Archive for the ‘Tobacco’ Category

Denier Frederick Seitz dead at 96

March 7, 2008

Mr. Seitz’s obituary was notable to me not for his role as a denier per se, but his work for big tobacco and reminded me yet again of tobacco’s role in the whole “denial industry”. And why John Tierney isn’t really a serious journalist, or perhaps he just thinks we’re all a bit slow.

First, from the obituary:

Seitz, a physicist, headed the National Academy of Sciences from 1962 to 1969 and led Rockefeller University, a New York-based research institution, from 1969 to 1978.

Seitz won the 1973 National Medal of Science for his earlier contributions to the modern quantum theory of the solid state of matter. He also wrote a number of books, including “The Modern Theory of Solids” (1940), an influential text on the development of solid-state physics and of transistors.

Sounds okay so far, but then:

Seitz became known later in life for his skepticism about the existence of global warming. In 1998 he solicited thousands of scientists to sign a petition against the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

From 1978 to 1988, Seitz was a member of the medical research committee of the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds.

Global warming deniers and tobacco deniers not-so-seperated-at-birth? As goes the tobacco debate, so goes the climate change debate? Clearly not a coincidence. You see, in fact, it’s big tobacco that started the damn world of global warming denial. For a great blow-by-blow read Chapter 2, in the book Heat, How to Stop the Planet From Burning by George Monbiot, 2006.

The germination went something like this: In 1993, Philip Morris, getting hammered in public opinion over second-hand smoke after the release of an EPA report, hired the PR firm APCO. APCO designed a campaign to fight a ban on passive smoking by creating the impression of a grassroots movement to fight over-regulation and to portray tobacco fears as just one of many unfounded fears. What are some of the other unfounded fears you may ask? According to big tobacco, one is global warming. Interesting.

Then big tobacco forms the Advancement for Sound Science Coalition, TASSC and among other things finances The tobacco companies and ExxonMobil dance the same dance again and again, in dim light perhaps, where few care to look.

A Brown and Williamson memo sounds like a recurring nightmare:

Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.

Does Mr. Tierney address tobacco money? Of course not. Mr. Tierney, perhaps some reporting is in order?