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“Doubt is our product”: what Trump’s political spinning has in common with the tobacco industry

The process of "rubbishing" tries to make people doubt their own knowledge—whether it's about smoking or the President's tweets

By Quassim Cassam  

The Tobacco industry focussed on "rubbishing." Photo: Library of Congress

What was President Trump up to when he tweeted that the concept of global warming was invented by the Chinese to make US manufacturing less competitive? What do pro-Leave campaigners hope to achieve by describing warnings about the economic impact of Brexit as “Project Fear”? Both are examples of a popular and highly potent political tactic: rubbishing.

Rubbishing is a more extreme version of the so-called “Tobacco Strategy.” In their book Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe…

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