Friday, July 19, 2024

The factory of ignorance | Science is under attack

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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We have seen with COVID-19 that scientific discourse is not enough to convince people of the seriousness of the situation and the benefits of vaccination. The distrust stems not only from concern about the speed at which vaccines can be developed and licensed, but corresponds to a fundamental trend: transforming scientific discourse, sometimes by science itself, as the documentary revealed. Ignorance Factory.

Alexandre Vinault

Alexandre Vinault

Science is supposed to tell us about the effectiveness or safety of a product on our health and our environment. He is asked to play the role of “arbitrator” according to the formula used in the documentary, which will be broadcast on Télé-Québec on Wednesday at 8 pm. However, this role makes him a “target to be corrupted or undermined”, deploring Ignorance Factory.

Le documentaire développe principalement son argumentaire à partir de trois exemples : le tabac, une classe de pesticides appelés les néonicotinoïdes et le bisphénol A, une substance chimique utilisée dans la fabrication de plastique dur et transparent, dont des bouteilles d’eau et des contenants conçus pour la conservation des aliments. Trois cas où la science a été instrumentalisée pour servir des intérêts commerciaux.

Le cas du tabac

Le cas de l’industrie du tabac a fait école, rappelle le documentaire : même si les cigarettiers étaient au courant des risques que leurs produits posaient pour la santé depuis les années 1950, ils ont cherché par divers moyens à les minimiser. Entre autres en produisant eux-mêmes des études scientifiques qui cherchaient des causes de cancer du poumon chez les non-fumeurs en analysant leur environnement, leur milieu de travail, etc.

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« La mise en place d’un centre de recherche sur le tabac [par l’industrie du tabac], it aims not only to produce knowledge, but above all to produce knowledge that contradicts other established facts, explains Yves Gingra, sociologist of science.

We use the scientific method against established science.

Yves Gingras, sociologist of science

The idea is to create a diversion, to sow doubt, even confusion, in short, to “dump the fish.”

The documentary notes that this style of work has been chosen by many other industries. The purpose behind this initiative? Save time to keep selling their products. Ignorance Factory He argues that it’s the same kind of process used in the case of climate change: a certain scientific discourse is used, primarily for ideological reasons, to maintain the status quo and slow the adoption of rules that would have an impact on the economy and our way of life.

Ignorance Factory It raises sensitive questions about transforming the scientific approach, but also about the role that think tanks and ordinary citizens play in spreading anti-science rhetoric and conspiracy theories.

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