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About the Author

Benno Hansen
Patent Assistant (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Focusing on our bright green future, environmental sustainability, global partnership and climate change.

MSc degree in horticulture from Copenhagen University, thesis on Hidden Markov Modelling of protein sequences - which is the same algorithm that lies at the core of Google. Winner of TH!NK2, Y!HAA

Have written for magazines at an advertising bureau, supported university students in their IT-tasks, helped maintain the university hardware, software and websites, vacuum cleaned bodies of escaped laboratory test frogs, been a mail man with the Danish Postal Service and counted the number of passengers for the Danish Railways.

My goal is to publish a best selling science fiction novel and/or get elected for parliament with an intellectual party. But I spend a lot more time betting on football matches (and winning), attending FC Copenhagen home games which I hold a season ticket for, reading lots of science fiction and popularized science, skating and eating organic meals with my beautiful, eco-friendly biomedicine ethicist girlfriend.

Oh yeah... every now and then I also blog ;-)

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“Merchants of Doubt” - a lecture by Naomi Oreskes

Published 26th June 2010 - 1 comments - 7059 views -

Climate change skeptics are fueled by the spin produced by a handful of scientists funded by right wing politics. They are also busy telling us DDT is healthy, smoking is safe and that the ozone hole is a hoax. They know they are lying but do so to save us from Communism.

Thursday the 24th of June 2010 I attended a guest lecture by Naomi Oreskes at Copenhagen University where she summarized her new book and answered questions. She wrote Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming with Erik Conway which should be available near you soon. Below is a video recording of the event as well as a collection of relevant links and my choice quotes.

Naomi Oreskes lecture based on her book "Merchants of Doubt" from Benno Hansen on Vimeo.

Naomi Oreskes is one of the world's leading historians of science. June 24, 2010 she gave a public lecture in Copenhagen revolving around her new book "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming". The event was organized in collaboration between The Initiative for Science, Society, and Policy (ISSP,, University of Southern Denmark (SDU,, a Danish newspaper (Dagbladet Information, and University of Copenhagen (KU, For more information about the event and Naomi Oreskes see the lecture invitation. Note: In the beginning the sound isn't perfect. I cut out two short segments of people messing around with microphones and speakers. I recommend using headphones when viewing this video.


A few quotes

"[My 2004 article about the scientific consensus on climate change] led to some interesting emails, some interesting phone calls and attempt by certain people to have me fired from my university. So, when these things happen you know you are on to something important."

"Sometimes people say 'oh we didn't know', 'we couldn't know' or 'no one predicted'. We did know and we did predict."

"[An advisor to Jimmy Carter] was asked 'when will these changes occur' and he said 'well, maybe in 40 years'. The White House official said 'come back in 39'."

"25% of Americans are hopeless."

"In a series of cases [...] the harms of tobacco, the threat of acid rain, the depletion of the ozone layer and finally global warming - in each case these scientists became engaged in the public debate and insisted that none of these problems were particularly severe and that in each case the science was too uncertain to justify government intervention to prevent harm."

Questions from the Audience

The questions asked concern:

  • The role of crackpots and why they do it when it's not for money,
  • how they attempt linking environmentalism to Communism and socialism,
  • how to debate the skeptics and deniers if at all and
  • how so few people have managed to mess up so much.

Naomi Oreskes answering questions after "Merchants of Doubt" lecture from Benno Hansen on Vimeo. (Note: This video is much harder compressed as there was no presentation for her questions, of course.)

The Merchants

I have a profile at Twitter. These guys have profiles at certain other sites:
One of their waterholes was the George C. Marshall Institute - itself also on SourceWatch and ExxonSecrets.

About Merchants of Doubt elsewhere

From Google Books (my emphasis):
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.  Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.

Two reviews: The Christian Science Monitor and USA Today.

Further reading

On a final note: As I have previously argumented, climate change is at the center of the whole MDG complex of issues. Add to that the other environmental issues these lobbyists deny. And finally, try looking at it from Johan Knols' Eight Millennium Un-Development Goals. We have to look out for these ideological crackpots!


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