Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Not About The Science

It's about not wanting to admit that pollution represents a failure of free markets...

As you may recall, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, was on my reading list for 2011.  Well, read it I did and happy I am for having done so.  This is one deeply researched and well written book.  As important as the history of denialism is, in less skilled hands the sheer volume of the material covered might have made for stultifying reading.  Let me politely suggest that Merchants of Doubt belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who cares about the role of science in the public square.  Historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have done science, our country, and humanity a great service.

UPDATE: Here's a fresh and unhappy post about the state of polarization on the issue of global warming written by Chris Mooney.

REUPDATE: I sent the authors of Merchants of Doubt some fan mail and asked the question:

"I wonder if evangelicals prone to biblical literalism also find common cause with denialist free market cold warriors because the ability to call "junk" any science they disagree with enables them to cling to their world view?"

Naomi Oreske graced me with a prompt reply:

"Indeed!  I am working on this very question now."

Cool news, indeed.

PS Merchants is now available in paperback for ~$11.00.  Consider giving a copy to the denialists in your life.  I'm going to...

Another Update: A nice profile of Professor Oreskes in the Christian Science Monitor.