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Merchants Of Doubt Hardcover – May 25 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury US; 1 edition (May 25 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916104
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #321,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Finalist for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Named a Best Book of 2010 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have demonstrated what many of us have long suspected: that the ‘debate’ over the climate crisis--and many other environmental issues--was manufactured by the same people who brought you ‘safe’ cigarettes.  Anyone concerned about the state of democracy in America should read this book.”—Former Vice President Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth

“As the science of global warming has grown more certain over the last two decades, the attack on that science has grown more shrill; this volume helps explain that paradox, and not only for climate change. A fascinating account of a very thorny problem.”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have written an important and timely book. Merchants of Doubt should finally put to rest the question of whether the science of climate change is settled.  It is, and we ignore this message at our peril.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

“There can be no science without doubt: brute dogma leaves no room for inquiry. But over the last half century, a tiny minority of scientists have wielded doubt as a political weapon to halt what they did not want said: that tobacco kills or that the climate is warming because of what we humans are doing. ‘Doubt is our product’ read a tobacco memo--and indeed, millions of dollars have gone into creating the impression of scientific controversy where there has not been one. This book about the politics of doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway explores the long, connected, and intentional obfuscation of science by manufactured controversy. It is clear, scientifically responsible, and historically compelling—it is an essential and passionate book about our times.”—Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps

“With the carefulness of historians and the skills of master storytellers, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway lay out the sordid history of tobacco industry protectionists, who framed the debate as scientifically ‘unproven,’ gaining decades of market share for those merchants of death—who knew all along the risks of their products. Merchants of Doubt shows that some of the very same individuals were part of the plans to frame the climate change debate as unproven, using the same tried and true tactics of misrepresentation of facts, non-representative scientists, and industry-friendly legislators. Again, tried and true public re-framing of reality worked. But now all this chicanery is exposed for the deception it has been in Oreskes and Conway’s powerful and timely work.”—Stephen H Schneider, Professor, Stanford University, author of Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate

“A well-documented, pulls-no-punches account of how science works and how political motives can hijack the process by which scientific information is disseminated to the public.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Sweeping and comprehensive… Oreskes and Conway do an excellent job of bringing to life a complex and important environmental battle… [a] darkly fascinating history… Merchants of Doubt is an important book. How important? If you read just one book on climate change this year, read Merchants of Doubt. And if you have time to read two, reread Merchants of Doubt.” —

“Oreskes and Conway tell an important story…This book deserves serious attention for the lessons it provides about the misuse of science for political and commercial ends.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway smoke out the Merchants of Doubt.”—Vanity Fair

“In their impeccably researched genealogy of denialism Merchants of Doubt, Conway and Oreskes show that a key group of figures in global warming denial earned their spurs in tobacco-industry-funded attempts to discredit the links between smoking and cancer. "—New Humanist

“Brilliantly reported and written with brutal clarity… The real shocker of this book is that it takes us, in just 274 brisk pages, through seven scientific issues that called for decisive government regulation and didn't get it, sometimes for decades, because a few scientists sprinkled doubt-dust in the offices of regulators, politicians and journalists…Oreskes and Conway do a great public service.”—Huffington Post

“In their fascinating and important study, Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway offer convincing evidence for a surprising and disturbing thesis. Opposition to scientifically well-supported claims about the dangers of cigarette smoking, the difficulties of the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars"), the effects of acid rain, the existence of the ozone hole, the problems caused by secondhand smoke, and—ultimately—the existence of anthropogenic climate change was used in "the service of political goals and commercial interests" to obstruct the transmission to the American public of important information…Because it is so thorough in disclosing how major policy decisions have been delayed or distorted, Merchants of Doubt deserves a wide readership. It is tempting to require that all those engaged in the business of conveying scientific information to the general public should read it.”—Science

Merchants of Doubt, by the science historian Naomi Oreskes and the writer Erik Conway, investigates a sort of reverse conspiracy theory: ecoterrorists and socialists are not the ones foisting dubious science upon us; rather it is deniers who are running their own well-funded and organized long-term hoax. Several previous works have ably illuminated similar themes, but this one hits bone…[Merchants of Doubt]  provide[s] both the historical perspective and the current political insights needed to get a grip on what is happening now.”—OnEarth

“All in all, Oreskes and Conway paint an unflattering picture of why some scientists continue to stand against the overwhelming scientific consensus on issues at the center of public discussion.”—USA Today

“Ever wonder how the terms liberty and freedom got all tangled up in fake science, how industry friendly think-tanks got their start, or what motivates scientists to sell out beyond the obvious? Merchants of Doubt expertly follows the historical twists and turns to answer all those questions and more in exquisite detail translated into entertaining narratives easily digested by readers from all backgrounds… This book should be a staple for any scientist and progressive, especially those whose work intersects public policy. Merchants of Doubt will not only leave you better equipped to combat the propaganda now packaged and fed to an unsuspecting public as legitimate science on a daily basis, it is a meticulously researched and wonderfully written.”—Daily Kos

“The disturbing tale of how some scientists sell their souls to advance political and economic agendas.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Powerful.”— Economist

“After enduring decades of inexplicably persistent news reports casting doubt on the fact that cigarettes cause lung cancer, pollution harms the planet, and nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous, one might be forgiven for wondering if the same mob of misguided mercenaries might be behind them all. As it turns out—according to the evidence assembled in Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming—they are.” Chronicle of Higher Education

“A devastating portrayal of organized scientific disinformation campaigns that makes clear just how gullible the press, scientific community and the public have been (and to a large extent, continue to be).”—Capital Weather Gang/

“Well-researched and lucidly written.”—Washington Times

“Excellent.”—America Magazine

“An important book … The next time a friend or Fox News commentator or political candidate assaults you with the claim that ‘climate change isn't happening or ‘isn't caused by human activities,’ you will recognize the source of their colossal misunderstanding. The good news is, honest science wins in the end. The bad news: The earth is heating up while this artificially heated debate rages, though Merchants of Doubt, if widely read, should help douse the media flames.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Merchants of Doubt might be one of the most important books of the year. Exhaustively researched and documented, it explains how over the past several decades mercenary scientists have partnered with tobacco companies and chemical corporations to help them convince the public that their products are safe – even when solid science proves otherwise…Merchants of Doubt is a hefty read, well-researched and comprehensive…I hope it sells, because what it has to say needs to be heard.”—Christian Science Monitor...

About the Author

Naomi Oreskes is Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her essay "Beyond the Ivory Tower" was a milestone in the fight against global warming denial.

Erik Conway is the resident historian at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By p.graham on Aug. 13 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book amasses, organizes and presents thousands of pieces of data - scientific, commercial, political and journalistic - to reveal the true underlying problem with America's rapidly decaying democracy.
With exhaustive - and almost exhausting - citations, the authors have produced a scathing indictment of the American industrial, political, and pseudo-scientific complex. The huge corporations, their Republican benefactors ( and beneficiaries) and right-wing institutes and religious foundations are revealed as grossly cynical manipulators ver the lives of millions of people.
The degree of cynicism exhibited by the people at the center of the issues dealt with wield enormous power in a fashion that differs from Naziism only in that Naziism was forthright and open; the American complex described in the book operate as clandestine manipulators of the supposedly "free" market they claim to cherish. Their odious criminal influence is not just on science, but also on education, journalism, public health, decency - on democracy itself.
The authors have set a standard of science, journalism and public service that is rarely seen. I can only wish that the American voters had enough curiosity and interest to know how cruelly their elite" treats them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rich M on June 28 2011
Format: Paperback
Science went from being a friend of the people (the Salk polio vaccine, man on the moon, wiping out small pox) to what is now perceived by many as an enemy of progress. This book provides an excellent explanation of how it happened.

The transformation began under Ronald Reagan when credible scientists opposed star wars, and it continues today. Scientists and their research ran into politics, big business, and the far right, which opposes government regulation in any form, even when it protects and serves the needs of society. The far right maintains that society will be protected by market forces, government need not be involved. But "negative externalities" come into play: negative because they hurt society, and externalities because they are outside of the free market system: what financial motives would induce industry to protect us against sulfur-induced acid rain, smoking induced lung cancers, asthma in children raised in homes with smoking parents?

This book shows how industry and government used a small group of right wing physicists to raise doubts about peer-reviewed science done in the interests of society. And it continues today. The "uncertainty" surrounding the climate change debate is a perfect example. Credible scientists including those in the US National Academy of Science have known for 30 years that climate change is upon us and that much if not all of it is it's man made. Yet in the interests of fairness, the voices of a few who question the science are given equal value as the majority who know their stuff, and the public and press can't separate the wheat from the chaff.

This book is full of revelations and a must read for progressives who think that government, informed by science, has a role to play in protecting the people it serves.
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By C. Riordon on Nov. 27 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is evil in the world, and it is profit-motivated. Okay, so lying about the harmful effects of tobacco is bad, but not evil, right? Tobacco directly kills 5 million people a year and kills another 600,000 second-hand consumers. No big deal. The world is overpopulated, and we obviously can't rely on plagues any more (Ebola is having trouble killing more than 5,000 people), so what are we to do? Lie about the causes and dangers of global warming, what else? To be fair, the lying about global warming (and tobacco) is not being done with an view to reducing global overpopulation, but to ensure that profits can continue to be made from the money invested in the fossil fuel infrastructure, from the mining and drilling and transport industries through to the sale of energy end products, electricity and fuels. No cost is accounted for with respect to the health and economic effects in either case.

The difference with global warming is that it affects all the people on Earth for the foreseeable future, and in the worst scenario for us, is an extinction event for humanity.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By climatesight on Jan. 15 2012
Format: Paperback
I waited a long time to read this book ' in retrospect, too long. I have long been a fan of Naomi Oreskes; I believe she is a brilliant and sensible scientist with a compelling way with words. On the other hand, nothing depresses me more quickly than reading about those who deliberately spread confusion on climate change for political reasons. After a particularly battering year for climate science in the public eye, I want to make sure I stay sane.

However, "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming", by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, was oddly comforting. How could it be so, you might ask, given the subject matter?

It's a good question. The book traces several key players, such as Frederick Seitz, S. Fred Singer, Bill Nierenberg, and Robert Jastrow, in their fight against mainstream science. Many of them were physicists in the era of atomic bomb development, and nearly all had been deeply influenced by the Cold War ' they were anti-Communist to the point of extremism.

This extremism soon extended into science: any new discovery that seemed to necessitate government action was vehemently attacked by Seitz et al. Whether it was the harmful health effects of smoking, second-hand smoking, or DDT, and the existence of anthropogenic acid rain, ozone depletion, or climate change, the same people used the same strategies to sow doubt in the public mind, delaying the cry for action.
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