Merchants of Doubt tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. The same individuals who claim the science of global warming is "not settled" have also denied the truth about studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. "Doubt is our product," wrote one tobacco executive. These "experts" supplied it.
“In their impeccably researched genealogy of denialism Merchants of Doubt, Conway and Oreskes show that a key group of figures in global warming denial earned their spurs in tobacco-industry-funded attempts to discredit the links between smoking and cancer."—New Humanist
“In their fascinating and important study, Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway offer convincing evidence for a surprising and disturbing thesis. Opposition to scientifically well-supported claims about the dangers of cigarette smoking, the difficulties of the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars"), the effects of acid rain, the existence of the ozone hole, the problems caused by secondhand smoke, and—ultimately—the existence of anthropogenic climate change was used in ‘the service of political goals and commercial interests’ to obstruct the transmission to the American public of important information … Because it is so thorough in disclosing how major policy decisions have been delayed or distorted, Merchants of Doubt deserves a wide readership. It is tempting to require that all those engaged in the business of conveying scientific information to the general public should read it.”—Science
“Merchants of Doubt, by the science historian Naomi Oreskes and the writer Erik Conway, investigates a sort of reverse conspiracy theory: ecoterrorists and socialists are not the ones foisting dubious science upon us; rather it is deniers who are running their own well-funded and organized long-term hoax. Several previous works have ably illuminated similar themes, but this one hits bone…[Merchants of Doubt] provide[s] both the historical perspective and the current political insights needed to get a grip on what is happening now.”—OnEarth
“Ever wonder how the terms liberty and freedom got all tangled up in fake science, how industry friendly think-tanks got their start, or what motivates scientists to sell out beyond the obvious? Merchants of Doubt expertly follows the historical twists and turns to answer all those questions and more in exquisite detail translated into entertaining narratives easily digested by readers from all backgrounds… This book should be a staple for any scientist and progressive, especially those whose work intersects public policy. Merchants of Doubt will not only leave you better equipped to combat the propaganda now packaged and fed to an unsuspecting public as legitimate science on a daily basis, it is a meticulously researched and wonderfully written.”—Daily Kos
“A devastating portrayal of organized scientific disinformation campaigns that makes clear just how gullible the press, scientific community and the public have been (and to a large extent, continue to be).”—Capital Weather Gang/WashingtonPost.com
“Ever wonder how the terms liberty and freedom got all tangled up in fake science, how industry friendly think-tanks got their start, or what motivates scientists to sell out beyond the obvious? Merchants of Doubt expertly follows the historical twists and turns to answer all those questions and more in exquisite detail translated into entertaining narratives easily digested by readers from all backgrounds . . . This book should be a staple for any scientist and progressive, especially those whose work intersects public policy. Merchants of Doubt will not only leave you better equipped to combat the propaganda now packaged and fed to an unsuspecting public as legitimate science on a daily basis, it is a meticulously researched and wonderfully written.”—Austin Science Policy Examiner
“No mere summary or review could hope to do more than scratch the surface of the information contained in this book . . . Merchants of Doubt [is] so compelling that it cannot be dismissed with a mere “talk to the hand.” The facts cannot be denied any longer—no free markets can address clearly market failures like acid rain and global warming, and ignoring reality only works for so long before reality finally does something that simply cannot be ignored.”—Scholars and Rogues
“The eye-opener of the year.”—Head Butler
“Fascinating . . . Merchants is an impressive and disturbing piece of scholarship that does a good job of answering the questions [the authors] pose. It should be read by every editor and every member of Congress, and by climate scientists as well.”—Climate Progress
“Historians a thousand years from now may wonder what went wrong: How, after scholars had so thoroughly nailed down the reality of anthropogenic climate change, did so many Americans get fooled into thinking it was all a left-wing hoax? Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway give us some very good—if disturbing—answers in their fascinating, detailed and artfully written new book, Merchants of Doubt . . . There is much in this book to outrage anyone who cares about the future of the planet, human health, or scientific integrity.”—American Scientist
“If you really needed any more reasons to dislike the campaign against dealing with climate change, this book will supply it.”—Daily Kos
“Eye-opening . . . Merchants of Doubt is alarming, yet important.”—American Biology Teacher
“Investigates a sort of reverse conspiracy theory: ecoterrorists and socialists are not the ones foisting dubious science upon us; rather it is deniers who are running their own well-funded and organized long-term hoax. Several previous works have ably illuminated similar themes, but this one hits bone.”—SustainableBusiness.com
“The authors explain in exhaustively-researched detail how renowned scientists abandon science, how environmentalism has become equated with communism, and how the Cold War has come to be connected with climate denial . . . A must read.”—Earth Gauge
“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have demonstrated what many of us have long suspected: that the ‘debate’ over the climate crisis—and many other environmental issues—was manufactured by the same people who brought you ‘safe’ cigarettes. Anyone concerned about the state of democracy in America should read this book.”—Former Vice President Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth
“As the science of global warming has grown more certain over the last two decades, the attack on that science has grown more shrill; this volume helps explain that paradox, and not only for climate change. A fascinating account of a very thorny problem.”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have written an important and timely book. Merchants of Doubt should finally put to rest the question of whether the science of climate change is settled. It is, and we ignore this message at our peril.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
“There can be no science without doubt: brute dogma leaves no room for inquiry. But over the last half century, a tiny minority of scientists have wielded doubt as a political weapon to halt what they did not want said: that tobacco kills or that the climate is warming because of what we humans are doing. ‘Doubt is our product’ read a tobacco memo—and indeed, millions of dollars have gone into creating the impression of scientific controversy where there has not been one. This book about the politics of doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway explores the long, connected, and intentional obfuscation of science by manufactured controversy. It is clear, scientifically responsible, and historically compelling—it is an essential and passionate book about our times.”—Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps
“With the carefulness of historians and the skills of master storytellers, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway lay out the sordid history of tobacco industry protectionists, who framed the debate as scientifically ‘unproven,’ gaining decades of market share for those merchants of death—who knew all along the risks of their products. Merchants of Doubt shows that some of the very same individuals were part of the plans to frame the climate change debate as unproven, using the same tried and true tactics of misrepresentation of facts, non-representative scientists, and industry-friendly legislators. Again, tried and true public re-framing of reality worked. But now all this chicanery is exposed for the deception it has been in Oreskes and Conway’s powerful and timely work.”—Stephen H. Schneider, Professor, Stanford University, author of Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate
“A well-documented, pulls-no-punches account of how science works and how political motives can hijack the process by which scientific information is disseminated to the public.”—Kirkus Reviews
Naomi Oreskes is a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her essay "Beyond the Ivory Tower" was a milestone in the fight against global warming denial.
Erik M. Conway is the resident historian at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Merchants of Doubt is their first book together.