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Doubt is our product

One of the remarkable things about the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster is their denial of the existence of underwater plumes of oil. It seems odd, inexplicable really, for BP to deny what’s been confirmed by independent scientists. It ceases to be odd though, when you try to put it in context.

I am reading Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s excellent book Merchants of Doubt. In it, they trace the history of the marketing doubt and undercutting science, from tobacco, to SDI, acid rain, ozone depletion, secondhand smoke, global warming and finally to the recent revisionist attacks on Rachel Carson. From that context, BP’s outright denial of the science seems terribly familiar. It’s not important whether your position is defensible or not. You simply have to repeat it, over and over, and depend on the pro-business media, politicians and “experts” to take up your case. So far, no one but Rand Paul is defending BP. But give it some time. You’ll soon hear about the “junk science of oil plumes”.

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