Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Cost of Propaganda

I admit that one of the more shocking facts that I continue to encounter is that companies such as Exxon-Mobile spend only in the range of $10 million per year to confuse the public on the issue of global warming.

It seems to me that confusing people about such clear set of scientific findings should be more expensive than that. It should take more than pocket change to confuse the public about something that has such solid scientific support.

Tobacco companies did the same thing - spending very little money to promote lies about its product - lies that contributed (and still contribute) to tens of millions of early deaths per year and souring medical costs for all of us (who, through our insurance companies, pay the victims of the tobacco companies, rather than having the tobacoo companies themselves compensate their victims).

Why is education so expensive, and mis-education so cheep?

I find this despressing because I want the ability to cause such widespread destruction to be expensive - something far outside of what people can easily afford, so that it would be less common. It is not easy to hope for the future of humanity when widespread destruction can be purchased at such a low price.

1 comment:

Hume's Ghost said...

Why is education so expensive, and mis-education so cheep?

I haven't given that much thought, but off the top of my head I'd suggest as a partial answer that its easier to spit out lies than it is to tell the truth.

Consider a scientist who debates a creationist. The scientist has had years of study making his or her self into an expert on the ssubject. That scientist will be careful to state what is scientifically accurate.

The creationist need none of that expertise or careful consideration of the truth of the issue in order to win the debate. All the creationist needs in an ignorant or sympathetic audience and to issue more lies than the scientist has time to rebut.

Another reason that the cost of propaganda is low, I would guess, is because the real costs (in terms of human health, environmental damage, etc.) is deferred.

As an aside, I really do loathe Rush Limbaugh. Not only has he said that global warming is a fraud, but as late as the mid 90s (and up till today as far as I know) he has maintained that nicotine isn't addictive and that cigarettes don't cause lung cancer or emphysema. He is a horrible, horrible person.