Artificial controversy

Artificial controversy

An artificial controversy, or variously a contrived controversy, engineered controversy, fabricated controversy, manufactured controversy, or manufactroversy is a controversy that does not stem from genuine difference of opinion. The controversy is typically developed by an interest group, such as a political partycite book |author=Bush, Richard Clarence |title=At cross purposes: U. S.-Taiwan relations since 1942 |publisher=M.E. Sharpe |location=Armonk, N.Y |year=2004 |pages= |isbn=0-7656-1372-7 |quote=His reputation had been tarnished in a Republican-engineered controversy over an internal House financial agency] or a marketing company, to attract media attention,cite book |author=Austin, Thomas |title=Hollywood, hype and audiences: selling and watching popular film in the 1990s |publisher=Manchester University Press |location=Manchester |year=2002 |pages= p. 45|isbn=0-7190-5775-2 |quote=Even in an era well used to the mechanisms of film ‘hype' — aggressive marketing, engineered controversy, press sensationalism ] or to facilitate framing of a particular issue. Creating controversy is also a controversial legal tactic used to gain advantage in a negotiation or trial. The controversy may stem from a minor incident blown out of proportion,cite book |author=Coleman, Ronny J. |title=Chief's Clipboard: Twenty Years of Ronny Coleman |publisher=Jones and Bartlett Publishers |location=Boston |year= 2005 |origyear= 1987 |origmonth= 09| chapter = How to Swim With Sharks and Survive |pages= p. 77|isbn=0-7637-3616-3 |quote = ... that individual finds himself or herself in the midst of a fabricated controversy. By fabricated, I mean a relatively minor incident blown out of proportion, ...] from a false claim of controversy where no serious dispute existed,or no reasonable doubt remains,or unintentionally from misinterpreting data.

Writing on the politics of cancer and the influence of special interest groups on the public policy debate, Dr. Robert N. Proctor, history of science professor at Stanford University specializing in scientific controversy and the cultural production of ignorance, [cite web |url= |title=Stanford History Department : Robert N. Proctor |accessdate=2007-08-12 |format= |publisher=Stanford University] which he calls agnotology, [cite news|title=What Organizations Don't Want to Know Can Hurt|author=Arenson, Karen W.|work=New York Times|date=2006-08-22|quote='there is a lot more protectiveness than there used to be,' said Dr.Proctor, who is shaping a new field, the study of ignorance, which he calls agnotology] described the use of artificial controversy: "The relation between knowledge and ignorance in these matters is complex....The problem is partly that ignorance can be manufactured, controversy can be engineered."cite book |author=Proctor, Robert N.|editor=Lewontin, Richard C.; Singh, Rama S. |chapter=28. What Causes Cancer? A Political History of Recent Debates|title=Thinking about evolution: historical, philosophical, and political perspectives. Volume two |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, UK |year=2001 |pages= p. 569|isbn=0-521-62070-8 |oclc= |doi=] In a 2006 interview regarding public perceptions of the press in the United States, iconic journalist Carl Bernstein, one half of the Woodward & Bernstein team who broke the Watergate scandal story that ultimately ended the presidency of Richard Nixon, lamented, "Well, let's take a look at what we're talking about: misinformation, disinformation, celebrity stuff—gossip, sensationalism and especially manufactured controversy.... Increasingly, sensationalism, gossip, manufactured controversy have become our agenda instead of the best obtainable version of the truth. We've become frivolous." [cite web |url= |title=Interview: Carl Bernstein| series=Is there a war on the press?|date=2007-02-13 |accessdate=2007-08-12 |publisher=WGBH educational foundation |work=Frontline]


A common method of making denial look legitimate is generating artificial controversies over the subject matter.

*Holocaust deniers typically brand the historical consensus of the Holocaust genocide of World War II as 'controversial' to try to get others to believe there is a genuine difference of opinions between non-holocaust-denying historians, or that there is reasonable doubt as to the reality of the Holocaust. For example, French holocaust denier Robert Faurisson has actively generated controversy over the existence of Nazi gas chambers, including questioning their technical characteristics, and labeling his opponents as "exterminationists."cite book |author=Grobman, Alex; Shermer, Michael |title=Denying history: who says the Holocaust never happened and why do they say it? |publisher=University of California Press |location=Berkeley |year=2000 |pages= p. 60|isbn=0-520-23469-3 |quote=Of all the deniers we met, in fact, Robert Faurisson seems to be the most interested in actively stirring things up, getting in people's faces, and generating controversy.]

*Tobacco industry documents show that the industry created controversy over the dangers of tobacco smoking, and later passive smoking,cite journal
author = Saloojee, Y.
coauthors = Dagli, E.
year = 2000
title = Tobacco industry tactics for resisting public policy on health
journal = Bulletin of the World Health Organization
volume = 78
issn= 0042-9686
pages = 902–910
url =
accessdate = 2007-08-12
quote=The tactics used by the tobacco industry to resist government regulation of its products include ... buying scientific and other expertise to create controversy about established facts...The industry’s strategy does not require winning the debates it manufactures. It is enough to foster and perpetuate the illusion of controversy...
] without actually denying the claims. A 1969 Brown and Williamson internal document describes the strategy: “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. ... Spread doubt over strong scientific evidence and the public won’t know what to believe.” [cite news |url= |title=Fuelling Controversy |accessdate=2007-08-04 |format= |work=UK Watch|publisher=Znet|quote=...the tobacco industry’s plan was not to try and win the scientific argument.... What they could do, appropriately enough, was create a smokescreen: a manufactured controversy fostering enough doubt in the public...] [cite news |url= |title=The denial industry : George Monbiot on climate change and Big Tobacco | work= The Guardian |accessdate=2007-08-05 |date=2006-09-19 |quote=As a memo from the tobacco company Brown and Williamson noted, 'Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.'] The same tactics were used a generation later in the passive smoking debate. A 1988 meeting of the United Kingdom tobacco industry concerned Philip Morris's plans to use "vast sums of money" to fund research that could cast doubt on the health effects of second-hand smoke. Their intention was to "coordinate and pay scientists on an international basis to keep the environmental tobacco smoke controversy alive".

*Teach the Controversy, a Discovery Institute ideological denialism campaign against "the Theory of Evolution" is another example of a manufactured controversy."That this controversy is one largely manufactured by the proponents of creationism and intelligent design may not matter, and as long as the controversy is taught in classes on current affairs, politics, or religion, and not in science classes, neither scientists nor citizens should be concerned." [ Intelligent Judging — Evolution in the Classroom and the Courtroom] George J. Annas, New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354:2277–2281 May 25, 2006] "Some bills seek to discredit evolution by emphasizing so-called "flaws" in the theory of evolution or "disagreements" within the scientific community. Others insist that teachers have absolute freedom within their classrooms and cannot be disciplined for teaching non-scientific "alternatives" to evolution. A number of bills require that students be taught to "critically analyze" evolution or to understand "the controversy." But there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one." [ AAAS Statement on the Teaching of Evolution] American Association for the Advancement of Science. February 16, 2006 ] [ [ Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals. A Position Paper from the Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy] Barbara Forrest. May, 2007.] cite book |author=Sarkar, Sahotra |title=Doubting Darwin?: Creationist Designs on Evolution |series=(Blackwell Public Philosophy Series) |publisher=Blackwell Publishing Limited |location= |year=2007 |pages= p. 166|isbn=140515490X |quote=Moreover, the "controversy" within biology allegedly over evolution versus ID creationism is an artificial controversy generated by the claim that evolution is controversial.] The issue reached the United States federal court system in the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Several students and their parents challenged the school board's policy inspired by the intelligent design movement ((IDM) requiring science teachers to read a prepared statement on intelligent design (ID) in science class. After a 40-day trial, conservative judge John E. Jones III wrote in his his 139-page findings of fact and decision, "ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the "controversy", but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID." []

Some notable usage examples

A partial list of notable controversies labeled as artificial, contrived, engineered, fabricated, or manufactured by a credible though not necessarily objective source, and without regard to whether the controversy is in fact genuine or artificial:

Artificial controversy

*Former U.S. Army Aviator and Philippine political prisoner William J. Pomeroy called opposition to the 1933 Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act for Philippine independence an "artificial controversy" launched for political advantage.cite book |author=Pomeroy, William J. |title=The Philippines: colonialism, collaboration, and resistance |publisher=International Publishers |location=New York |year=1992 |pages= p. 86|isbn=0-7178-0692-8 |quote=...the artificial controversy that was created over the initial measure approved by the US Congress, the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act.]
*"Steven's Handbook of Experimental Psychology" states that arbitrary statistical thresholds for interpreting experimental data cause unnecessary confusion and "artificial controversy"cite book |author=Pashler, Harold E.; Stevens, S. S. |title=Steven's handbook of experimental psychology |publisher=John Wiley & Sons |location=Chichester |year=2002 |pages= p. 348|isbn=0-471-44333-6 |quote=The reject/fail-to-reject [the null hypothesis] dichotomy keeps the field awash in confusion and artificial controversy. ]

Contrived controversy

* Mark Beeson, a senior lecturer in International Relations at Griffith University, characterized possible reunification with Malaysia in Singapore as "highly contrived controversy."cite book |first=Mark |last=Beeson |title=Reconfiguring East Asia: regional institutions and organizations after the crisis |publisher=RoutledgeCurzon |location=London |year=2002 |pages= p. 111|isbn=0-7007-1477-4 |quote=Indeed, in the highly contrived controversy in Singapore over possible re-merger with Malaysia, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong distinctive features of the Singapore polity that would preclude a possible merger with Malaysia, and prominent in this list was the existence of the ‘rule of law']
* Former FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood wrote that the media circus surrounding the 1987 Tawana Brawley rape case in New York was a "contrived controversy."cite book |author=Hazelwood, Roy; Michaud, Stephen G. |title=The Evil That Men Do |publisher=St. Martin's True Crime |location= |year= 2000|pages= p. 263 |isbn=0-312-97060-9 |quote=As the contrived controversy gained momentum, and national attention, New York governor Mario Cuomo named Bob Abrams, the state attorney general, as a special prosecutor.]

Engineered controversy

* The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in India has termed the uproar over the Sripada Sagar Project on the Pranahita River an "engineered controversy" designed to delay work. [cite web |url= | firs= Andhra | last = Pradesh|title= Hyderabad News : It's engineered controversy, says CLP | date=2006-10-03 |accessdate=2007-08-04 |format= |work=The Hindu|quote=The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) has termed the uproar over the estimates of Sripada Sagar Project an "engineered controversy" aimed at stalling the project work.]
* Biographer Andrew Morton contrasted the "engineered controversy" and deliberate chaos the entertainer Madonna causes in her artistic life with the order and regimentation of her business routine.cite book |author=Morton, Andrew R. |title=Madonna |publisher=St. Martin's Paperbacks |location=New York |year=2002 |pages=p. 24 |isbn=0-312-98310-7 |quote=The engineered controversy and deliberate chaos she causes in her artistic life contrast with the order and regimentation of her business routine.]
* Writers Laura Miller and Philip Jenkins characterized the 2001 brouhaha over the display of artist Renée Cox's "Yo Mama's Last Supper" at the "once attention starved Brooklyn Museum" as an "engineered controversy" (Miller's term) on the part of the museum; Jenkins noted that there is now "no better spot to get noticed if you are taking aim at the Roman Catholic Church". [cite news |url= |title= The new victimology |date=2001-02-17|first=Laura |last=Miller|accessdate=2007-08-04 |format= | News|quote=Cox (whose media-readiness, it must be said, makes the whole brouhaha seem like an engineered controversy on the part of BMA) describes the work as a critique of the church...] cite book |author=Jenkins, Philip |title= |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Oxford [Oxfordshire] |year=2003 |pages= p. 126-128|isbn=0-19-515480-0 |quote=In many such incidents, it looks very much as if the artists and the galleries concerned were deliberately seeking a succes de scandale.]

Fabricated controversy

*U.S. Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama accused his opponent, fellow senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, of creating a "fabricated controversy" over his foreign policy comments in July 2007. [cite news |url= |title=Clinton and Obama Campaigns Spar Over Debate|date=2007-07-25|accessdate=2007-08-04 |author=Healy, Pattrick|work=New York Times|quote=Mr. Obama responded swiftly, saying the Clinton campaign was concocting a 'fabricated controversy.']
* Pace University Professor of Law John A. Humbach argues that "fabricated controversy" as a lawyering technique undercuts the trial as a "search for truth," and thereby undermines justice and the rule of law.cite journal
author = Humbach, John A.
journal =Professional Lawyer, Vol. 11, No. 4,
year = 2000
volume =11
number =4
title = Abuse of Confidentiality and Fabricated Controversy: Two Proposals
url =
accessdate = 2007-08-05
quote=By contesting issues on which the parties do not really disagree, a diligent advocate can secure for the client an added chance to 'snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.'

Manufactured controversy

* In early 2007, U.S. retail giant Walmart claimed a "manufactured controversy" forced it to drop plans to open an industrial loan corporation, a type of bank. [cite web |url= |title=Wal-Mart ends attempt to start bank : FDIC calls move wise, retailer cites 'manufactured controversy' |accessdate=2007-08-01 |format= |work=MarketWatch| quote='Unlike dozens of prior ILC applications, Wal-Mart's has been surrounded by manufactured controversy since it was submitted nearly two years ago,' Wal-Mart Financial Services President Jane Thompson said in a statement.]
* Time Magazine dubbed Ken Starr's investigation into U.S. President Bill Clinton's infidelity a "manufactured controversy" in a 1998 cover feature story. [cite news |url= |title=In defense of Clinton| date = 1998-09-21| accessdate=2007-08-01 |format= | work=Time |quote=Ken Starr's Overzealousness--A Manufactured Controversy]
* United Kingdom's National Secular Society has called the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy a "manufactured controversy," and expressed concern over this incident's influence on free speech in Europe. [cite web |url= |title= New EU Meeting Will Push For Europe-Wide Restrictions On Free Speech|accessdate=2007-08-01 |format= |work=National Secular Society | quote =The meeting has been prompted by the manufactured controversy over the Mohamed cartoons, and religious leaders are now trying to cash in on the advantage this brought them by demanding that there is some kind of Europe-wide restriction on disrespect for religion.]
* Roger A. Pielke (Jr), a climate change scientist, argued that a June 8, 2005 New York Times cover story about a Bush Administration official's editing of two high level climate reports was a "manufactured controversy." [cite web |url= |title=- Prometheus: Manufactured Controversy Archives |date=2005-06-08| accessdate=2007-08-04 |format= |work=Prometheus|quote=In short, the front page New York Times story today is a manufactured controversy.]
* Musician Mathew Callahan wrote that sex and violence in popular music are intended by the music industry to create "manufactured controversies."cite book |author= Callahan, Mathew |title=The Trouble With Music |publisher=AK Press |location=Stirling, Scotland, UK |year=2005 |pages=p. 101 |isbn=1-904859-14-3 |quote=Manufactured controversy, such as that surrounding sex and violence, is desirable. ]
* Canadian politician Howard Hampton wrote that in the pre-World War II period, Ontario Hydro expansion plans were hampered by political interference and "manufactured controversy."cite book |author=Howard Hampton |title=Public Power: Energy Production in the 21st Century |publisher=Insomniac Press |location= |year=2003 |pages=p. 97|isbn=1-894663-44-6 |quote= In pre-World War II Ontario, Hydro's struggles to keep up with rapidly growing demand for power were plagued by political interference and manufactured controversy.]
* Patrick Troy, Professor of Urban Research at the Australian National University, called lack of choice in Australian housing "manufactured controversy."cite book |author=Williams, Katie; Jenks, M.; Burton, Elizabeth | others= Patrick Troy|title=The Compact city: a sustainable urban form? |publisher=E & FN Spon |location=London |year=1996 |pages= p. 162 |isbn=0-419-21300-7 |quote=the lack of choice in Australian housing is manufactured controversy and much of it is an implied criticism of people's choice of houses over flats]
* Journalist Eric Boehlert called criticism of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of a murder on Haifa Street in Baghdad a "manufactured controversy" for censorship purposes.cite book |author=Eric Boehlert |title=Lapdogs: how the press rolled over for Bush |publisher=Free Press |location=New York |year=2006 |pages= |isbn=0-7432-8931-5 |quote=The manufactured controversy over the photographs was an end run at censorship, plain and simple.]


*Writer Valerie Tarico, referred to Prof. Leah Ceccarelli's writings on "teach the controversy" as a "manufactroversy". [cite web|url=|title=Ben Stein: Front Man for Creationism's Manufactroversy|last= Tarico|first=Valerie|work=Huffington Post|quote=You can say you first heard it here, well, if you haven't heard it already on MySpace or Facebook: Manufactroversy -- a made up word for a made up controversy. There's even a new website, that aggregates articles and blog posts about this manufactroversy and some other pretty famous ones as well.]

ee also

*Cause célèbre
*Gibson's law
*Publicity stunt
*Succès de scandale
*Media manipulation
*Teach the controversy
*Climate change denial

External links

* [ Valerie Tarico on Manufactroversy]
* [ "Science Progress" on Manufactroversy]

Further reading

* "Precaution and the Methodological Status of Scientific (Un)certainty" by A. Van Dommelen, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Volume 15, Number 1, 2002, pages 123–139 ( [ abstract] )
* "The Media and Political Process" by Eric Louw, 2005, ISBN 0761940839
* "Prelude and temptation: arresting a vitriolic and defamatory controversy" by Leslie G. Roman, published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 16, Issue 2 March 2003, pages 149–156
* The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney, ISBN 0465046762
* GameDaily BIZ: [ Controversial Games and PR: Warning! Contents May Be Hot]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Artificial intelligence — AI redirects here. For other uses, see Ai. For other uses, see Artificial intelligence (disambiguation). TOPIO, a humanoid robot, played table tennis at Tokyo International Robot Exhibition (IREX) 2009.[1] Artificial intelligence ( …   Wikipedia

  • Artificial hymen — An artificial hymen is a type of prosthetic created for the purpose of simulating an intact human hymen.[1][2] Contents 1 Use 2 Controversy 3 …   Wikipedia

  • Artificial insemination — AIH redirects here. For the indie rock band abbreviated AIH, see Architecture in Helsinki Artificial insemination (AI) is the process by which sperm is placed into the reproductive tract of a female for the purpose of impregnating the female by… …   Wikipedia

  • Artificial intelligence in fiction — This is a sub article of Artificial intelligence (AI), describing the different futuristic portrayals of fictional artificial intelligence in books and film.Since Artificial Intelligence has a potential equal to or greater than our own, it can… …   Wikipedia

  • Holocaust teaching controversy of 2007 — The Holocaust teaching controversy of 2007 was a controversy sparked by sensationalist claims mainly circulated in e mails which stated that teaching of the Holocaust had been banned in British schools because of fears that this could offend… …   Wikipedia

  • Water fluoridation controversy — The water fluoridation controversy arises from moral, ethical, and safety concerns regarding the fluoridation of public water supplies. The controversy occurs mainly in English speaking countries, as Continental Europe does not practice water… …   Wikipedia

  • Stem cell controversy — The stem cell controversy is the ethical debate primarily concerning the creation, treatment, and destruction of human embryos incident to research involving embryonic stem cells. Not all stem cell research involves the creation, use, or… …   Wikipedia

  • Aspartame controversy — The artificial sweetener aspartame has been the subject of public controversy regarding its safety and the circumstances around its approval. Many studies have recommended further investigation into the possible connection between aspartame and… …   Wikipedia

  • Creation–evolution controversy — A satirical cartoon from 1882, parodying Darwin s theory of evolution, in response to the publication of The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms. The creation–evolution controversy (also termed the creation vs. evolution… …   Wikipedia

  • Oslo Airport location controversy — Oslo Airport, Gardermoen has been the main airport serving Oslo since 1998 The location of the airport serving Oslo, Norway, has been the subject of several political debates since 1918. The fist controversy was initially related to choice… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”