Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax

Read time: 3 mins

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.)

S. Fred Singer is President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), but has done almost all the work himself for 20 years., including help for tobacco in the early 1990s. Research for Weird Science sent me on a  trek through his and other IRS Form 990s, which unearthed many curiosities of strange governance, fakery and funny finances, all tax-free.

Singer claimed Frederick Seitz as Chairman for two years after his demise and 20 years after a Philip Morris staffer had written in 1989:

Dr. Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.”

SEPP’s finances were curiousSEPP paid no salaries, even for Singer’s 60-hour workweeks.  Money flowed oddly.  Asset trades often exceeded normal income and they accumulated to $1.5M, tax-free.   Then one money trail led to Heartland.

Heartland Institute’s Joseph Bast staunchly defended “Joe Camel,” the infamous campaign to addict younger children.  Heartland got tobacco funding for many years, along with a Philip Morris Board member.

Whitney Ball’s DONORS TRUST funded a major expansion of Heartland climate anti-science.  Singer collected old associates to help write “NonGovernmental International Panel on Climate Change“ (NIPCC) reports, filled with unsupported claims and long-refuted anti-science.

He was helped by Craig Idso, of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CDCDGC), whose money flows also seem unusual.  Robert Ferguson’s Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) was a website and a  PO Box in a UPS store and he was actually a CSCDGC employee.

Under Jay Lehr and James Taylor, anti-science permeated Heartland’s Environment and Climate News (E&CN) sent mostly to elected officials.  Heartland incessantly touted its access and influence with such officials, but its tax forms claimed no lobbying.  It ran “fake science” conferences, paying for government staff attendance.  It sent money to foreign non-charity advocacy groups, sent anti-science handbooks to school boards and urged parents to complain.  It has been criticized in Nature and Science.

Free speech allows people to express opinions, even lie about facts, but tax-free operation is a revocable privilege.  Spreading factual untruths and confusion about smoking or climate science is neither research nor education in the public interest.

Read the report, at least the first 21 pages, backed by nearly 200 of detailed backup.

This report was scheduled to be published in a few days,  and by astonishing coincidence, just today we see Heartland Institute Exposed.  The report was done entirely from public sources, but today's new information is quite consistent and fills some holes.  However, the unnamed large Anonymous donor is now seen to be someone hiding behind DONORS TRUST, and some of the smaller ones dedicating funds appear in pp.57-59, with red itemizations. We also see some of the actual payments I had to infer.

03/11/12 CORRECTION:  p.58 omitted a DONORS CAPITAL item for 2008: “For media materials $100,000”, which should be added to various subtotals, making them consistent with the $4,610,000 reported on p.57, Fig. H.1.4.  H/T to Michael Fisher.

10/25/12 UPDATE: A major revision has been posted, with much more information on Barre Seid, DONORS TRUST and other funding issues.

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I don't know about them, although I hear they do keep 2 sets of books, so there may be some resemblance.   One might recall Al Capone.  It is rumored he did some bad things, but he went to jail for tax evasion instead.

You do such meticulous work!  Thank you for your dedication.

I think that we are all enjoying a well-deserved moment of euphoria right now, after so many set-backs, not least of which is the Harper Government©’s full-bore assault on the environment and its complete abdication of responsibility re: CO2 emissions.

TAKE THAT, Peter Kent!

Holy crap, that document is over 200 pages. There is a lot of work gone into that. I’m going to have to take it to work, print it out and bind it. That is going to be a great handbook, thanks!

2012 is starting off as a good year for climate realism. I wonder how the empire will strike back?

John has filed a complaint with the IRS that said that heartland’s public relations and lobbying efforts violate its non-profit status.


Good job John I hope that the IRS is diligent in following this up. It is time that these denier groups get exposed for what they are.


The problem has not ben exposimg them, as their behavior has been well-known.

The issue has been estalbishing *actionable* complaints.

Ironically, Chicago.  You may recall this fellow Al Capone.  It is rumored he did some bad thigns … but what did he got to prison for?

Dr. Mashey,

What do you make of the fact that the Heartland documents were released right after you sent your report to the IRS?

Actually, Suzanne got that slightly wrong.  I'd finished the complaint Monday night, sealed the envelope, expecting to drop it off at the post office on the way to jury-selection duty.

THere's more detail at Deep Climate.

Heartland could not possibly have known this was coming and of people who knew it was coming, no one would have preempted it this way … I mean, my life would have been much easier if they'd waited a week.  That would have been fun … I'm sure heartland would pooh-pohed my report as much as possible, then if the leak had happened…

but, that's not what happened, and as it stands, there is now both a high-profile disaster and an independent in-depth report from totally-public sources … that mesh quite well.

I think snapple is simply amazed by the coincidence, bu couldn't be an more amazed than I was.

It was announced Monday that it will be expanding its “offer in compromise” tax debt forgiveness program with a few key changes that will make it simpler for more middle-income Americans to pay down their delinquent tax debt. IRS expands its taxpayer forgiveness program to settle tax payer’s tax debt for less than the full amount owed. The changes alter the methods used to determine an eligible taxpayer’s offer in the program. Now, the IRS will only examine one year’s future income potential for offers that can be paid down in under six months.