Gender identity denialism: manufactured doubt and industry disinformation strategies

Recommended reading on industry fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD) and spin strategies

Goldberg & Vandenberg (2021)

  • Goldberg, R. F., & Vandenberg, L. N. (2021). The science of spin: targeted strategies to manufacture doubt with detrimental effects on environmental and public health. Environmental Health, 20:33.

From table 1, “List of Strategies Used by Five Industries/Organizations to Manufacture Doubt”:

  1. Attack Study Design: To emphasize study design flaws in A that have only minimal effects on outcomes. Flaws include issues related to bias, confounding, or sample size
  2. Gain Support from Reputable Individuals: Recruit experts or influential people in certain fields (politicians, industry, journals, doctors, scientists, health officials) to defend B in order to gain broader support
  3. Misrepresent Data: Cherry-pick data, design studies to fail, or conduct meta-analyses to dilute the work of A
  4. Suppress Incriminating Information: Hide information that runs counter to B
  5. Contribute Misleading Literature: Use literature published in journals or the media to deliberately misinform, either pro-B, anti-A, or to distract with peripheral topics
  6. Host Conferences or Seminars: Organize conferences for scientists or relevant stakeholders to provide a space for dissemination of only pro-B information
  7. Avoid/Abuse Peer-Review: Avoid the peer-review process to publish poor literature, publish without revealing funding sources, use the journal name to add weight to claims, or minimize need for peer-review among lay audiences
  8. Employ Hyperbolic or Absolutist Language: Discuss scientific findings in absolutist terms or with hyperbole, use buzzwords to differentiate between “strong” and “poor” science (i.e. sound science, junk science, etc.)
  9. Blame Other Causes: Find related, alternative causes for negative effects that are reported or observed
  10. Invoke Liberties/Censorship/Overregulation: Invoke laws to emphasize equality and rights for expression of B, despite differences in evidence quality
  11. Define How to Measure Outcome/Exposure: Attempt to set guidelines for ‘proper’ measurement of exposures or outcomes, while undermining guidelines used in A
  12. Take Advantage of Scientific Illiteracy (media/individuals): Emphasize scientific obscurity to confuse lay audiences, or deliberately disseminate unscientific or false but digestible information
  13. Pose as a Defender of Health or Truth: Represent the goals of B as health-conscious or dedicated to truth
  14. Obscure involvement: Ghostwrite, create shell companies, use attorney client privilege to hide association
  15. Develop a PR Strategy: Devise methods for specifically reaching public audiences to spread B messages
  16. Appeal to Mass Media: Appealing to journalistic balance, developing relationships with media personnel, preparing information for media personnel, invoking the Fairness Doctrine
  17. Take Advantage of Victim’s Lack of Money/Influence: Silence or abuse individuals by out-spending or exploiting a power imbalance
  18. Normalize Negative Outcomes: Normalize the presence of negative effects to reduce importance and make them seem inevitable
  19. Impede Government Regulation: Overwhelm governmental regulatory agencies to slow or stop their function
  20. Alter Product to Seem Healthier: Make modifications to harmful product to reduce ostensible negative effects
  21. Influence Government/Laws: Gain inappropriate proximity to regulatory bodies and encourage pro-B policy
  22. Attack Opponents (scientifically/personally): Conduct targeted attacks on opponents by undermining their professional or personal reputations
  23. Appeal to Emotion: Manipulate an audiences’ emotions to draw support for claims in the absence of facts
  24. Inappropriately Question Causality: Argue that correlation does not equal causation despite the presence of strong evidence
  25. Make Straw Man Arguments: Publicly refute an argument that was not made by the opposition
  26. Abuse Credentials: Use qualifications in one discipline to assume authority in another discipline
  27. Abuse Data Access Requests: Requesting access to data in order to misrepresent and attack, employing Shelby Amendment, Freedom of Information Act, etc.
  28. Claim Slippery Slope: Illogically or falsely claiming that there will be disastrous consequences if B ideology is not supported

Reed et al. (2021)

  • Reed, G., Hendlin, Y., Desikan, A., MacKinney, T., Berman, E., & Goldman, G. T. (2021). The disinformation playbook: how industry manipulates the science-policy process—and how to restore scientific integrity. Journal of Public Health Policy, 42(4), 622-634.

Figure 1:


  • Faking science: conducting—or paying others to conduct—flawed or biased scientific studies, or hiding research with unfavorable conclusions
  • Manufacturing uncertainty: questioning credibility, or emphasizing uncertainty, of independent science unfavorable to industry interests
  • Harassing scientists: personally targeting, attempting to silence, or diminishing the credibility of scientists responsible for research findings inconvenient to industry
  • Buying credibility: using scientific credibility of academic institutions to push corporate agendas while leveraging funding to secure support from the scientific community
  • Manipulating government officials: inappropriately influencing policymakers to undermine the role of independent science in policy

Wentz & Franta (2022)

From summary:

This Article examines how tort plaintiffs can establish a causal nexus between public deception and damages, drawing from past litigation, particularly claims filed against manufacturers for misleading the public about the risks of tobacco, lead paint, and opioids. A key finding is that courts may infer public reliance on false and misleading statements using multiple lines of evidence, including information about the scope and magnitude of the deceptive communications, defendants’ internal assessments of the efficacy of their disinformation campaigns, acknowledgements of intended reliance made by defendants, expert testimony on the effects of disinformation, public polling data, and more.

Other resources

Atomic Gender is a comprehensive analysis of the reality of gender identity, the world-changing power of the transgender community, and the impact of gender identity denialists worldwide.

Atomic Gender is an evolution of Gender Analysis. Zinnia Jones is a trans woman researcher and community advocate living in central Florida.

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