Justpassingby's Reviews > Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes
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bookshelves: ghosh

Oreskes and Conway project an idealistic view of the scientific community. If by 'scientist' we mean full-time research staff of mainstream universities, either tenured or on a track towards tenure, then according to my personal (dated) experience most scientists, while observing at least basic courtesy in communicating with each other, privately sometimes harbour contempt. Physicists were the undisputed masters of the first half of the 20th century; when scientists in other fields announce important breakthroughs, particularly in the social sciences but also in the more statistically-oriented branches of the life sciences, scepticism comes naturally.

One premise of the authors that I do subscribe to, is that they attach a much higher value to the classical peer-reviewed scientific journals than to any report or white paper produced by commercial organisations or by self-proclaimed experts working and publishing outside academia. Journalists who compare the former to the latter are not balancing opposing viewpoints: they are effectively refuting verifiable sources using unverifiable claims.

This book is superior over other conspiracy theories in at least two very important respects. First, because it describes verifiable facts about the actions and writings of specific named people; and second, because its claims are supported by an extensive bibliography. For these two reasons I find the book highly credible, i.e., I have become convinced of the conspiracy.

The accusations are harsh. Some of the important voices who question the truth of global warming, or its man-made nature, or the need for international political action, are not independent thinkers with an opinion of their own: they are experienced manipulators of public opinion with a decades-long history of deliberate misrepresentations in order to further a political or commercial agenda. They are merchants of fabricated doubt.
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Reading Progress

February 14, 2017 – Shelved
February 14, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
June 13, 2019 – Shelved as: ghosh
June 14, 2019 – Started Reading
June 18, 2019 – Finished Reading

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