Abstract

This article examines three cases that have been identified by scholars as “manufactured” scientific controversies, in which rhetors seek to promote or delay public policy by announcing that there is an ongoing scientific debate about a matter for which there is actually an overwhelming scientific consensus. The comparative study of argumentative dynamics in the cases of AIDS dissent, global warming skepticism, and intelligent design reveals the deployment of rhetorical traps that take advantage of balancing norms and appeals to democratic values. It also reveals the ineffectual counterarguments marshalled by defenders of mainstream science. By exploring the inventional possibilities available to those who would respond to manufactured scientific controversies, this article equips readers and their students to confute deceptive arguments about science and engage in a more productive public debate. In so doing, this article initiates an Isocratean orientation to the rhetoric of science as a field of study.

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