Friday, 13 June 2008

Manufacturing doubt

David Michaels Doubt is their product lobby tobacco climate

David Michaels 

In dit warm aanbevolen boek wordt helder beschreven hoe de taktiek van de gefabriceerde onzekerheid vaak gebruikt wordt om wetenschap te ondermijnen, om aldus net omwille van die onzekerheid mogelijk overheidsoptreden in dat welbepaalde domein de kop in te drukken wegens 'onwetenschappelijk' want onbewezen.

Beroemd is het geval van de tabakslobbyist die eind jaren 60 (!) al het volgende schreef en hiermee duidelijk de strategie achter de schermen uit de doeken doet :
“Doubt is our product since it the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”
Een interview met de auteur van het boek kan je hier lezen

David Michaels vertelt eerst hoe hij op het onderwerp van de door industriële lobbyisten gefabriceerde onzekerheid is gekomen :

I served as assistant secretary of energy for Environment, Safety, and Health. I was responsible for the health of workers, (...) One of the hazards I had to address was beryllium, an extremely toxic lightweight metal that’s used in the manufacture of our nuclear weapons.

We had workers who were getting chronic beryllium disease, which a terrible, often deadly disease, after extremely low exposures (...)
In the Clinton administration, (...), we issued a beryllium protection rule that’s ten times stronger than the one that’s used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for private sector workers. As we were developing this rule, the beryllium industry submitted studies that I saw as attempts to obscure the issue.

Instead of acknowledging that the old standard wasn’t adequately protective,
they focused on what we didn’t know. They clearly wanted to delay our more protective regulation.

But I continued to be interested in beryllium after leaving the Clinton administration. So if there was an “ah ha” moment, it was probably when, searching through the tobacco archives—millions of pages of previously-secret documents put up on the web as a result of the tobacco lawsuits—


I discovered that the same scientists who had manufactured uncertainly for the beryllium industry were doing the same thing for the cigarette manufactures.

Al dan niet verrassend, blijken enkele van de gekendste klimaatsceptici (Singer, Ball, ...) in het verleden geassocieerd te zijn geweest met de tabakslobby.

Wat ook het onderwerp is, gefabriceerde doubt blijkt een populair instrument van lobbyisten.

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