The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception

ISBN : 9780190922665

David Michaels
336 ページ
156 x 235 mm
  • An insider's look at the machinations of manufactured doubt in science -- bogus studies, congressional testimonies, think-tank policy documents -- and how they have risen to prominence in American life and government
  • Details how corporations manipulate science not just to defend dangerous products and activities, but also to market them as safe
  • New details around high-profile cases of manufactured, misleading uncertainty, including in car manufacturing, professional sports, our food and drink, and the air we breathe
  • Argues that the anti-science policies of the Trump Administration are not new, but are instead the outcome of decades-long campaigns by the tobacco and fossil fuel industries to stop regulation of deadly products
  • Exposes how corporations "work the referees" in the regulatory process to ensure their products are not labeled as cancer-causing -- even when they are
  • Authored by President Obama's OSHA administrator and chief safety officer of the nuclear weapons complex under President Clinton

Well-heeled American corporations have long had a financial stake in undermining scientific consensus and manufacturing uncertainty. In The Triumph of Doubt, former Obama and Clinton official David Michaels details how corrupt science becomes public policy -- and where it's happening today.

Opioids. Concussions. Obesity. Climate Change.
America is a country of everyday crises -- big, long-spanning problems that persist despite their toll on the country's health. And for every case of government inaction on one of these issues, there is a set of familiar, doubtful refrains: The science is unclear. The data are inconclusive. Regulation is unjustified. It's a slippery slope.
Is it?
The Triumph of Doubt traces the ascendance of science-for-hire in American life and government, from its origins in the tobacco industry in the 1950s to its current manifestations across government, public policy, and even professional sports. Amid fraught conversations of "alternative facts" and "truth decay," The Triumph of Doubt wields its unprecedented access to shine a light on the machinations and scope of manipulated science in American society. It is an urgent, revelatory work, one that promises to reorient conversations around science and the public good for the foreseeable future.


1. Introduction
2. The Science of Deception
3. The Forever Chemical
4. The NFL's Head Doctors
5. A Spirited Denial
6. The Deal with Diesel
7. On Opioids
8. Deadly Dust
9. Working the Refs
10. Volkswagen's Other Bug
11. The Climate Denial Machine
12. Sickeningly Sweet
13. The Party Line
14. Science for Sale
15. Future in Doubt


David Michaels, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. He served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, the longest serving administrator in the agency's history. Prior to that, he served under President Bill Clinton as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health, charged with protecting the workers, community residents and environment in and around the nation's nuclear weapons facilities.

"It is so refreshing to read David Michaels' The Triumph of Doubt. He has the facts researched, vetted and thoroughly cited, and is not afraid to lay blame, call people liars and companies frauds."--San Francisco Review of Books

"David Michaels is that rare combination: the fearless expert. He not only knows where the bodies are buried, he knows who buried them. The Triumph of Doubt and its predecessor, Doubt Is Their Product, are timely, readable, and essential guides for anyone seeking to understand how the corruption of science is damaging the health of everyone from football players and factory workers to soda drinkers and truck drivers-in short, anyone with a pulse."--Dan Fagin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toms River

"David Michaels lays bare the dark money and the corporate science racket that kept the lethalities of tobacco, asbestos, lead, silica, pesticides, and scores of other life- and health-destroying products on the market and in the workplace, escaping the reach of the law. He names names of people and companies fronted by their so-called 'product defense' business and its corporate attorney enablers; delays, obfuscation, falsehood, and retaliation against ethical whistleblowers are the coins of their insidious realms. This book is written to get you angry enough to want to learn how to defend yourselves, your communities, and our vulnerable planet. Let it grip you toward detection and defiance." --Ralph Nader
"As a society, it's vital we properly debate issues using data and research. The Triumph of Doubt, David Michaels's wonderfully deep dive into the well-funded war on scientific consensus and certainty, makes the stakes clear: our planet. Read this." --Adam Savage, Mythbusters

"No one has done more to expose the deep corruption in American safety regulation that harms us all-and especially our kids. After spending seven years as America's chief safety regulator, David Michaels offers a beautifully crafted argument for how much more we need to do. Required-if frightening-reading for anyone who cares about a clean and safe environment for America and the world." --Lawrence Lessig, author of Fidelity and Constraint

"A page-turner-one you'll wish was fiction. From hired guns to dark money, The Triumph of Doubt unravels corporations' playbook for deceiving the public through misinformation."--Mona Hanna-Attisha, author of What the Eyes Don't See

"The Triumph of Doubt is an industry-by-industry account of how corporations manipulate science and scientists to promote profits, not public health. Nothing less than democracy is at stake here, and we all should be responding right away to David Michaels' call for action."--Marion Nestle, author of Unsavory Truth

"It takes real courage to speak out against entrenched corporate interests and big industry. I saw that courage firsthand when I worked alongside Dr. Michaels in the Obama administration to protect workers at construction sites from cancer-causing silica dust. The Triumph of Doubt doesn't just tell the story of how we overcame the falsehoods of industry-funded studies, it shines a disinfecting light on the ways corporations obscure the truth and downplay risk to pump up their bottom line. This is a must-read." --Tom Perez, former U.S. Labor Secretary
"A compelling and necessary work for anyone interested in the truth and those who seek to bury it. Michaels details the methods used by those in power to hide the truth-and the moral bankruptcy at work when they do so." --Demaurice Smith, National Football League Players Association Executive Director
"As a third-generation coal miner from a family who has suffered the deadly consequences of Black Lung, I know firsthand that worker safety should never be politicized. David Michaels's book is a must-read for business, labor and the scientific community." --Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President
"David Michaels provides well-written evidence in his book about how corporations that produce dangerous products-tobacco, big oil, chemicals, pharmaceuticals-use 'product defense' science to sow doubt about the hazards hidden in their products to consumers. His evidence highlights the important role unbiased government scientists play in protecting the public health of Americans and our environment from exposure to toxic materials and from corporate deceit."--Senator Tom Udall
"From the pharmaceutical industry's role in the opioid crisis to the Koch brothers' climate denial apparatus, Michaels examines big industry's jarring history of manufacturing false scientific doubt in the name of profit. This is an important book that will serve as a tool in exposing corporate deceit."--Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
"Whether it's the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry, or the fossil fuel industry, vested interests have repeatedly sought to attack and discredit scientific findings that have revealed the public endangerment by their products. David Michaels should know-he's been fighting the good fight for more than a decade to expose the bad actors and bring them to justice. Read this book to learn what we're up against and how to fight back."--Michael E. Mann, author of The Madhouse Effect

"Poisoning the well of public debate is the ultimate act of cynicism. As David Michaels makes breathtakingly clear, one industry after another has lied and manipulated in order to make more money, and the rest of us have borne the terrible costs." --Bill McKibben, author of Falter

"While the truth can be inconvenient, corporations and government leaders cannot continue to manufacture alternative narratives that place their interests and profits above our humanity; this culture, if left unchallenged, will result in our doom. The Triumph of Doubt reminds us that there can only be one truth." --Bennet Omalu, author of Truth Doesn't Have a Side

"Few people have done more to document disinformation about science than David Michaels. His new book is an important addition to the growing literature on doubt, disinformation, and deception."--Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt

"In the NFL, team doctors answer to the organization; players joke that it's like Dracula running the blood bank. It's a microcosm of what David Michaels brilliantly illuminates in The Triumph of Doubt: When corporations manipulate science and launch marketing campaigns to sow doubt, they ensure human suffering. Michaels's work is vital reading for everyone to understand these industry tactics."--Chris Borland, former NFL player
"Scientist, public servant, and passionate advocate for health and safety, Michaels has written an absorbing sequel to his path-breaking work on manufactured doubt. He documents how powerful corporations have turned 'product defense' into a new political strategy, using dark money to pummel good science and keep dangerous products on the market. A must-read in the fight to restore public trust in regulatory science." --Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School
"Driven by scientific interest, The Triumph of Doubt is a measured but passionate argument for protecting the public from harmful substances via federal oversight." --Foreword Reviews

"[An] excoriating account of the corporate denial industry... It is a brave and important book, raising the alarm about the systemic corruption of science."--Felicity Lawrence, Nature