Tag Archives: Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Science denial is a diversion from the real problems

Here’s a short but informative discussion between Naomi Oreskes and Australian politician Nick Minchin. He is known for his denial of human inputs to climate change and for attacking the science. Oreskes suggests to him that his reasons for denial are not scientific. That he should accept the science and get on a deal with the political and financial issues which really motivate him.

This is an extract from the documentary “I Can Change Your Mind About..Climate.” You an watch the film on line.

This reminds me of the comment made by a well-known US climate change denier, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). When debating his position, and his attacks on science, with a TV interviewer he made this remarkable admission:

I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.”

In short, learning about the (supposed) high cost of the solution is what turned him from a believer in climate science to a denier.

This is something which I seem to have to learn again and again in my debates with those attacking the science of climate change and climate scientists. Although they attack the science their real motivating beliefs are political and financial.

It’s an interesting psychological phenomenon, and an unpleasant political one seeing they are needlessly  badmouthing innocent and honest scientists.

Naomi Oreskes has often lectured and written on  science denial. Her book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is well worth reading.

I also recommend a recent interview with her on Point Of Inquiry: Naomi Oreskes – Neoliberalism and the Denial of Global Warming

Thanks to: Deniers in Denial about Why they Deny.

See also: Q&A Climate Debate the ABC programme screened after the above documentary.

Climate change lectures in Auckland

Two well-known personalities in the world of climate change science are in Auckland this month. Naomi Oreskes, Co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

And James Hansen Author of Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.

Oreskes will give the Michael King Memorial Lecture at the 2011 Auckland Readers and Writers Festival on May 14.


Naomi Oreskes

“Doubt is our product,” ran the infamous memo written by one tobacco industry executive in 1969, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public.” There’s no denying “doubt” is crucial to science and drives it forward, but it also makes science, and scientists, vulnerable to misrepresentation. Naomi Oreskes co-wrote Merchants of Doubt with Erik Conway: an important and absorbing history of a group of high-level US scientists and advisers with deep connections in politics and industry. The same individuals surface repeatedly: claiming that the science of global warming is “not settled”, denying the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. We are honoured to have Naomi Oreskes give the Michael King Memorial Lecture, with an introduction by the Science Editor of the New York Times Barbara Strauch.

Event Details

Date: 14 May

Time: 01:00 p.m. – 02:00 p.m.



via 28 NAOMI ORESKES AND THE MERCHANTS OF DOUBT – Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

See Also: An anatomy of denial

James Hansen tours New Zealand

James Hansen (Credit: Guardian)

James Hansen is touring New Zealand this month, giving a public lecture entitled “Climate Change: a scientific, moral and legal issue” in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin, Gore and Christchurch.

Coal and lignite will be a major focus of his visit, and he’ll be participating in a symposium on “the future of coal” in Wellington on May 17th.

Hansen’s tour is being sponsored by a number of groups, including 350.org, Greenpeace, Organic Systems NZ, Oxfam, The Pure Advantage, the Institute of Policy Studies, and a number of interested academics and individuals.

Auckland Public Talk: “Climate Change: a scientific, moral and legal issue”

When: Thu 12 May, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Where:  University of Auckland School of Business, 12 Grafton Rd, Grafton Show map

Tickets: Free Admission

Website: www.facebook.com/#! … our?sk=info