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"Agnotology" .. Why should we not believe science sometimes?  |

“Agnotology” .. Why should we not believe science sometimes? |

“I saw Ronaldo take away Coca-Cola, but I will put it in front of me and I will put Heineken, call me,” this was what the star of the Ukrainian national team Andriy Yarmolenko said on the seventeenth of last June in a press conference after his country’s victory over North Macedonia, aiming to attract Attention, after a situation that occurred two days before, when Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo removed Coca-Cola bottles from him at a press conference and said: “Drink water.”

Then rumors circulated that what Ronaldo said had caused a loss of 4-5 billion dollars to Coca-Cola, and although the financial accounts do not agree with these rumors, the behavior of either Yarmolenko or Ronaldo strongly influences the behavior of the fans who follow them, the same applies The famous singer Tamer Hosny, Nancy Ajram, Amir Eid, or any of the art stars or influencers who present the same company’s ads, but the important question here is: How many times does any of them drink Coca-Cola in their day?

society kings

Looking at the physical structure of each of them, for most artists now, it seems that they follow healthy diets, as well as in the case of athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo or others, with the difference that athletes usually follow harsh diets that a soft drink such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi cannot be part of. of them, but many of them participate in the advertisements of these companies anyway, on the grounds that it is harmless.

But is it really so? In the Arab world, for example, obesity rates exceed a third of the population and sometimes reach half, and these soft drinks and other fast foods, and proven long-term medical harm, contribute greatly to this crisis, but no one pays attention, the same is true of Smoking also, with the huge difference in the harms of smoking, and in the campaigns that made it familiar to people as well.

You can notice the depth of the matter in the meeting of the Egyptian director “Amr Salama” when he said that one of the features of Refaat Ismail’s character, in his series “Paranormal”, is that he is a smoker, which he faced a problem with allowing him by “Netflix”, this Because the company is taking a political direction against the European and American right that supports smoking companies and their advertisements, from here it becomes clear that the matter has become more than just propaganda, these companies have attached themselves to the policies of countries, and even to capitalism itself.

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In her book “Merchants of Doubt,” Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science from Harvard University, says that tobacco companies have paid billions of dollars in order for the cigarette to appear in the hands of every influencer, whether he is a famous rock or pop star or an actor in a movie, so that it seems that The cigarette is what gives him strength, or is it a feature inherent in this level of magnificence, and so far we can observe this in many Arab films, but in addition to all this media psychological impact, the tobacco companies faced in the fifties and sixties of the last century a completely different enemy, it is science .

The book “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes (Social Networking Sites)

Fighting science with science

When the first research appeared indicating a possible link between smoking, heart disease and cancer, it seemed that the end of tobacco was near, but according to tens of thousands of documents leaked later from the Federation of Tobacco Companies and obtained by many journalists and researchers, these companies decided to resist May they survive. In his book “The Golden Holocaust: The Origins of the Cigarette Disaster and the Heroes’ Cause,” Robert Proctor, a professor of science history at Stanford University, Robert Proctor, who is one of those who studied these documents, says that these companies have met only one goal, which is to raise suspicion.

The goal, from this point of view, is not to prove the error of the scientific research that says that smoking is very harmful to health, but to make people skeptical about those research even to one degree, and the public usually wants to rely on a firm certainty, not recognizing the possibilities, as long as something What or what effect is “probable”, the order is “argumentative” with a margin of evasion. Proctor called the tools the tobacco companies used: “tobacco strategies.”

These strategies included creating dispersed research aimed at distracting scientific research from important questions related to the relationship between smoking and heart disease, for example, or lung cancer. It also included creating research organizations that resist real scientific research, and even mobilizing a number of experts not to confirm the validity or wrongness of tobacco research, but rather To give various, conflicting, and sometimes misleading interpretations of the results of those researches, and then request modifications, additional research, and more emphatic evidence that no one will be able to fulfill in this medium.

At the same time, these companies worked on writing “smoking-friendly” articles in popular public magazines, publishing pro-smoking papers in poor science journals (and even founding journals of this kind), and then promoting those papers heavily in the media and giving their writers the opportunity to become stars, In addition, the tobacco companies opened fire on scientists who emphasized the harms of smoking, and even put their personal lives at the heart of the game. The slogan of the tobacco companies was “fighting science with science.”

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The Golden Holocaust: The Origins of the Cigarette Disaster and the Hero Cause by Stanford University Professor Robert Proctor

What does consensus mean?

Science is by its nature probabilistic. People may think that there is a clear mistake and a clear right in all its domains. This is due to the fact that the most widespread scientific news usually comes from the domains of physics and astronomy and says: “We found a planet containing such a compound,” or “We proved the existence of the Higgs boson.” But in the fields of biology and medicine, there are always degrees of support and preponderance. When we say that scientific consensus refers to something, this does not mean all scientists, but rather the vast majority of them.

Take, for example, the issues of climate change, where it can be said that the claim that (97% of research work in the field of global warming says that humans have a role in its occurrence) is one of the most famous statements used in the media or research, and John Cook in 2013 examined the results of what Approximately 4000 scientific studies talk about global warming and the role of humans in it. Here, Cook’s study says that 97% of those studies indicate a role for humans in global warming, which means scientific consensus on this opinion.

Cook was not satisfied with that, especially after a fierce controversy over his first study. In 2016 he worked on a study that spoke of “consensus consensus”, that is, the consensus of scientists in the field of climate change on the results of studies that try to examine the consensus in the scientific community, here the new results concluded that it is always What will happen to this consensus in the scientific community between 90-100% of scientists that humans have a role in the global warming that we are currently experiencing, but because people understand the scientific consensus wrong, so they think, for example, that it is talking about all scientists, and about the opinions of scientists and not their research, and here they fall into the snare.

In its aforementioned book, Orysex says that major energy companies have used the same tobacco strategies to combat climate change research that, more than half a century ago, pointed to the role of humans in this disaster, and according to a study published in the journal Nature in May 2019, The reason for this very slow response to the crisis is political pressure to prevent decisive environmental decisions in this regard.

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In fact, spending for political lobbying against climate initiatives over the past two decades can be estimated at $2 billion, and a 2013 Drexel University study found that a large chunk of donations to organizations that deny global warming are funneled through companies that hide the original funder. It’s the same strategies: counter-research, consensus-jumping, counter-organizations, articles in public journals and research journals, etc.


At that point, we can get acquainted with a new term that Proctor established for him, which is “Agnotology”, which means “the science of ignorance”. Darkness If the light is absent, but it describes the work of a party, often with political or economic interests, deliberately withholding or distorting information for the purpose of casting doubt on society, here science itself can work, with its same tools, to reduce or even withhold knowledge. And at that point in particular, science may be causing harm to people.

The matter is subdivided into something deeper than that to become an entire philosophical field that studies the mechanisms of ignorance due to science, in an attempt to answer questions that currently impose themselves, such as: Why do people refuse vaccines? Why do they imagine that “Covid-19” is nothing but a conspiracy? Why do 12 million Americans think that there is a class of lizards ruling the world? How did so many lose faith in the scientific evidence? We say this here and now, because it does not seem to us that there is a way out of what we are in but knowledge, but what if science itself is the cause of all the controversy?!

In one of his lectures, Robert Proctor says that the strategies of tobacco were so powerful that they changed the shape of the contemporary world, and contributed to adding doubt as part of its composition. He adds that the owners of these companies did not even believe that they could continue to be masters of tobacco for all that time, but it happened in the end!



  1. Proctor, Robert N. (2012). The Golden Holocaust: The Origins of the Cigarette Disaster and the Case for Abolition. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520270169.
  2. Oresix, Naomi; Conway, Eric M.; (2010). Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Blurred the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomsbury Press. ISBN 978-1-59691-610-4
  3. More about the scientific consensus
  4. More about climate change

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