January Book Review

By Olivia Dorothy

“While the idea of equal time for opposing opinions makes sense in a two-party political system, it does not work for science, because science is not about opinion. It is about evidence.”  Naomi Orsekes and Erik Conway on “the fairness doctrine”

Naomi Orsekes and Erik Conway’s book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, will make you see the world – and the news – differently. In this ground-breaking book, Orsekes and Conway explore the stories and people behind science denial.

The stories may seem familiar – most of us know that big tobacco tried to save its business by cultivating doubt around the health risk posed by smoking, and the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in questioning the science of climate change. What’s shocking is that it’s the same cast of characters who developed the science denial tactics for tobacco risk, acid rain, nuclear winter and climate change.

What you’ll learn reading Merchants of Doubt is how industries have established and supported a science-denial business model that is maintained behind veils of non-profit organizations, strategically funded research and exploitation of rules, like the fairness doctrine, to advance their corporate agendas.

We are still fighting the battle over climate change, and if history is any evidence, we will win that fight eventually and hopefully not too late. But reading this book makes me wonder, will this battle over science repeat itself? Or can we learn from Orsekes and Conway’s meticulously researched stories?

Please join us at the book club discussion on January 25 at the Moline Public Library at 5:45PM.

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