Naomi Oreskes - Neoliberalism and the Denial of Global Warming
Posted: 24 April 2012 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  170
Joined  2009-06-02

Host: Chris Mooney

This week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a conference convened entitled “Science Writing in the Age of Denial.” The keynote speaker was a former Point of Inquiry guest and a very popular one—Naomi Oreskes, co-author of the influential book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

Point of Inquiry caught up with Dr. Oreskes at the conference and interviewed her about her lecture there, entitled “Neoliberalism and the Denial of Global Warming.”

Naomi Oreskes is professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, written with Eric Conway, described how a small group of scientists sought to undermine a large body of research on issues like global warming, the health risks of smoking, and ozone depletion. She is the author of the famed 2004 essay for the journal Science entitled “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” which was cited in the Academy Award winning film An Inconvenient Truth.

Posted: 26 April 2012 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Jr. Member
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2009-06-03

Merchants of doubt is still a highly relevant and important book. There was not much new information for me but I thank you for letting people know about this topic. In my opinion Point of Inquiry has seen better days, but it is highly interesting topics such as these that make me listen every single episode of the show.

Thank you for your good work!

Posted: 27 April 2012 03:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Jr. Member
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-04-02

Great interview, but is it really correct to imply Adam Smith was somehow agitating against the Royalist government system? I’m by no means an expert, it’s just I’ve never heard his writings being characterised that way. Also, I recently read here that Smith apparently never was really in favor of a deregulated market. Here’s a quote from the (probably partisan) article:

Adam Smith suggested the invisible hand in an otherwise obscure passage in his Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. He mentioned it only once in the book, while he repeatedly noted situations where “natural liberty” does not work. Let banks charge much more than 5% interest, and they will lend to “prodigals and projectors,” precipitating bubbles and crashes. Let “people of the same trade” meet, and their conversation turns to “some contrivance to raise prices.” Let market competition continue to drive the division of labor, and it produces workers as “stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

Posted: 03 May 2012 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Jr. Member
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2012-05-03

Thanks for a fascinating discussion with Oreskes, a historian I have enormous respect for.

I’d agree that the values and ideology of the “deniers” is what shapes their hostility to the science.

I do however think this form of denial has been merging with other forms of science denial in general - evolution in particular.

As Oreskes points out it is an “American problem”, and it seems Conservatives in the US have fashioned a world view in direct opposition to facts that challenge fundamental, core values and beliefs:

- Evolution challenges the notion of most Americans conception God. Patriotism and God go hand in hand. How the USA be ‘One nation under God” if there is no god?
- Climate change challenges faith in markets and America’s prized position of the world’s leading economy…

Both these scientific theories directly challenge American exceptional-ism and the deeply rooted strain of predestination thought that infects conservative idealogy.

A careful reading of much denialist literature shows faith in God, markets and American exceptionalism in equal dosages (see Inhofoe’s recent book).

[ Edited: 03 May 2012 11:59 PM by Watching the Deniers ]