Monday, June 16, 2008

Surprise! Pseudo-doubters backed by conservative think-tanks

From Framing Science

A new study by a team of political scientists and sociologists at the journal Environmental Politics concludes that 9 out of 10 books published since 1972 that have disputed the seriousness of environmental problems and mainstream science can be linked to a conservative think tank (CTT). Following on earlier work by co-author Riley Dunlap and colleagues, the study examines the ability of conservative think tanks to use the media and other communication strategies to successfully challenge mainstream expert agreement on environmental problems.
The study's conclusion

Our analyses of the sceptical literature and CTTs indicate an unambiguous linkage between the two. Over 92 per cent of environmentally sceptical books are linked to conservative think tanks, and 90 per cent of conservative think tanks interested in environmental issues espouse scepticism. Environmental scepticism began in the US, is strongest in the US, and exploded after the end of the Cold War and the emergence of global environmental concern stimulated by the 1992 Earth Summit. Environmental scepticism is an elite-driven reaction to global environmentalism, organised by core actors within the conservative movement. Promoting scepticism is a key tactic of the anti-environmental counter-movement coordinated by CTTs, designed specifically to undermine the environmental movement's efforts to legitimise its claims via science. Thus, the notion that environmental sceptics are unbiased analysts exposing the myths and scare tactics employed by those they label as practitioners of 'junk science' lacks credibility. Similarly, the self-portrayal of sceptics as marginalised 'Davids' battling the powerful 'Goliath' of environmentalists and environmental scientists is a charade, as sceptics are supported by politically powerful CTTs funded by wealthy foundations and corporations.
Now recall Molly Ivins saying that "the American press has always had a tendency to assume that the truth must lie exactly halfway between any two opposing points of view" and it is easy to see how effective the tactic of funding books, pundits, and experts (or "experts" if you prefer) that dispute the scientific consenus on global warming is at shaping the public's understanding of the issue (remember the image from An Inconvenient Truth of a media sampling of reports on global warming showing 53% to cast doubt on AGW despite a similar sample finding 0% dispute in the scientific literature.)


Anonymous said...

I find the tactics and attitudes used by creationists and MMGW-deniers are scarily similar - I wonder if there's a correlation with conservative think tanks here too.

Sheldon said...

In answer to lirone, I think that some of these conservative think tanks really couldn't give a hoot about the issue of evolution vs creation. Lots of their thinkers accept evolution. Although they are willing to make a Machavellian alliance with creationists when it suit their needs.

What they really care about is attempting to defeat most kinds environmentally based regulation. They care about profits and corporate interests.

Thats my opinion based on various things I have read. Sorry I can't be more specific.

Hume's Ghost said...

The Discovery Institute fits the mold, for sure.

Then there's stuff like this.