Tuesday, March 10, 2015

No doubts about Merchants of Doubt

I saw a sneak preview of Merchants of Doubt on Saturday - it's very good and very professionally made. Incredible how many of the merchants of doubt were willing to speak on camera about what they're doing, Marc Morano in particular. I knew only some of the tobacco issues and very little about flame retardant, so how that ties to climate is definitely worth watching.

I remember that a Stoat had issues with the book that inspired the movie, but this is footage and interviews, so while I haven't read the book I think the movie's pretty different.

Good piece in the trailer where Morano says "we're the negative force, we're just trying to stop stuff." He's right. Remember that's a good position to be in, when you can get it, like with Keystone.

It's scoring 83% at Rottentomatoes, you can check there for availability but is opening this weekend in some cities.


William Connolley said...

> I remember that a Stoat had issues with the book

I'm not sure your memory is correct. I can find http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/07/03/well-write-a-bloody-paper-abou/ and related, which certainly doesn't portray Oreskes in a good light. But nothing directly about More Chants of Doot. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/06/20/cover-up-by-the-economist-all/ is implicitly favourable to it.

Pinko Punko said...

Stoat, you had a lot about MoD treatment of some acid rain guy whose son was pushing back on the treatment in the book. Oreskes vs Nirenberg or something. I read it last night.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised that the doubt merchants were willing to appear on camera. After all, having no sense of shame would be a prerequisite in that profession.

EliRabett said...

Pinko, William Nierenberg was one of the three founders of the Marshall Institute with Jastrow and Uncle Fred. Don't remember him having much of a position/effect on the acid rain issue, but he certainly was one of the ones belittling the urgency of action on climate change. Some light reading to get you up to speed



As you said, the son Nicolas showed up at the Weasel's and engaged in defending dad, and for a bit of time ran a blog.

Susan Anderson said...

I've been meaning to follow up on this, but being lazy and preoccupied (at times) have not done so. If anyone has access SkepticalScience has linked to Scientific American have Russell, not Fred, Seitz in their sights.

This is wrong and counterproductive and unfair.

I'm having trouble posting on SkS and don't belong to SA, so hope somebody will alert them to the problem.

Anonymous said...

I tweeted him. He's fixed it.

Susan Anderson said...

attp, thank you! You got through to Biello as well as SkS? Almost you persuade me to use Twitter (but not quite).

Anonymous said...

Just Biello. Didn't quite understand the SkS link. Did they just link to the original article?

Pinko Punko said...

Thanks Eli. What The Weasel doesn't remember is that he was very negative on Oreskes about this with multiple posts.

Ah, The Marshall Institute. Le sigh

Pinko Punko said...

Here is the Stoat:


though the follow up to this doesn't really address Oreskes, but N

Russell Seitz said...

I presume David Biello made a spellcheck Bad Mistake , and have sent him a note requesting a correction .

But who knows what film makers may get up to when, on critical examnation their sources fall through the historiographic floor they are supposed to stand on , and crash through the uncited pages of Vanity Fair and The Nation Institute into the basement of the BushHitler website-- which is where the $45 million dollar man meme and the anachronistic advertising montage began.

Somebody should make a film about it .

tonylearns said...
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Hank Roberts said...

Tribune watchdog: Playing with fire -- Chicago Tribune

"Two powerful industries — Big Tobacco and chemical manufacturers — waged deceptive campaigns that led to the proliferation of these chemicals, which don’t even work as promised...."

It was the tobacco answer to people dying in fires when they fell asleep and their smouldering cigarettes fell into furniture.

Turns out it's really hard to make something like a slow fuse that will continue to burn slowly and steadily along its entire length.

They really, really didn't want cigarettes allowed to extinguish themselves, like most slowly smouldering substances will after a while -- perhaps because people might not relight them and so end up tapering off their tobacco addiction just by forgetting to pick them up.

So they set up a fake fire marshals campaign to make bedding and chairs and couches fireproof.

Matt M said...


I remember those posts (very fuzzy now). The comment by ThingsBreak summed up my thoughts nicely:

"Although I’m sympathetic to NN’s argument, and agree that he had strong points on some issues raised, they appear to be rather narrow and do not appear to significantly challenge the full body of evidence that Oreskes and Conway present in their book."

I am sure there are things O&C got wrong, but there seems to be some that think knocking over a tree makes the forest disappear.

Matt M said...


You may be interested in seeing WN talk for himself in 1999.


or straight to vid


JohnMashey said...

The Tribune reporters dud a great job. If you agree, email them and say so.
Good investigative reporting is not easy.

Canman said...
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Russell Seitz said...

Fortunately, there exists a training video to prepare audiences for any climate video running longer than 90 seconds or expressing sincere belief in more than three existential threats.


Brian said...

Canman - watch it, please. Women have to put up with enough on the Internet. This blog is very freewheeling and lets lot of less-than-pleasant statements go by, but even the worst of them so far haven't made women feel treated any differently from the men.

Canman said...
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Anonymous said...
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D.J. Andrews said...
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Canman said...

J.D. Andrews. Where is it that we have to go. What do you have to say about the Sopranos? Two and a Half Men? Music videos by Stevie Ray Vaughn? Adam Ant? Prince? Madona? Lady Ga Ga? Beyonce? Is there an academic Burka for female intellectuals or do we have to stamp out every last vestige of heterosexual titillation? Are we moving from, "You can look, but don't touch" to "If you see something, don't say something"? I suspect It's politics. People who express outrage at the least minor transgression will overlook the ugliest stuff when it's done by someone on their own side. It's all one big stupid game!

Canman said...

snarkrates, D.J. Andrews. I'd guess you could find reasons to denigrate Bob Hope. How about Groucho Marx? Or Alan Alda on the 70's TV series, MASH?

Brian said...

Canman, we're happy with vigorous debate and we encourage use of the scalpel instead of the club in debates. Comments about looks don't fall into the scalpel category - they could hardly be less germane - and comparisons to female entertainers is even more ridiculous. If you feel like you need to comment about the looks of female entertainers, there are more appropriate places to talk about it, and that has nothing to do with Oreskes.

Anonymous said...

First, this is not the '50s or the '70s or the '90s. It is 2015. Maybe you need to check your watch. Try watching the Honeymooners--what was funny then is cringeworthy now (or at least it should be).

Second, do you really not get it that when we are talking about a serious academic work, commenting on appearance is off topic. It's like discussing the tenure of Hilary Clinton and bringing up the fact that she wears pantsuits.

Third, if in any statement you make about Naomi Oreskes, you find that you would be at all uncomfortable substituting Erik Conway, that ought to be a red flag.

Fourth, I am all for women being able to express themselves freely as sexual beings. For them to be able to do that, though, they also have to be taken seriously in their opinions without being sexualized.

Fifth, f*cking grow up.

EliRabett said...

New rule, no mansplaining allowed.

Susan Anderson said...

Russell, that is something else ("Subgenius" video link), though only to be expected from your wonderfully devious POV. TBH, I wouldn't or coudn't watch the whole thing.

tonylearns said...

Judith has now totally skewered "Merchants of doubt"

although she has not seen it, it is apparently an awful movie.

She sites nothing factually inaccurate ( I noticed 2 glaring errors, but they were rather unimportant),
just that it is bad and not doing well at the box office.

did I mention that she thinks it's bad?

a couple of valid points about things that could be inferred from the movie regarding singers views on smoking that have no connection to the validity of the argument.

Anonymous said...

Gee, if Aunt Judy hates it, it might be worth seeing.

Brian said...

Until recently, I was blissfully unaware of the "Aunt Judy" cultural reference, and that's probably true in some cases of people who have used it reference Judith Curry.

The term is inappropriate and has to stop.

Canman said...

If anybunny is curious about details, I archived the offending comments in a post:

Nicolas Nierenberg said...

Oreskes was completely wrong on Nierenberg's role in the 1980's. Videos from 1999 one year before his death are not relevant to the role he played as a national advisor.

We published a peer reviewed paper that completely contradicts Oreskes' account of the 1983 climate change report. Of Oreskes ignores its existence, and everyone simply cites her book in the alternative.

Recently the New York Times ran a story about Oreskes and the writer was interested enough in what I had to say that he included a link to an updated rebuttal that I wrote.


You can find the peer reviewed paper and the critique at nicolasnierenberg.com

What I have found overall is that few people are interested in the fact that she completely distorted history. They view Oreskes as a kind of Priestess of climate change.