Book Review: Climate Cover-up, The New Hidden Persuaders

Over fifty years ago, Vance Packard wrote the best-selling Hidden Persuaders, which the New Yorker called "A brisk, authoritative and frightening report on how manufacturers, fundraisers and politicians are attempting to turn the American mind into a kind of catatonic dough that will buy, give or vote at their command." It was hugely influential, sold millions of copies right across America, and led to changes in the way advertisers could influence customers, with legal restrictions on subliminal messaging.

James Hoggan's Climate Cover-up is our generation's Hidden Persuaders, an exposé of the methods by which people are convinced (or paid) to write comments to TreeHugger like "climate change is a hoax" or why George Will and others can get away with saying that it has been getting cooler since 1979 and ice sheets and glaciers are getting thicker. It isn't true, but that doesn't matter any more.


James Hoggan with co-author Richard Littlemore

This isn't a book about climate science; everyone knows that the "consensus" in climate science is that we are going through global warming caused by human beings burning fossil fuels. But "consensus" isn't certainty; you don't have that in science until the experiment is done. The flacks, the PR people, the spinners picked up on this; Master spin doctor Frank Luntz said "You need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." Although as Hoggan puts it,

No one on the Luntz team ever mentioned the obvious: that if scientists told you there was a 90 percent likelihood that your plane would crash, you would most assuredly forego the trip.

Hoggins is a flack, the owner of a public relations firm, and understands how flacks work. He can explain how people like Steve Milloy, Bjorn Lomborg and Christopher Walker (more impressively presented as Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley) operate, how they get on all the news channels and why they are taken seriously. He is an insider, giving us the inside story.

Climate Cover-Up should be as big and influential as the Hidden Persuaders was; it exposes how truth gets twisted, how lies become opinions worthy of editorial pages, how Exxon greases the whole process. It won't be; we all talk to our own echo chamber now, and half the country is reading Sarah Palin instead. That is the real crime.

More on Climate Cover-up on Desmogblog, (which Hoggan founded) and reviews on Celsias and realclimate. Joe Romm even read the whole thing for his review.

More on some of the people covered in the book:
Washington Post Again Embarasses George Will Over Climate Statements
The $ 2000 CFL Cleanup: Where Urban Myths Come From
Demolishing Lomborg's Cool It

Tags: Books

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