Merchants of Doubt | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Merchants of Doubt

A new doc looks at how PR spin helps spread disinformation about serious issues like climate change


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Robert Kenner's documentary looks at the rise of corporate disinformation and various PR strategies designed to counter potentially damaging research. Inspired by Big Tobacco's success in slickly pushing back against concerns that smoking caused verifiable damage to health, now companies and even whole industries (like fossil fuels) employ many of the same sophisticated tactics to create doubt. Most of Kenner's talking-head film focuses on arguments about climate change, and he provides some cogent explanation how and why climate-change deniers have achieved such broad support. Kenner's arguments are well presented (with the help of a magician), but what emerges is a rather depressing portrait of a populace all too easily swayed by buzzwords, confusion and emotions.


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