A front group is an organization that pretends to be on the side of the consumer or informed citizen. In reality, it is funded by specific industries or individuals with financial and ideological interests. The group consistently remains loyal to those interests, and not necessarily to the average person.
A FRONT GROUP’S STRATEGIES
The front group …
- Always denies they are associated with a sponsor in the manner that a devoted spy never reveals his true nature.
- Pretends its members are doing “science-outreach” in their spare time, out of the kindness of their hearts, like some obscure bloggers do…. Or if the salaries of members is obvious because they are working full time, then they pretend that funding is from random individual donations —people who want to learn.
- Makes it sound like their sponsors are not principally interested in maximizing profits. The cause is made to seem humanitarian: feeding the world, creating jobs etc.
- Never focuses on the long-range perspective. If the strategy or product being peddled works now, it’s all that matters. To them the precautionary principle is anathema.
- The front group will routinely attack easy targets, things that a smart 5th grader knows are bogus such as Flat-earthism, homeopathy, and autism-vaccine links. When subsequently commenting on a more controversial issue, the front group will then have a view that will be seem more objective than it actually is.
- Especially if a critic has a popular voice, the front group does not refrain from using character assassination, regardless of whether the critic is a renowned journalist, reputable scientist, devoted worker etc. They will pretend that the slandering is done in the name of patriotism, freedom or science.
- Tries to make the science around a difficult issue seem totally settled. Uses war-like terminology: “you are either with us or against us; you’re either pro-science or anti-science”.
- If the sponsor has been legitimately accused of unethical behavior or of engaging in propaganda, they pretend it is those who brought evidence against their sponsor who are sleazy and propagandistic.
- Their organizations assume titles that include words sounding either authoritative or patriotic: institute, freedom or American.
- To further create an aura of authority and competence, if a member has a PhD, they will plaster it all over the place and not hesitate to use the title “Dr”. Mere writers will assign themselves inflated titles such as “Vice President of Scientific Affairs” , or “Vice President of Scientific Communications”. What the public doesn’t realize is that often the PhD of a front member is not related to what he is defending or attacking. His only research paper to date leading to his PhD could be 9 years old and have dealt with gum disease, which means he is no more qualified to give an educated opinion on genetically modified foods, toxicology, epidemiology, climate science, etc than the average person with a science background. Couple that with the fact that he is paid to promote political ideology and the special interests of specific corporations, and his opinion becomes no more scientific than the slogan, “9/10 dentists recommend Crest”.
- A front group that is also ideological will overlook all outrageous comments on their sites and Twitter feeds, as long the commenter is a political ally. But they will pounce on any unfavorable political views and not hesitate to bring in allies with false identities.