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Coverup: the sign of the double-cross
Not just a river in Egypt
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Alternative facts
♫ We're not listening ♫

A coverup is a form of denialism in which the entity perpetrating the denial is demonstrably fully aware of their lies or the lies made by entities that they fund (astroturf groups or experts for hire). Coverups are the opposite of willful ignorance in that there is demonstrable intent to deceive, and are therefore considered an expression of consciousness of guilt. Corporations primarily engage in coverups in order to continue making bundles of money at others' expense (negative externality), and to a lesser extent to avoid or postpone criminal charges. Politicians engage in coverups to hide their scandalous behavior and thereby get reelected and to delay or avoid criminal charges.

Conspiracy theorists often include claims of coverups, but these are lacking in hard evidence.


By corporations[edit]

  • Asbestos causes cancer and pulmonary disease. Asbestos was known to be dangerous to workers since the early 1900s, and insurance companies began to take notice in the 1930s.[1] The asbestos industry attempted to cover up the risks of asbestos into the 1970s.[2] A coverup may still be ongoing in Russia.[3][4]
  • Exxon (later ExxonMobil) has known since at least 1977 that global warming from fossil fuels could be an issue. By 1981, Exxon was "already factoring climate change into decisions about new fossil fuel extraction". In 1995, there was an internal Exxon report that unequivocally stated that "burning the companies' products was causing climate change and that the relevant science 'is well established and cannot be denied.'"[5][6] Exxon/ExxonMobil, for example, has funded the climate change denialist group Heritage Foundation since 1992, including $780,000 from 1998-2012.[7]
  • Facebook frequently conducts research about effects of its social media platforms on its users. Facebook knows about the harmful effects of its social media, but does not act upon it and keeps the research confidential until someone leaks it.[8][9]
  • The Lead Industries Association engaged in a coverup of the hazards of lead by trying to publicly minimize the hazards of lead and blaming parents for their children's exposure while simultaneously conducting private research on lead hazards.[10]:29-33 Lead was considered to be hazardous since ancient times.[11]
  • Starting with the U.S.'s entry into World War I, the radium industry became powerful by hiring young women, mostly between the ages of 11-16, to paint watch dials using radioactive glow-in-the-dark paint. As they were told to lick the brushes, dentists started noticing that the workers' jaws began disintegrating, as well as facing serious ulcers and tumors. However, the radium companies responded by saying that radium was perfectly safe and even encouraging doctors to list the workers' cause of death as syphilis rather than radium poisoning. The denialism only ended after a lawsuit in 1928 revealed to the public the damages that radium was causing to the workers' bodies, and it also revealed that male workers from the company would often wear lead aprons to protect from radioactivity, while the female watch painters received no such protection.[12][note 1]
  • In 2016, it was revealed that the Sugar Research Foundation (now known as the Sugar Association) "paid nutrition experts from Harvard University to downplay studies linking sugar and heart disease".Wikipedia The experts published a 1967 review in the New England Journal of Medicine, which wrongly influenced nutritionists for decades.[13][14]
  • The first known report that tobacco might be linked to cancer was in 1898 when Hermann Rottmann proposed that tobacco dust might be causing elevated rates of lung cancer in German tobacco workers.[15] In 1900, it was demonstrated that tobacco juice caused cancer in animals.[15] The link between primary tobacco use was firmly established in the 1950s,[15] but Big Tobacco has been in near-continuous denial of tobacco's carcinogenicity:[15] no longer denying primary tobacco use but in denial of secondhand tobacco exposure at least into the 1990s. Leaked internal documents showed that "tobacco companies had long known the grave dangers of smoking, and did nothing about it."[16]

By governments/politicians[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Misogyny on top of reckless disregard for human life. Charming.


  1. Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos Is Killing America by Michael Bowker (2003). Touchstone. Page 18. ISBN 0743251431.
  2. New Data on Asbestos Indicate Cover-Up of Effects on Workers by Bill Richards (November 12, 1978) Washington Post.
  3. 'Approved by Donald Trump': Asbestos sold by Russian company is branded with the president’s face by Eli Rosenberg (July 11, 2018) at 9:00 AM) The Washington Post.
  4. Russian Asbestos Industry Earns Trump's "Seal of Approval". Worthington Caron, July 2018.
  5. The Climate Deception Dossiers (July 9, 2015 update) Union of Concerned Scientists
  6. Deception Dossiers: All Documents Union of Concerned Scientists
  7. Factsheet: Heritage Foundation (archived from June 7, 2019).
  8. Facebook keeps researching its own harms — and burying the findings: A series of leaked internal reports shows Facebook knows far more than it lets on. That’s by design. by Will Oremus (September 16, 2021) The Washington Post.
  9. The Facebook Files: Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management. by Justin Scheck et al. (September 15, 2021) The Wall Street Journal.
  10. Lead Wars: Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children by Gerald Markowitz & David Rosner (2014) University of California Press;. ISBN 0520283937.
  11. Vitruvius, Lead Pipes and Lead Poisoning by A. Trevor Hodge (1981) American Journal of Archaeology 85(4):486-491.
  12. The Radium Girls: Workers Who Painted with Radium and Suffered Radiation Exposure, Marcia Wendorf, Interesting Engineering 8 August 2019
  13. Sugar industry sought to sugarcoat causes of heart disease: Payments revealed to authors of influential 1967 report touting fat and cholesterol as problems by Laura Beil (9:00am, September 25, 2016) Science News.
  14. Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents by Christin E. Kearns et al. JAMA Intern. Med. September 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5394.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 The shameful past. The history of the discovery of the cigarette–lung cancer link: evidentiary traditions, corporate denial, global toll by Robert N. Proctor Tob. Control 2012;21:87-91 doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050338.
  16. The Cigarette Papers edited by Stanton A. Glantz et al. (1998) University of California Press. ISBN 0520213726.
  17. 8 Insane Vintage Ads That Make Sugar Seem Like A Health Food by Lauren F. Friedman (Oct 29, 2014, 8:50 AM) Business Insider.
  18. Bringing disgust in through the backdoor in healthy food promotion: a phenomenological perspective" by Bas de Boer & Mailin Lemke (2021) Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24:731–743. doi:10.1007/s11019-021-10037-0.
  19. Nixon: raw watergate tape: 'smoking gun' section (Apr 4, 2011) YouTube.
  20. The Truth About the Beijing Turmoil = 北京風波紀實 (1989) Beijing Publishing House. ISBN 7200009261.
  21. Blocked on Weibo: What Gets Suppressed on China's Version of Twitter (and Why) by Jason Q. Ng (2013) The New Press. ISBN 9781595588715.