Cover image for Trust us, we're experts! : how industry manipulates science and gambles with your future


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HD59.6.U6 R35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The authors unmask the widespread methods industry uses to influence opinion through bogus experts, doctored data, and manufactured facts.

Author Notes

John Stauber is the founder and director of the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy. He and Sheldon Rampton write and edit for the Center's quarterly, PR Watch: Public Interest Reporting on the PR/Public Affairs Industry.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Here's an eye-opening, shocking, thought-provoking book for readers interested in learning how to distinguish between fact and fiction in the visual and print media. The authors, contributors to the Center for Media Democracy's quarterly journal PR Watch, demonstrate, for example, how easily the news media become little more than spokespeople for special-interest groups. They quote one newspaper editor who seems to be saying that she encourages her reporters to use corporate news releases in their stories because it saves typing. The authors cite numerous examples of the media allowing themselves to be manipulated by big business and special-interest groups: corporate-sponsored studies reported in the news as objective scientific research; organizations whose corporate ties are not disclosed in news stories reporting their activities; scientists who take money in exchange for favorable opinions that are then reported in the press; and on and on and on. This book will make readers regard every news story and every expert with a very skeptical eye, and that makes it an enormously useful book indeed. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 rhetoricÄthey 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). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Preface: The Smell Testp. 1
Part I The Age Of Illusion
1 The Third Manp. 7
2 The Birth of Spinp. 31
3 Deciding What You'll Swallowp. 53
Part II Risky Business
4 Dying for a Livingp. 75
5 Packaging the Beastp. 99
6 Preventing Precautionp. 120
7 Attack of the Killer Potatoesp. 152
Part III The Expertise Industry
8 The Best Science Money Can Buyp. 195
9 The Junkyard Dogsp. 222
10 Global Warming Is Good For Youp. 267
11 Questioning Authorityp. 289
Appendix Recommended Resourcesp. 317
Notesp. 321
Indexp. 355