Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' Talking about evolution? climate change? anti-science? No, but it might have been. That was a quote from an internal memo, written by a Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. executive in 1969, spelt out the goal of weakening this link with expert help. "Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy," according to the document, now placed in a US public archive. Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California at San Diego, said a blatant example today was the sowing of doubt about global warming. A "denial campaign" started to take root in the United States just before the Earth Summit of 1992 and amplified in the run-up to negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, she said. "They don't have to prove that they're right. They don't have to prove that there's no global warming," she said. "They simply have to raise doubts and questions, because if they can raise doubts and questions, then they can say, 'Well, since the science is not settled,' they allege, 'therefore it would be premature to act on it.' And so they delay action and avoid the kind of actions they would like to avoid." The tactic has been so successful that climate denialism is now firmly anchored in the higher reaches of US politics, said Oreskes. "Major Republican (Party) leaders say in public that they believe it's a hoax. This is a very shocking state of affairs, and particularly from a party that once upon a time was considered to be more scientific and more environmental than the Democrats." Oreskes was scathing about some US media which believed that story "balance" meant giving equal weight to opposing scientific views -- even if one opinion was backed only by a small minority in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. According to Oreskes, scientists who push climate uncertainty are not necessarily hired guns, although "some of them get money, either directly through the fossil-fuel industry or indirectly through intermediaries." "But I don't actually think money is the primary motivation. I think it's political, ideological, it's (the desire for) attention and sometimes it's narcissistic too."