Sceptimentary by Robert Kenner, USA 2014

Sceptics have always existed, which is necessary to question what is being held up as truth in all sorts of fields. However, deniers have also always existed, and their mission is not to question, as much as vehemently stick to their preconceived versions of truth, often in spite of overwhelming evidence. As politics and money enter the equation, making people denying inconvenient truths is sometimes needed, and spreading misinformation and doubt is an effective tool, having been utilized in the tobacco industry and transgressed into the climate change denial we see today.

Starting off by setting the mood with a wee bit on a card magician informs us that slight of hand is important in card tricks*, but misdirection and making people focus on the wrong things are more important for the outcome. The same tactics are being used by tobacco lobbyists and advocates for climate change denial; the difference being that the magician and the audience are honest about the fact that it’s all deceit. After some of the most visually pleasing opening credits, the lies and half-truths being used by those denying proper science are exposed in an interesting and unforgiving manner.

I suspect that I enjoyed this film a teeny weeny bit more because it confirms my already held beliefs. This is of course ironic, in an Alanis Morissettean way, seeing that much of the misinformation regarding climate change comes from conservative American media, such as Fox news, who use the very same tactics to cater to their demographic. Nevertheless, ‘Merchants of doubt’ is a thought-provoking and entertaining documentary, and a wake-up call at that.

*) Illusions, Michael….

Bechdel test: Fail

5 cards of 6