Tuesday March 10, 2015

Merchants of Doubt: Inside the world of skeptics-for-hire

Documentarian Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) investigates the shadowy world of professional skeptics, whose services are bought and paid for by corporations, think tanks and other special interests to cast doubt and delay public and governmental action on climate change

Documentarian Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) investigates the shadowy world of professional skeptics, whose services are bought and paid for by corporations, think tanks and other special interests to cast doubt and delay public and governmental action on climate change (Mongrel Media)

Listen 19:14

Guest host Allan Hawco speaks with director Robert Kenner about his new documentary film, Merchants of Doubt, which goes inside the unseemly world of skeptics-for-hire -- people paid by corporations to cast doubt on the health risks of smoking, climate change, and chemicals in food.

Kenner --  who says he first became interested in the topic while working on this acclaimed documentary, Food, Inc. -- ​discusses the playbook tactics that these so-called "merchants of doubt" use to sway public opinion and how they have fostered a distrust in scientific research. He also argues that the media have played a role by giving these groups -- climate change deniers, for example -- an audience. 

"We're debating something that's not a debate," Kenner says. 

*Click on the listen button above to hear the full segment (audio runs 19:14).

You can watch the trailer for Merchants of Doubt below.