Doubt of their Product Essay
David Michael’s book, “Doubt of their Product”, discusses the propensity of Science to generate exploitation on the part of the Business Industry’s interest. Michaels, with his background as the Assistant Secretary of Energy, has done an excellent job in giving a personal insight upon describing a rather persuasive history of the way the Department of Public Relations has gone about to block out Public Health Protection matters and concerns.
The author explains how the techniques to assure the public about the safety of using chemicals like lead, asbestos and vinyl chloride, came handy once again to reassure us about the usage of tobacco. He has given in several proofs, without the hint of doubt how the so called “corrupt” Industry’s practices have caused a serious damage to the regulatory system. But fortunately for us, he has also suggested solid, achievable targets; targets that would require elimination of politicization of scientific research, and the need of such an authority who would guarantee measures to be taken for Public safety.
Michaels’ book discusses how the existing generations have with time adapted to the era that predominantly adheres to, or has been lead to adjust with disinformation, misinformation and lies. This book has unmasked the profit makers who have gained at the expense of public health by misleading the masses at large.
In his book, Michael has exposed the indecency of the authorities; to the levels they stooped down to achieve their scientific milestones. To these people, accomplishing their set goals based on hi-fi scientific challenges were of more value than understanding the health risks to be faced by the common man of a drug, or chemical. As per the author these players and industrialists and technocrats cannot run their tests by feeding toxicants to humans to see at what dose the cancer would develop and wait for the development to transpire. The researchers end up running tests on guinea pigs, hence exposing themselves on the main ground, and the process succeeds where the epidemiologists study and examine those who are exposed to the environments.
In the process, the fact which does not get to go in the limelight cannot however be ignored. Whether may be the case, the fact remains that examination of lab test animals, or those on the exposed human, the unspoken mater of uncertainty remains unsolved and ignored. The scientists must therefore run an in-depth analysis of the gathered evidence, based on which they can attempt safe assumptions and hence formulate suggestive measures to be taken for protection.
Absolute is a vague term where there is uncertainty involved, and since that is very rarely an available option, methods on correcting the regulatory programs would be of no use if such evidences are required. This is where the author suggests that corrective measures mean bringing in Government officials, who would make the decision by selecting the most appropriate evidence and set boundaries for usage of harmful chemicals, hence formulating safety procedures of pharmaceuticals.
Writer points out how an upcoming trend deceives by demanding proof, neglecting the matters of precautionary measures to be taken, and repeatedly rejecting and raising objections over proof which might just hint supporting the regulatory system. This mostly happens because the Industry is now aware of the loophole about it being easier to debate science, and it works more efficiently in comparison to how they would end up debating policy, which in fact would have them exhausted. This scenario conveniently lets them escape from being labeled as “anti-environmental” in the worst case scenario..
Science’s inherent dilemma, which we can more appropriately term as “Uncertainty” in a more complex, manipulated form is better known as manufactured uncertainty. Based on the research and in-depth analysis personally carried out by the author, it has been over the past three years, the evicted Industries and their sub groups have mostly only taken a keen interest in investigative course when their own interests are jeopardized.
Cases that have been most commonly observed include that of businesses and organizations, which have knowingly let their workforce to be exposed to harmful chemicals; to cover up such inhumane action, these companies classically react by appointing their own researchers to override the actual case by introducing “doubts”. The author has at several points described the techniques such organizations have made use of to disrupt the regulation process. Furthermore the corporate America used unacceptable tactics by giving no importance to environmental regulation and public health, for the sake of profit. Michael mentions in his book how some of the Industry’s “paid” obstructionists continually used a strategy to persist on proof, which in some cases was not unachievable, but was certainly a hassle to achieve, after all toxins such as cigarettes can barely cause 100% damage.
One of the most interesting recommendations made by the author for such cases is the “Sarbanes-Oxley” approach towards science and toxins. He has explained it in 6 steps as follows:
- Full disclosure of any and all sponsor involvement in the scientific study
- Managers to disclose and share all knowledge they have about the toxicity of the products and the chemicals they use
- Since rigged data creates doubts ending in false and unreliable findings, their reanalysis to be stopped
- Hold people responsible with assurance
- Protection of Independence of Federal Scientists and Science Advisory Committees
- Promise as much as ideally deliverable; and not over promise and unachievable target.
Michael mentions the Orwellian strategy; this strategy dismisses the research carried out by the Scientific Community and promotes the “science” formulated by Product Defense Specialists to a much higher status. Such are the practices that have long existed, and create utter confusion about the nature of logical investigation in lieu of science, hence dejecting the Public’s faith in Science’s aptitude to tackle matters of public health and concerns of the environment.
Though most people have adapted to the such hasty practices over time, the author argues that it was Bush’s administration which intensified the dysfunction by nearly turning over the main agencies responsible for regulating to corporate powers, who were responsible for supervision of those products, and their deficiencies and impact.
In his book, Michael has catalogued several corporate delinquencies, from the illicit ignorance of the hazardous nature of extremely dangerous chemicals and the deceptions by Tobacco Industry at Large, to the repression of unfavorable findings of the lives lost by suffering from anti-inflammatory drugs, and not to ignore the increasing risk of suicidal teenagers, who unknowingly consumed inhibitors for depression. It is noteworthy how the author wraps up with a very useful list of prescriptions along with meaning and helpful suggestions for regulation, and information ensuring public health messages.
Doubt is anything which results in debate and questions surrounding the parent idea. In this case and especially after reading the book it is evident that tobacco is a single industry in the world with a litigation budget annually in the whereabouts of 1 billion dollars. The question that comes to mind is that firstly it is a lucrative enough business for the industry to spare that kind of money and secondly for them it is worth every penny of those dollars because it has ensured for them that they are the only industry which despite series of Congressional and Senate hearing committees and multitude of lawsuits have come out on top and victorious and that time and again.
The industry’s focus on litigation budgets with army of lawyers in the background to hedge financial loss and in the foreground uses Science to raise questions to create doubts by creating debates and using the scientific jargons which lead to confusion rather than resolution. The convenience of doing this assures the industry that the key area pertinent to the actual issue stays in the oblivion and any raised question digress from the key debatable areas. By doing this what actually has transpired over decades is that the public safety standards have been compromised and the picture being advertized and sold to the masses is front which is managed with the notion of changing the actual picture. Furthermore over the passage of time using science as the shield discussions are manipulated to take the focus and attention of the viewers and the victims away from the actual problem at hand.
Thus in light of the aforementioned details and by studying the book and assessing the writer’s perspective it becomes evidently clear that the creation of doubt in the minds of the customers and other people is also a secondary product for these industrialists and this products only requires investment in form of high value opinions and jargons revolving around pure science. The idea is to spend money and create debates which majority does not understand. The investment in this product which is actually termed as “Doubt” by the writer subsides the resistance coming from masses and various quarter of media and hence allows the key business of revenue generation of tobacco industry to flourish. Eventually masses will have to wake up to this rude reality being hidden from masses behind this veil of creation of doubts and for the writers continuously insists that government and its official should take critical notice of this so as to expedite resolution.