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Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and gambles with Your Future Hardcover – December 28, 2000
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Fearless investigative journalists Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! and Mad Cow U.S.A.) are back with a gripping exposé of the public relations industry and the scientists who back their business-funded, anti-consumer-safety agendas. There are two kinds of "experts" in question--the PR spin doctors behind the scenes and the "independent" experts paraded before the public, scientists who have been hand-selected, cultivated, and paid handsomely to promote the views of corporations involved in controversial actions. Lively writing on controversial topics such as dioxin, bovine growth hormone, and genetically modified food makes this a real page-turner, shocking in its portrayal of the real and potential dangers in each of these technological innovations and of the "media pseudo-environment" created to obfuscate the risks. By financing and publicizing views that support the goals of corporate sponsors, PR campaigns have, over the course of the century, managed to suppress the dangers of lead poisoning for decades, silence the scientist who discovered that rats fed on genetically modified corn had significant organ abnormalities, squelch television and newspaper stories about the risks of bovine growth hormone, and place enough confusion and doubt in the public's mind about global warming to suppress any mobilization for action.
Rampton and Stauber introduce the movers and shakers of the PR industry, from the "risk communicators" (whose job is to downplay all risks) and "outrage managers" (with their four strategies--deflect, defer, dismiss, or defeat) to those who specialize in "public policy intelligence" (spying on opponents). Evidently, these elaborate PR campaigns are created for our own good. According to public relations philosophers, the public reacts emotionally to topics related to health and safety and is incapable of holding rational discourse. Needless to say, Rampton and Stauber find these views rather antidemocratic and intend to pull back the curtain to reveal the real wizard in Oz. This is one wake-up call that's hard to resist. --Lesley Reed
From Publishers Weekly
Recent surveys show that "national experts" are the third most trusted type of public figure (after Supreme Court justices and schoolteachers). Hard-hitting investigative journalists Rampton and Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!) ask whether that trust is misplaced. They assert that, with highly technical issues like environmental pollution and bioengineered foodstuffs, "people are encouraged to suspend their own judgment and abandon responsibility to the experts." The authors examine the opinions of many so-called experts to show how their opinions are often marred by conflicts of interest. Peering behind the curtain of decision making, they catch more than a few with blood money on their hands. From spin doctors with dubious credentials to think tanks that do everything but think and scientists who work backwards to engineer desired experimental results, Rampton and Stauber present an astonishing compendium of alleged abuses of the public's willingness to believe. Particularly sobering is their summary of the historical use of "experts" by the tobacco and mining industries, which, they reveal, have suppressed and manipulated information in order to slow industrial reform. Their allegation that industry flaks may be purposely clouding the current debates swirling around "junk science" and global warming issues should provoke readers to reexamine these matters. Rampton and Stauber's impassioned call for skepticism goes beyond rhetoricAthey also offer practical guidelines for separating propaganda from useful information. Agent, Tom Grady. (Jan. 2) Forecast: The authors' gloves-off approach, which is effectively signaled by the pointed and irreverent cartoon-style jacket, will appeal to fans of Bill Moyers, Jeremy Rifkin and Barbara Ehrenreich (who all blurbed the book).
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In 1960 we had 63 scientific reports on asbestosis. The 11 studies founded by the asbestos industry found no link whatsoever between asbestos and lung cancer. The other 52 independently financed studies did observe a clear link.
Nowadays, well into the 21st century, genetically modified food, regarded as "safe" by the FDA, are everywhere in our supermarkets. However, the only study we know of, from Dr. Arpad Pusztai, discovered that Monsanto-potatoes produced deformations when fed to rats. Since this study was financed by Monsanto, he got fired.
Science has been privatised and it is with nostalgia that we recall the situation in 1960, when industry was only able to finance 17 % of all studies, and could not obscure the truth. Nowadays, big corporations finance nearly all scientific investigation, obliging scientists to remain silent if the study doesn't produce the desired outcome, thereby undermining the spirit of neutrality and objectivity that should prevail in science. Who doesn't play by those rules is fired, like occurred not only to Dr. Pusztai, but also to Dr. Nancy Olivieri, Dr. David Kern, Dr. Robert Becker, etc. It's a pity that the public doesn't know, let even support those heroes, those honest persons, putting the interest of the general public to know the truth before private profits. They went as far as putting our interests before their own careers and salaries. Dr. Becker summarizes the current state of scientific investigation in the following words : "... science is becoming our enemy instead of our friend." He was nominated twice for the Nobel prize, but in Stockholm they are possibly not very interested in such a strong statement during the official ceremony.
The corruption of science began when government agencies began to rely on "experts" from the industry to "evaluate" drugs and foods. It continued in the same bad direction when university researchers were being paid by industry to produce papers with "honoraria of $ 1.000 to $ 1.500 to edit the drafts and lend their names to the final work", as the authors say.
Read this book to understand how science got so corrupted.
A huge *spark* happened when he read some articles on thedoctorwithin.com, especially an article that cited this book. When he said, "I'd like to get that book," I was happily astounded in his interest and purchased him a copy as soon as I could. He's been reading it now for weeks and several times has commented on how much he appreciates the book, has used facts from the book for arguments in his high school debate class (with great results -- he won the debate "hands down") -- and better yet, he is now "turned on" to learning more.
Shoot, because of this book, "Trust Me, We're Experts" my son has also gotten turned on to reading again for the first time in years. Said so himself! When he saw my fresh-off-the-press copy of "Our Toxic World: A Wakeup Call" by Doris J. Rapp., M.D., sitting on the coffeetable -- where before I would have gotten from him a distinterested "Hum," he said, "I'd like to borrow that book sometime!" WOW.
It's today's youth that will gain the mantle and have to deal with this world and all the problems of corporate greed/control. I strongly feel that becoming aware of the kinds of things this book delineates is a very, very hopeful sign for our future and the future of this planet. This book is a radical TURN-ON, and for that I give it a big two hands up! (Hey, he's even gaining interest in organic food now!)
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