Thursday, July 9, 2015

Merchants of Doubt (2014)


Director: Robert Kenner
Writers:  Erik M, Conway, Robert Kenner, Naomi Oreskes


A documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change. It begins with a look at the tactics employed by the big tobacco companies to generate doubts among the general public and policy makers about the accuracy of scientific studies on harmful effects of cigarettes. Same tactics and players are being used now to do the same regarding the consensus on human made climate change by the corporations involved in Oil, Power and Automobile industries.

It is not such a revealing documentary if you are already familiar with the lengths American corporates and their lobbyists go in pursuing their profit-motive. They have a version of capitalism in which regulation plays no role and you can always count on the bogey threat of 'Attack on our Freedom' to counter call for actions on environment. As far as I go, your freedom should be unlimited as long as you are not causing direct harm to others, but in case of things like Cigarette smoking, toxic chemicals and CO2 emissions;  you are causing direct harm and you cannot play the freedom card. The film delves into the nature of debate that is conducted over climate change and concludes that it is not a scientific argument, since there is almost 100% scientific consensus on the issue, but rather a political argument which pits a convoluted and naive form of libertarian-ism against all others. One could argue that it is not even ideological and is just about money. 

You have a very surreal 1984 like doublespeak involved in American political discourse, with the voice of climate change deniers coming from lobbyist assholes and cranky scientists who works for think-tanks, with interesting names, and are all conveniently funded by industries that stand to lose if proper action is taken to combat climate change. In 2008, during the Presidential debates, there was almost near consensus among all the republican candidates regarding climate change but within a year, they all flip-flopped and became climate change skeptics or deniers. I guess the money from Koch cunts helped to bring about that transformation. Now  you have a situation where some loony republican is bringing snowballs into senate-floor to claim that climate change is a hoax. 

The film is a great watch overall and if you are somehow on the other side of the fence, my heartfelt condolences to you, then it should be conclusive enough for you to change sides. I really don't see many non-American people having this doubt at all regards to human made climate change and only in USA you have this false debate going on. The media's habit of giving false equivalence under the garb of giving time for both sides in the debate, when there is a significant credibility gap between the two sides, also helps to manufacture this doubt. Well, they are funded by the big business and maybe they are also part of the propaganda. The film is produced by Omidyar Network, from Pierre Omidyar (e-Bay founder), and this is part of his experiments with news media which also includes Glenn Greenwald run 'The Intercept' news organization. 

Rating: 4/5