11 episodes

How some of the world's most powerful interests made us doubt the connection between smoking and cancer, and then how the same tactics were used to make us doubt climate change.

How They Made Us Doubt Everything BBC Radio 4

    • News
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

How some of the world's most powerful interests made us doubt the connection between smoking and cancer, and then how the same tactics were used to make us doubt climate change.

    The Tobacco Playbook: 10. Leaving the Tribe

    The Tobacco Playbook: 10. Leaving the Tribe

    Our story ends at the very top, with a fax to the White House. The campaign to spread doubt about climate change was so successful, it infiltrated the White House. In 2007, a House of Representatives Committee investigation ruled: ‘There was a systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of climate change by editing climate change reports’.
    But years later, after the oil money pipeline was cut, the key groups who initiated the strategy had folded, huge swathes of the population still doubt climate change. In 2001, about 50% of Republicans thought human activity was the main cause of global warming. Ten years later that was down to just 30% or so. What happens when a Republican politician proposes legislation to tackle climate change?
    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change.
    With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    • 14 min
    The Tobacco Playbook: 9. Deep Pockets, Useful Allies

    The Tobacco Playbook: 9. Deep Pockets, Useful Allies

    Following the oil money as it’s pumped to contrarian scientists and think tanks.
    As millions of dollars flow from oil companies to researchers looking into ‘solar variation’ or picking holes in the temperature record, we reveal that ten years previously, oil company researchers had dismissed these very arguments. An internal American Petroleum Institute document from 1995 said ‘hypothesis about the role of solar variability and Michaels’ questions about temperature record are not convincing arguments against any conclusion that we are currently experiencing warming as a result of greenhouse gas emissions’. So why were they funding people who made these arguments years later?
    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change.
    With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.
    Clip used from 'The Hunt' series from 2015 by David Attenborough and Hunter Films Ltd.
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    • 13 min
    The Tobacco Playbook: 6. Jerry gets ‘duped’

    The Tobacco Playbook: 6. Jerry gets ‘duped’

    As climate change goes prime time, a super star climate change sceptic wins his last TV debate. Jerry Taylor was working at CATO, a free market think tank and was regularly on TV putting forward contrarian arguments. One day, all that changed.
    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change.
    With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    • 13 min
    The Tobacco Playbook: 7. The Opponent

    The Tobacco Playbook: 7. The Opponent

    How do you win a battle, if you’re fighting in the wrong arena? A look at how the virtues of science were being used against the scientists. Uncertainty is an inherent part of climate change science, but the word means something different to scientists. This is the lowdown on how scientists are literally using a different language to us and why this has played into the hands of those who want to delay action on climate change.
    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change.
    With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    • 13 min
    The Tobacco Playbook: 6. From Fact to Theory

    The Tobacco Playbook: 6. From Fact to Theory

    ‘Unless “climate change” becomes a non-issue…there may be no moment when we can declare victory’. We reveal the communications plans drawn up by energy groups to make us doubt climate change. From targeting ‘older, lesser educated males from larger households’ to making sure that those promoting action on climate change ‘appear to be out of touch with reality’; their ambitions were high, their tactics down and dirty.

    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change.
    With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.
    In this programme it is stated that a report by 'Informed Citizens for the Environment' discusses targeting what they call 'lower educated white males.' It is in fact a paraphrase of what is said in the report.
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    • 14 min
    The Tobacco Playbook: 5. Big Oil's Big Group

    The Tobacco Playbook: 5. Big Oil's Big Group

    As the world’s scientists agree on man-made climate change, the oil companies come together to form their own coalition. They aren’t just focused on the science, though.
    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change. With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    • 13 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

madsflash ,

Flabbergasting

You thought you knew, but the cynicism of the corporations in altering our shared reality is dumbfounding

Hyggeville ,

Eye-opening

While the BBC has much to answer for in its historically weak coverage of the climate emergency and the science behind it, this excellent, lively series goes some way to making up for that. Its cogent expose of the power and money behind climate change denialism - and its far-reaching repercussions makes it one of the most powerful and intelligent investigative series I have heard. Packed with strong interviews and searching questions, it opened my eyes to the insidious reach of lobby groups, and the made me wonder what else people are paying a lot of money for us not to know.

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