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Aaron Wildavsky

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation. Help expose the truth about the tobacco industry.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Prof. Aaron Bernard Wildavsky was born on May 31, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, and died on September 4, 1993. Aaron Wildavsky was Class of 1940 Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he had been teaching since 1962. He was also a tobacco industry consultant.

He was a founding director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) [1] and he was on May 10, 1993 one of the keynote speakers at a conference in Paris organized by SEPP and the International Center for a Scientific Ecology (ICSE). His speech was called "Do Rodent Studies Predict Human Cancers?". [1] The Independent Institute, where he was a Research Fellow and a member of the Board of Advisors, published this speech in spring 1996 under the title "Regulation of Carcinogens: Are Animal Tests a Sound Foundation?". This work was later cited in a work titled "Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy" authored by two other tobacco industry consultants, Gio Batta Gori and John C. Luik [2][3]

Wildavsky is perhaps most famous for his role in developing the Cultural Theory of risk. In 1982, he and anthropologist Mary Douglas wrote Risk and Culture. This book was both a critique of environmentalists, which they argued shared a worldview with sectarian groups like the Amish, as well as an initial statement of Cultural Theory. Later, he co-authored Cultural Theory with Richard Ellis and Michael Thompson, expanding the Cultural Theory concept and showing how it related to earlier theories in political science and anthropology.


Involvement with the Tobacco Industry

Widavsky was a supporter of TASSC, the The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, a front group set up by Philip Morris through a public relations firm.

Wildavsky was also a paid consultant to the tobacco industry in 1979. He completed a project for the International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI) Social Acceptability Working Party (SAWP)(ICOSI/SAWP)analyzing anti-smoking groups with regard to their organization, leadership and publications. Payments to Wildavsky were made through the tobacco industry's law firm of Jacob, Medinger, which managed "Special Account No. 4" (external research programs) for the industry. Special Account #4 was established to fund research by selected expert witnesses in preparation of testimony either directly related to a particular case, or prepared witnesses to testify at congressional or other public hearings, or other research the lawyers deemed useful to the industry.[5] [6][7][8] [9]

SourceWatch resources

External resources

  • Aaron Wildavsky, "Do Rodent Studies Predict Human Cancers?," May 10, 1993
  • Excerpts form interview with Aaron Wildavsky in 1993 after ICSE conference
  • "Aaron B. Wildavsky, Political Science and Public Policy: Berkeley," 1994
  • Aaron Wildavsky on Wikipedia


  1. Aaron Wildavsky Do Rodent Studies Predict Human Cancers? Scientific report. 1993. 45 pp. Bates No. 2028385413/5457
  2. Aaron Wildavsky Regulation of Carcinogens: Are Animal Tests a Sound Foundation? The Independent Review. Volume 1, Number 1, Spring 1996
  3. Gio Gori and John Luik [Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy] Printout/scientific publication. 1999. 12 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2064801644/1655
  4. Previous Winners, Grawemeyer Awards, accessed March 23, 2009
  5. Stanton Glantz. John Slade. Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanauer. Deborah E. Barnes; Regents of the University of California Glantz et al, The Cigarette Papers, Chapter 8, Lawyer Management of Scientific Research The University of California Press. 1998.
  6. Minutes of the Thirteenth Meeting of ICOSI / SAWP Brussels 791023 - 791024 Meeting minutes. October 24, 1979. Philip Morris Bates No. 2023024461/4470
  7. L.E. Graymer, Institute for Policy Management and Research Invoice for project expenses incurred during June 1979 (790600) Invoice. 1 page. June 28, 1979. R.J. Reynolds Bates No.500035410
  8. L.E. Graymer, Institute for Policy Management and Research Invoice for project expenses incurred during May 1979 (790500) Invoice. June 6, 1979. 1 page. R.J. Reynolds Bates No. 500035653
  9. L.E. Graymer, Institute for Policy Management and Research Invoice for project expenses incurred during May 1979 (790500) Invoice. June 6, 1979. 1 page. R.J. Reynolds Bates No.500035405

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