Doubt is Their Product
"Doubt is our product," a cigarette executive once observed, "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."
In this eye-opening exposé, David Michaels reveals how the tobacco industry's duplicitous tactics spawned a multimillion dollar industry that is dismantling public health safeguards. Product defense consultants, he argues, have increasingly skewed the scientific literature, manufactured and magnified scientific uncertainty, and influenced policy decisions to the advantage of polluters and the manufacturers of dangerous products. To keep the public confused about the hazards posed by global warming, second-hand smoke, asbestos, lead, plastics, and many other toxic materials, industry executives have hired unscrupulous scientists and lobbyists to dispute scientific evidence about health risks. In doing so, they have not only delayed action on specific hazards, but they have constructed barriers to make it harder for lawmakers, government agencies, and courts to respond to future threats.
The Orwellian strategy of dismissing research conducted by the scientific community as "junk science" and elevating science conducted by product defense specialists to "sound science" status also creates confusion about the very nature of scientific inquiry and undermines the public's confidence in science's ability to address public health and environmental concerns Such reckless practices have long existed, but Michaels argues that the Bush administration deepened the dysfunction by virtually handing over regulatory agencies to the very corporate powers whose products and behavior they are charged with overseeing.
In Doubt Is Their Product Michaels proves, beyond a doubt, that our regulatory system has been broken. He offers concrete, workable suggestions for how it can be restored by taking the politics out of science and ensuring that concern for public safety, rather than private profits, guides our regulatory policy.
Praise for Doubt is their Product:
“What a perfect title, ‘Industry's Assault on Science.’ It’s happening. It’s real.”
- Erin Brockovich
“This well-researched book by someone who truly knows the system is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the cozy relationship between industry and regulatory agencies on matters that affect the health and safety of our families and neighbors. The cited examples illustrate how, with the help of irresponsible members of Congress and other public officials, corporate greed can trump any sense of ethics, morality, and human compassion.”
- Neal Lane, former Science Advisor to the President and former Director of the National Science Foundation
“This brave, shocking book exposes the abuse of science by government and industry in ways that endanger the workplace, the home, the water supply, the air quality—in fact, our planet as a whole. David Michaels speaks authoritatively from his firsthand experience as a champion of occupational safety and health. He tells a terrific story.”
- Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter
“In Doubt Is Their Product, David Michaels gives a lively and convincing history of how clever public relations has blocked one public health protection after another. The techniques first used to reassure us about tobacco were adapted to reassure us about asbestos, lead, vinyl chloride—and risks to nuclear facilities workers, where Dr. Michaels’ experience as the relevant Assistant Secretary of Energy gave him an inside view. And if you’re worried about climate change, keep worrying, because the same program is underway there.”
- Donald Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief, Science
“We live in an age of unprecedented disinformation, misinformation, and outright lying by those in power. This important book shows who profits by misleading the public—and who ultimately pays with their health.”
- Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
"Ever wonder why it has been so slow and difficult to reduce the health risks from tobacco, secondhand smoke, lead, beryllium, or chromium? David Michaels’s excellent Doubt Is Their Product provides part of the explanation, showing numerous ways in which “the product defense industry” uses scientific (and pseudoscientific) arguments to undermine public health protections, corrupt the scientific record, and mislead the public."
- Carl F. Cranor, Science
"That science can be bought is hardly news to anyone who knows about tobacco 'scientists.' But how pervasive, effective and stealthy this science-for-hire is -- as masterfully documented by David Michaels of George Washington University in his new book, 'Doubt is Their Product: how Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health' -- will shock anyone who still believes that 'science' and 'integrity' are soulmates."
- Sharon Begley, Newsweek