Sunday, February 15, 2004

"Junk Science"

Nice takedown of Steve Milloy and his tendentious war on "junk" (read: perfectly legitimate but conservatively incorrect) science by Tim Lambert. Lambert's done an incredible amount of excellent work debunking true junk science, particularly the work of John Lott. He's turned his gaze on Milloy, and it's withering.

Most of the critiques don't surprise me- I've looked at Milloy's work before and found it wanting. What surprised me was this revelation about Milloy and real Astroturfing:

Given all of the above, it should come as no surprise that is another astroturf operation. As part of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Philip Morris agreed to release millions of documents about their operations. These detail how TASSC (The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition) was a front secretly created and funded by a PR firm acting for Philip Morris. Here is the key document (with annotations by Stewart Fist). TASSC and shared the same address and were both run by Milloy. Studies that find harmful effects from tobacco smoke seem to attract particularly venomous attacks from PR Watch has the full story of Milloy’s history.
Ugh. The deeper you delve into the sort of thing, the worse it gets. I always have believed and always will believe that it's not the arguer but the argument that is important. Even if Milloy works for Phillip Morris, he may have a point. Still, this sort of willful misrepresentation bothers me a lot. At least with a pseudonym, you have to build your reputation honestly.

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