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Context with Brad Harris

Brad Harris, Historian

Context with Brad Harris
41 MIN2019 JUL 30
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I'm happy to be releasing another bonus episode to all of you who support my work, thank you so much.

I hope this proves to be an interesting supplement to my most recent episode discussing Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.  

As I mentioned in that episode, I spent almost two years reading through tens of thousands of tobacco industry documents released through litigation as part of research for a paper I published in the peer reviewed medical journal, Tobacco Control.  It revealed how the tobacco industry responded to the emergence of lung cancer fears in the 1950s by trying to design safer cigarettes using filter tips.  I read that paper here.

Just a warning: I dive deep and get into the weeds of the engineering history to show how complicated, and ultimately how twisted, the industry's efforts were.  In the end, they couldn't design a safer cigarette, and filters became just another fraudulent marketing ploy.  But from the 1950s to the 1960s, while industry researchers were struggling to solve the "filter problem," they learned more than anyone about what exactly made cigarette smoke so toxic.  

It's a fascinating glimpse of how legitimate scientific R&D can proceed in otherwise corrupt corporate contexts. 

I hope you enjoy.