Saturday, 25 February 2012

Doubt Is Our Product

One of my American friends told me that when she went to school the detection of propaganda was taught in American schools. (she's about my age so that would be the 1950-60s) Nowadays, it seems, kids are more likely to be on the receiving end of propaganda in the classroom than being taught to recognise it.

A typical Public Relations/Propaganda (there's no meaningful distinction) technique is to scatter doubt on evidence. People are more ready to accept propaganda when it allows them a clear conscience to carry on doing what they are doing.  A classic example, used by the tobacco industry, was to challenge the medical evidence against smoking by scattering an element of doubt on the very strong evidence.

From, Tobacco Industry Tactics for Resisting Public Policy on Health - issued by the World Health Organization. 
‘‘Doubt is our product,’’ proclaimed an internal tobacco industry document in 1969. ‘‘Spread doubt over strong scientific evidence and the public won’t know what to believe.’’
  In April 1970 an internal memorandum in Gallaher Limited, a British tobacco company, commenting on studies conducted on dogs that developed cancer after being exposed to tobacco smoke, reported: ‘Auerbach’s work proves beyond all reasonable doubt the causation of lung cancer by smoke’’ Yet the following advertising copy was developed for the Williamson Tobacco corporation. ‘‘Ten years ago there was a cancer scare over the wax in milk cartons. And over using iodine to get a suntan. These theories were about as valid as the one that says toads cause warts. And they’re about as valid as today’s scare tactics surrounding cigarettes. Because no one has been able to produce conclusive proof that cigarette smoking causes cancer. Scientific, biological, clinical, or any other kind.’’

Such a position wouldn't get very far today but much the same strategy, and rhetoric, is seen in the ongoing climate change debate. Although the scientific and emphirical evidence is strong,  climate change stories are, in such newspapers as the Daily Mail and the Telegraph dismissed as scare stories and the evidence ignored or obfuscated.

Frank Luntz said. “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”
According to the  (British) Geological society, Atmospheric CO2 is currently at a level of 390 ppm. It has increased by one third in the last 200 years. One half of that increase has happened in the last 30 years. This level and rate of increase are unprecedented when compared with the range of CO2 in air bubbles locked in the ice cores (170-300 ppm). 

The ice-core records are a record of historical atmosphere quality with some of the oldest records going back 800,000 years.

The connection between rising temperatures and greenhouse gasses, of which CO2 is one, is not a matter of debate. The sceptics sidestep the issue with the response that CO2 is not a pollutant. It isn't but that's not the matter at issue. The point is that as a greenhouse gas and an atmosphere warming component, it is increasing.

The Heartland Institute is a Think-Tank specialising in generating climate change denier PR and some of their tactics were recently outed by Peter Gleick.
Gleick has contrived to bring a number of very interesting documents into the public domain. These expose the Heartlands agenda, strategy and financial supporters. 
See Heartland Institute 2012 Fundraising Plan

The following discusses how Heartland hope to disseminate doubt regarding climate change science into American schools.
"Dr. David Wojick has presented Heartland a proposal to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools that appears to have great potential for success. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science.
Dr. Wojick proposes to begin work on “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”), climate models (“models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions”). 
Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact (“environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.
We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $5,000 per module, about $25,000 a quarter, starting in the second quarter of 2012, for this work. The Anonymous Donor has pledged the first $100,000 for this project, and we will circulate a proposal to match and then expand upon that investment."

The amount of money being thrown around is no surprise. Heartland sponsors include the Koch brothers,  David Koch has a net worth, according to wiki, of $25 Billion. 
Koch Industries  Koch Industries have a huge interest, since daddy Fred Koch founded the company, in hydrocarbon products. 

The Kochs (no pun intended) environmental safety record is diabolical and their turnover huge. (2009 revenue, $100 Billion) And, it seems, they've commissioned the help of Heartland Institute to keep it that way

1 comment:

  1. And the faked strategy memo by Gleick as a way to slime the HI. I will accept your opinion of the Koch brothers as long as you let me feel the same way about George Soros, who is destroying the economies of the world.