Logo IMG

Manufactured Ignorance


Dr Proctor's editorial, thinly disguised as a book review, is out of place in a magazine ostensibly devoted to impartial science.

Just two of many observations:

He writes:

"Oreskes and Conway lay part of the blame on the Internet, which they describe as “an information hall of mirrors” where disinformation can flourish without hindrance—“pluralism run amok.”"

That's ironic, considering that some years back, Dr Oreskes was cited by Al Gore, in "Inconvenient Truth", noting that her research showed that there was a "unanimous, scientific consensus on the anthropogenic causes of recent global warming".

Unfortunately, she used the wrong search term. Using a more appropriate term, only a small percentage of the 1117 abstracts "explicitly endorsed the 'consensus view'".

Perhaps that's why she describes the Internet as “an information hall of mirrors”.

For the rest of us, though, a generous application of critical thinking gets us through that hall.

Second, I note an excessive use of pejorative terms. "Denial" (in various forms) occurs nine times. Other examples: "left-wing hoax", "small band of right-wing scholars steeped in Cold War myopia", "powerful corporate polluters", "Cold Warrior physicist", "crew of Cold Warrior colleagues ", "steeped in Cold War oppositions", "extremist scientists", "polluter-friendly media outlets", "doubt-mongers", "revisionist attacks", "antienvironmentalist screeds, "their corporate paymasters".

He also shows his progressive bias by attacking Reagan and Bush, and libertarians in general.

Because his own opinion is so tightly bound into the review, it's difficult to know which opinions are his, and which the authors'.

Compare this review with any of the others in that issue. The other reviews tell us what the authors wrote, they tell us the reviewer's judgment of the merits of the work, and its strengths and shortcomings.

Michael Zorn
Santa Ana CA
posted by Michael Zorn
September 3, 2010 @ 6:32 PM

This political screed isn't worthy of publication in American Scientist and lessens the veracity of the publication.
posted by William Carson
September 5, 2010 @ 6:22 PM


Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed

Sigma Xi/Amazon Smile (SciNight)

Latest Multimedia

ANIMATION: Hydrangea Colors: It’s All in the SoilHydrangeaAnimation

The Hydrangea macrophylla (big-leafed hydrangea) plant is the only known plant that can 'detect' the pH level in surrounding soil!
One of the world’s most popular ornamental flowers, it conceals a bouquet of biological and biochemical surprises. The iconic “snowball” shaped hydrangea blooms are a common staple of backyard gardens.
Hydrangea colors ultimately depend on the availability of aluminum ions(Al3+) within the soil.

To view all multimedia content, click "Latest Multimedia"!

Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

  • American Scientist Update

  • An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.

  • Scientists' Nightstand

  • News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.

    To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.

Subscribe to American Scientist