It's hard to guess what to fear the most, with all the conflicting information and the certainty that organizations have concealed and buried information, and blocked studies. Cigarettes have been known to help smokers keep their weight down, and some become obese after quitting. We know nicotine is addictive, and we know the entire tobacco industry lied to congress about it. We know they embraced propaganda and lies as a mere tool for furthering their business, and they show no concern about their reputation, acting as if they really believe they are behaving ethically. The worst part is that the public has grudgingly allowed this behavior out of a sense of indifference and powerlessness.
Other industries have sat up and taken notice. They have embraced ther own programs of willful ignorance and disinformation. Big Oil and Coal sought to discredit facts about Global Warming. Wall Street has done its utmost to stop markets from being policed, and is still doing it even after the disastrous downturns known as the Dot Com Crash and the Great Recession. The Telecoms Industry is still pining for the glory days of Ma Bell, trying to take control of the Internet in the same way that Ma Bell used to control the telephone network, hoping to wreck network neutrality rules. Big Media, Big Pharma, and the likes of Monsanto and Microsoft are in bed together over intellectual property laws, spreading as much confusion as possible over the issue, with perhaps "copying = stealing" being the most notorious lie.
History is not much comfort. Big Tobacco didn't invent anything new with their "doubt is our product" disinformation and propaganda campaign, they merely improved and adapted to new communcation channels. In the past we've had notorious incidents such as the Radium Girls. People used not to even know what radioactivity was, then didn't understand for years how toxic and dangerous radiation is. We know much better know, but we still dabble in nuclear power in neglectful and unsafe ways. It's not that nuclear power can't be used safely, it's that it won't be. Can people be trusted to run a nuclear power plant responsibly? Not to cut corners, build inadequately, skimp on safety, defer maintenance, delay inspections? In the wake of Fukushima, it seems the answer may be "no". Asbestos was another recklessly used substance. Then there are the pesticides and herbicides DDT and Agent Orange and the chemical known as dioxin and their damaging effects, as told in Silent Spring.
Those are only the biggest, most well-known lies. Bisphenol A has finally been subjected to the glaring light of negative publicity, but there are many others, phthalates for one. Bisphenol S may not be much safer, being more stable under heat and light, but still too good at mimicking estrogen once loose. How about lead in faucets? We've known that lead is toxic for years, but incredibly, we're still using it to deliver not just any water, but drinking water! They've rationalized the use of lead as safe because it is alloyed with other metals, and claimed not to leach out. The industry has cozened regulators into accepting tests that are far too forgiving and unrealistic. What few honest studies there are about the matter that haven't been squashed and suppressed suggest that they are wrong, and lead does leach out, and in enough quantity to cause health problems. Mercury in dental fillings also leaches out. At least we've stopped the use of leaded gasoline.
Jenny McCarthy is a muckraker, but it is the background of lies and deceit that empowered her.