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Trust Us We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future [Paperback]

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Pages   360
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 10, 2002
Publisher   Tarcher
Age  18
ISBN  1585421391  
EAN  9781585421398  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Explores the widespread, devious, and underhanded ways in which industry deceives the public through the use of bogus experts, manufactured facts, and manipulated data. Reprint. 17,500 first printing.

Publishers Description
The authors of Toxic Sludge Is Good for You unmask the sneaky and widespread methods industry uses to influence opinion through bogus experts, doctored data, and manufactured facts.

We count on the experts. We count on them to tell us who to vote for, what to eat, how to raise our children. We watch them on TV, listen to them on the radio, read their opinions in magazine and newspaper articles and letters to the editor. We trust them to tell us what to think, because there's too much information out there and not enough hours in a day to sort it all out.

We should stop trusting them right this second.

In their new book Trust Us, We're Experts : How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, authors of Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, offer a chilling expose on the manufacturing of "independent experts."

Public relations firms and corporations know well how to exploit your trust to get you to buy what they have to sell: Let you hear it from a neutral third party, like a professor or a pediatrician or a soccer mom or a watchdog group. The problem is, these third parties are usually anything but neutral. They have been handpicked, cultivated, and meticulously packaged in order to make you believe what they have to say--preferably in an "objective" format like a news show or a letter to the editor. And in some cases, they have been paid handsomely for their "opinions."

For example:

You think that nonprofit organizations just give away their stamps of approval on products? Bristol-Myers Squibb paid $600,000 to the American Heart Association for the right to display AHA's name and logo in ads for its cholesterol-lowering drug Pravachol. SmithKline Beecham paid the American Cancer Society $1 million for the right to use its logo in ads for Beecham's Nicoderm CQ and Nicorette anti-smoking ads.

You think that a study out of a prestigious university is completely unbiased? In 1997, Georgetown University's Credit Research Center issued a study which concluded that many debtors are using bankruptcy as an excuse to wriggle out of their obligations to creditors. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen cited the study in a Washington Times column and advocated for changes in federal law to make it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy relief. What Bentsen failed to mention was that the Credit Research Center is funded in its entirety by credit card companies, banks, retailers, and others in the credit industry; that the study itself was produced with a $100,000 grant from VISA USA, Inc. and MasterCard International; and that Bentsen himself had been hired to work as a credit-industry lobbyist.

You think that all grassroots organizations are truly grassroots? In 1993, a group called Mothers Opposing Pollution (MOP) appeared, calling itself "the largest women's environmental group in Australia, with thousands of supporters across the country." Their cause: A campaign against plastic milk bottles. It turned out that the group's spokesperson, Alana Maloney, was in truth a woman named Janet Rundle, the business partner of a man who did P.R. for the Association of Liquidpaperboard Carton Manufacturers--the makers of paper milk cartons.

You think that if a scientist says so, it must be true? In the early 1990s, tobacco companies secretly paid thirteen scientists a total of $156,000 to write a few letters to influential medical journals. One biostatistician received $10,000 for writing a single, eight-paragraph letter that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A cancer researcher received $20,137 for writing four letters and an opinion piece to the Lancet, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and The Wall Street Journal.

Rampton and Sta...

Buy Trust Us We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future by John C. Stauber & Sheldon Rampton from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781585421398 & 1585421391

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More About John C. Stauber & Sheldon Rampton

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber are the bestselling authors of Weapons of Mass Deception, Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, Banana Republicans, and Trust Us, We're Experts! Stauber is the founder and director of the Center for Media & Democracy. He and Rampton write and edit the quarterly PR Watch.
Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber are the bestselling authors of Weapons of Mass Deception, Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, Banana Republicans, and Trust Us, We're Experts! Stauber is the founder and director of the Center for Media & Democracy. He and Rampton write and edit the quarterly PR Watch.

Sheldon Rampton currently resides in Madison, in the state of Wisconsin. Sheldon Rampton was born in 1957.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Fascinating in light of current revelations  Apr 30, 2008
This book helped me, when I was working on my Masters, to formulate a pattern that exists with polluters: deny there's a problem; deny the problem is important; deny they had anything to do with the problem; blame the victim; seek government immunity from prosecution.

Given the current crop of scientific, corporate and government blunders -- bad pharmaceuticals, fatal side effects, toxic toys, tainted food and more -- this book should be read again now, as a new book. It's completely relevant.

Good on PR, Less So on Science  Dec 30, 2007
Clearly written, easy to read fast, adequately indexed, and academically referenced, this book is a mixture of excellent investigative reporting when the subject is chicanery, good general advice on not being fooled, but appalling lapses on a few technical subjects. When the authors explain how much of what we see or read is composed by public relations (PR) firms, even pointing out that as much of 40% of what is in newspapers is supplied by PR firms, they are at their best. Many excellent examples are given. The common techniques of faking "impartial" experts (who are actually paid consultants), and dummy NGOs that are industry fronts are explained in detail. One "impartial expert" case that surprised me was that of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who was said to have taken money from industry for favorable testimony. One case was that of his denying allergies from latex gloves (p257). PR for politicians is given some airing as well. PR techniques of admitting past guilt, promising to reform, and showing concern are all there. The authors wrote that organizations that can pay the most to PR firms are the ones that can cause the most damage. Their bias is shown by neglecting exaggeration and junk science from environmental groups. They wrote that "junk science" is an undefined term used by industry apologists. They give examples of how easy it is to fool typical American citizens, including ones with college degrees (p290), yet they have faith that providing accurate information, most of which may have to be sought out as opposed to broadcast on TV, will somehow inform enough citizens to make a difference to their preferences and votes. Well I, for one, wish it were true. IMHO their last chapter "Questioning Authority" is the best, with examples of propaganda, such as name-calling, testimonials, bandwagon, fear, etc. But they themselves resort to this on some issues. There are some recommended resources of which their own periodical PR Watch and should be valuable so long as they stick to the tricks of the PR trade and avoid actual technical issues they do not understand, as shown in examples below.

Consumers' Union, which really is funded from subscriptions, is held up as an ideal example. But during the 40 years I subscribed, I was appalled at the failure of Consumer Reports to warn about the tendency of several models rear-engined cars with swing axles to turn over; a mistaken report that one model spun out on hard braking; two tire scams since the 1970s ignored; a biased medical advisor from about 1980-2000 who dismissed all supplements; and CU's change from real consumer focus to promoting environmental stands of dubious accuracy. There were so many errors in one of CR's articles on choosing a camera that one of the major photography magazines devoted an entire issue to them. But CU is honest!

What a shock to find that these worldly and cynical authors swallowed, hook, line and sinker, two of the biggest scams of the twentieth century! First they wrote that total fat and saturated fat are bad diet choices for diabetics (p15ff). This nonsense had been dispelled in at least 30 books, many old enough for these authors to have seen. You can e-mail me for a list: One recent clinical trial of many showing the benefits of low-carb high-fat diets is: Nielsen JV, Joensson EA, Low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes. Stable improvement of bodyweight and glycaemic control during 22 months follow-up, Nutrition & Metabolism 2006;3(22) doi:10.1186/1743-7075-3-22.

The other was on potentially "uncontrollable and unprecedented" global warming caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide. A sure sign of bias is the term "greenhouse gases" when only carbon dioxide is really meant. Authors wrote that "...concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are currently at their highest level in 420,000 years." (p268) First, the main greenhouse gas by far is water vapor, and no one knows what its concentration in air was more than 200 years ago. See: Kauffman JM (2004), Water in the Atmosphere, Journal of Chemical Education, B81(8), 1229-30. Second, direct chemical assays of carbon dioxide found it at levels higher than now at least three times between 1812 to 1965, so there is no correlation between carbon dioxide and warming, and there was no runaway warming. See: Beck, E.-G. (2007), 180 Years of Atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods, Energy & Environment, 18(2), 259-282. The value of carbon dioxide as a fertilizer is omitted, yet there are fears that not enough food can be grown in the future for an exaggerated population expansion (p269). The "bandwagon"ploy is used to dismiss 20,000 scientists and engineers who signed the petition from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine ( & hit "petition project") stating that the current warming is not caused by carbon dioxide emissions. Authors claim that fake signatures sent by e-mail abound on the website. Actually, written signatures had to be mailed, and a check for the fake signatures listed in "Trust Us..." found none of them. Authors fearfully claim that 1998 was "...the hottest year ever..."(p285) when actually the 1930s were warmer than the 1990s, and the period from 1000-1450 AD was warmer still. See: Soon, W., Baliunas, S. (2003), Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years, Climate Research, 23, 89-110. And every year since 1998 has been cooler.

Of many minor questionable claims, the authors wrote that "lead" in gasoline is actually tetraethyllead, a poison. OK. But they did not know enough chemistry to realize that it does not exit the tailpipe of cars as "lead" but as lead bromide, which is so insoluble that it barely damaged plants near roads (p91). Nor did they realize that the end of leaded gasoline in the USA was the finding that it damaged catalytic converters (p95). Devra Lee Davis is their star witness on environmental cancer prevalence, but you might look at my review of her book "The Secret History of the War on Cancer".
The Death of Capitalism  Sep 4, 2007
Capitalism - market economy - free enterprise - these are the jewels in the crown of civilization which, since the renaissance, have brought unprecedented wealth, prosperity and freedom to large parts of the world. Capitalism has struggled and eventually triumphed over its historical adversaries; in earlier times, popes and kings and in our time socialism and communism. In the 21st century, since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, international corporate capitalism is bursting, like fireworks, in triumph; merging, globalizing and buying governments. What puny opposition remains is easily dispatched with a broad range of powerful weapons which have been developed over the years. Today the only real threat to capitalism is capitalism!
Socialists may practice socialism and Christians may practice Christianity but if by capitalism we mean a competitive market driven economic system, then capitalists do not practice capitalism. Theorists notwithstanding, capitalism is not an ideology, it is merely a description. Capitalists are not trying to implement some philosophy, they are only trying to make a buck any way they can. To a capitalist the biggest enemy is not socialism or labor unions or liberals or environmentalists, or even big government, the biggest enemy is risk. Risk of not making money. Risk of losing money.
Making money and avoiding risk in doing so is what capitalism is all about. But it is precisely in the risk taking that society draws its benefits from capitalism. That is the dilemma. Risk promotes wise investment resulting in efficiency, innovation and the creation of wealth, not just for the capitalist but for society as a whole. But a lot of capitalists fall by the wayside in the process. It is in the capitalist's interest to eliminate risk and society's interest to prevent them from doing so. The way to avoid risk is to control the market and to do that they must also control the government. This struggle has been going on for hundreds of years: capitalists forming monopolies, oligarchies and trusts and society breaking them up.
So long as society can keep pace with all the tricks and turns that capitalists take to avoid risk, the world would continue to reap the blessings of capitalism. But for the capitalists to succeed in eliminating risk, they would have to eliminate competition resulting in a monopoly of corporations with as much efficiency and innovation as any government bureaucracy. The ultimate risk-free climax would be monopoly and oligarchy and the corporate-run government necessary to keep it that way -- functionally indistinguishable from a Mafia run state or a Stalinist one. Capitalism, instead of an engine which pumps wealth to society and makes some capitalist wealthy in the process, would become an engine which sucks the wealth out of society, making a handful wealthy by impoverishing the rest.
We see this process going on in third world countries today and we are seeing the beginnings of it at home, in America. All three branches of government are increasingly under the control of corporations. Both political parties are addicted to corporate financing. Mergers, acquisitions and globalization, all techniques for eliminating risk, are rampant. The media is being merged and taken over by corporations and increasingly being used as public relations outlets for the corporations.
Right now society is not keeping pace. The tricks and turns that corporate capitalists use to avoid risk have gotten trickier and twistier. Just as a mosquito injects an anesthetic so that you will not feel it is sucking your blood, corporations are coopting the very processes by which people recognize what is going on so that more and more we are living in a virtual reality without realizing it. Sort of like a Potemkin village or like the movie The Truman Story where a boy is born and raised on a television set without knowing it. And as corporations merge and grow larger, they have even bigger budgets to build even more elaborate and convincing "sets". But this is not science fiction. The "sets" are being built around us as you read this.
Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber of the Center for Media & Democracy have been documenting this process for years. Their publications include a quarterly newsletter, PR Watch, and several books including: Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?, and now Trust Us, We're Experts. While flippant and amusing, these books and articles tell a very chilling story of corporate public relations manipulation and spin control growing exponentially in size, audacity and sophistication.
The "father of public relations", Rampton and Stauber point out in Trust Us, is Edward L. Bernays, son in law and disciple of Sigmund Freud. By following Bernays' philosophy one can see the road map to the future. Here are some of his ideas [pp 42 - 44]:

** scientific manipulation of public opinion is necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in society
** In almost every act of our lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
** while most people respond to their world instinctively, without thought, there exist an intelligent few who have been charged with the responsibility of contemplating and influencing the tide of history
** public relations is an applied science, like engineering, through which society's leaders could bring order out of chaos
** being herd like also made people remarkably susceptible to leadership.

Of course that "leadership" can only be exercised by those who can afford the price of the Hill & Knowltons and APCOs of this world.
Here are some cases of virtual reality cited in their latest book. Big contributions, free junkets and the promise of future jobs are the more obvious ways of corrupting legislators but less obvious and more subtle is the use of public relations to actually manipulate the "facts". A typical example of how this works is illustrated on page 14.
"In the Fall of 1997, Georgetown University's Credit Research Center issued a study which concluded that many debtors are using bankruptcy as an excuse to wriggle out of their obligations to creditors. Lobbyists for bank and credit card companies seized on the study as they lobbied Congress for changes in federal law that would make it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy relief. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen cited the study in a Washington Times opinion column, offering Georgetown's academic imprimatur as evidence of the need for `bankruptcy reform'. What Bentsen failed to mention was that the Credit Research Center is funded in its entirety by credit card companies, banks, retailers, and others in the credit industry. The study itself was produced with a $100,000 grant from Visa USA and MasterCard International Inc. Bentsen also failed to mention that he himself had been hired to work as a credit-industry lobbyist."
Coopting and distorting the very sources of knowledge and information which informed people, legislators, scientists, government officials, the press, etc. rely on as being objective and scientific is one of the most clever and the most egregious techniques for creating virtual reality. As an EPA employee I have seen many examples of self-serving corporate sponsored "scientific" studies being foisted off on EPA and used to justify weak ineffective regulations or no regulations at all. The fraud, if discovered at all, is rarely discovered by EPA. In the absence of high level support there is very little incentive for science bureaucrats to look closely at studies with powerful backers.
From p. 199: If you want to know just how craven some scientists can be, the archives of the tobacco industry offer a treasure trove of examples. Thanks to whistle-blowers and lawsuits, millions of pages of once-secret industry documents have become public and are freely available over the Internet. In 1998, for example, documents came to light regarding an industry- sponsored campaign in the early 1990s to plant sympathetic letters and articles in influential medical journals. Tobacco companies had secretly paid 13 scientists a total of $156,000 simply to write a few letters to influential medical journals. One biostatistician, Nathan Mantel of American University in Washington, received $10,000 for writing a single, eight-paragraph letter that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Cancer researcher Gio Batta Cori received $20,137 for writing four letters and an opinion piece to the Lancet, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and the Wall Street Journal - nice work if you can get it, especially since the scientists didn't even have to write the letters themselves. Two tobacco-industry law firms were available to do the actual drafting and editing. All the scientists really had to do was sign their names at the bottom."
If the virtual reality created by public relation firms were only limited to selling toothpaste and deodorant we might not get too concerned about it. Falsifying medical research to defend harmful and dangerous products is a troublesome escalation. But there appears to be no limits to the uses of PR and no concern by the users of its ultimate impact. The issue of global warming, which could possibly plunge humanity into a new dark age, is being surrounded by the fog of virtual reality by the practitioners of PR as if the stakes were no more important than the selling of mouthwash.
Rampton and Stauber point out in pp 267-288 of Trust Us that PR firms hired by the major industrial emitters of greenhouse gasses have created dozens of influential sounding front organization such as "The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition", "The Global Climate Information Project", "The Information Council for the Environment" and "The Greening Earth Society" which have saturated the media, Congress and the public with industry spin so as to make their case by sheer volume and noise. Since the facts and the scientific community are so overwhelming against them, the object of the public relations onslaught has been to slow down, confuse and defuse public clamor for resolute action. Friends of the Earth International calls this "lobbying for lethargy".
There is legitimate scientific debate about the source and rate of global warming and a lot of the spin addresses that, but a lot doesn't. Some of the dirtier tricks played are:

** An attempt to stimulate anti Kyoto Treaty email to President Clinton by promising to enter writers' names in a $1000 sweepstakes drawing.
** Appealing to anti-abortion activists with the claim that "Al Gore has said abortion should be used to reduce global warming."
** Touting phoney petitions of scientists discrediting the theory of global warming.
** Circulating phoney "scientific" papers made up to look like they had appeared in reputable peer reviewed scientific journals.
** Some industry flacks claim the Earth is actually cooling while other claim that global warming is a good thing.

The scary thing is that lobbying for lethargy is working.
The book is very idealistic/ unrealistic  Apr 12, 2007
One thing that the authors don't think about is that: Most people are not only not educated enough to understand the specialist jargon that goes with many industrial products, but that if they did try to interpret it *based on their limited information/ understanding* disaster would result.

The authors also don't get into what happens when a well meaning government agency overregulates an industry SO MUCH that it ends up being of benefit to no one. Examples abound-- that were not dealt with in the book.

1. The FDA has such tight regulations on drugs that they end up costing 2-3 times more to produce/ sell to the American public than what they should. And much of this cost is legal fees, excessive testing, and clinical trials.

2. The trucking industry is also something that is heavily regulated. There is a chronic shortage of truck drivers in the industry because there are so many regulations that many people who would be perfectly competent truck drivers can't get a chance at working. (For reference, automobiles kill 40,000+ Americans per year, and trucks kill about 900. An average truck driver might drive 55 hours per week compared to the single digit hours that are driven by a passenger car.)

3. Everyone is whining about the price of gas, but no one knows whether the high cost is because of refineries operating at peak capacity or because of insufficient existing oil supplies. No one will ever be able to test this, since a single refinery has not been built in the last 30 years in the United States.

If people were able to regulate industries by the political process (say, by referenda or voting for candidates that would pass strict legislation), whatever came along after what currently exists would be FAR WORSE.

These authors need to pick up some books on Economics-- specifically ones that deal with information asymmetry (as in, how corporations have a better idea of what they are doing than third party observers).

Other than that, the book is very well written with lots of good examples. It's worth picking up-- in spite of my low rating thereof.
If Everybody Believes Something, It's Probably Wrong  Dec 28, 2006
If everybody believes something, it's probably wrong! We call that Conventional Wisdom. "Trust Us We're Experts" is one of the few books that I recommend to all of my patients that enter my office. The information in this book has the power to potentially save your life, since it provides the reader with the tools to spot propaganda that's regularly disseminated to the masses.

Americans are the most conditioned, programmed beings on the planet. Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being subtly and inexorably erased! It is an exhausting and endless task to keep explaining to people how most issues of conventional wisdom are scientifically implanted in the public consciousness by a thousand media clips per day. I feel that Stauber and Rampton do an excellent job at guiding the reader through the PR industry and expert deception that is propagated daily. My recommendation is to buy this book today then kill your TV!

Dr. Matthew J. Loop

- Author of "Cracking the Cancer Code"

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