From anti-vaxxers to climate deniers to a general simmering scepticism of science, denialism in all its forms is everywhere. Crikey is presenting a four-part series on how the seeds of doubt are planted and how they blossom through media and politics. Read the first three parts here.
In the 1980s, long before there was widespread public awareness of the proximity of imminent environmental apocalypse, before climate change became a wedge issue that toppled Australian prime ministers and divided politics, free market think tanks like the Institute of Public Affairs were busy sowing the seeds of doubt.
Today, those seeds have grown into vast tendrils which have a stranglehold on politics. The IPA exists as a conduit between the respectable mainstream right, represented by the Liberal Party, and fringe climate deniers, whose marginal views are largely rejected by the rest of the scientific community. Their greatest success, mirroring that of other free market think tanks in the United States, has been to stitch climate denialism into the very fabric of the conservative political identity.