MESYM Documentary Night #30: Merchants of Doubt

MESYM’s Documentary Night is held every 2nd Tuesday of each month. Everyone is invited to come hang out, watch a documentary, meet like-minded friends and take part in the discussion. Admission is free!

For our December event we are screening Merchants of Doubt, a documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.

About the book

Merchants of Doubt

Merchants of Doubt

In their book Merchants of Doubt, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway explain how a loose–knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. In seven compelling chapters addressing tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming, and DDT, Oreskes and Conway roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.


“It offends me when someone takes the skills of my honest living…and uses them to twist and distort and manipulate people and their sense of reality and how the world works.”
Magician Jamy Ian Swiss

“I think that if the company as a whole believed that cigarettes were really harmful we would not be in the business of making them. We’re a very moralistic company.”
Dr. Helmut Wakeham, VP Philip Morris

“If you can ‘do tobacco’ you can do just about anything in public relations.”
Peter Sparber, veteran tobacco lobbyist

“I’m not a scientist but I do play one on TV occasionally… hell, more than occasionally.”
Marc Morano, Founder of

“It isn’t about the science, it’s about me being a consistent team member; showing the members of my tribe that you can count on me.”
Michael Shermer, Skeptics Society

“It’s not the science that’s affecting us. I mean the science is pretty clear. It’s something else that’s causing this rejection…the reason we need the science to be wrong is that otherwise we see that we need to change. That’s really a hard pill to swallow.”
Congressman Bob Inglis (R, South Carolina)

Join the event on our Facebook Group.

About ‘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.

Characters in the film

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