Interesting article on Slashdot about the historical roots of the weaponization of doubt and scientific disagreement by special interests.
It is notable that these phenomena start at scale with the pervasive political engagement of corporations with American politics in the 1970s and ’80s: this is the moment in which business as a whole detaches from automatic support for a particular political party (choosing its battles and the champions for them –whether financing an insurgent movement, litigation, legislative lobbying, and so forth– on a case-by-case basis), and also the dawn of the end-of-ideologies era. These themes are well discussed by Edward Walker in Grassroots for Hire (2014).
As for the present predicament, one is reminded of an NYT op-ed from last year by William Davies, “Everything Is War and Nothing Is True” on public political discourse:
Social media has introduced games of strategy into public discourse, with deception and secrecy — information warfare — now normal parts of how arguments play outor of a similarly-dated piece by Z. Tufekci on the commercial side of things:
The internet is increasingly a low-trust society—one where an assumption of pervasive fraud is simply built into the way many things function.
There definitely seem to be systemic aspects to this problem.