Manufacturing doubt

“Manufacturers of harmful products engage in misinformation tactics long employed by the tobacco industry to emphasize uncertainty about scientific evidence and deflect negative attention from their products. This study assessed the effects of one type of tactic, the use of “alternative causation” arguments, on public understanding. Methods In five trials (one for each industry) anonymized Qualtrics panel respondents were randomized to receive a message on the risk in question from one of four industry sponsored organizations (exposure), or from one of four independent organizations (control), on risks related to alcohol, tobacco, fossil fuel and sugar sweetened beverages.”

“This study demonstrates that exposure to industry sponsored messages which appear intended to downplay risk significantly increases uncertainty or false certainty, with the effect being greater in less knowledgeable participants.”

Read further from SSM – Population Health (January 2022)

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