Sewing Doubt

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Tim Harford on The New Bazaar podcast:

Cigarettes smokers are going to eagerly grab onto any evidence they can to doubt the scientific consensus that's emerging. And so the tobacco lobby would say, "oh well we need more research," which of course is a good idea. They would say, “oh it's complicated,” which of course it is complicated. They’d say, “the scientists disagree,” and of course scientists always disagree. All those things are true, but when you add them all up, you get this message that is profoundly untrue, which is, “no knows anything, don't pay attention to the evidence, don't listen to experts, don’t listen to the scientists, just keep smoking.”

Tim Harford wrote The Data Detective, one of my favorite books of the year, and I’d consider it essential reading for basically everyone. If only his above story of corporate interests sewing doubt in science had a direct parallel today 👀