Using doubt to compete with a scientific body of fact
This will come as no surprise to Grist readers, but it’s nice to see it in mainstream print. The Chicago Tribune had a nice piece in the Sunday paper articulating how those on the wrong side of science have consistently used doubt as a strategy to maintain a scientifically-uninformed policy.
In particular, note that:
A cigarette executive in 1969 unwisely put the strategy on paper: “Doubt is our product since it is 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.”
Big Tobacco has lost all credibility, but its practices have proliferated.
Republican political consultant Frank Luntz emphasized the importance of uncertainty to his clients in 2003, writing: “Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate … The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.” (Emphasis in the original.)