April 10, 2020

Credit: Getty Images / valentinrussanov

Undermining science, by sowing seeds of doubt, has become standard operating procedure for corporations that produce products which may be harmful to our health. That’s according to David Michaels, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health. He says tobacco companies developed the playbook on how to question science, in order to fight government regulations. But their tactics have been imitated by plenty of other industries, from alcohol to fossil fuel to the NFL. 

Michaels, author of “The Triumph of Doubt - Dark Money and the Science of Deception,” explains a strategy used to manipulate government leaders, which, he says, has even influenced our response to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Three Takeaways:

  • Michaels led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during the Obama administration, and he says our regulatory system has been “on the decline for a really long time.” He blames both Democrats and Republicans for underfunding agencies that provide oversight.
  • The epidemiologist has called on the Trump administration to have OSHA issue an emergency temporary standard to help protect health care and other workers from COVID-19, but the administration and the Senate have blocked legislation that would require OSHA to do it. 
  • He argues human health has played second-fiddle to economic interests for too long and was evident when President Trump tweeted out complaints about the financial costs of social distancing. 

More Reading:

science, higher ed, David Michaels, corporations, Sci and Tech

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