Merchants of Doubt


Action / Documentary


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June 23, 2015 at 05:12 PM



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1hr 36 min
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1.44 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 36 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Jack Dell 8 / 10

Entertaining and engaging and does a great job of illuminating the issue

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.

Reviewed by Dung Bui 7 / 10

A persuasive lie!

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.

Reviewed by dorothyjdavis 10 / 10

A Must See Film For All Those Concerned About Climate Change

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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