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Table 1 List of Strategies Used by Five Industries/Organizations to Manufacture Doubt

From: The science of spin: targeted strategies to manufacture doubt with detrimental effects on environmental and public health

  Strategy Explanation Tobacco Coal Sugar Syngenta Marshall Institute & Others
1 Attack Study Design To emphasize study design flaws in Aϕ that have only minimal effects on outcomes. Flaws include issues related to bias, confounding, or sample size X X X X X
2 Gain Support from Reputable Individuals Recruit experts or influential people in certain fields (politicians, industry, journals, doctors, scientists, health officials) to defend BΔ in order to gain broader support X X X X X
3 Misrepresent Data Cherry-pick data, design studies to fail, or conduct meta-analyses to dilute the work of A X X X X X
4 Suppress Incriminating Information Hide information that runs counter to B X X X X  
5 Contribute Misleading Literature Use literature published in journals or the media to deliberately misinform, either pro-B, anti-A, or to distract with peripheral topics X   X X X
6 Host Conferences or Seminars Organize conferences for scientists or relevant stakeholders to provide a space for dissemination of only pro-B information X   X X  
7 Avoid/Abuse Peer-Review Avoid the peer-review process to publish poor literature, publish without revealing funding sources, use the journal name to add weight to claims, or minimize need for peer-review among lay audiences X   X   X
8 Employ Hyperbolic or Absolutist Language Discuss scientific findings in absolutist terms or with hyperbole, use buzzwords to differentiate between “strong” and “poor” science (i.e. sound science, junk science, etc.), X X X X X
9 Blame Other Causes Find related, alternative causes for negative effects that are reported or observed X X X   X
10 Invoke Liberties/Censorship/
Overregulation
Invoke laws to emphasize equality and rights for expression of B, despite differences in evidence quality X     X
11 Define How to Measure Outcome/Exposure Attempt to set guidelines for ‘proper’ measurement of exposures or outcomes, while undermining guidelines used in A X X X X  
12 Take Advantage of Scientific Illiteracy (media/individuals) Emphasize scientific obscurity to confuse lay audiences, or deliberately disseminate unscientific or false but digestible information X   X X X
13 Pose as a Defender of Health or Truth Represent the goals of B as health-conscious or dedicated to truth X   X X X
14 Obscure involvement Ghostwrite, create shell companies, use attorney client privilege to hide association X   X X  
15 Develop a PR Strategy Devise methods for specifically reaching public audiences to spread B messages X   X X  
16 Appeal to Mass Media Appealing to journalistic balance, developing relationships with media personnel, preparing information for media personnel, invoking the Fairness Doctrine X    X X
17 Take Advantage of Victim’s Lack of Money/Influence Silence or abuse individuals by out-spending or exploiting a power imbalance   X    X
18 Normalize Negative Outcomes Normalize the presence of negative effects to reduce importance and make them seem inevitable X X    X
19 Impede Government Regulation Overwhelm governmental regulatory agencies to slow or stop their function X    X  
20 Alter Product to Seem Healthier Make modifications to harmful product to reduce ostensible negative effects X     
21 Influence Government/Laws Gain inappropriate proximity to regulatory bodies and encourage pro-B policy X X X X X
22 Attack Opponents (scientifically/personally) Conduct targeted attacks on opponents by undermining their professional or personal reputations     X X
23 Appeal to Emotion Manipulate an audiences’ emotions to draw support for claims in the absence of facts X    X  
24 Inappropriately Question Causality Argue that correlation does not equal causation despite the presence of strong evidence X     
25 Make Straw Man Arguments Publicly refute an argument that was not made by the opposition      X
26 Abuse Credentials Use qualifications in one discipline to assume authority in another discipline X     X
27 Abuse Data Access Requests Requesting access to data in order to misrepresent and attack, employing Shelby Amendment, Freedom of Information Act, etc.. X    X  
28 Claim Slippery Slope Illogically or falsely claiming that there will be disastrous consequences if B ideology is not supported X    X  
  1. ϕ “A” refers to information generated to combat scientific evidence and facts
  2. Δ “B” refers to information generated to promote narratives that are favorable to the industry