Film Summary and Response — Merchants of Doubt

Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt takes audiences on a satirically comedic yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.

Evaluate the use of the illusionist analogy in describing the political and corporate deniers of climate change. Is it a fair comparison?

Why do you think many people tend to reject scientific truths predicting future harm when such truths threaten the status quo or call into question the sustainability of certain economic and cultural habits and values?

What “clubs” or “tribes” do you belong to (identify with) that might influence the way that you view scientific evidence? For example, think of political affiliation, religious/spiritual identity, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc. Explain how this part of your identity impacts your bias toward how you view the world and how you view scientific evidence.

How would you critique both the roles of scientists and journalists as public communicators? How would you compare and contrast their missions? Make a list of the sources of news you find most reliable. Explain what makes them trustworthy in your eyes.

Given human skepticism, an unwillingness to change, and past failures of prediction, what might scientists, journalists, and responsible policy makers do to persuade people that climate change and its effects are real?

Utilize the following articles to add insight to your response:
Shell and Exxon’s secret 1980s climate change warnings (Links to an external site.)
U.S. Public Views on Climate and Energy (Links to an external site.)
Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change (Links to an external site.)
Be thoughtful in your responses.
Write a 4-5 page summary and response to the film answering the questions above. The assignment needs to be written in essay format with a clearly developed thesis, examples from the film, supported by the readings, and with proper writing mechanics.
Font: Times New Roman
Font size: 12 pt. font.
Margins:1-inch margins.
Spacing: Double Spaced. 

The video is on this link