I teach a series of courses about technology law at UC Berkeley Law. As a Washington attorney, I got to see a lot of denialism in action and thus wrote the Denialists' Deck of Cards. The Deck illustrates how industry groups follow a standard game plan when arguing against consumer protection and other reform.

I’m reading Jeffrey Kacirk’s delightful Forgotten English, which includes this anecdote concerning boanthropy, a condition where a person believes himself to be a cow or ox: In 1792, Edward Jenner successfully developed a vaccine for smallpox by injecting a boy with closely related cowpox germs. He did this despite his medical critics’ attempts to scuttle…

As part of related research into consumer protection, I recently scanned in a copy of Samuel Hopkins Adams’ seminal articles on the patent medicine industry. These articles, which appeared in Collier’s magazine starting in 1905, helped build the record for the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, and for amendments to that law in 1912.…

The Web of Web Lobbying

The Wall Street Journal reported on a battle developing between privacy advocates and internet companies concerning AB 1291, a transparency measure that is in part based upon some of my privacy research: The industry backlash is against the “Right to Know Act,” a bill introduced in February by Bonnie Lowenthal, a Democratic assemblywoman from Long…

Helen Epstein has an interesting review of Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, in the current New York Review of Books. The review is worth reading to better understand the public policy problem of lead in products and the environment. But I cannot…

Denialism blog readers, especially those at academic institutions that have/are considering outsourcing email, may be interested in my essay on UC Berkeley’s migration to Gmail.  This is cross-posted from the Berkeley Blog. Many campuses have decided to outsource email and other services to “cloud” providers.  Berkeley has joined in by migrating student and faculty to…

Gawker reports that on the first day of Katie Couric’s new show, Sheryl Crow discusses her theory that cell phone use caused her to have a brain tumor. Update: The Chronicle reports that the show is just a celebrity infomercial, with softball questions, and no critical discussion: You would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you’d…

With the announcement of the Kindle Fire HD, some users were upset to learn that Amazon was going to stuff “special offers” on the device. But the company quickly retreated, and now is offering the option to turn of the ads for a mere $15. This is a good development for consumers. We should have…

How Did You Get My Facebook?

Facebook watchers are reporting that the service is about to launch a new feature for merchants that will allow merchants to target ads to users based upon users’ email and phone numbers. That’s a little confusing. Let me explain with a hypo– As I understand it, it might work like this: ABC Corp. has an…

Earnest reporting or catty criticism? Fareed Zakaria, according to the Times, is on the short list of Lynda Resnick’s dinner parties, along with “Queen Noor of Jordan, George Soros, the financier, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California.” Is the Times’ Christine Haughney critiquing Zakaria or not? Resnick is well known for being a marketing…

App.net and the Free Problem

Have you heard of App.net? If not, check it out. The basic premise is to create a social media platform that is aligned with users’ interest. And so, gasp, it costs money! The CEO, Dalton Caldwell, has a neat video explaining the inception of the project and the philosophy of the venture. Critics have said…