Merchants of Doubt (2014) Poster

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10/10
The art of deception, applied to scientific consensus
Douglas Allchin13 March 2015
This is not a film about the science of climate change, second-hand smoke, or risks of flame-retardants. It is about the tactics used (repeatedly) to mislead the public about that science. Most notably, the "merchants of doubt" foster unwarranted images of uncertainty and obscure scientific consensus, and even threaten the scientists themselves (and then joke about it). All the while they hide their sources of funding and conflicts of interest that might lead a reasonable person to measure their claims. The documentary evidence and testimony presented is compelling--including, ironically, the voices of the con-artists themselves (Marc Morano, Fred Singer, Tim Phillips). Especially noteworthy is testimony by those who discovered the deceptions despite prior sympathetic beliefs: Matthew Crawford, Michael Shermer, Congr. Bob Inglis.

Striking imagery. Amusing moments. But also chilling when one reflects how these voices obscure harms to our health and environment. Worse, they appeal to the banner of free speech and other "freedoms" (to do harm, in the name of unregulated business, I suppose), and imagine that sheer will or personal belief can trump sound scientific conclusions.

Other naysaying reviews one finds of this film will surely be further evidence of what the film itself exposes so well. Once revealed, never again concealed.
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8/10
My fellow reviewers are sad people
sirjonk22 June 2015
The doc is enlightening, and timely. I worked in the tobacco litigation and this film gets it spot on. In the face of near universal consensus, tobacco companies hired marketing firms and paid scientists to poke holes in prevailing well established theory, attempting to cast doubt where anything less than 100% certainty exists, which in science, it essentially always does.

Now the climate change deniers come out, in the face of 97% worldwide consensus, peddling the same nonsense. The doubters don't contest the data, which is indisputable. They instead attack the motives of 97% of the climatologists in the world. And their intended audience buys it hook line and sinker yet again.

Reasonable doubt is essential to science, and in that meritocracy, the best explanation wins. Here, decades of data have made the situation clear. Yet, climate denier laymen, for some reason, choose to believe the 3% of scientists who are largely funded by the interests most likely to suffer financial harm should alternative energy be explored in full.

You can't fix stupid.
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10/10
A Must See Film For All Those Concerned About Climate Change
dorothyjdavis3 March 2015
My title says it all. And if you are on the fence this film may help you better assess what has been going on in the media. It appears that the people so thoroughly examined in the film -- lobbyists employed by the oil and gas industry (some of them formerly paid to defend tobacco) and their followers -- are now writing disparaging reviews of this excellent documentary film. I saw it at the New York Film Festival in October and have been recommending it and waiting for its release ever since. The book on which it is based -- "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming" by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway is also excellent. I would only add that some of those so confidently opposing the well-documented scientific evidence of climate change are not even scientists.
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10/10
I Feel So Sad for My Kids and Their Kids
Hitchcoc21 March 2015
There's no doubt when the Supreme Court gave free rein to likes of the Koch brothers and their ilk, we sold out our future. The fact that people have betrayed science to listen to a bunch of the nastiest people on the face of the earth. Of course, if it were in their own interest (like medical science) they would be all over it. Apparently these people want less government, but they don't hesitate to criticize the government when their homes are washed away by hurricanes and floods. Of course, they won't be the ones suffering. Let's say it the way it is right now. There are a huge number of people who would sell the future of this planet to save a few bucks. The guys on this video admitted they had no knowledge of climatology. They enjoyed sticking it to the scientific community because, of course, they are communists. Every time someone says something against big business (like the one's outsourcing and abusing their employees) they are communists. Of course, these same people are right there sucking up their entitlements. I have nothing against free markets but when your actions cost people their lives. The sad thing is that these guys are mostly old and won't be around to see when their actions cause death and destruction.
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Real intention is to close down rational debate
Rog Tallbloke12 March 2015
The film is standard boilerplate smear as outlined in previous reviews. What I'd like to add is that the film's director emailed me with the following:

> > Dear Roger, > > People who mislead the public on climate change should not be on TV. Period. > > That's one big reason why I produced Merchants of Doubt, a film that lays > bare the greedy, shameful world of climate denial and the journalists who > broadcast it. That's also why, right now, we're launching a people-powered > national campaign that could keep climate deniers out of the news for good. > > Merchants of Doubt premieres in U.S. theaters today, and it will invite > thousands of energized viewers to sign this petition and join our campaign. > Let's lead the charge! > > Join me to tell TV network and cable news directors: Stop booking "merchants > of doubt" on your programs immediately.

My response was as follows. Needless to say, I didn't get a reply.

Dear Robert,

Surely the best way to defeat a bad scientific argument is to engage with it and show how it is in error. Denying people free speech in the media only fuels the flames. There seem to be remarkably few scientists from the warm side of the debate willing to engage with prominent skeptics. Bring it on, I'm happy to discuss the physics of the enhanced greenhouse effect with anyone you care to put up. The problem for them is that the Stefan Boltzmann equation which was employed by goody and Young in 1964 only applies to vacuum's at absolute zero. i.e. space. Applying it to the troposphere is a fundamental error. That error has been repeated ever since in every climate model. That's why they are so far in error.

Cordially Rog Tallbloke BA (hons) Hist/Phil Science.

I'll just add that we should ask whether "People who mislead the public on climate change should not be on TV" includes people who exaggerate the extent of climate change and its effects, and whether, if this less one-sided blacklist turned out to include himself and the author of the book the film is based on, Naomi Oreskes, he would happily sell his video camera.
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10/10
An entertaining presentation of a most important topic.
jimfellows23 May 2015
This is a most engaging and informative movie about some most important topics.

The movie shows, with many illustrations, the way certain financial and political interests have used the tactic of spreading doubt to delay action being taken to remedy serious social and environmental problems. The examples chosen in the movie include smoking, flame retardants (sofas cause fires!) and global warming. The presentation is sharp and funny.

Since global warming is the most serious problem facing the world at the moment, this movie couldn't be more important. The movie is based on the book "Merchants of Doubt" which works through a detailed history of these topics, also including acid rain and the ozone layer destruction.

The story is also very depressing because the latest problem, global warming, is unlikely to be remedied before its too late to repair or avoid the consequences. That the "merchants" have been largely successful, in the USA at least, is illustrated by some of the user comments. Or maybe those negative comments were inserted by professional doubters?
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9/10
Beware of the wolves in the sheepskins.
Reno Rangan14 October 2015
I want to begin with what usually comes in the final paragraph in any review that it is a must see film. No matter who you are, whatever your profession is, you must not skip it for many reasons. The film was based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Naomi Oreskes and directed by the Oscar nominated documentary 'Food, Inc.' filmmaker.

Recently I read somewhere that 'there are more fake flamingos in the world than real ones'. I thought it was a stat that makes clear there are very less flamingos than we presumed. But the point is it gives a different meaning when the same line used as a reference for this film. It is going to be big stride, yes it is. It all began after the WWII and carried out throughout 50 years during the Cold War, but just recent decades everyone realised its seriousness.

When someone interferes with our personal thing, stating that he's an official from the respective field, we ask for the identity proof. But what if it is a conspiracy, how we are going to know it. The common people are always falling prey for such tricks because of the corrupted ministers and the powerful giant corporates. Like, we're the sheep herd and they are the wolves in the sheep's skin. This film is not trying to expose them their entire wrong doings, but on a particular topic, and that is the Global Warming.

The media and press plays a crucial part here, but some of them opted a wrong path. Maybe because of the poor knowledge and investigation, or influenced people around them. So the story opens with the cigarettes, how the tobacco companies fooled people in the 60s, 70s till the 90s. The book this movie adapted was written by an American historian, so it's all about the things that happened in the States. But it is still very much the world's concern too, as America is one of the top countries to export modern science and technology to all the corners, especially the third world countries.

"We're leaving our children and grandchildren, the legacy of people who failed to lead."

Today's world's hot topic is, the climate change. Because of human there are plenty of species gone extinct than the natural extinct happened in the presence of human alongside. So, the biggest them all is he's posing a same threat to himself. If that happens, the human will be wiped out. The earth will recycle itself over the thousand years of evolution and the life will be restored, the new kind. Human is the only animal on the earth who do stuff for pleasure and those pleasures comes in many ways. One such thing is the money.

Science is not one hundred per cent perfect, not yet, but that is the closest estimation that we have today to predict anything advancely. The world is not the same compared to 100 years ago, the religion is no more threat to the science. The evolution in science is taking place at a brisk pace, lots of stuffs were studied, understood, discovered in the last two decades than over two thousand years. Those who are doing their work is constantly interrupted by the new kind of troublemakers. Those people are the hired counterparts to the scientists who claims they are experts, but why they are doing it is a disgusting truth.

It is a very good message movie. You might probably realise from now on who to believe and why, because that was this documentary's notion that makes people open their eyes to the truth and reality. If you're still in your blindfold, then you're on the wrong side with the wrong people. I want to make you clear on one final thing that this documentary is not trying to prove the Global Warming theory, but it was a debate between the people who tried to stop it and the people who tried to prove it was not a hoax. It is about exposing the dirty works.

9/10
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8/10
Why does it even have to come to this?
Joshua DeVoto23 June 2015
Merchants of Doubt

Of course, there are scientists on both sides that exaggerate, but everyone knows that climate change is real, and that humans are the main cause. Ice core matches up perfectly with the start of the Industrial Revolution-(hint: that's the big one), as well as other volcanic eruptions that date further back in history; which also caused the climate to change. So that's not even a question anymore. Go back to school if you don't believe me. It's never too late. Take some environmental science courses. That way, you can just argue all your bs to the teacher. And when s/he kicks you out of the class for holding everyone back, you'll still be a hero somewhere in Texas.

Weather is analyzed on a day to day basis. Climate is the study of those patterns over a long period of time. Climate change is probably a better term to use than global warming, only because people can grasp the meaning better. The United States had the hottest summer on record last year. It also had the coldest February, this year, than it has had in the last 80 to 100 years, in most states. Climate change does not mean it's just going to be hot all the time. It means the climate will change more often. We will see severe patterns of weather more frequently.

I like how this documentary ties in the PR aspect. The only reason climate change became a political issue is because of the effects it has on business.

Merchants of Doubt
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7/10
"Merchants Of Doubt" Is Real Eye-Opener
Andrew Ray24 August 2015
Merchants Of Doubt is a truly fascinating new documentary. By now, we all know the big tobacco story. You know the one about the cigarette manufacturers who knew, even prior to the surgeon general's 1964 declaration, that cigarette smoking was physically harmful and addictive? Then when scientific studies proved that, in fact, smoking does cause cancer, heart disease, and so forth, big tobacco testified under oath that the science community was wrong. They even called "expert" witnesses who cast doubt on the results of these studies, and called for even more testing – just to be sure. Later, when the results were simply beyond doubt, big tobacco and its "experts" continued to request no restrictions be placed on smoking, claiming our freedom was being infringed by so-called "big government" (read "big brother"). They developed the phrase "smokers' rights," to convince the rest of us that poor addicted smokers had no choice but to continue smoking, and that the rest of us should simply leave them alone. Lapdog "big government" bellyachers like Rush Limbaugh bought into this argument.

Then came scientific studies bemoaning the dangers of second-hand smoke. And the experts came to the rescue again, first casting just enough doubt on the science to prolong the inevitable, and buy more time for the cigarette manufacturers. Eventually, fifty years after big tobacco first acknowledged (in private in-house memos) that cigarette smoking was harmful, the CEOs of the tobacco corporations were forced to go before Congress and admit they intentionally and systematically lied to America about the known dangers of their products.

Now, just who were these so-called "experts" used by big tobacco to prolong the eventual demise of a once-powerful industry? A new documentary by filmmaker Robert Kenner attempts to shed some light. Merchants Of Doubt is based on the 2010 book of the same name, by Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes and NASA historian Erik M. Conway. Oreskes and Conway draw a fascinating correlation between the half-century of denial thrust upon us by the tobacco industry and the now-thirty-year denial of climate change by the oil and coal industries, particularly Exxon/Mobil. Ironically, some of the very same "experts" used by the tobacco industry to discredit the results of the scientific smoking studies are now being used to discredit the results of scientific climate studies.

Oreskes researched every climate study published since the mid-1980s – almost a thousand different scientific works – and found the same thing Al Gore alluded to in his 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. 100% of climate scientists agree that global warming is not only real, but is man-made. Those who disagree may have science degrees, but they do not make their livings studying the earth's climate. Specifically, Merchants Of Doubt cites Fred Singer, a rocket scientist, and Fred Seitz, who helped develop the atomic bomb. Singer and Seitz, both of whom are interviewed in this film, were the very same physicists used by cigarette manufacturers to dilute the science condemning smoking. They have also cast doubt on the harm of acid rain, and the ozone hole. What do they have to gain by testifying against the rest of the scientific community? Money and fame.

Singer, Seitz, and a very small handful of other scientists and marketing gurus have made a living by forming conservative thinktanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, and using them as a front for fossil fuel companies like Exxon/Mobil. For example, if a Sunday morning news program featured a climatologist arguing the science behind global warming with the CEO of Exxon/Mobil, no viewer would believe the CEO to be an independent voice. He'd obviously have an agenda. But if a "senior fellow at a prominent Washington thinktank" were to argue against the climatologist, the debate would now appear to be non-biased. And that's exactly what the big oil companies have done to buy time – just as big tobacco did throughout the second half of the twentieth century.

Merchants Of Doubt takes the additional step of implicating the media for not investigating climate change more thoroughly, and for giving equal voice to these political thinktanks. As a former member of the media myself, I am continually disappointed in what has become of our once-great political watchdog. When Walter Cronkite visited Vietnam in 1968, then returned to the CBS Nightly News to declare there was "no light at the end of the tunnel," America listened. America took note. "If Cronkite says this war is a lost cause, then it must be," we thought. Who carries that kind of weight now? Heck, name one television news journalist who has the courage to personally investigate both sides of the global warming debate, then declare that climate change is real and must be addressed immediately, even if that means the eventual death of the American fossil fuel industries.

If there is a light at the end of the proverbial climate change tunnel, it is addressed at the end of Merchants Of Doubt. The Tea Party movement was an outgrowth of perceived excess government regulation. Many Americans, under the guise of capitalism and free markets – don't want their government to regulate anything – even industries destroying our earth. As in the tobacco narrative, this is the final stage of denial before big oil is forced to admit they knew all along their products were ruining our atmosphere. Unfortunately, as Dr. Oreskes states, "This time we don't have fifty years." As documentaries go, Merchants Of Doubt is somewhat dry. To me, it's not as interesting a topic as Robert Reich's "Inequality For All," and it's certainly not as entertaining as a Michael Moore picture. But I loved it anyway. It brought to light nothing I didn't know (or at least nothing I didn't suspect), yet it still held my interest throughout, and, dare I say, fascinated me. That's the mark of a great documentary. You owe it to yourself to see this one.
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8/10
Entertaining and engaging and does a great job of illuminating the issue
Jack Dell3 August 2015
I made the mistake of reading the user reviews before watching and was expecting a mediocre film. Thankfully it was much better than expected. I found it to be thoroughly interesting and entertaining while doing a great job of detailing the depth of scumbaggery and deception behind the climate change denialist movement.

The imagery, interview editing, flow of the narrative, choice of people to interview, camera work were all outstanding. I highly recommend that anyone who is not already committed to denialism watch it. Some might find some parts shocking but overwhelmingly the evidence points to the views expressed in this film being true.
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7/10
A persuasive lie!
Dung Bui3 August 2015
Merchants of Doubt is a tale of how the various industries have slighted the American public by putting out propaganda that is amazingly deceptive and oftentimes just plain false. The film opens up with a magician saying that it is his job to tell people lies – but at least he is honest about telling them lies. In contrast, the documentary goes on to prove that not all is what it seems especially when money and politics are involved. Indeed, the attacks and defense come from all fronts and in various methods, from unproved hypotheses, word-spinning, white lies, and just plain falsities being announced from the ground up to those in positions of power.

Tobacco has long been proved to have negative effects on health. There are those that acknowledge it clearly and choose to smoke, others that vehemently deny the research and claim it as heresy, and the vast majority that has yet to come to any decisive conclusion. This was particularly true in the past. Clearly the tobacco manufacturers stand to lose a lot of money if the scientific results were made widespread to the public, so they used the resources at their disposal – the marketing budget and political power of these huge corporations dwarfs those of the scientific journals – to effectively stomp out the idea that tobacco would harm its users.

The same goes for global warming. They claimed that most scientists in fact did not agree that global warming was happening, even the preposterous idea that the world was actually getting cooler. Afterwards, there were claims that over 30,000 American scientists did not agree with that finding – these "scientists" were later found to be either dead, made-up, or not truly scientists at all. After that, they admitted that global warming was happening – but that mankind was not the cause. Then they claimed that the effects were caused by man, but that curbing the production whose byproducts harmed the atmosphere would not outweigh the benefits that they output. The purpose of this propaganda and flip- flopping was to buy time to delay the skeptics in order to allow them to keep their profits even longer until the next make-believe story.

What is scary is that these battles aren't always waged on the outside. There are methods that companies use in order to get on the inside of their "enemies," many of which are supposed to be neutral. There are such methods as death threats, both public and private, some dispatched by companies while others are victims of fanaticism. Still yet are the moles that hide behind titles and sneak in to the root of their problems. For example, one think tank institute's president ended up being a registered lobbyist for a cause he had a conflict of interest in. To even imagine how this preposterous situation could come up naturally is baffling to say the least, but it is quite difficult to believe that it is a coincidence. This is not the only case – three of the major producers of flame retardants were have found to be the sole supporters of a Citizens for Fire Safety organization. Further lies were found in a doctor's inconsistent testimony that three infant patients of his that never existed died from pillows that weren't flameproof, all for the support of flame retardant products. The same magician that was introduced at the beginning of the movie later says that those in his profession often tell smaller lies just to cover up for larger lies. Even the relationship between global warming and oil is littered with lies told to increase opportunities. While this clearly crosses the lines of morality, it is in a way admirable in terms of the analytical skills and methodical approach taken to effectively persuade their audiences. One must be an effective communicator, like a magician, in order to sway the mind and perspective of your audience. We can take the opportunity to learn from how they apply these methods in argumentation and persuasion. If you have the motivation to make whoever you are addressing to believe something else, to persuade or argue with them towards another opinion, you would have to do some research and change up your methods in order to increase your chances of success. We have learned from Merchants of Doubt that there are many ways to do this. Although you cannot fool everyone, if you have an idea of what doubts are being brought to the table, you can potentially eliminate them from being brought up in the first place. Alternatively, you could just tell a smaller lie in order to cover up the truth. Even furthermore, you could also just bring up the reputation of other "dependable" sources to "prove" your point, regardless if what you claim is true or not. There will always be skeptics, but that doesn't mean that you cannot persuade them. Even if someone doesn't believe what you say, you can always take a step in his or her direction. If someone tells you that eating vegetables is good for you and you argue that they are not, maybe you can make progress by saying something like "well, maybe vegetables aren't bad for you," or "eating vegetables is good for you, but choosing not to eat vegetables will not necessarily adversely affect your health." Going a step further, you could make the argument that the health benefits provided by eating vegetables do not outweigh the taste that you must endure while eating. You might even draw up claims that the researchers for the FDA support your conclusion whether they do or not. The point is that there are many ways to persuade people to believe or offer alternative perspectives regarding what you want them to. Even magic cannot be entirely eliminated as an option.

Kenner, Robert (Producer, Director) & Robledo, Melissa (Producer). (2014). Merchants of Doubt (Documentary). United States: Sony Pictures Classics.
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8/10
Big Money vs. Science
Mary C7 September 2016
I wasn't thrilled with the magic tricks being blended in to this excellent expose of science denial funded by big business. It just distracted from the excellent content showing strategic manipulation of the public and legislation by unbelievably conscience-less minions, starting with big tobacco and followed by flame retardant chemicals and climate change science. As a movie I would rate it lower but the material presented was worth more, thus the 8 stars. One tidbit from the film: the average American sofa contains 2 POUNDS of flame retardant chemicals. These of course escape into the bodies that use the furniture and into the air around the furniture, resulting in American babies being born with HUGE levels of these chemicals compared to babies born in any other country on earth. It also showed how the "lessons" learned by big tobacco's 50 years of successfully suppressing science has been replicated repeatedly across many industries. If there is a hell, this film highlights several folks who should end up there.
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8/10
A must see if you are concerned about our planet Earth
The Couchpotatoes23 January 2016
A documentary like Merchants of Doubt should be mandatory in schools. Just so that the kids can open their eyes about the influence of the media on the brainwashed Americans, lobbyists of all kind and maleficent greedy people. I already did not have a great view about certain humans before watching this documentary and at the end it certainly did not improve. The power of those greedy bastards from the petrol, tobacco, and guns lobbies is just sickening to watch. The amount of conservative people that will take anything for granted if it comes out of their mouths is just frightening. Republican rednecks, I just can't stand them. Most of them are so stupid you wonder how it is possible to be that ignorant. Anyways, this documentary is really a must see if you are interested in the future of our planet. I already know the vast majority of rednecks won't change their opinion because they are just not smart enough to see the truth or they are just to stubborn to admit they were wrong. Bottom line, I hate a lot of humans on this planet.
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6/10
"Merchants of Doubt" is a one-sided, but compelling documentary about some very important topics.
CleveMan6619 May 2015
"There are two sides to every story and truth is usually somewhere in the middle." That's my version of the famous quote. No matter how honest the person telling the story, as a human being, he or she will almost inevitably choose to relate and interpret the facts in such a way that supports the speaker's point of view and will leave out or distort facts that might support the other point of view. I've never known a person to be completely honest and unbiased in explaining a controversy or relating an incident in which certain facts are in dispute. No matter who you are, your version of events will also be colored to some degree by your experiences, your memories, your perceptions or even your need to be right. Therefore, the factual, unvarnished, objective truth (assuming such a thing can be determined in a given situation) almost always sits somewhere between opposing points of view. So, the real question is, whether the real truth of the matter is closer to one position or the other. That's the question that needs to be answered by anyone trying to evaluate opposing arguments or differing versions of an event. The same question needs to be answered by anyone viewing a documentary with a clearly defined point of view, especially one on a controversial topic.

Take "Merchants of Doubt" (PG-13, 1:36) for example. Based on the acclaimed book of the same name by scientists and historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, this movie tells the story of the scientists who have spoken out in favor of the predominant perspective of big business on whether tobacco smoking, acid rain, the hole in the earth's ozone layer and, especially, climate change, were real and/or harmful. The thesis of the book and the movie is that these scientists were essentially hired guns, blasting away at widely accepted scientific verdicts on each of those issues. The book's authors and the documentary's producers believe that these "contrarians" have been engaged in a deliberate campaign to muddy the waters regarding these issues in the hopes of derailing or, at least, delaying government intervention that would lead to increased regulation of business and a resulting decrease in profits for the companies and industries that would be forced to change their business practices to adhere to new government rules. In short, if these scientists are weighing in on these issues for the purpose of confusing lawmakers and the public, and are doing it for money, then they are Merchants of Doubt.

"Figures don't lie, but liars figure" is a good quote to summarize what the filmmakers feel these contrarians have been doing for decades. The documentary's descriptions of how scientists publicly denied that tobacco smoking, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer were harmful are meant to establish a pattern of behavior leading up to more recent controversies over global warming and climate change. It's not that these aren't scientists. They are… or they are, at least, men with science credentials, but not necessarily in the specific areas on which they are opining and commenting. Beyond that, the contrarians are doing little or no actual scientific research themselves. Rather, they are picking over the methods, data and conclusions of others in an attempt to twist the science to fit their own point of view. Or so the movie's theory goes. The film decides that these scientists are doing it for the money they receive (often secretly) from big business and also because these scientists see increased government regulation as a threat to free enterprise. In other words, these are scientists who, in previous decades, took sides in the Cold War, with its threats to the American way of life, and are now fighting an information war against some of those same threats. The irony, claims the movie, is that helping to delay government action to mitigate the harm caused by the aforementioned byproducts of the modern industrial age makes the problems worse and eventually leads to even more government intervention to deal with even more serious problems.

"Merchants of Doubt" benefits from the meticulous research done by the books' authors and brings their perspective to life by way of damning facts, numerous interviews, slick graphics, and even a magician, along with certain more questionable methods. The reputations of undeniably accomplished scientists are harmed by innuendo, certain facts are assumed to apply to all similar people and similar situations, and the contrarians, although their words do appear in the film, are never given the opportunity to directly refute the claims against them. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Even though the facts and information this documentary presents make a compelling case that the truth is closer to the filmmakers' perspective, it is still not the whole truth. "B"
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7/10
This is a clever movie - and a lie.
davidstead-720641 July 2015
Please note - I do not wish to express an opinion on whether the climate is warming or what may be responsible for it if it is. I only want to talk about the structure of this movie.

OK, so the _point_ of this movie is to reinforce the idea that the climate is warming, and that it is man that is causing the warming through excessive usage of carbon. Secondarily, it supports the notion of a carbon tax to "battle global warming".

How do they do it?

First, they introduce an enemy no one can argue against - tobacco.

They correctly show how professional deceivers and manipulators, "PR" companies, facilitated the continued killing of people all over the planet by weaving "doubt" into the public debate and therefore diluting the opinion against tobacco and short-circuiting or at least delaying and neutering laws that would tend to increase cigarette regulation.

They interlace the magician/card-man into the narrative to sort of get you on their side by making you feel like an "insider", as if they are taking you into a private confidence.

We are shown the magic and legal tricks and then we are shown the "suckers" who fall for the tricks. This makes us feel superior to the victims and reinforces the "insider" illusion. It _is_ an illusion because we are NOT insiders. We are just people watching a movie. No secrets are ever revealed.

After they take us through the tobacco episode, they throw-in 3-card Monty and talk about the whole scam. For extra emphasis they even make the dealer and his shill black men just to take it over the top. After all, those guys cannot be trusted. Right? The use of racist stereotypes should be a clue for us as to the nature and character of the film makers.

Once they firmly plant the idea that there are those who willingly deceive us for profit or other motives, and who are "bad men", we are set up to disbelieve anyone in a suit, or even any "so-called-expert" who tends to contradict the common opinion, after all everyone KNEW tobacco was killing people, it was the common opinion among the enlightened.

And now for the point of the whole trick - Global Warming.

Right off the bat they show us a science type, adjacent to the previously shown liars and con men as if in a prison line-up, who just happens to be presenting some pretty good evidence that there is more to global warming than just us driving our cars and heating our houses.

BAM - guilt by association. And you never saw it coming.

The thing is this: whatever you think about climate warming, that this film has deceived us by obvious manipulation should be an alarm. It goes to the character and intent of the film maker, and whether we should allow into our minds the "facts" they pretend to present.

This film is a great piece of propaganda, whatever you think of the issue itself.

I highly recommend it to students of manipulation. Compare to: the Fishead movie.
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1/10
view on trailer
tom-harris-871-2045751 February 2015
Perhaps the main reason that "such a small group of people have had an enormous impact on public opinion," as they assert in trailer #1, is because what climate realists (AKA skeptics) are saying is self-evident to most of the public: we don't know the future of climate change AT ALL, let alone have the power to control it. Reports such as the Climate Change Reconsidered series show clearly that the confident assertions of James Hansen and Al Gore are not based on what scientists are actually discovering about the natural world. Most intelligent people can smell a rat when things don't come true as forecast by overconfident believers. The climate scare is such a rat.

-- Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech., thermofluids) Executive Director, International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)
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An entertaining, if completely biased look at the climate change controversy
maclock6 April 2015
This is a well-shot and well-produced film, but let's not pretend that it's an unbiased look at the climate change controversy. I note, for instance, that those who it's suggested are responsible for planting the seeds of doubt about climate change are presented as being completely unreliable, say anything types (and they may very well be), but never once is a critical eye directed towards the equally agendizing and scheming Greenpeace types.

Starting when I was a young man, I watched those Greenpeace dirtbags tank a viable seasonal industry where I grew up and they did so for monetary gain alone, for there were no valid environmental concerns associated with it. Greenpeace worked up gullible city dwellers into a lather, they misled them into believing that a species was under threat of extinction when it was not, they created international drama around a non-issue, they milked it for donations and to grow their base of supporters, they destroyed a perfectly sustainable industry, and they did it all with a smile. The worst thing about it is the world let them do so with very little resistance and people still laud Greenpeace with praise for destroying a traditional way of life in a hardscrabble place. The green set are every bit as bad as oil and coal company executives. Don't forget that.
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6/10
Engaging look at the politics of climate change... from one perspective
rm_77710 September 2014
I saw "Merchants of Doubt" recently at the TIFF festival, and would recommend watching it, as it an engaging, well-structured and well-paced look at the politics of climate change… from one perspective.

Robert Kenner, of Food, Inc. fame, focuses "Merchants of Doubt" on the politics of climate change, and the individuals and corporations responsible for helping shape public opinion. The film integrates recent history, similar industries and interviews with a wide-range of members, exceptionally-well. Kenner, I believe, would make an excellent teacher on how to produce documentaries.

The major – and I mean major – downside of this film is that it is incredibly one-sided. One review from We Got This Covered put it exceptionally-well, which is that "As he tries to side his audience against the skeptics, Kenner ends up using the same tactics that they do." Kenner is "content to regurgitate the same facts again and again, hoping his audience will be convinced enough to not want to hear the other side."

If you are familiar with how politics works, then much of this is not new. This is why it is surprising that someone of Kenner's pedigree would not challenge the "tribal" system of climate change, instead, taking a stance.
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3/10
A well-produced film employing misdirection while accusing others of 'misdirection'
questionagw21 May 2015
First, a note that my February 2, 2015 'pre-review' of the movie has completely disappeared. No matter, I have a screencapture of it for posterity, and it was a speculation on what I expected to see in the movie from having read the book it was based on.

So, having now seen the movie, it's my opinion the movie succeeded in its intended goal, if that was to professionally and entertainingly present a story about the corruption of skeptic climate scientists. This was not a dull movie in the least, it even contained some genuinely moments of humor that were intended to be humorous. No doubt the few others in the theater with me would agree on that impression, and if they only had a passing familiarity with the enviro-activist side of the issue, they would also say the movie contained devastating material.

But I am fully aware of both sides of the movie, and could easily do a start/stop presentation of it on my own, playing it for a short time and then stopping it to point out its egregious misdirections. Take for example the bit where Michael Shermer claims he pointed to a graph to make his pronouncement about global warming, and then said his debate opponent used the same graph to come to a different conclusion. And that was all that were were allowed to see, not a full context view of what really happened. Skeptic debaters do use their opponents' graphs, to show how a false conclusion is derived from lopping off inconvenient sections of the graph.

I could go on at length, but in short, one of the people appearing in the movie essentially gave a misrepresentation of when and how he discovered the 'corruption of skeptic climate scientists', the claim about multiple fake names in the Oregon Petition Project is misdirection, Shermer's question of "where's the evidence?" from skeptic scientists is misleading, details are left out of James Hansen's predictions are missing, assertions about the 'attacks on scientists' such as Michael Mann are misleading, on and on. If I or anyone else was to do a start/stop routine with the movie, it could easily double the length of the whole presentation.

By all means, I openly encourage people to view the movie, but they should also seek out video presentations of the skeptic side of the issue and compare them side-by-side and come to their conclusions about which side makes a better case. But they should also take into consideration just how hard the people within this movie try to prompt the public to ignore skeptics via an overall character assassination effort that has yet to provide a scintilla of evidence to prove skeptic climate scientists are paid and instructed to lie to the public and to fabricate false climate assessment reports.

In going through that exercise, I believe objective people will see this movie as a slick presentation which ultimately fails to tell the whole truth about the politics surrounding the global warming issue. Much like other efforts having the same goal, misdirection only undermines any given agenda, and when people do catch up with what is going on in this case, as one of the people ironically suggested in the movie, it could torpedo the entire so-called global warming crisis.
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1/10
But what about the science and economics of climate?
Merchants of Doubt is a prejudiced and relentlessly one-sided attempt to divert attention away from the failure of global temperatures to respond as the models had so confidently but so misguidedly predicted.

So far, any honest and independent inquirer would conclude that the unfolding evidence of global warming at half the central rate predicted with "substantial" (but misplaced) "confidence" in IPCC (1990) has cast more than a little legitimate doubt on the "settled" science.

However, this and other inconvenient truths - no global warming at all for up to 18 years 3 months (RSS satellite dataset); no increase in hurricane frequency or strength (Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index), or in flooding (IPCC, 2013), or in droughts (Hao et al., 2014); greening of the Sahara (Nicholson, 1981); global sea-ice extent recently at a satellite-era maximum (University of Illinois Cryosphere Today project, December 2014) - are entirely overlooked in the movie, which also ignores the well-established fact that the sceptical side of the debate receives 1/5000 of the lavish funding poured by governments and "green" profiteers of doom into promoting Thermageddon.

The movie will please climate Communists, but it is a fine illustration of the depths of despair into which the true-believers in the Thermageddon cult have been reduced as the "science" behind the scare visibly collapses before them. The movie is predicated on the assumption that there is a "97% consensus" that recent global warming was mostly man-made. The peer-reviewed result demonstrating that the "consensus" on this issue is actually 0.5% is conveniently ignored, along with all the other facts which - however much the Marxstream media may deny them or decline to report them - will slowly, inexorably consign the climate scare to the rubbish-heap to which all mere superstitions are ultimately, ineluctably consigned.

Don't bother to watch it.
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7/10
Lays out all the info for you, but it is a little deceptive.
bbickley13-921-5866426 March 2015
When I saw the trailer for the move I was under the impression that the movie was going to be about so-called "experts" who get paid by certain businesses to say that their product is safe but it really is not. The movie begins like that but it ends with propaganda about Global warming that does not completely focus on the purpose of the film.

Yeah, they start out with the obvious, Smoking. No matter what you think, smoking is bad for you, everyone knows that, that's a given. They lay out the info of why smoking is bad for you and how the Tobacco companies miss guide you into believing this is not true, including hiring scientist who beliefs on the subject differ than the beliefs of every other scientist, and passing those scientist off as people who are not being paid to tell you that smoking is OK.

The film does this for I think two more subjects in the first thirty or so minutes. Than it goes into Global warming.

Honestly, my opinion of this movie has nothing to do with my opinion with Global warming, but I must say I don't like to be preached to, especially when that preaching seems to be your own personal agenda.

That's what I got from this movie, a lot of info about Global warming being our fault, beaten over my head like I just spilled grape juice on my mom's carpet.

I understood the segments about smoking because these segments are well- rounded (ironically because these segments do lean towards one opinion greatly). In fairness to the filmmakers just saying "don't smoke" is actually in perspective a lot easier to comprehend.

The movie reminds me of America: Imagine the World without her, in which filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza made a lot a very good, but not favorable points on African Americans, Native Americans, Capitalism, and a few other topics, but it all went down the toilet when he made the movie his own personal agenda about him vs. Obama. That's what happen with this flick.

I think this documentary would have worked better if I saw at lease a glimpse of a solution to the problem which I never got. If they looked hard enough, I'm sure they could have found someone (or paid a Scientist) to come up with one, but all I get was the complaint and that's not worth watching.
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4/10
An above average political thought piece, and better than expected
Don Muvo25 April 2015
The infamous book by Oreskes and Conway is put to the test here to see if it can become a reasonable theater experience. "Reasonable", is probably the best word for it. We see video evidence of the amazing claims in their book, it seems watered down, as a matter of fact, they have to take pains to balance screen impressions of true believers with skeptics, which is always a difficulty but it is made important by their very thesis, that the skeptics substitute their unqualified personalities for their lack of science. They try to prove this by presenting several segments with Professor Fred Singer, presenting him as a rocket scientist, implying indirectly that he should be a dunce at climate, perhaps. The only other person in the theater besides my group, said that the film was a sad experience, but that she was going to show it to her university students nevertheless "to teach them the truth". Dr. James Hansen, the original speaker-before-congress of Warming is shown commenting on his four arrests, which he admits was a sorry substitute for "banging on the president's desk". Perhaps President Obama saw this film, and got the message.

There is an interview with Marc Morano which uses contrived editing to make it appear that emails with death threats received by scientists were sent by him. This is probably the lowest point of the movie. On the positive side, there is some notion of how large the energy business is, how many people depend on it, and how 'experimental' and far away the alternatives really are.

There are two other characters that seem to be only in there to forward the author's point of view, one is a card mechanist/magician who gives the moral point of view of Oreskes, that his own intentions are "honorable", but that those "deceptions" which are not admitted are not. Another is Michael Schirmer, the administrator of the American Skeptics Society, someone who has always given me the creeps, since he doesn't come across as a real scientist, which he again does in this movie, with his pat anecdote about how he had to switch sides in order to agree with Global Warming, and also his shouting match with a doubter in his audience. The other is Bill Nye, who is an actor, but whom the narration represents as a typical scientist being talked over by the "paid professionals" of the skeptical side.

You may wonder why I've given the movie less than 5 stars if I said it was above average. Well, that fact that I don't necessarily agree with most of the points or points of view that I heard is the reason, not to mention the major thesis, which is that "consensus" means that anyone who disagrees should be denied a seat at the table. If such a dogma is meant to pass as a kind of, "Communism", then it indeed passes the test.
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3/10
A climate change propaganda film
konayoda9 July 2016
First let me start off by saying that burning of fossil fuels for energy is stupid. The energy this planet gets from the sun (which causes the wind) is more than we'll ever need. All we need to do is learn to harness and store it economically and efficiently.

Every human caused global warming / climate change "scientist" says essentially the same thing, "the last 20 years have been the warmest on record". But the record that they refer to is only the last 150 years. They ignore EVERYTHING we know about the ENTIRE climate history of the planet, as you will find by googling "geologic climate history". Your research will show you that the earth has been unusually cool for the last 35 million years. This is like saying that the last week of March has been the warmest all month, and ignoring all of the other 11 months, the cycle of the seasons etc.

Merchants of Doubt starts off with the deception of the tobacco industry, which is irrefutable, throws in a little about the fire retardant industry for good measure, then tries to show a correlation to global warming.

REAL science never ignores ANY facts, yet global warming scientists ignore the majority of facts. The fact that the most abundant life in Earth's history was during the Jurassic period, when the average global temperature was 14C higher than it is now, compared to 1C lower pre-industrial level, and CO2 levels were over 4,000ppm, compared to today's 450ppm and the 300ppm pre- industrial levels; that the polar ice caps have melted and reformed many times, and extended as far south as Missouri just 500,000 years ago. That the Antarctic Ice Sheet is 2 miles thick and growing.

Merchants of Doubt doesn't get into the science. Instead it tries to get you to discount REAL science, by making you believe that anyone who shares real scientific information is merely doing what the tobacco industry did.
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3/10
The director overreaches when he pans climate skeptics
murray_johnc16 September 2015
I had no problem with much of this documentary, but I cannot agree with its conclusions on global warming. Publications such as Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery's "Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1,500 Years" is a well researched book that has been well received by the scientific community. The earth's climate has in the past been much warmer and much colder than it is today and many of these shifts occurred back when the human race numbered less than one million people. What is truly alarming is that the most vitally important fact finding mission ever conceived got shelved by the George W Bush Dick Cheney administration in 2000. The Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite (Triana) was finally launched this February, after 15+ years in mothballs. At long last we will have precise measurements of the earth's climate budget - the amount of the sun's radiation earth receives and how much energy it radiates back into space - ergo a quantitative measurement of the greenhouse effect. This will finally determine whether we can believe the climate skeptics or the eco-terrorists. I find this sort of science far more satisfying than the study of growth rings of Moroccan Atlas cedar trees, or a stalagmite formation that grew in a Scottish cave beneath a peat bog. I find organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace to be far more culpable of yellow journalism and the dissemination of misinformation than any of the so-called merchants of climate doubt.
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1/10
Bad people do bad things.... and what does that prove?
LipjamUK29 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This documentary starts with these merchants of doubt and their work with tobacco industries. The case builds against disinformation regarding the detrimental effects of cigarettes on health. It then moves to chemicals in fire retardants. However, the viewer is being lead all the while to the case for man-made climate change. It is put alongside the other scientific cases and effectively gives the viewer the impression that it has the same scientific validity.

Making a case that there are paid lackeys of vested interests who made erroneous statements previously on one subject does not make a case one way or the other on the validity of an other subject. It just demonstrates that there are vested interests using a tried and tested strategy for the continuation of their business at all costs. The fact that these companies are abusing our planet for the own financial gain is a fact. Should we stop them? Of course yes! Should we look after the environment? Of course we should! Does that mean everything said about man made climate change is true? I just don't know.

If man made climate change is a fact. I would consider myself a skeptic for no other reason that if giant super computers cannot predict the weather for more than 3 days with any degree of accuracy and then I am told that climate can be predicted 10, 20, 100 years in the future? Excuse me if I ask what is the basis for making such bold predictions? The climate can change and this is a fact otherwise we would still be in an ice age. The causes and the end results of this is where I would struggle because I have no faith in the research or the proponents of this case. The research is just not sufficient nor is it likely to be in the near future. Those making it are very big on zeal but not so hot on evidence.

Call me naive but I thought the way to silence skeptics is to prove your hypothesis beyond doubt. Not to complain that there are those who disagree. This is a distraction and nothing to do with whether the case being made is valid. One of the main problems I have with Climate Change (and the trend in most recent headline research) is it is impossible to prove or disprove. It is more akin to religious faith than provable science because it is too far away, or too long ago, or not yet happened. You just have to believe it because who can show it to you. It is the evidence for things not yet seen, nor likely to be.

This documentary is a propaganda tool for climate change. I say this because having considered all the above. The amount of actual evidence presented proving man-made climate change is virtually non existent. It is mostly emotive dialogue and anecdotal presentation. They spend most of the film discrediting their opponents. Isn't that the point made at the start about what the tobacco industry did? They boohoo about getting nasty emails from nasty people. They repeat the mantra that climate change is true because they have been to Antarctica and because they say it is.

What has all this to do with valid science? The fact people can say I do not believe in ... whatever the theory is means you just have not proved it. Good science is about proving your hypothesis beyond doubt. If it is too nuanced for a clear demonstration then that is sufficient cause for the possibility that you may be mistaken. If the theory is too complicated to outline simply then that means you do not fully understand what you are trying to explain. Stop saying it's proved it when you cannot produce incontrovertible proof. Of course the proof cannot be produced because this proof exists in the future and unless someone can build a time machine it can never be proved, it so it will always remain a hypothesis at best. Hence the need for propaganda like this.
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