It’s a bird; it’s a hockey stick; it’s a faked document!

Thu, 2012-02-16 20:23Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

It’s a bird; it’s a hockey stick; it’s a faked document!

Why isn't this girl smoking?

Heartland response would be a useful PR tactic

The Climate Strategy that was emailed to the DeSmogBlog with a package of material from the Heartland Institute’s Jan. 17 Board of Directors meeting is serving as an excellent distraction from the legitimate issues raised in the other documents and reinforced by the excellent research paper by DeSmogBlog contributor John Mashey.

The DeSmogBlog has no evidence supporting Heartland's claim that the Strategic document is fake. A close review of the content shows that it is overwhelmingly accurate (“almost too accurate” for one analyst), and while critics have said that it is “too short” or is distinguished by “an overuse of commas,” even the skeptics at weatherguy Anthony Watts’s WUWT say that a technical analysis of the metadata on the documents in question does not offer sufficient information to come to a firm conclusion either way.

But in the tradition of the famous, and famously controversial “hockey stick graph,” the challenge to the single document has afforded the DeSmogBlog’s critics – and Heartland’s supporters – something comfortable to obsess about while they avoid answering questions raised by the other documents.

In the case of the hockey stick, people such as Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit have led a chorus of criticism for years, alleging that a supposed statistical flaw in Michael Mann’s excellent and prescient work should be sufficient justification to dismiss not only Mann’s original graph, but all of climate science. This, notwithstanding the fact that dozens of other climate reconstructions have validated Mann’s conclusions and replicated the hockey stick shape of his graph. Thus, the hockey stick has been a convenient weapon for those (like Joe Bast, President of the Heartland Institute) who would like to take people’s attention from the legitimate science of climate change.

Now, we have a case where Bast admits that some dope on his staff emailed Heartland's whole board package to a stranger. Yet rather than praising the opportunity that this provides for independent observers to judge the performance of a taxpayer-subsidized body (Heartland is a registered charity), as Bast did when someone stole the so-called ClimateGate emails from leading scientists such as Mike Mann, the Heartland boss has attacked the veracity of the Climate Strategy and used that to attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of the other material (Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents).

The deniergang echo chamber has since jumped on that chorus, with sites like Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, Steve Milloy’s Junkscience, and Anthony Watts at WUWT all sputtering in outrage, even as Watts confirmed that, well, the information in the document pertaining to him was, but for a rounding error, almost too accurate.

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on teh safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

In the meantime, how about everybody take a moment to look away from the shiny penny in the magician's left hand and concentrate instead on the 100+ pages of damning evidence falling out of his right sleeve.

Previous Comments

Quote “In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence” endquote.

The real meat of the issue is in the other documents. Even though the Strategy document seems to accurately reflect information from the remaining material, it is not important outside of that context.

Heartland will have to perform some amazing conjouring tricks to discredit the other documents. Just saying “someone has forged the documents and they are not the same as the ones I wrote” will scarcely get traction, unless a demonstrably independent umpire is given access to the originating email and its attachments. Who can be regarded as sufficiently independent of influence from Heartland’s well-heeled donors to be credible? The IRS? The FBI?

The genie is out of the bottle. Good luck trying to stuff it back in. Good luck keeping the tax status of a Charity, after the IRS is finished trawling through the records. Good luck getting any sympathy from people like me.

Genie is out of the bottle.

Shot the wad.

Screwed the pooch.

The more I get to know people, the more I like my dog.

The acts of this life are the destiny of the next.

Life is tough, get a helmet. 

You forgot: “Jumped the shark”.

The can of worms?

 

the strategy document contains an originating timestamp indicating the Pacific Standard timezone.  If so this suggests a (poorly) faked document or else the Heartland writer was in the Pacific timezone at the time of creation.

One might wish to look for timestamps on all the documents.

Or the author simply had his PC set to the Pacific timezone (for whatever reason).

The point is that the alleged Pacific timestamp does not necessarily mean that the physical document was scanned in a Pacific Standard timezone geographical location.

 

Or you are resorting to creationism while practicing denialism.

Interesting.

 

“Now, we have a case where Bast admits that some dope on his staff emailed Heartland’s whole board package to a stranger.”

Depending on how this all ends up, this “dope” might end up achieving more in one click of the send button, than scientists have been for years, in the effort to educate the public and at the same time warn them of industy ‘scientists’, paid to spread doubt.

He/she is an unwitting hero.

 

You answer the wrong question. No one cares if you have no evidence supporting Heartland’s claim that the Strategic document is fake.  The question is do you have evidence that the fake document is real? That is the line of evidence that a court of law generally would want to know from someone making accusations.

The accusation in this case comes from Heartland as they are the ones claiming the strategy memo to be fake.

For all we know it is genuine because 1) it came in the same batch as the other documents and 2) it covers largely the same subjects and mentions the same figures as those other documents.

While it is fairly simple for Heartland to definately show the document to be fake by providing the email their staffer send out with a list of the attached documents (where this strategy memo would thus not have been included), it is odd and perhaps even suspicious that they have not done so.

What better way to proof ‘those damn liberal treehuggers are nothing but scum who like with Climategate committed fraud’ than by showing the world their undeniable proof?

The police and FBI who Heartland claims to have contacted regarding this issue (despite the local FBI denying an ongoing investigation on the issue as I recently read somewhere) will most likely only look into the issues Heartland has denounced. Judging by their press-release and fundraising email, that is limited to theft and computer fraud alone. “We have reported the identity theft and computer fraud to the police and to the FBI.” http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/02/heartland-institute-documents-climate

Why haven’t they denounced the forgery? They state themselves (see article linked above) that the forgery was “apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute” and that it contained “several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.”

Have they perhaps ommitted to denounce the alleged forgery to law inforcement because they do not want the police to look into it? It sure sounds like it. What do they have to lose? If the police would confirm their allegation and state the document to be forged, they’d only gain because then too they’d be able to paint those “liberal treehuggers” as nothing but scum (which is what they are doing now) and thus limit the damage the other, non-fake documents have caused.

But what if, and this is pure speculation because I do not know if this is legally at all possible in the US, what if someone else denounces Heartland because of ‘false allegations of forgery’? The denialosphere is already mentioning one particular ‘treehugging’ blogger and a Heartland Senior Fellow at the American Spectator did exactly the same. Would someone denouncing Heartland for false allegations be sufficient for law enforcement to launch an investigation and force Heartland to hand over the computer files related to their outgoing email with the documents?


http://spectator.org/blog/2012/02/17/theft-and-apparent-forgery-of



 

Mr. Littlemore,

I am glad you said that the one document is a distraction like a shiny penny. I think this whole leak of Heartland documents upstages Dr. Mashey’s research. People will conflate what we have really learned from open sources with what may or may not be true and what may have been obtained illegally.

Heartland and the denialists will scream about being the victims of a crime, while all the damning evidence in Dr. Mashy’s report gets overlooked or confused with allegedly “fake” material.

I really would like to have a better sense of who gave Desmogblog these materials and who prepared this package. Maybe they did all of this themselves. Some of it’s bad, but perhaps the worst is hidden. These documents make Heartland seem like a victim because they are being represented as taken by illegal trickery.

The denialists showed me that they could not be trusted because they stole emails. That’s why I decided to pay attention to climate science. That’s why I learned the scientists are telling the truth. I think our side should be sure we don’t stoop to breaking the law because then we are lowering ourselves to their level.

It seems like the other side wants to make it seem that we are no different than they are in benefitting from illegal tactics. 


 

Mr. Littlemore,

I am glad you said that the one document is a distraction like a shiny penny. I think this whole leak of Heartland documents upstages Dr. Mashey’s research. People will conflate what we have really learned from open sources with what may or may not be true and what may have been obtained illegally.

Heartland and the denialists will scream about being the victims of a crime, while all the damning evidence in Dr. Mashy’s report gets overlooked or confused with allegedly “fake” material.

I really would like to have a better sense of who gave Desmogblog these materials and who prepared this package. Maybe they did all of this themselves. Some of it’s bad, but perhaps the worst is hidden. These documents make Heartland seem like a victim because they are being represented as taken by illegal trickery.

The denialists showed me that they could not be trusted because they stole emails. That’s why I decided to pay attention to climate science. That’s why I learned the scientists are telling the truth. I think our side should be sure we don’t stoop to breaking the law because then we are lowering ourselves to their level.

It seems like the other side wants to make it seem that we are no different than they are in benefitting from illegal tactics. 


 

that the person who sent Desmog these documents would come forward and verify the authenticity of the document being claimed as a fake by HI? The most they would get would be a slap on the wrist for identity theft and a few other small charges. It shouldn’t be to hard to track that person down if you don’t already know who it is.

What I don’t get is why you didn’t verify these documents with HI before posting. According to Megan Macardle at the Atlantic there were all sorts of glaring red flags that it was likely a fake. What a pickle.

Lol! It’s now becoming known as “Fake-gate” in the blogosphere, maybe 3 or 4 more articles here and at Climate Progress will milk the last little bits of this non-story?

http://tinyurl.com/7xfg6qm

“Lol! It’s now becoming known as “Fake-gate” in the blogosphere”

You made a typo, I’ve fixed it for you.

Lol! It’s now becoming known as “Fake-gate” in the denialosphere.

Didn’t expect anything less Chas. Strange how it’s only the denialosphere that believes it’s a fake. Who would have thought!!

And proving himself wrong…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K74fzNAUq4

Windy:  Its a no brainer.  The highly litigeous folks in the Climate Deniers can easily sue for defamation\libel if they are in the clear.  Even if they don’t get any money, they’ll devistate us so called ‘warmists’.   The fact that they won’t sue means they are lying through their teeth, pure and simple.

No amount of badgering sources, hand wrangling or anything else will reveal the truth.  Take it to the courts and be done with it.  If Heartland doesn’t sue we’ll just call it complete and total fact.  OK?

By the way, in Canada, if those documents were fake, it is a clear cut case of defamation, which Heartland would easily win.

chas_rasper: So why doesn’t Heartland sue?  I mean if its so fake… its easily a devistating win if they are in the right.

There aren’t enough balls between Heartland’s board of directors to sue.

Phone pranks are not identity theft. When I phoned the Vatican in 1968 , clained I was the archbishop of Ottawa and asked to speak to the Pope they , while unamused, were unupset.

The caller is interesting. Whoever it was a lot of knowledge was necessary. After all , the information was sent willingly with no questions asked.

Who to call? Had to be someone used to such requests, with immediate access to the requested documents and no need for supervisory permission.

How to ask. The wording had to be usual to the organization or flags would have gone up.

What to ask for. Asking for something that didn’t exist could cause suspition.

It would seem that only someone intimate with the upper levels of the organization could have done this. Joe Bast fitts the profile.

John McManus

Desmog is your server under load from all the track backs to these articles? I keep getting request time outs. Doesnt happen on other sites. Hope that this means the news is spreading far & wide :)

 

not a denialist.  I want want more evidence before the weight of that leads strongly towards fakedom or genuinedom.

The argument from lack of a lawsuite is rqther strong, but time will tell.  Also Heartland probably first has to but together a legal defense fund, not having a rainy-day fund allocatable for this purpose.

Be patient.

David, are you really that trustworthy of people like Heartland, that you would think that they would ever admit to those documents being real?

These people specialise in lying and deceit. Why would they change now? At such a vulnerable moment?

 

lying is perjury, a criminal offense if proved.

Be patieent.

lying is perjury, a criminal offense if proved.”

That’s exactly right……if proved. 5 year sentence, usually reduced to 6 months if found guilty. I’m thinking they would accept that. I doubt it will ever get that far though. Even if they are successful, it will mean people will be focused on the story for much longer than they would like. The damage could be irreparable.

 

Indeed, it is time to get serious, and start looking at the big bucks, instead of a shiny penny used as a red-herring by the Heartland supporting blogosphere.

First one : The Anonymous Donor. Even mainstream press does not mention him. Still, he seems the 600 pound gorilla in the room :

The Anonymous Donor alone has provided the Heartland with more than $ 12 million over the past 4 years alone (2007-2011).

For example, in 2008 alone, the Anonymous Donor provided $ 4.6 million, which is a whopping 60 % of the Heartland’s entire income that year : Here is their 2008 990 form :
 http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990s/990search/990.php?ein=363309812&yr=200812&rt=990&t9=A

According to table 5 of the “Fundraising” document, the vast majority of his “investment” went to “Global Warming Projects”.

This, and their 990 form, raises a couple of questions :
- Who is the Anonymous Donor ?
- Why does he almost exclusively fund projects that attempt to discredit climate science and teaching of climate science in schools ?
- How is the Heartland’s tax-exempt 501(c)(3) “charity” (no taxes payed by the institution, and tax-deductable for donors) status affected by the fact that they have a SINGLE, unidentified donor which provides more than 50 % of their revenue ?

Regarding that last point, there are more issues that put the Heartland’s 501(c)(3) status in question :
http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0„id=96099,00.html
- Single donor funding specific project to his benefit may violate “for the benefit of private interests” rule under 501(c)(3) status
- Single donor who controls which projects get funding may violate “excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization” 501(c)(3) rule.
- Their Angry Badger (Act 10) project, with the action plan described in the “Fundraising” document, almost certainly can be labeled a “attempt to influence legislation”, which is restricted under 501(c)(3) rules.

Also, isn’t there a way to file a request with the IRS, to request an audit of a 501(c)(3) organisation, in case there is evidence of possible violations of its tax-exempt status ?

It would be great if someone with experience in 501(c)(3) status tax rules could comment on the findings in these documents…

 

It’s AnOilMan ! He’s the anonymous donor! Only an oil man in Alberta could have that kind of money.

Come on, AnOilMan, admit it.  lol

edit: (hey, how come the smiley’s don’t show up in the posts)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNKgSmGAoLY

But seriously funding cross border charities would be a violation of the Ethical Oil sensibilities and other Harpocratic endeavors.

The Anonymous donor provided $ 12 million in funding to the Heartland over the past 4 years, virtually all on “Global Warming” projects.

What these Global Warming projects by the Heartland seem to have in common is that they attempt to cast doubt with the public on the science of climate change regarding the global environmental effects of the waste product of a more than $ 4 trillion dollar fossil fuel industry.

As an example, the latest project was rewriting the K-12 educational curriculum on climate change, where their message is in direct conflict with fundamental physics and the findings of all major scientific institutions, institutions which provide the scientific basis that are serving as a foundation for policy makers in democratic societies like the USA.

Thus, by itself, any action to spread information contrary to major scientific findings could be considered an “attempt to influence legislation”, which would at the very least jeopardize their 501(c)(3) status, and at worst (in absense of solid scientific evidence to the contrary) would mean that their are lying to their audience, the American Public and (as their latests K-12 curriculum project shows) for lying to our children as well. Which is certainly punishable by perjury.

But it gets better. If this Anonymous Donor is be a major investor into the fossil fuel industry that is “influencing legislation” on Global Warming, by funding more than half of this 501(c)(3) institution, he has not just “substantial influence over the organization”, but actually has identifiable benefit from his investment, which means that all the rules for 501(c)(3) status are violated.

We, the people, allow a US charity organization to exist without having to pay taxes, and allowing their donors to tax-deduct their donations, if (and only if) their actions and efforts are for the “relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science;…” etc etc. But decidenly NOT to mislead the US public and it’s children, cast doubt on undiputable aspects of climate science, spit defamation and slander at our scientists, and influence legislation to the benefit of the very one Anonymous Donor that payed for it all.

I hereby, by the powers granted to the 99 % of the US population, to reveal the identity of the Anonymous Donor and provide evidence that this donor had no “interest” in affecting (Global Warming) political “legislation”, or else relief the Heartland Institute of it’s 501(c)(3) status, and order the immediate collection of public (tax) debt incurred over the time that the Anonymous Donor sponored the Heartland for it’s self-identified Global Warming projects.

And the Heartland is just ONE of hundreds of a network of conservative 501(c)(3) organizations that are enganged in actively denying climate change, misinforming the public about climate science, and actively influencing legislation with political actions that affect global warming.

I think there is some work to be done on the legal front…

and reveal the donor.

So I just followed the links on this article. I’m actually kind of impressed by how egregiously you misrepresented Megan McArdle’s post. “Too accurate” is not even close to the argument she was making, and “too short” was the least weighty criticism she offered. 

If we want people to believe us when we talk about the dangers of climate change, we really need to try to defend our reputations, not fritter them away on cheap PR tactics that don’t stand up to scrutiny. Defend Gleick if you will - there’s no hard evidence that he faked anything, and I certainly won’t fault you for counting him as more trustworthy than Heartland - but try to use the same standards of intellectual honesty in debating the ancillary issues of climate change as you would aim for when debating the science of it. There’s a lot of undecided folks in the world, and you don’t want to wreck the one tool that we have for reaching them. 

[x]

Crossposted from PolluterWatch blog on Jay Lehr.

If you're John Stossel and you want to host a segment to rail against the US Environmental Protection Agency, who ought you call?

It turns out, a man who was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for defrauding the EPA!

Stossel's guest last night, Jay Lehr, was sentenced to six months–serving three–in...

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