"Purveyor of Falsehood"
What You Need To Know:
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT is by no means a low-quality production. The movie contains slick and appealing visuals, music and editing. However, it sometimes gets boring and repetitious, often guilty of using the same fallacious methods it accuses corporations and others of using. MERCHANTS OF DOUBT is an abhorrent piece of socialist, humanist, anti-capitalist propaganda full of logical fallacies. Its presentation of “the facts” seems very artificial. There’s also a scene that depicts people reading their obscene hate mail aloud. Media-wise viewers will want to avoid MERCHANTS OF DOUBT.
(HHH, EEE, ACapACapACap, SoSo, LLL, V, D, MMM) Very strong humanist, environmentalist, anti-capitalist worldview demonizing “big corporations” for causing negative health effects on American society, with strong socialist implications; at least 26 obscenities, either in archival footage or during a scene in which hate mail is read; violent acts described during a brief scene where hate mail is read; sexual acts described during a brief scene in which hate mail is read aloud; no sex; no nudity; no alcohol use; many archival shots of smoking are shown every two to three minutes as a primary part of the movie scrutinizes the tobacco industry; and, a high level of immorality is shown in the movie as it shows archival footage of corporate scandal as well as a brief archival video of experiments done upon a monkey in a laboratory and a five-minute scene depicts various environmentalists reading vicious hate mail aloud.
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT is a Robert Kenner documentary that demonizes capitalism and corporations for destroying the environment and health of the public in pursuit of money.
Starting with the “Straw Man” argument of cigarette companies telling us that smoking was “good for you” in the 1950s, Kenner immediately jumps to saying that’s equivalent to how corporations are “lying to us” today about climate change and “Global Warming.” The movie’s main ‘story arc,’ so to speak, is a famous magician, Jamy Ian Swiss, describing how a magician or con man’s job is to deceive other people for money. The movie then interjects exhausting monologues about alleged corporate crime and fraud.
Yes, Robert Kenner, the audience understands that smoking is bad for them. Just because smoking is bad for one’s health, does that automatically mean that “Global Warming” is the number one issue facing the world? No, it simply does not. As a viewer, watch out for Kenner’s constant use of the “Straw Man Fallacy,” which means setting up an easy target to attack in order to prove other biased points. Kenner also uses the “Slippery Slope Fallacy,” meaning to say that one small problem will definitely lead to larger, snowballing issues if not acted upon right now. Finally, he stacks the cards in his movie where he just gives the viewer a bunch of one-sided and self-serving facts to bias the argument, without even considering any major oppositional evidence.
Kenner’s use of these fallacies as well as the presentation and slick editing of the documentary are examples of false rhetorical technique, used by the best charlatans since mankind was first left Eden. However, it’s important for the viewer not to be overwhelmed by what seems to be an obvious answer and to discern for his or herself what’s right or wrong, as Christ tells us in Revelation 3:16, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (NIV).
Christians of course wish to protect their environment to the best of their abilities, as God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26, NIV). They try not to litter, they recycle their egg cartons, try to carpool as much as possible, and so forth. However, it’s always harmful to focus too much on a worldview that is not that of Christ’s. The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (NIV)
Also, the viewer should be wary of the humanist, socialist ideas being pushed heavily in this documentary. On the first day of any good Journalism 101 class, one is taught to always give both sides of the argument a chance to speak his or her mind on the issue. However, when the opposition in this documentary speaks, foolish music is played subtly, or embarrassing camera shots are used, in order to make that side look like a bumbling buffoon. Watching these interview segments are like watching a bully on the playground harassing someone smaller than himself and not being able to help.
Greed is of course one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and all Christians should always try not to have greed as one of their vices. However, the movie portrays all people who are of any sort of level of wealth to be the root cause of all health problems in America as well as the chief cause of “Global Warming.” The humanist element of the movie is revealed as the solution and savior of all in tandem with socialism. According to the movie, in the end it is about to the human individual along with all of his comrades to band together and tear down the big corporations destroying the “Ozone layer” and harming our children with “second-hand smoke.”
Other minor problems in terms of content in MERCHANTS OF DOUBT are the frequent shots of smoking because of the emphasis on large tobacco corporations as well as one depiction of animal abuse. Other than this, watching this movie will make many viewers feel as if they’re being fed constant propaganda and misinformation. So, media-wise viewers will want to avoid the abhorrent documentary MERCHANTS OF DOUBT.