The tricks propagandists use to beat science
Back in the 1950s, health professionals became concerned that smoking was causing cancer. Then, in 1952, the popular magazine Reader’s Digest published “Cancer by the Carton,” an article about the increasing body of evidence that proved it. The article caused widespread shock and media coverage. Today the health dangers of smoking are clear and unambiguous. And yet smoking bans have been slow to come into force, most having appeared some 40 years or more after the Reader’s Digest article. The reason for this sluggishness is easy to see in hindsight and described in detail by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt. Together, tobacco companies and the PR firm created and funded an organization called the Tobacco Industry Research Committee to produce results and opinions that contradicted the view that smoking kills. The approach was hugely successful for the tobacco industry at the time. The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack.
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