The bunny hears that some folk were not pleased when John Mashey pinned the denialists to the Venn diagram. Curiously, the merchants of doubt were right fond of such stuff when Wegman dragged his student, Yasmin Said in from left field to do social network analysis, determining that Mike Mann had a lot of co-authors.
Merchants of Doubt is a forthcoming (May 25, 2010, mark your calendars little girls and guys) book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway about
how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.
Eli prefers his way of putting it, there is a real thin bench over there at denial central, but it can't be said often enough that their ability to inject doubt and dirt into the public discourse has killed an awful lot of people (tobacco), is killing more today (HIV denial, refusal to provide condom, etc.) and threatens to wipe out a lot more (climate change denial).Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.
As far as Eli knows the denialists have never been on the side of an issue that was not harmful to health, wealth and happiness alone or in the various possible permutations. Climate change is the grand challenge, all three in one go. Several of that loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers have made a rather good career of this (more examples available). Still the bunny is ever persuadable if you have a large enough hammer or bankroll and eagerly awaits contrary examples. Eagerly, not hopefully. OTOH, he also welcomes examples that show he is right.
Oreskes and Conway are following a path that she and Myanna Lahsen have pioneered, particularly Lahsen's Experiences of modernity in the greenhouse: A cultural analysis of a "physicist "trio" supporting the backlash against global warming, that took Seitz, Nierenberg and Jastrow apart at the seams.
Eli has heard the victim bullies cries from Princeton, Rochester and other places where the signers of the APS petition nest, but these starlings** have little to complain about. They moan that their scientific objectivity was impugned, they were slandered and how pointing out that they are closely linked is scurrilous.
Color the Rabett dubious. His milk of bunny kindness has kinda gone away this week and a short while back. This is a seriously bad bunch, and very adept at disinformation campaigns.
** a small but noisy bird UPDATE: which as Ed Darell points out in the comments are not just noisy, but noisy in gangs. Starlings drive songbirds out of their nests, harass the songbird young, steal their food, and generally pose a barbarian-style blight upon the bird world. Starlings steal the crops from farmers, and perform no useful service in return (like eating insect pests, or providing Beauty and Song). Starlings congregate in huge gangs in cities, befouling automobiles, sidewalks, and giving people heebie-jeebies whenever they remember the old Hitchcock movie.
Since Eli lives in Washington DC, he knows this. Thanks Ed:)