Report of: Naomi Oreskes & Eric Conway’s “Merchants of Doubt”

Report of: Naomi Oreskes & Eric Conway’s “Merchants of Doubt”


This book was written by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway. It proposes the idea that “denialism” has a formulaic method, and researches this in the context of the global warming controversy, tobacco smoking, and DDT among others.


Read the following:

Oreskes, Naomi & Conway, Erik (2010). Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010.

Write a report of this book. Be sure to include:

What are the main topics of this book? Write a summary of the points it discusses. (10 points)
Using examples from the book, discuss some strategies of sowing doubt. (10 points)
Can doubt be a commercial product, and if so how? Can an idea be bought and sold like a commodity? Use some examples from the book to justify your answer. (10 points)
How would you critique both the roles of scientists and journalists as public communicators? How would you compare and contrast their missions? (10 points)
Imagine you are teaching science to high schoolers. What do you think is one of the most important lessons they should learn, so that they can be prepared to think critically when interpreting recent news and articles about science? Do you think it’s important to have a basic knowledge of science, and if so, what types of science are most important? (10 points)

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