Kollegin Susan Schneegans, Chefredakteurin des von der UNESCO herausgegeben A World of Science sowie der Science Report-Reihe hat gerade auf ein neues Buch hingewiesen, das im Kontext des US-amerikanischen “Bürgerkriegs” zwischen Wissenschaft und Dogmatik (wie es Shawn Otto in seinem neuen Buch beschreibt — siehe Blogbeitrag) einen kritischen Blick auf die Frage wirft, in wie weit Wissenschaft dirtekt “Politik macht” bzw. machen sollte: Merchants of Doubt. Wobei sich natürlich die Frage stellt, ob nicht allein schon diese Perspektive darauf abzielt, Politik zu machen.
Focusing on the case of the USA, the authors, historians of science, show how scientists with a hidden political agenda organized successive disinformation campaigns in the public media over the past half-century to cloud the issues and sap public support for government regulation of the tobacco industry, DDT, acid rain and, most recently climate change. In most cases, the same scientists and conservative think tanks were involved, often financed by the companies that stood the most to lose from government regulation. This issue has particular relevance today in light of the campaign by climate change sceptics to oblige the media to be “impartial” in their coverage of climate change.
Oreskes and Conway argue that climate sceptics consider science ‘as politics by other means’. They argue that these lobbyists feel threatened by environmental science because it has pinpointed the negative impact of the free market system (acid rain, DDT etc) on the environment and human health and thus the need for government regulation. To pressure the media to introduce ‘balance’ in their reporting, they insist on equal time for opposing views via their Fairness Doctrine developed at the time of the tobacco issue. Oreskes and Conway write:
While the idea of equal time for opposing opinions makes sense in a two-party system, it does not work for science because science is not about opinion. It is about evidence. It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research … that is subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers. Claims that have not gone through that process – or have gone through it and failed – are not scientific and do not deserve equal time in a scientific debate.