainty was about the precise nature of its cause: tall smokestacks—dispersing sulfur higher in the atmosphere—or just increased use of fossil fuels overall?