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Merchants of Doubt

I’ve just finished reading this book, which I have to say was really good.  The book is about how a handful of rogue scientists deliberately spread disinformation on a range of key issues, including tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole and climate change.  Their key strategy was to argue the science was inconclusive (even when it really wasn’t), that the scientists involved had some ulterior motive and, of course, to make such claims without evidence.  I found the stories both disturbing and eye-opening, especially with the underhand tactics being employed.  The key protaganists are [[Fred Singer]], [[Frederick Seitz]], [[William Nierenberg]], and many others.  These people have a lot to answer for.

Perhaps the most interesting question is: why? Why do former scientists (who made good contributions in their field) go on the warpath to undermine science itself?  As a scientist myself, it seems unbelievable.  However, I think the book hits the nail on the head: they are [[Market fundamentalism|free-market fundamentalists]].  This view holds that the so-called [[Laissez faire]] (i.e. do nothing) approach to regulation is always the right approach.  Alan Greenspan is perhaps the most notable free-market fundamentalist of recent times … and look where that ended up!

Anyhow, definitely worth a read.

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