Merchants of DoubtDVD - 2015 | 2014 documentary film production
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I make an honest living, right. Therefore, it offends me when someone takes the skills of my honest living, if you will, and uses it to twist and distort and manipulate people and their sense of reality and how the world works.
Do you accept the basic premise that smoking kills?
-No, I think that the scientists who make statements like that are making political statements, not scientific statements.
We spent a long time banging our heads up against the wall because these guys are rich, they're politically powerful and they're mean.
When the Cold War ends, they begin systematically attacking all these other issues. There's a bit of a mystery. What do these things all have in common? All of these issues are issues that involve the need for government action. That's when the penny dropped.
The playbook that big tobacco developed to attack science worked for them for 50 years. Because every day that they can delay effective policy action is one more day that they can make more money. They can be out there selling a product that's killing a half-a-million Americans a year and get away with it. And so other businesses that were faced with regulatory challenges had to look at this and say, "Boy, if this works for tobacco, we ought to be able to use that playbook too."
Nobody ever won at Three-Card Monte in history. They've been playing it for 150 years, and nobody's won.
The question was, how many of these papers disagree that most of the observed warming is due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations? So I certainly thought we would get some that disagreed. And when we found nothing then I thought, "Oh, this is a result that needs to be published."
I began to realize, none of this is about the science. This is a political debate about the role of government. So in a number of places, we found these people saying they see environmentalists as creeping communists. They're Reds under the bed, they call them watermelons, Green on the outside, Red inside, and they worry that environmental regulation is a slippery slope to socialism. Socialism will not be buried under the ruins of the Berlin Wall… But the beginning of a new threat to free enterprise and to liberal democracies. By any other name, government control of the economy is still government control of the economy.
When I go into these debates, it feels like I'm going into a Twilight Zone episode. You know, where black is white, up is down and everything is just the opposite of what you think it is. Two parallel worlds that exist side by side. And each of us has a counterpart in this world.
When you look at climate scientists, we know who they are, they work in science labs. On the other side, people are not scientists. Global warming... Or if they are scientists, they're not climate scientists. They're a political, ideological group that just mines the data that somebody else gets and cherry-picks data that fits what they already want to be true.
The Oregon Petition claims to be signed by climate scientists who disagree with the mainstream view of the scientific community. If you actually look at it, what you find is in many cases, they aren't scientists at all. Somebody put on there the Spice Girls. Somebody else put on there Michael J. Fox. Even Charles Darwin made the list.
They give the impression that it's a very big network with lots of scientists. But if you look closely, you see it's a small number of people, really just a handful.
I said, "Those kids you talked about, did they all die in your hospital?" And he said, "It wasn't factual, it was anecdotal." And he said, "Listen, the details don't matter. The principle matters." I go, "What's the principle?" He says, "The principle is flame retardants work." I said, "That's not what you testified." And he said, "Well, I wasn't under oath."
The scientific method is, you have to continually reassess your conclusions. As soon as there's new data, you ask, "How does that affect my interpretation?" And you're open-minded. What we're up against is people who have a preferred answer, and so then they take the position of a lawyer. They're going to defend their client, and they will only present you with the data that favors their client.
So what we begin to see is think tanks taking up climate change as an issue but not from the point of view of science but from the point of view of the politics.
The global warming alarm spread by Al Gore and the United Nations is in utter scientific collapse. We've gone 18 years without global warming according to data. Akin to medieval witchcraft where we blame witches for controlling weather.
Sometimes the argument was that, "The Earth is not warming."
At another time the argument would be, "Well, yes, the Earth is warming but it's not due to human activities."
At another time the argument would be, "Yes, it is warming, and it's due to human activities, but the cost of doing something about it would be ruinous for society.
What these institutes do is they promote their own "experts" as contrary experts who give you the "other side" of the issue, and journalists fall for it. Fall for it lock, stock, and barrel.
You go up against a scientist, most of them are gonna be in their own little, policy-wonk world or area of expertise. ---So you look in the ice and you find bubbles of trapped gas-- Very arcane, very hard to understand, hard to explain and very boring.
My initial reaction with the Climategate, I thought, "Okay, mm, gosh, I hope I didn't flip at the wrong point there. Maybe this is all baloney." When you actually read the e-mails in context, you go, "Oh. Okay, he's not actually saying what Rush Limbaugh said he was saying."
Gridlock is the greatest friend a global warming skeptic has. That's all you really want. There's no legislation we're championing. We're the negative force, just trying to stop stuff. It's all about distraction, it's all about confusion. It's about preventing you from looking where the action really is, which is in the science. Misdirection is the use of the little lie to sell the big lie.
Everywhere you turn, somebody is telling us what we can't eat. Do you ever feel like you're always being told what not to do? -- These people tell us where to work, how many children to have, how much energy to use, how much water we can-- On global warming, you see the same thing happening. What will they try to regulate next?
What we can say? What we can read? I don't want Big Brother breathing down my neck telling me what to do. Not just for smokers but for nonsmokers and all others who want to live their lives making their own decisions, not having them made for them by the benevolent bureaucracy of Washington wisdom or these other-- By turning it into an abstract issue of freedom and moving it away from their corporate interests, they can get people behind it. Who can possibly be against freedom?
They said these on TV:
Nancy Pelosi: We don't always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?
Newt Gingrich: No, but we do agree our country must take action to address climate change.
Boehner: The facts of global warming demand our urgent attention. We have had climate change. Clearly, humans have something to do with it.
Mitt Romney: Well, I think the risks of climate change are real. I think human activity is contributing to it.
They're spreading a message of global warming alarmism, lost jobs, higher taxes, and less freedom. Over eight years ago, we launched Americans for Prosperity and the goal behind it was to provide grassroots support at the local and state level to push free-market policies.
Many conservatives, I think, see action on climate change as really an attack on a way of life. The reason that we need the science to be wrong is otherwise, we realize that we need to change. That's really a hard pill to swallow, that the whole way I've created my life is wrong, you're saying? That I shouldn't have this house in the suburb? I shouldn't be driving this car that I take my kids to soccer? And you're not gonna tell me to live the way that you want me to live. And along comes some people sowing some doubt, and it's pretty effective because I'm looking for that answer. I want it to be that the science is not real.
If we look at the case of climate change, we can imagine that eventually people will come to understand the scientific evidence. But the problem is, we don't have 50 years. Climate change is happening, it's underway, and it's not reversible.
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