The Deception Industry
"Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour."
I’ve been asking this question for a while. What do we call the intentional organized effort by corporations to disinform and confuse the public over matters of public safety and public health?
Now there's a word for the study of intentional corporate falsehood. But is there a name for the act itself?
Until this dangerous corporate strategy is understood and there's a name for it it's hard to make it a crime.
Ignorance is their friend.
The lag time between harm done and public awareness allows decades to go by, while the company reaps large annual profits, and their dangerous products cause harm to millions of people.
This same delay allows the statute of limitations to expire. It allows their victims and witnesses to die off and the evidence to vanish.
Chemical companies whose products cause neurological diseases use this strategy.
The global Catholic hierarchy used this strategy for decades to cover up for pedophile priests, enabling them to go on destroying innocent lives.
Big tobacco used this strategy.
The asbestos industry used this strategy.
Big Oil knew the dangers of global warming caused by CO2 emissions and covered it up for decades, paying scientists to fabricate and distort evidence and confuse the public.
The NRA’s allies in Congress have prevented the scientific study of the harm done by gun violence.
Police departments have prevented the collection of information on police abuse and police shootings.
The corporations that control the machines that tally our votes claim the technology is “proprietary” and therefore it is a secret and the public has no business overseeing the vote count.
Why is there no name for this deliberate, organized, systematic and decades-long practice of keeping the public in the dark? Is the language also in thrall to their corrupt money? Without language to define the abuse it is hard to pass laws against it. Corporate money buys more lawyers and creates wealthier lawyers, who then endow law schools and universities, and the ignorance becomes a public fact, a carefully nurtured public policy.
Money shapes how we think. Call it “moneythink.” It certainly shapes our laws and how our laws are enforced. This same corrupt money dominates our legislative process, thanks to Citizens United, which was shaped by the right wing of the Supreme Court, which was created by the dominance of corporate money in politics. Millions more Americans vote Democratic than vote Republican, yet the Republicans still control both houses of Congress. Corporate money helps them do this.
But we are complicit too. We are individually in thrall to “moneythink”. When we are unsure how to vote or what to think we delegate our decisions to our money. What do our stock portfolios want us to do? If it’s a coin toss decision between left and right, we too often side with the markets which hold our retirement plans hostage, and the markets are dominated by large corporations.
Never mind that the markets have always done significantly better during Democratic presidencies, the corporations and the people in control of them prefer deregulation and lax enforcement and public ignorance of the damage corporations are causing to public health and well being. What we don’t know can’t hurt them.