naomi oreskes

naomi oreskes

intro’d to Naomi via recommend to watch – merchants of doubt..


wikipedia small

Merchants of Doubt is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT, and the hole in the ozone layer. Oreskes and Conway write that in each case “keeping the controversy alive” by spreading doubt and confusion after a scientific consensus had been reached, was the basic strategy of those opposing action. In particular, they say that Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and a few other contrarian scientists joined forces with conservative think tanks and private corporations to challenge the scientific consensus on many contemporary issues.

The George C. Marshall Institute and Fred Singer, two of the subjects, have been critical of the book, but most reviewers received it favorably. One reviewer said that Merchants of Doubt is exhaustively researched and documented, and may be one of the most important books of 2010. Another reviewer saw the book as his choice for best science book of the year. It was made into a film, Merchants of Doubt, directed by Robert Kenner, released in 2014.

from film page:

The film traces the use of public relations tactics that were originally developed by the tobacco industry to protect their business from research indicating health risks from smoking. The most prominent of these tactics is the cultivation of scientists and others who successfully cast doubt on the scientific results. Using a professional magician, the film explores the analogy between these tactics and the methods used by magicians to distract their audiences from observing how illusions are performed. For the tobacco industry, the tactics successfully delayed government regulation until long after the establishment of scientific consensus about the health risks from smoking. As its second example, the film describes how manufacturers of flame retardants worked to protect their sales after toxic effects of the retardants were discovered. The central concern of the film is the ongoing use of these tactics to forestall governmental action to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in response to the risk of global climate change.

from critic views…William Goss wrote for The Austin Chronicle that “Merchants spends much of its running time exposing trends of political subterfuge before working in an earnest call to action regarding climate change. Using the same type of tinkling score and shots of children at play as campaign ads shown earlier in the film, this late-inning agenda comes off as noble as it is hypocritical. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, it’s tough to respect a movie that ultimately invites viewers to question every case of propaganda except its own.”


googling.. found her tednysalon 2014 – Why we should trust scientists

many don’t believe science…

calculus of pascal’s wager – on belief in god – better to believe – leap of faith.. leaving science and rationalism behind

most of us were taught to believe in science because of the scientific method.. the hypothetical deductive method… hypothesis, deduce hypth, go in world and see if trued..

famous ie’s , most famous – einstein and theory of relativity.. fabric bent in presence of massive objects.. ie: light around sun… few years… tested in 1919 .. and turned out to be true… huge confirmation of theory…

sometimes – in ideal case.. it’s about laws..  ie: a law of nature… why .. if it’s a law it can’t be broken..

famous law  – e = mc 2 – true no matter what… main problem.. it’s wrong…

1\ fallacy of affirming consequent.. false theories can make true predictions

2\ auxiliary hypothesis.. assumptions made.. even if not aware making them.. ie: assuming orbits.. assuming telescope able enough to detect

3\ a lot of science doesn’t fit standard model… ie: inductive rather than deductive…  ie: darwin .. started out just collecting data.. no idea what was looking for or what data meant

modeling.. explain causes of things

only principle in science that doesn’t inhibit progress… is anything goes… what he was saying.. – if you press me to say what is the method of science i would have to say .. anything goes… what he was trying to say.. scientists do a lot of diff/creative things… – Paul Feyerabend

so then.. who judges right/wrong.. scientists do… by judging evidence…

how scientists scrutinize… (murton) .. organized skepticism… as a group.. from a position of distrust.. burden of proof on person with  novel claim… hard to persuade scientists… so rare

if scientists judge collectively.. led to focus on question of consensus… what sci knowledge is.. is consensus of collection of scientists…

consensus ness

sci knowledge as consensus of experts… a jury of geeks… not just choices of yes or no… put aside till later – intractable

if science is what scientists say it is.. isn’t that just an appeal to authority and weren’t we taught in school that was a fallacy…

not an appeal to authority of individual (no matter how smart individual)… authority of collective community… wisdom of a very special crowd.

culture of distrust.. a show me culture

most of us trust our cars… modern auto hardly ever breaks down… why do they work so well.. because product of more than 100 yrs of work by 100s of 1000s of people…  result of that accumulated effort… not just ford, musk, …

same is true of science.. only science even older… same as our basis in trust for experience… but shouldn’t be blind.. should be based on evidence.. so scientists have to become better communicators and we have to become better listeners..



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Professor, Co-author Merchants of Doubt (2010) & The Collapse of Western Civilization (2014), Board ?

wikipedia small

Naomi Oreskes (born November 25, 1958) is an American historian of science. She became Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in 2013, after 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She has worked on studies of geophysics, environmental issues such as global warming, and the history of science. In 2010, Oreskes co-authored Merchants of Doubt which identified some parallels between the climate change debate and earlier public controversies.


shock doctrine.. et al


let’s do this firstfree art-ists….for (blank)’s sake

a nother way.. via self talk as data