Naomi Oreskes on Tobacco, Climate, and the Merchants of Doubt

April 24, 2016

Science historian Naomi Oreskes plays a role in my most recent video “Surveilling the Scientists” – and I took the opportunity to pull out some more clips from our 2014 interview in San Francisco.  Oreskes tries to shed some light on the motivations for the “Merchants of Doubt” – a cabal of scientists so wedded to the paranoid right wing vision of a Cold War world, that they were blind to the emerging science of a Warming one.

More below:


Below, more details from the Merchants of Doubt movie.

10 Responses to “Naomi Oreskes on Tobacco, Climate, and the Merchants of Doubt”

  1. Apologies for the off-topic post here, but the Denver Post has a nice article about the consequences of (geology) science-denial in right-wing Colorado Springs, where thousands of homes have been built on an ancient landslide in spite of decades of warnings from scientists. And you will never guess what happened next. 😉

    Colorado Springs is the spiritual home of Gen. Jack D Ripper (Dr. Strangelove). There’s lots of “anti-commie, anti-gummint” sentiment in that military-dependent city. So please do appreciate the irony of residents there looking for federal buyouts.

    • Thanks for the link. It’s not wildly off topic, given Oreskes mention of the tobacco doctor and his insistence on “personal responsibility.” I’m quite familiar with Colorado Springs and its environs, and the irony is rather fitting in the famously conservative ‘Springs.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      saw that. I think it’s dead on, actually, and may post it myself.

      • That would be most excellent!

        BTW, here’s a terrific comment that was posted in response to that Denver Post article (linky

        Twenty years ago, at Pikes Peak Community College, my geology instructor told us that houses being built on Cheyenne Mountain were going to tear in half and slide right off the mountain. He said that geologists had been warning developers and their concerns were being dismissed. He warned us not to buy or build our own homes there and told us just watch what happens to the homes they build.

        And now look.

        This was completely predictable and in fact HAD been predicted. The developers are greedy.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I too thought it was “dead on” rather than OT, and the developers (fat cat Republicans,mainly) ARE greedy as the commenter says—-to point of destroying the planet for profit. I was reminded of Dave Burton and the efforts of the NC-20 group in North Carolina, where the state legislature decreed that SLR would not be allowed because the fat cats would lose money on all that soon-to-be-inundated land they owned. Same thing happened here in the DC metro area with regard to marine clay deposits, which gave way like the CO Springs avalanche and took houses with them. Since this is not Jack D. Ripper land like CO Springs, the local governments DID manage to get things under control and pass land-use regulations that are working.

          It’s all an argument for bigger and more effective government that has not been bought and corrupted by big money, and the parallel with Merchants of Doubt and climate change denial is there.

          • redskylite Says:

            Computer programmer and sea level rise mis-information specialist Dave Burton is still going, but happily & fortunately no longer we see him around here. Such media as Breitbart and WUWT still welcome him. I read this in Motherboard this morning and immediately associated with DOG, and his dampening on optimistic articles (that cheer me up from time to time). .

            “We were concerned there was going to be a lot of ‘brightsiding’ around the Paris climate agreement,”


  2. Meanwhile back to the past.
    Frontiers of Science 1965
    Comic Book Format

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Nice job. Although it was mainly addressing rocket exhaust, which was really a non-problem in terms of its effect on global warming, it DOES show good science. How come it’s 50 years later and large numbers of people STILL don’t get it?

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    Is it not time to move on from obsessing about deniers? Let us concentrate on getting the RE infrastructure we all know we need built as quickly as possible.

    The best way to this may well be to develop and hone persuasive language to present the economic savings that RE will give to us. Even deniers will have no reply to the argument of the huge amounts of money we will put in our own pockets compared to paying through the nose to Exxon forever.

    Harvesting the infinitely-abundant free energy from sun, wind, and tide can simultaneously save us all money and raise our standard of living if we insist that RE be developed intelligently, equitably, and for the common, not corporate, good.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: