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Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health Hardcover – April 23, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0195300673 ISBN-10: 019530067X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019530067X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195300673
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

...a powerful, thorough endictment of the way big business has ignored, suppressed or distored vital scientific evidence to the detriment of the public's health. Nature

About the Author


David Michaels is a scientist, former government regulator, and the current appointed head of OSHA. During the Clinton Administration, he served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health, responsible for protecting the health and safety of the workers, neighboring communities, and the environment surrounding the nation's nuclear weapons factories. He currently directs the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. In 2006, he received the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for his work on behalf of nuclear weapons workers and for advocacy for scientific integrity.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Good book, easy to read in chunks, and fascinating as well.
ginstonic
Michaels exposes every trick of industries who use or produce toxic products in their too-often-successful bids to avoid regulation.
MEL
This is a must read book for anyone who wants to understand how our society has digressed into a greedy polluting corporate mess.
John Brandenberger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Stephen R. Laniel on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If we believe David Michaels, industry charlatans all learned from the tobacco industry 50 years ago. The industries that rely on doubt have been blossoming ever since: beryllium (did you know that there was a beryllium industry? I did not), asbestos, and popcorn, among others.

Yes, popcorn. Were you aware that there is a condition called "popcorn lung" (officially bronchiolitis obliterans)? I was not. It's called that because one of the main ways to contract it is by working in a factory that manufactures one of the ingredients -- namely diacetyl -- for the butter flavoring in popcorn. Every time you open a steaming bag of butter-flavored microwave popcorn, you are inhaling a bit of this chemical. The more of it you eat, the more likely you are to contract a devastating lung ailment. (And this isn't the sort of disease that you'd only get by eating an implausibly large quantity of popcorn. Real popcorn consumers have actually acquired it.)

The agency responsible for protecting workers from this sort of hazard is OSHA. The one responsible for protecting food consumers is the FDA. This division of labor comes in for some well-deserved scorn in Doubt Is Their Product; it has left the government fairly impotent to respond to threats against the public health. This book could be read alongside Marion Nestle's Food Politics and What To Eat as a single thread about the assault on helpful government regulation.

In their nonstop fight against that sort of regulation, companies have pulled out all the stops to inject systematic doubt into the public discussion. The most pernicious of these, it seems to me, is the creation of sham peer-reviewed journals.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By O. Naidenko on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Conflicts of interest among members of EPA review panels have weakened governmental safety standards on toxic chemicals in the environment and in everyday consumer products. Outrage over long-standing reliance on "science for hire" by the chemical industry has prompted Congress to investigate EPA's procedures for reviewing toxic chemicals, including PBDE flame retardants and bisphenol A. These examples are just a small window into how great the tampering and influence of the chemical industry has been over EPA regulation of toxic chemicals. A new book by David Michaels, an epidemiologist and the director of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, documents a seemingly endless list of examples of mercenary scientists misleading the general public and the regulatory community about the true dangers of chemical exposures, starting from lead, asbestos, and tobacco, and continuing to chromium, berillium, perchlorate, benzene, plastics chemicals, and various other environmental and occupational health hazards.

The book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the best application of science in the interests of promoting public health. For a great review, readers can also go to the article by Newsweek's Sharon Begley, "Whitewashing Toxic Chemicals."

One stunning quote from the book describes the tricks of the trade that industry lobby and product defense firms use to derail the regulatory process: "They profit by helping corporations minimize public health and environmental protection and fight claims of injury and illness. In field after field, year after year, this same handful of individuals and companies comes up again and again...
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is an examination of campaigns by industry to thwart attempts of government, especially the United States government, to protect the health of workers and citizens. Michaels has had a long history in public health working in both the public and academic sectors. In this book, he traces the history of numerous cases of industries that have escaped safety regulations and the dire consequences of their actions.

Michaels observes that industries trying to escape regulation commonly do so by raising the flag of uncertainty. That is, they take advantage of the fact that it is logically impossible to prove an effect conclusively, but rather, all science can do is provide evidence that strongly suggests connections between cause and effect. This has allowed the tobacco industry to fight and delay warnings about the health risks of tobacco smoking. It also has also slowed down response to the climate change crisis, as contributing industries claim we must wait for more evidence before we take any action. He notes that industry often manages to establish doubt concerning the findings of scientific research through media reports that cite conflicting opinions on the topic. However, these media reports do not look into the sources and funding of the conflicting opinions; they contrast volumes of evidence found by independent and publicly funded research with "research" funded by industry or created by industry think tanks.

The text of the book is extremely dense, with extensive references cited in endnotes. Michaels does an admirable job of explaining how the efforts of industry to undermine sound science are made to sound credible, through trade supported "peer-reviewed" journals and think tanks.
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