Merchants of Doubt

Rated 4.0

Director Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) delivers this rote but stirring documentary about the fake experts and pseudo-scientists that are employed by corporations to spread doubt in the media about scientific facts. It was a devious practice originally perfected by the tobacco industry, and it's being taken to new, possibly apocalyptic levels by well-compensated global warming “skeptics.” There are a lot of fascinating stories, including a detailed exploration of the nationally perpetrated hoax that mandated the use of cancer-causing flame-retardant material in couches, but the viewing experience is probably not much different than the experience of reading the 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It would have been more interesting to get a psychological exploration into the mind of one of these hired liars, rather than this well-made outrage enhancement device about media manipulation and corporate greed, but Merchants of Doubt remains compelling enough to recommend. D.B.