7 March 2015

The Biggest Scientific Myth in America, and Why It’s No Accident

Posted by Dan Satterfield

merchntsI chatted with Dr. Naomi Oreskes about her book Merchants of Doubt last December at the AGU in San Francisco. She told me about the movie, and I hope to see it soon. Dr. Oreskes published a stunning paper in Science in 2004 1994 looked at the level of scientific consensus on climate change. What she found was stunning to many scientists in other fields, and since then other studies have also shown just how overwhelming the consensus among experts in the field is. Among the general public though, poll after poll show a majority of American’s still think that scientists are divided, and uncertain over the science.

Some of this is a psychological reaction that my friend Dr. Ed Maibach, along with Tony Leiserowitz, (and others) at George Mason University just wrote a paper about here. The majority of the public’s confusion about the science is not an accident, but purposefully designed, and that is what Naomi’s book and the movie are about. Hint- climate change confusers used the playbook of big tobacco from the 1950’s and 60’s. (Update: The NYT has a must read review of the movie out today as well.)

If you add in the research from Ed Maibach et. al. then you have a large segment of the population that are willing believers in something for which there is a mountain of overwhelming evidence is wrong! NPR did a piece about the movie today on All Things Considered. You can see it in DC this weekend, and for other places go here.

You can hear the NPR story today here: