Americans’ Distrust of Science: The Use of Scientists by Public Relations Experts

At the height of the Vietnam War a substantial portion of the student bodies of elite schools voiced mistrust of reason.  Why?

Those who planned and sold the war to an all too eager populace were clearly highly educated, reasonable people who packaged their case for war in a flood of reasons and evidence.

Once awareness of this link between the use of reason and an unpopular war surfaced, sloppy thinkers by the thousands failed to distinguish between a tool and a misuse of the tool.  Aristotle: all tools can be abused, even my beloved reason.

Sheldon Rampton’s Trust Us, We’re Experts documents a potential basis for the disparagement of science as a basis for establishing desirable social policies.  The public relations industry long ago realized the special spin provided by scientists, or anyone who could claim the mantle of science.  This book documents the role of scientists in industry after industry in permitting their scientific backgrounds to be used to justify the profit-making achievements of American businesses. Just as there is often a false equivalence between scientific and non-scientific truth claims, there well may be an internal false equivalence in the minds of voters between the claims of a scientist with a monetary incentive to justify particular findings and a scientist with no comparable monetary incentive.

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