What is the difference between a magician and a man who obscures the truth about global warming for the fossil-fuel industry? Magicians are “moral liars,” according to the illuminating new documentary Merchants of Doubt, by director Robert Kenner. That’s because their magic acts use expertise in the art of deception and misdirection to entertain. Shills for the fossil fuel-industry, such as Steve Milloy, Marc Morano and others examined and accused in this film, use their expertise to fool people about matters of life and death.
The new documentary springs from the 2010 eponymous book by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. The film (and the book before it) lays out how the fossil-fuel industry funds talking heads to sow confusion about climate change in a deliberate imitation of the successful doubt-sowing tactics of the tobacco industry.