When vested interests are threatened by science-based policies, they go into spin cycle—using PR and marketing to mislead the public, lobbying policy makers, pressuring government agencies, attacking scientists, and producing counterfeit science to muddy the waters.  

The Center for Science and Democracy is exposing these tactics and advocating reforms that will make it harder to sideline science and confuse the public.

Misleading corporate PR and marketing

Decades ago, the tobacco industry wrote the book on how to distract the public from science: Manufacture uncertainty. Sow confusion. Employ front groups to give your PR messages a veneer of independence. These tactics are surfacing today in public debates on issues such as climate change, renewable energy, and food.

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Industry influence on policymakers

Corporations, and the trade groups that represent them, spend a great deal of money trying to influence public officials through political contributions and lobbying, often anonymously and without accountability to the public or even their shareholders. When they use their special access to persuade policymakers to ignore or attack science at the public's expense, we need to expose their activity and hold them accountable.

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Counterfeit science

When private interests can’t get the answers they want from independent science, they may decide to commission their own “research,” custom-tailored to produce the results they need. And while it’s usually not hard for experts to tell counterfeit science from the real thing, the process may succeed in giving the public, the press, and policymakers the impression that the science is contradictory or inconclusive where, in fact, a strong consensus exists.

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Popular myths and misconceptions

Not all misinformation about science results from agenda-driven deceptions. Sometimes a scientifically unsound idea will gain a cultural foothold and persist in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. One recent example is the anti-vaccination movement that has sprung up in response to unsupported suggestions of links between vaccination and autism or other health issues. The Center is countering these misconceptions and highlighting the importance of evidence-based policies.

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