Heartland Institute

Illinois Coal Association Emerges As Heartland Denial-a-Palooza Sponsor

stack of coal

Following the May 4 shocking Unabomber billboard campaign and subsequent departures of more of Heartland's corporate donors, Heartland was likely heartened to add the Illinois Coal Association as a new Gold Sponsor for its forthcoming ICCC-7 “climate” conference.  Although ICA was not on the 05/09/12 sponsor list,  it joined the usual collection of thinktank sponsors  no later than 05/14/12,  Maybe the billboard finally convinced them to come out publicly?

In the 2012 Fundraising plan p.24,  Murray Energy gave $100,000 in 2010 and was expected to give $40,000 in 2012.   Its subsidiary, The American Coal Company is a member of the ICA, along with Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, among others.

In the PDF at Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax, pp.84-85 I showed Heartland's Environment and Climate News to have consistent views on some topics:

Negatives included the EPA (2160 mentions), renewable (761), wind farm (333), wind power (277), solar power (209), wind turbine (188).

Mercury (941 mentions) was generally viewed as OK, in fish or the environment, unless it came from CFLs.  Coal (935) was often praised.

In any case, the ICA's post-billboard sponsorship of ICCC-7 is a bold public leap.

Us and Them: The Psychology Behind the Heartland Institute Billboards

The Heartland Institute’s jaw-droppingly ill-advised, and now withdrawn billboard campaign—pictured here–has drawn a huge volume of denunciations in the last week. There’s not much more to say substantively about the campaign, or the fallout from it, which has included a number of Heartland funders heading for the hills.

But it is fascinating to try to understand why the Heartland Institute may have gone to this extreme. The psychological phenomenon that I see lurking behind these ads is a critical one to understand–black and white, “in group/out group” thinking.

This is something that David Ropeik has already written on very observantly. In trying to explain and justify its linking of global warming with people like Ted Kaczynski and Charles Manson, Ropeik notes, here are some of the things Heartland has said–and the words speak volumes:

The most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.

…what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ‘mainstream’ media, and liberal politicians say about global warming.

What is going on here, psychologically, is something called “splitting.” The Heartland Institute is ignoring basic intellectual distinctions and all sense of nuance, and dividing the world up into black and white extremes.

Once you do this, it becomes much easier to group one’s intellectual opponents together with “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”

Heartland Institute Attacks Forecast the Facts, Denies Its Climate Change Denial

This is a guest post by Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director, Forecast The Facts

On April 24, Heartland Institute President Joe Bast issued an angry missive attacking Forecast the Facts, a new campaign that successfully petitioned automobile giant General Motors to end their financial support of Heartland earlier this month. In a 2,000-word screed, Bast defended his organization's efforts to disseminate anti-science propaganda to public classrooms and the general public, while making a number of wildly inaccurate claims about our group.

While much of what Bast wrote does not warrant a reply, we felt it important to address the most pernicious falsehoods, and also to remind Heartland's corporate donors exactly why support for the organization is so untenable (although Bast does an excellent job of that himself). 

The saddest and most offensive attack on Forecast the Facts is the Heartland president's suggestion that the more than 20,000 signatories of our successful petition to General Motors may not even exist, calling the petition a “fraud.” We stand by the validity of our petition one hundred percent. But even more so, we proudly affirm the existence of our members and their commitment to fighting climate change denial. The signers of the petition are real people with valid email accounts and sincere concerns that major corporations continue to support Heartland's climate change denial. (You can see some of their powerful comments here).

While Bast directs his venom at the everyday Americans who comprise the Forecast the Facts campaign, it's clear that his primary intent is to soothe the concerns of his corporate donors, many of whom are now reconsidering their support of his organization. If anything, his rant lays bare just how disreputable Bast is.

In a truly Orwellian turn, Bast vehemently denies Heartland Institute's climate change denial. (As a reminder for those less familiar with Bast, his primary focus before becoming a leader in the climate change denial movement was to question the links between smoking and lung cancer at the behest of Philip Morris, which remains a Heartland backer.) 

Fakeducation For Years From Heartland

Is Your Child Being Indoctrianted or Educated?

The NY Times, LA Times and many others criticized Heartland’s inept plan to hire David Wojick to create an alternate-reality K-12 climate science curriculum. But Heartland's school ground attack on science is nothing new, as is evident in the organization's own commentary: “Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”

One of the best known Heartland incursions into the schoolyard occurred in 2008, when the institute mailed teaching materials to 11,250 schools in Canada. In 2009, Science derided Heartland for sending copies of The Skeptic’s Handbook to 14,000 US school board officials. Heartland's Environment and Climate New mocked one school board president for his refusal to use it. 

But Heartland began its classroom misinformation campaign much earlier. During 2002-2003, E&CN ran ads exhorting readers to “discuss an E&CN article with your school-age child… and his or her teacher.” I hope parents avoided the common “Smoker’s Lounge” ads in those issues.

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.)

Say Brother, Can You Share My Logic? The Climate Debate and “Talking Past Each Other”

I’ve previously written about University of Michigan business professor Andrew Hoffman’s insightful work on the underlying motivations behind climate skepticism. Now, I’ve come across a more detailed recent paper, in Organization and Environment, that advances the case.

Hoffman’s strategy this time is to examine newspaper editorials, op-eds, and letters to the editor from both sides of the issue—795 of them, published between September of 2007 and September of 2009. Hoffman combines a look at these opinion pieces with an examination of the rhetoric at last year’s Heartland Institute climate denial conference.

His conclusion is that the two sides of the debate simply argue past each other. The Heartland folks, of course, think climate science is ideological and corrupt, and action on this non-existent problem will hurt the economy—and that, basically, it’s all an environmentalist power grab. They even detect hints of socialism or communism at the root of the movement for climate action.

But this we know already. What’s more interesting is the newspaper writings.

Climate Skeptics Misunderstand Us, Too

So recently, I’ve watched a few videos from the Heartland Institute conference on “Restoring the Scientific Method”—and it has been a fascinating experience.

I point you, for instance, to this session on public policy, and especially the Q&A starting at minute 56. (Also watch Marc Morano from minute 38 to minute 56, the dude is nothing if not entertaining.) Once the audience questions start coming for the panel, I was rather surprised to hear that most were basically about…uh, communism. And in response, the panelists—and especially Christopher Horner—were quite affirmative that the real reason that we, the “left,” want to restrict greenhouse gas emissions is that we want to hobble economies, redistribute wealth, and restrict individual freedoms.

You can believe this is about the climate, and many people do,” said Horner. “But it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner went on to argue that “it’s probably about what they’ve claimed they really want.” For many “luminaries” of the environment movement, Horner continued, “economic growth is not the cure, it’s the disease.”

The Heartland Institute: Undermining Science in the Name of the "Scientific Method"

I must confess, I’m less and less motivated these days to write posts debunking climate change skeptics and deniers. Their minds don’t change, and fighting over climate science may just make us polarized—especially since mounting evidence suggests the climate divide is really more about values than science to begin with, and science is simply the preferred weapon in a clash over different views of how society (and especially the relationship between the government and the market) should be structured.

Sometimes, though, you just can’t resist blasting away. This is one of those times.

The Heartland Institute is having yet another conference to undermine climate science, and this time, they are flying it under this banner: “Restoring the Scientific Method.” It’s like they think they are now Francis Bacon (at left) or something.

Defend this Report!

If you’re a boxer, and your opponent is telegraphing his punches, that’s a good thing. It gives you an advantage.

If you’re playing poker, and another player is giving a “tell,” the same story goes. It’s to your advantage.

Opponents of climate change action are doing precisely that right now—telegraphing where they’re going to attack. Here’s Norman Rogers of the Heartland Institute, already attacking a scientific report—the National Climate Assessment, which weighs climate risks to different regions of the U.S.—that won’t be out in its next iteration until 2013. Rogers attended an early advisory committee meeting, and has already started up the narrative that will be used against the report:

There did not appear to be any member of the committee even mildly skeptical of the global warming catastrophe story.  This was surely not an accident.  I was told that every member of the committee had to be approved by the White House, presumably by John Holdren.

As I noted in an earlier post, Bush administration climate science whistleblower Rick Piltz knew this would happen. 

McIntyre Disappoints Denier Conference; doesn't call for jailing of scientists

Mining Executive and blogger Steve McIntyre, the darling of so many climate change deniers, surely disapointed the assembled ICCC crowd in Chicago with his dry and relatively reasonable keynote address.  The applause after McIntyre’s keynote address was significantly less than when he started because he didn’t call for Michael Mann and Phil Jones to go to jail.

Astronaut Harrison Schmidt (why is a former astronaut speaking at a climate conference?), who followed McIntyre, helped to steer the crowd back to the witch-hunt it was promised by conference organizers. Mark Sheppard, writing in the American Thinker, gave this account of Schmidt’s remark after McIntyre finished:

This is science, [Schmidt] retorted to a now cheering crowd, and if you want to play that game (tricks, non-disclosure, etc) then you can go somewhere else.  To which more than a few in attendance added:  “To Jail!”

I can think of no better analogy than the hilarious logic used by Monty Python’s King Arthur to impress an even more idiotic group of villagers, and magnificently prove that ‘she’s a witch!’.

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