Free Markets, Free People

fake documents

Fraudulent attack on Heartland Institute exposes Alarmist desperation

Sometimes it is interesting to let a story play out for a couple of day to see what’s what.  A couple of days ago I noticed a story on a blog which supports the Goresqe AGW nonsense with a story headlined “Heartland Insider Exposes Institutes Budget and Strategy”.

Listed under the story are a number of documents which Desmog Blog claims to be from an email package sent to contributing members of the Heartland Institute.

I sent the link to Jim Lakely, an old friend and communications director at Heartland.  I’ve known Jim for years and wondered if he’d seen the story at the link.

He wrote back quickly saying “yes” he’d seen it and it appears that one of the documents is a fake. 

That’s about the time I decided to sit back and watch while taking the time to read the documents for myself.  For most of them, nothing was particularly surprising and certainly there was nothing particularly damning.  If you’re familiar with the Institute, everything mentioned in the documents was pretty well known except perhaps some of the donor information Desmog chose to expose.  Obviously it was too important in their opinion to release the information quickly (apparently they released it within hours of getting  it) and to heck with privacy concerns.  These are the “bad guys” for heaven sake.  They don’t deserve the same rights or respect Desmog would most likely demand for themselves.  After all, they take money from the Koch brothers.

But to the fake document.  You can see it here.

What was missing from this collection of documents was something really damning.  Something Desmog and their ilk could point too and condemn the Heartland Institute.

Well, conveniently, there was this “confidential memo” which fit the bill perfectly.  It made statements like this:

Development of our "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" project [emphasis original].
Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. [emphasis mine]

After reading that, you’re supposed to believe that the dastardly Heartland Institute is against teaching science and, of course the further implication is that AGW is “science” while the skeptical side is anti-science.  Of course that belies the fact that the Heartland sponsored climate conference this year, open to everyone, was billed as “returning the scientific method” to climate science, not abandoning it.

And can you imagine pitching “dissuading teachers from teaching science” to donors who have previously sponsored your effort to get the complete science out there?

Warren Meyer comments at Forbes:

For those of us at least somewhat inside the tent of the skeptic community, particularly the science-based ones Heartland has supported in the past, the goal of “dissuading teachers from teaching science” is a total disconnect.  I have never had any skeptic in even the most private of conversations even hint at such a goal.  The skeptic view is that science education vis a vis climate and other environmental matters tends to be shallow, or one-sided, or politicized — in other words broken in some way and needing repair.  In this way, most every prominent skeptic that works even a bit in the science/data end of things believes him or herself to be supporting, helping, and fixing science.  In fact, many skeptics believe that the continued positive reception of catastrophic global warming theory is a function of the general scientific illiteracy of Americans and points to a need for more and better science education.

Is the Heartland Institute developing such a curriculum?  Yes.  Is it designed to point out that the topic is “controversial and uncertain” and therefor be used to dissuade teachers from teaching “science”.  Hardly … what’s the point in developing the curriculum then?

In fact the curriculum is designed to present those parts of the science of climate change that don’t fit or contradict the faith based nonsense being taught and pushed by the alarmist side.   You know, the “inconvenient truths”.  Controversy and uncertainty have and always will be a part of science, but certainly nothing which would stop it from being taught.  This Rather-gateish attempt is the left trying to discredit an institution which has mounted a threat and is actually taking action against its alarmist creed.

Why do I compare it to Rather-gate?  Two reasons.  One, the fake doc.  Heartland acknowledged the authenticity of all the documents but one.  That document, it unequivocally stated, was a fake:

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. [emphasis original]

Check out Anthony Watt’s analysis here.  You’ll see some Rather-gate like problems with the document.   Then read Megan McArdle’s (who, btw, is not a skeptic) total destruction of the memo

Finally, again to compare it to Rather-gate, at least one journalist has decided to cool it for the moment, given the document that is the most damning is said to be fake.  Heartland is pleased with that, however Warren Meyer made a little bet at the end of his Forbes piece:

If the strategy memo turns out to be fake as I believe it to be, I am starting the countdown now for the Dan-Rather-esque “fake but accurate” defense of the memo — ie, “Well, sure, the actual document was faked but we all know it represents what these deniers are really thinking.”  This has become a mainstay of post-modern debate, where facts matter less than having the politically correct position.

Andrew Revkin, the journalist in question, has indeed backed off for the moment, but:

Is Revkin himself seeking to win my fake-but-accurate race?   When presented with the fact that he may have published a fake memo, Revkin wrote:

looking back, it could well be something that was created as a way to assemble the core points in the batch of related docs.

It sounds like he is saying that while the memo is faked, it may have been someones attempt to summarize real Heartland documents.  Fake but accurate!  By the way, I don’t think he has any basis for this supposition, as no other documents have come to light with stuff like “we need to stop teachers from teaching science.”

Expect to see the argument that the document does indeed expose “the core points” when, in fact, it does nothing of the sort, but instead implies things not in evidence in order to discredit the Heartland Institute and characterize it as an activist organization instead of a think tank.  What this attack essentially says to me is that Heartland has finally achieved the level of “threat” to the AGW crowd.

Some things never change.

Well, except the climate.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO