Manufactured ignorance » Butterflies and Wheels

This is a subject that has always interested me – agnotology, the study of the cultural production of ignorance.

It’s a rich field, especially today when whole industries devote themselves to sowing public misinformation and doubt about their products and activities.

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public acceptance of the scientifically proven links between smoking and disease: In the words of an internal 1969 memo legal opponents extracted from Brown & Williamson’s files, “Doubt is our product.” Big Tobacco’s method should not be to debunk the evidence, the memo’s author wrote, but to establish a “controversy.”

via Manufactured ignorance » Butterflies and Wheels.

Big Mac and the Redsk*ns | Native News Online

He was with three other Navajo code talkers, and yet, in all the mainstream press coverage of the event no one mentioned he was the former Navajo Nation Chairman, serving an unprecedented four terms from 1971 to 1989 before being convicted on federal racketeering and fraud charges. “Big Mac” as he was known on the Navajo Nation, spent eight years in federal prison before finally receiving a pardon by President Clinton in 2001.

via Big Mac and the Redsk*ns | Native News Online.

Why New York City Streets Keep Exploding, and You Can’t Predict Where’s Next – The Wire

The explosion in Harlem on Wednesday that leveled two buildings and killed at least two people was only the latest deadly explosion in New York City in recent years. While the reason the buildings blew up isn’t yet known, there’s good reason to consider old, cast-iron gas lines a primary suspect. Those gas lines run throughout the city, and — not to be alarmist! — could fail at any time.

In 2007, 69-year-old Kunta Oza was killed when her house in Sunnyside, Queens exploded. That explosion was traced back to a break in a gas main in the street outside — as the Daily News reported,  “an 80-year-old cast-iron gas main.”

Both the age and composition of that main are significant. In a remarkable bit of timing, the Center for an Urban Future released a report this week detailing the age of various parts of New York City’s infrastructure, and it included a look at the aging natural gas network. In the area of Wednesday’s blast — 116th and Park Avenue — the gas provider is Con Edison. According to the CUF report, Con Edison’s network has a number of trouble spots.

via Why New York City Streets Keep Exploding, and You Can’t Predict Where’s Next – The Wire.