I am thrilled to have author, researcher and lawyer Barbara Freese on the show this week lifting the lid on coal, radium, leaded petrol and more. As an assistant attorney general in Minnesota, Barbara Freese cross-examined witnesses for the coal industry who disputed the reality of climate change, pushing back as they denied facts that threatened their company’s bottom line. She wrote her first book Coal: A Human History during that time, and then as time went on, these courtroom interactions formed the idea for her deeply researched new book, INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH DENIAL. This new book looks at corporate denial through 8 powerful and infuriating case studies. A long-time analyst of environmental policy, Freese showcases the campaigns of denial from businesses involved in the production of leaded gasoline, tobacco, the fossil fuels destabilizing our climate, and more. Freese argues that while the cases are different, the psychology of corporate denial has remained the same over centuries. When confronted with the harm they cause—whether to individuals or to the environment—corporations deny the evidence, blame their victims, complain of witch-hunts, attack their critics, and rationalize their destructive behaviour. INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH DENIAL also delves into how society has fought back against corporate lies using tools of democracy like boycotts, government intervention, and media scrutiny. And the book explores the question: what is it about corporations that can foster this dangerous behaviour? Drawing on years of research into how cognition and morality are altered by tribalism, power, anonymity, and of course, money, Freese sets out to answer why big business is the way it is.
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