A documentary by Robert Kenner. Rated PG.
Merchants of Doubt exposes the chicanery of large-scale CO2 makers the way director Robert Kenner’s previous feature doc Food, Inc. handled agribiz. That is, it unmasks the lobbyists, knaves, and phony “experts” paid by large corporations to further cloud a well already poisoned by their products.
As if to illustrate his point, IMDb presently sports a pantload of comments from professional deniers. These tut-tutters haven’t seen the meticulously researched documentary, but are sure it will turn potential viewers into drooling socialist zombies.
Starting with the same-named book by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway (Oreskes appears in the film), Kenner finds the roots of this purposeful confusion in the last gasps of the tobacco industry, whose own research was carefully hidden by lying hacks. Notably missing is SNL’s Nathan Thurm (“I think it’s so funny that you should ask me that”), but plenty of the same PR flacks show up later, for other indefensible industries, such as the flame-retardant makers who have invaded our lives with carcinogens and falsified evidence.
The climate-change deniers swim in by far the biggest repository of store-bought bullshit, and their campaign against pure science has resulted in a chilling effect across a boiling planet. This particular game was rigged by evil overlords like the Koch brothers, for whose tarsands project our sword-waving prime minister is but a meek junior partner. Their lies are often directed at a poorly educated public by U.S. Republicans like Oklahoma’s James Inhofe, the idiot who now heads the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and who recently hoisted a snowball as proof that climate change is a “giant hoax”.
Occasionally leaning on Michael Moore–type archival footage for comic relief, the movie makes little mention of the religious fundamentalists lining up to follow Rush Limbaugh off a fast-approaching cliff. But it does address the magical tribal thinking that keeps deniers in line. This matters, because after running out of Al Gores to smear, these frack-happy vampires are gearing up to blame our planet’s impending death on the biggest fall guy in history: God!