Neoliberal Science Skepticism

Tools For A New Political Economy

Neoliberal Attacks on Science

Many of the same players have been involved in neoliberal attacks on science, with the dual aim of protecting high-profit cash cow industries, and restricting government interference in corporate control of those markets.

The Main Players

The main players in the “science skepticism” deception can easily be traced to many of the neoliberal think tanks. However, it should also be appreciated that a preexisting tendency to doubt scientific conclusions (and/or feel antagonized by them) already existed among a majority of religious conservatives in the U.S. This has been evidenced over the many decades of active resistance from conservative, faith-based communities and organizations to everything from teaching evidence-based sex education and evolutionary theory in public schools, to denying the science around genetic factors in homosexuality, to disputing the efficacy of psychotherapy, and much more. So really, as an initial launching point for popular opposition to research and government policies they didn’t like, all neoliberal strategists needed to accomplish was to amplify that skepticism and focus it on their issues of choice. And that’s precisely what they have done.

One of the more salient examples of this is the anti-science propaganda campaigns neoliberals initiated around
tobacco health risks, climate change, acid rain, pesticides, ozone, and other evidence-based concerns, which is illustrated in the graphic below. All of these linkages are easy to trace, and resources for verification are included below the graphic. Appreciating just how obvious these efforts have been should help warn anyone about the scope and intent of the neoliberal agenda: for neoliberals, anything that interferes with profits, capital flows or corporate control will be discredited, villainized, delayed or politically immobilized. For such folks, attacking science that can potentially disrupt their plutocracy is just “business as usual.”

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