What is the summary for Merchants of Doubt by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, let us first keep in mind the full title of the work which is Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. This title gives us the first key to what this book is about.

This book exposes the scientists (even revealing their names) who maintain a conservative agenda by supporting the interests of big business. Statistics on tobacco smoke are tweaked to satisfy the tobacco companies. Statistics on carbon outputs are tweaked to satisfy the biggest polluters with prominent names with the most money. In short, the named scientists of betrayal are as follows: Robert Jastrow, Frederick Seitz, and S. Fred Singer.

There are seven chapters included here, each focusing on one particular scientific issue: acid rain, smoking, secondhand smoke, the ozone layer, global warming, defense strategies, and pesticides. In each case, the manipulated statistics are revealed and shown to support capitalistic organizations and true science is explored yet again. One particularly condemning quotation from the tobacco industry executive is as follows: "Doubt is our product, and these experts supply it."

In conclusion, those who are looking to deny global warming or support big business or conservatism in America are going to be disappointed. This is a book that exposes the facts about science and exposes the deniers of those facts as supporters of capitalism.