think tanks

Rice University’s Baker Institute and the Academic Cover It Provides for Fossil Fuel Interests

When thinking about influential academic policy think tanks, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy doesn’t necessarily come first to mind. Slowly and steadily, however, the institute has turned into one of the nation’s most powerful outfits. In the 2009 “Global Think Tank Index Report,” a comprehensive yearly ranking by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Society’s Program, the institute was ranked 37th amongst top US think tanks. By last year’s rankings, it was up to number 18. Significantly, on the specific list Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks, the institute was already ranked 4th in the country.

Boasting $9.9 million in revenue in 2015 alone, the institute is located in the heart of Rice’s campus, housed in an impressive redbrick columned edifice that mixes classic beaux arts elements and byzantine ornamentation.

See No Evil, Speak Little Truth, Break Rules, Blame Others

Pinocchio tells some really big lies

The “Wegman Report”, led by Edward Wegman of George Mason University (GMU) got criticized in 2010's Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized.  Experts called it “obvious” even “shocking” plagiarism.  GMU's incompetent handling, mistreatment of complainants and flawed rulings were mostly documented in March, but recent FOIAs expose more untruths.

Is the harsh title fair?  Read on, then study the 69-page attachment.

GMU Provost Peter Stearns' February letter to GMU faculty made claims of non-plagiarism that contradicted not only experts, but themselves.  The process consumed almost two years to assess four (4) pages of text.  

Stearns' letter was even more untruthful than previously known.  It  fabricated an imaginary second investigation committee, seemingly to somehow excuse crucial contradictions.   This seemed an attempt to defend the Wegman Report at all costs, even with potential problems from Federal agencies who expect schools to handle misconduct properly.  They fund much of GMU's actual research, done by faculty that to the best of my knowledge are normal, credible researchers.

However, a few groups in GMU are closely, even uniquely enmeshed with people behind the machinery of anti-science, such as Charles Koch, Ken Cuccinelli, David Schnare, Fred Singer, and Pat Michaels, plus the Heartland Institute and key Washington think tanks.  GMU even has a long history of tobacco connections, oddly relevant.

Following are a few brief summaries to motivate the title's phrases:

How To Divide And Conquer The Free Market Climate Change Denial Movement

Much has been made lately of the Heartland’s Institute’s implosion over it extreme position on climate change. In February there was the revelation of internal strategy documents that included a plan to promote climate change scepticism in schools. In early May they unveiled a billboard equating those who believe in global warming with the Unabomber.

In the resulting uproar, nearly 50% of the Heartland Institute’s projected corporate donors for 2012 have pulled out. The funding drop has been so dire that at Heartland’s latest climate change sceptics conference in Chicago last month, Heartland president Joe Bast was reduced to asking the audience to find a ‘rich uncle’ to fund future conferences. 

But the most telling outcome may prove to be the defection of Heartland’s entire Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate division. As team leader Eli Lehrer told the Guardian 

“As somebody who deals mostly with insurance I believe all risks have to be taken seriously and there certainly are some important climate and global warming related risks that must be taken account of in the insurance market. Trivialising them is not consistent with free-market thought. Suggesting they are only thought about by people who are crazy is not good for the free market.”

Now coming out and agreeing with every major national science academy in the world may not sound so revolutionary. But it is for a number of reasons.

Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax

Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals.  Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more. (Fakery 2  10/25/12 updates this post with more data.)

Fraser Institute pitching to students in latest attempt to cloud global warming evidence

Having failed last year to discredit the International Panel on Climate Change, the Fraser Institute is hoping to have better luck brainwashing today’s youth. The ExxonMobil-funded organization has developed a global-warming booklet for distribution to high school students and teachers across Canada.

Allegedly aimed at “helping them understand the issue and make their own decisions about what actions are needed,” the manuscript was compiled by rookie scientists and retirees with strong ties to oil and gas pressure groups.

 
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