Tactic #1: Presenting the public with two “equal” sides and making the scientific community seem divided.
The best way that contrarians interfered with a scientific consensus was to generate doubt within the American public by creating a divide between scientists. For example, the harmfulness of acid rain was questioned when Fred Singer1 contradicted the factual evidence of his committee2 by claiming in an official government report that the causes of acid rain were not certain and that a reduction in industrial emissions would not necessarily help solve the problem.3 Both of these statements were in direct contradiction with the international scientific community, which made the consensus seem wavering and the official White House-appointed panel seem divided. Fred Singer reemerges on the issue of ozone depletion by blasting the science community when claiming that the whole issue was an under-researched overreaction (126); he claimed that ozone depletion was due to natural stratospheric cooling (127). Several years later, Bill Nierenberg4 created doubt over climate change when he lead a report asserting that rising CO2 was a problem that could be solved with technology and the government only needed to fund more research (183). Merchants of Doubt provides countless examples of contrarian scientists chopping down the certainty of scientific findings.
Contrarians like Singer and Nierenberg are able to discredit the work of thousands of scientists because they are praised leading scientists5 who have served in distinguished federal science corporations. They have developed ties to the government through federal agencies, think tanks, and direct contact with congressman, senators, and presidents (7). Secondly, the people who are being targeted by scientists are industries with lots of money6, which have the resources to hire and provide funding to influential people who will defend their products. With strong reputations and money, contrarian scientists are...
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