Review: ‘Merchants of Doubt’ Documentary

Go Lean Commentary

“You can fool all the people some of the time; some of the people all of the time; but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. – Old Adage

Doubt Photo 1This adage is apropos considering that there are actual professionals who are engaged by vested business interests to provide scientific denials regarding the effects of Climate Change.

How is it possible that anyone would deny this? In a previous blog-commentary it was asserted that many who deny the realities of Climate Change, do so because of self-interest; they are only concerned with the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; only concerned about basic or social needs. But now we highlight the public relations/messaging professionals who craft the message, and support it with scientific testimonies to reinforce the status quo. These ones’ motives are more sinister than just supporting a dissenting opinion; they want to promote “doubt”.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean collects statistical data and anecdotes on the dire effects of Climate Change in the Caribbean. Some communities have been affected by Climate Change-driven hurricanes, and after many years, have still not recovered (Page 112). So, we must now take our own lead for our own solutions. The region cannot fall prey to the shenanigans of the Merchants of Doubt.

This commentary highlights the film, “Merchants of Doubt“, a big hit at the Toronto Film Festival for 2014. The documentary though is based on the 2010 book: Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming; by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.  See a clip from the film here:

VIDEO: ” Hard Pill To Swallow” – Merchants of Doubt (2014) Documentary Clip-

This documentary looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change. (Director: Robert Kenner; Writers: Robert Kenner, Kim Roberts).

What is the motivation of the Merchants of Doubt?


There is a lot of money at stake, especially for those who want to preserve the status quo and not invest in the required mitigations to arrest Climate Change. No doubt, this Merchants of Doubt “role play” is just another glimpse of Crony Capitalism.

The profit motive is powerful. Climate Change is not the first issue in which they have manufactured “doubt”. In truth, their efforts are from a familiar playbook, used previously to delay actions by Big Tobacco, Toxic Waste, Acid Rain, and other dangerous chemicals. They have a successful track record.

Doubt Photo 2

This was the point a few days ago by the film’s director Robert Kenner in an interview on the show All Things Considered for National Public Radio (NPR). Listen to the podcast here:

Audio:Merchants Of Doubt‘ Explores Work of Climate Change Deniers –

March 06, 2015 – NPR’s Melissa Block speaks to director Robert Kenner about his documentary, “Merchants of Doubt“, which examines the work of climate change skeptics and their campaign to sway public opinion.

The Go Lean book details the impending crisis of Climate Change and then calls for the establishment of a regional administration to monitor, mitigate and manage the threats of Climate Change. We must pursue the Greater Good, for the Caribbean region is at the frontline of the battleground of Climate Change; the region is experiencing devastating hurricanes, flooding, forest fires, droughts, rising sea levels, and alterations in fish stock.

This Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The prime directives of this agency are described as:

  • Optimize the economic engines of the Caribbean to elevate the regional economy to grow to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establish a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance and industrial policies to support these engines.

The Go Lean roadmap calls for the CU to serve as the regional administration to optimize economy, homeland security and governance engines for the Caribbean, especially in light of Climate Change battleground frontline status. The needs of the economy and Climate Change mitigations do not have to clash; they can co-exist. There is no need for the campaign of doubt.

This is the first pronouncement (Page 11) of the opening Declaration of Interdependence that bears a direct reference to this foregoing article and source book:

i. Whereas the earth’s climate has undeniably changed resulting in more severe tropical weather storms, it is necessary to prepare to insure the safety and security of life, property and systems of commerce in our geographical region. As nature recognizes no borders in the target of its destruction, we also must set aside border considerations in the preparation and response to these weather challenges.

The Go Lean roadmap is designed to deliver many empowerment activities to elevate Caribbean society. These activities will carefully balance the needs of the Caribbean and the needs of the planet: we need jobs, yes, but we do not need to increase our carbon footprint. This seems logical; who could dispute? Unfortunately, there are many doubters, dissenters and disputers. Many times these motives are strictly capitalistic; strictly for profit. The issues of Climate Change have been repeatedly addressed and further elaborated upon in these previous blog/commentaries:

First US city to be powered 100% by renewables
Book Review: ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate’
Climate Change May Affect Food Supply Within a Decade
Cooling Effect – Oceans and the Climate
Climate Change May Bring More Kidney Stones
Caribbean grapples with intense new cycles of flooding & drought
Floods in Minnesota, Drought in California – Why Not Share?
Conservative heavyweights have solar industry in their sights
Go ‘Green’ … Caribbean

The subject of Climate Change doubters-dissenters-disputers is just another example of the well-documented bad corporate behavior by Big Business. Many other cases have been considered in this commentary; see the relevant list here:

Big Defense Many theorists indicate that the “follow the money” approach reveals the Military Industrial Complex work to undermine peace, so as to increase defense spending for military equipment, systems and weapons.
Big Media Cable companies conspire to keep rates high; kill net neutrality; textbook publishers practice price gouging; Hollywood insists on big tax breaks/ subsidies for on-location shooting.
Big Oil While lobbying for continuous tax subsidies, the industry have colluded to artificially keep prices high and garner rocket profits ($38+ Billion every quarter).
Big Box Retail chains impoverish small merchants on Main Street with Antitrust-like tactics, thusly impacting community jobs. e-Commerce, an area of many future prospects, is the best hope of countering these bad business tactics.
Big Pharma Chemo-therapy cost $20,000+/month; and the War against Cancer is imperiled due to industry profit insistence.
Big Tobacco Cigarettes are not natural tobacco but rather latent with chemicals to spruce addiction. Caribbean cigars are all natural.
Big Agra Agribusiness concerns continue to greenhouse gases, bully family farmers and crowd out the market; plus they fight common sense food labeling efforts.
Big Data Brokers for internet and demographic data clearly have no regards to privacy concerns. They open that doors for hackers and data breaches.
Big Banks Wall Street’s damage to housing and student loans are incontrovertible. Their only motive: more profits.
Big Weather Overblown hype of “Weather Forecasts” to dictate commercial transactions.
Big Real Estate Preserving MLS for Real Estate brokers only, forcing 6% commission rates, when the buyers and sellers can easily meet online without them.
Big Salt Despite the corrosiveness of salt on roads and the environment, it is the only tactic used to de-ice roads during the winter. Immediately after the weather warms, the roads must be re-constructed, thus ensuring a continuous economic cycle.

The Go Lean book, and accompanying blog commentaries, go even deeper and hypothesize that American economic models are considered dysfunctional when viewed from the Caribbean perspective. While the US generates the largest carbon footprint per-capita on the planet, most of the Climate Change doubters-dissenters-disputers originate there. Yet, we in the Caribbean are on the frontlines, especially considering the devastating realities of modern hurricanes.  In general, the American wheels of commerce stage the Caribbean in a “parasite” role. The American policy for the Caribbean is to incentivize consumption of American products, and serve as a playground for their leisure.

There is more to our reality. We also care about the planet, and our children’s future. We want to effect the required changes for our region and encourage the rest of the world to capitulate to good science in aid of the planet.

The Go Lean book declares that we must adopt a community ethos, the appropriate attitude/spirit, to forge change in our region; then details the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to better impact the region’s resources and eco-systems, especially in considering the preparations and consequences of Climate Change:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices / Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – The Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 24
Community Ethos – Non-Government Organizations Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederating 30 Member-States into a Single Market Page 45
Strategy – Vision – Foster Local Economic Engines for Basic Needs Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Prepare for Natural Disasters Page 45
Strategy – Agents of Change – Climate Change Page 57
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Confederating a Permanent Union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Separation of Powers – Emergency Management Page 76
Separation of Powers – Interstate Commerce Administration Page 79
Separation of Powers – Meteorological & Geological Service Page 79
Separation of Powers – Fisheries and Agriculture Department Page 88
Implementation – Assemble Regional Organs into a Single Market Economy Page 96
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up – Unified Command & Control Page 103
Implementation – Industrial Policy for CU Self Governing Entities Page 103
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 119
Planning – Big Ideas for the Caribbean Region Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Public Works Page 175
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Improve for Natural Disasters Page 184
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management Page 196
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street Page 201
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Fisheries Page 210
Appendix – History of Puerto Rican Migration to US & Effects of Hurricanes Page 303
Appendix – US Virgin Islands Economic Timeline with Hurricane Impacts Page 305

The foregoing Audio podcast and VIDEO discuss the effectiveness of Merchants of Doubt in delaying public policy in combating Climate Change. In the Caribbean, we have no option to exit from these debates. We are involved whether we want to be or not – we are on the frontlines of this battle.

This is not our opinion alone. There have been many comments from viewers of the documentary film. The following User Reviews support the thesis from the film:

— Typical of proponents —

User Review 1: The art of deception, applied to scientific consensus
Author: Douglas Allchin from St Paul, MN; 13 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.

User Review 2: Engaging look at the politics of climate change… from one perspective
rm_777 from United States 10 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.

Likewise, there are doubters-dissenters-disputers even of the film. In the interest of full disclosure, notice here an opposing review of the same film:

— Typical of opponents —

User Review 3: But what about the science and economics of climate?
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley from UK; 5 Feb 2015

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.

Change has come to the Caribbean region; more devastating change is imminent. There is the need for a permanent union to provide efficient stewardship for Caribbean economy, security and governing engines. The Go Lean…Caribbean book posits that these problems, these agents of change, are too big for just any one member-state to tackle alone, there must be a regional solution. This multi-state technocratic administration of the CU may be our best option.

The people and institutions of the region are hereby urged to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap, to embrace the mitigations to arrest Climate Change. and respond to the Merchants of Doubt. Despite their objects, we can still make the Caribbean a better homeland to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


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