Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals. Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more.
In a short feature today, the WSJ juxtaposes three decades of warnings, from sources of integrity and obvious expertise (eg., the U.S. Department of Energy), with 30 years of denial, from paid apologists for industry (eg., former tobacco and energy industry shill Dr. Fred Seitz).
The effect is to elevate the status of the deniers and to suggest that debate endures.
It's a sham that should be embarrassing to any journalist of conscience.
Ah, a breath of fresh air on Capitol Hill today. Was it the spring air? Nope, it was a Congressional Subcommittee hearing today questioning industry efforts within science agencies, like NASA, NOAA and the EPA, to control federal scientists and confuse the public around the science of global warming.
Check here for the RealPlayer webcast and hit read more for some quotes DSBlog has pulled from the proceedings, as well as some research on one particular Republican Senator's outrageous “scientific sources” on global warming.
A lot of public relations technique rests in language. It is built in the nuanced choice and combination of
words that are developed and tested through public opinion research - through polling and focus groups.
For example, Republican pollster Frank Luntz has made a career of massaging language to his clients advantage. In Luntz's now infamous enviro-speak memo (pdf) to the republican party, he advises the following:
There are few parties in the public realm that are more credible than a “grassroots organization” - a group of citizens who rise up with no agenda other than to speak frankly about a public issue. Politicians are inevitably suspect and businesses are clearly self-interested, so reporters are always searching for the “common man” - the “person on the street” - or from impartial experts. No news source wraps up those characteristics more efficiently than the true grass roots organization.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.