Merchants of Doubt also features Steve Milloy, a paid advocate for the tobacco giant Phillip Morris and coal company Murray Energy. “Dioxin, pesticides, chemicals in general—there’s no evidence that these are harming us,” he says in one scene. When Pruitt announced the EPA’s new science policy on Tuesday, Milloy was one of the few people invited to the event—reporters were not—because he has been a longtime proponent of the “secret science” rule. He was also quoted in nearly every major news outlet’s story about it, sometimes referring to himself in the third person.
“I look at it as one of my proudest achievements,” he told the trade publication
“The reason this is anywhere is because of Steve Milloy.” E&E News.
Milloy has long rejected established science, arguing against the overwhelming body of peer-reviewed literature linking secondhand smoke to cancer, human activity to global warming, and air pollution to premature death. He calls these bodies of research “junk science,” primarily because they are based on human health data, which is confidential due to privacy laws. Though hundreds of scientists have approved these studies through extensive peer review, Milloy has said the results aren’t trustworthy, and has sought to disqualify them from being used to make regulations.
Glantz says this is a tactic originated by the tobacco industry, which in the 1990s was getting increasingly frustrated by the number of studies linking their product to health problems. “They realized that, rather than fighting every single study that came out linking them to cancer, if they could get the rules of evidence changed, they wouldn’t have to worry about it,” Glantz said. So, tobacco companies came up with a reasonable-sounding set of rules for “transparency” in research, and created an organization called
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition to advocate for them.
disguised itself as an independent nonprofit, “advocating the use of sound science in public policy decision making,” according to its now-defunct website. It was based out of Milloy’s home. “They tried to place standards for interpreting epidemiology that made it impossible to implicate secondhand smoke as causing anything bad,” Glantz said. They did not succeed, and public opinion overwhelmingly shifted toward the belief that secondhand smoke indeed was harmful.