Skip to main content

KPBS Radio is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in temporary signal outages.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Tokyo Olympics

Film Review: 'Merchants of Doubt'

March 20, 2015 5:56 a.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews the documentary, "Merchants of Doubt."

Related Story: 'Merchants Of Doubt' Suggests We're All Being Conned


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Are there always two sides to every issue? The documentary Merchants of Doubt suggests that sometimes one side presents pundits-for-hire as scientific authorities in order to skew the debate on issues such as tobacco and global warming. KPBS reporter Beth Accomando has this review.

The documentary Merchants of Doubt mixes humor, rational arguments, and slight of hand to dissect the methods corporations use to advance their own agenda at the expense of the public’s best interests. San Diego magician Jamy Ian Swiss frames the documentary and suggests don’t blame the public for being gullible but rather credit the con man.

JAMY IAN SWISS: Once revealed, never concealed. And we hope that’s not just true about magic tricks, but that in the sense of revealing the mechanism by which the public has been hoaxed that maybe people will be more aware next time.

Merchants of Doubt is an enlightening look at America’s spin factory and a fascinating the people who are perversely skilled at deception and misdirection.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.