Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Merchants of Doubt, based on the book of the same name, shines its light on corporate public relations strategies for undermining inconvenient scientific research. Should you embark on a career in science in the 21st century, this film suggests you may need a thick hide if your research places human welfare ahead of corporate profit. Your every conclusion may be countered by a pseudo-expert granted equal media time to provide ‘balance’. Don’t be surprised if you are called an elitist, seeking to deprive ordinary citizens of the right to choose. These tactics and more, as revealed in the thousands of documents leaked to anti-tobacco crusader Stanton Glantz, enabled the tobacco industry to maintain for decades that science was inconclusive about smoking when their own researchers had told them the opposite. It seems clear that those documents have now served as the blueprint for the orchestrated denial of human-generated climate change. Utilising card-sharp con artistry as its ruling metaphor, Robert Kenner’s richly storied film draws its most vivid testimony from two reformed skeptics – and one extremely voluble, unrepentant spinner.