cover image Trust Us, We're Experts! How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future

Trust Us, We're Experts! How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future

Sheldon Rampton. Penguin Putnam, $24.95 (360pp) ISBN 978-1-58542-059-9

Recent surveys show that ""national experts"" are the third most trusted type of public figure (after Supreme Court justices and schoolteachers). Hard-hitting investigative journalists Rampton and Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!) ask whether that trust is misplaced. They assert that, with highly technical issues like environmental pollution and bioengineered foodstuffs, ""people are encouraged to suspend their own judgment and abandon responsibility to the experts."" The authors examine the opinions of many so-called experts to show how their opinions are often marred by conflicts of interest. Peering behind the curtain of decision making, they catch more than a few with blood money on their hands. From spin doctors with dubious credentials to think tanks that do everything but think and scientists who work backwards to engineer desired experimental results, Rampton and Stauber present an astonishing compendium of alleged abuses of the public's willingness to believe. Particularly sobering is their summary of the historical use of ""experts"" by the tobacco and mining industries, which, they reveal, have suppressed and manipulated information in order to slow industrial reform. Their allegation that industry flaks may be purposely clouding the current debates swirling around ""junk science"" and global warming issues should provoke readers to reexamine these matters. Rampton and Stauber's impassioned call for skepticism goes beyond rhetoric--they also offer practical guidelines for separating propaganda from useful information. Agent, Tom Grady. (Jan. 2) Forecast: The authors' gloves-off approach, which is effectively signaled by the pointed and irreverent cartoon-style jacket, will appeal to fans of Bill Moyers, Jeremy Rifkin and Barbara Ehrenreich (who all blurbed the book).