This past weekend scientists and their supporters marched in Washington and in cities around America and around the world. Many carried signs that read about how incredulous they were that they felt that they needed to demonstrate in support of science, facts, and evidence-based policies. The current administration is rolling back protections for individuals at an alarming rate, exposing many of the most vulnerable portions of the population to increased environmental, economic, and health risks. These efforts are often led by people who are actively spreading false information and discredited theories.
While there are conspiracy theorists who still believe that we did not land on the moon, they and people like them have rarely been taken seriously. That has changed.
People with no experience in research of any kind have attacked professions who have honed their skills in designing experiments, gathering data, verifying information, and subjecting evidence to rigorous testing and analysis. People holding political power have joined them to serve people and organizations who have an economic interest in distorting research, misrepresenting facts and hiding information that might injure those same interests. This is not a new phenomenon. It was already a well-developed machine.
Large corporations and wealthy individuals have been involved in promoting their ideological and economic interests for decades. Tobacco and chemical industries have fought research that challenged their interest. Several of the books below recount those efforts, some in great detail.