Trust Us We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future

by Sheldon Rampton (Author), John Stauber (Author)

Editorial Reviews

Fearless investigative journalists Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber (Toxic
Sludge Is Good for You! and Mad Cow U.S.A.) are back with a gripping exposť of
the public relations industry and the scientists who back their business-funded,
anti-consumer-safety agendas. There are two kinds of "experts" in question--the
PR spin doctors behind the scenes and the "independent" experts paraded before
the public, scientists who have been hand-selected, cultivated, and paid
handsomely to promote the views of corporations involved in controversial
actions. Lively writing on controversial topics such as dioxin, bovine growth
hormone, and genetically modified food makes this a real page-turner, shocking
in its portrayal of the real and potential dangers in each of these
technological innovations and of the "media pseudo-environment" created to
obfuscate the risks. By financing and publicizing views that support the goals
of corporate sponsors, PR campaigns have, over the course of the century,
managed to suppress the dangers of lead poisoning for decades, silence the
scientist who discovered that rats fed on genetically modified corn had
significant organ abnormalities, squelch television and newspaper stories about
the risks of bovine growth hormone, and place enough confusion and doubt in the
public's mind about global warming to suppress any mobilization for action.
Rampton and Stauber introduce the movers and shakers of the PR industry, from
the "risk communicators" (whose job is to downplay all risks) and "outrage
managers" (with their four strategies--deflect, defer, dismiss, or defeat) to
those who specialize in "public policy intelligence" (spying on opponents).
Evidently, these elaborate PR campaigns are created for our own good. According
to public relations philosophers, the public reacts emotionally to topics
related to health and safety and is incapable of holding rational discourse.
Needless to say, Rampton and Stauber find these views rather antidemocratic and
intend to pull back the curtain to reveal the real wizard in Oz. This is one
wake-up call that's hard to resist.

From Publishers Weekly
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 rhetoricAthey 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).

Product Details

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Tarcher; 1st edition (January 10, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1585421391



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