Heartland Payments to University of Victoria Professor Susan Crockford Probed

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University of Victoria adjunct professor Susan Crockford doesn't seem interested in discussing the monthly payments she appears to receive from the climate denying Heartland Spinstitute.

Crockford would not respond to emails, and refused to speak with the Martlet,” reports a UVic student newspaper attempting to probe the payments.

The Heartland Institute's Denialgate documents indicate that the spinstitute gives Crockford $750 per month. She is one of three Canadian university professors on the denier dole at Heartland, along with Madhav Knandekar and Mitch Taylor.

Greenpeace contacted the University of Victoria to raise conflict of interest questions relating to Heartland's payments to Crockford, who has a history of denying climate science as a speaker for its anti-science International Climate Science Coalition. See Greenpeace's letter to the University of Victoria.

But apparently the University isn't interested in investigating the matter, stating that, because Crockford is “not a member of regular faculty,” it won't probe allegations of conflict of interest.

“She is a member as a non-remunerated appointment as an adjunct, a professional zooarcheologist associate,” a university spokesperson told The Martlet correspondent Mark Worthing.

But one of Crockford's colleagues at UVic had plenty to say about the disconnect between the university's science-based position and the spin emanating from the Heartland Institute.

It is regrettable that anyone affiliated with the University of Victoria participated in the activities of an organization like the Heartland Institute,” says Dr. Thomas F. Pederson, Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) at UVic. “The University prides itself on being an institution of higher learning that deals with facts and that is nowhere more true than in the field of science. Those who deny that the planet is warming as a direct result of human activity are denying facts.

“The Heartland Institute is one of a collection of so-called think tanks that have been extensively supported by elements within the American fossil fuel industry,” says Pederson. “Their mission is quite clearly not to think, but instead to sow confusion with respect to the global warming issue.”

Susan Crockford's actual expertise is far removed from climate science, but that's never proven to be an obstacle to receiving invitations to speak at Heartland Institute events.

According to a description of her work by The Martlet, Crockford is

“a sessional adjunct professor in Archaeozoology in the Pacific Rim with research focuses on the domestication and breed development, evolutionary theory and the evolution and history of the domestic dog.”

What the what? An expert in canine evolution - already tricky territory for certain science deniers - knows what exactly about climate change science?

What does Heartland's Denial-a-Palooza audience see in Crockford's dogged ability to provide $750 per month woof - ehem, worth - of climate confusion?

Is anyone else doggone confused here? Canine get an explanation? (Sorry, it's Friday, brain is mush!) 

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Susan Crockford is deeply wrong, and her primary expertise is not climate science, but beware of calling her out on this basis alone.  It is a decidedly two-edged argument that makes it harder for those of us non-climate scientists to defend our colleagues’ work.  The case for AGW is based on several lines of inference that point in the same direction.  In an increasingly specialised world, few people could claim expertise in the detailed work underlying each and every facet of AGW

The responsibility of the specialist scientist is to present their work in a way that makes it understandable and evaluable by anyone with a general training.  Yes there is privileged expertise for data acquisition, but interpretation, synthesis, and criticism must be more democratic.  I would put it another way: perhaps Susan Crockford has become such an expert in canines that she has altogether forgotten how to take an informed scientific overview.  This is one reason why climate change denial is not just an attack on climate science, but an attack on Science per se. 

Sorry for the side track, but it’s related in a way, as it is about astroturfing. Just saw this interesting link over at Deltoid (hat tip Anders And http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2012/03/april_2012_open_thread.php#comment-6254429).

Its about astroturfing and it’s growing use in shaping public opinion about products, people, topics and events . Discussing tactics to increase views and create the illusion of popularity or outrage. It is highly likely that they visit desmog from time to time, but they are usually shot down in flames quickly, so they probably find it harder to ply their trade here. But I’m sure they are rife at places like WUWT to give the impression to the easily led that there is a large genuine following of equally outraged people. When in fact, there is probably only a couple of dozen. It would be a gold mine to see the commenters ip’s on that blog.

Here is the mp3 interview with some astroturfers and other experts from Sept 2011:


Here is the transcript:


Here are some excerpts:

“Sydney-based advertising strategist, Ravi Prasad, helps his clients to set up Astroturf campaigns.

Ravi Prasad: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is what public relations consultants are paid for; they are paid to help a client create and shape public perception, and that begins… one of the strategies and tactics for doing that is astroturfing.

Hagar Cohen: It involves, though, being deceptive.

Ravi Prasad: Yeah, it’s necessarily a deceptive practice, because you are pretending that it is something that it is not.

Hagar Cohen: And you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that?

Ravi Prasad: That’s an interesting question.

Hagar Cohen: Ravi Prasad is of course not alone. In fact, astroturfers are in high demand and their ability to deceive is an asset. For example, an advertisement posted online recently reads:

Voiceover [reading advertisement text]: Greetings. On this project we need providers that have large popular and authentic accounts on Twitter and Facebook, ability to get attention, spread buzz and divulge rumours quickly, many followers and friends who follow their posts with trust, and what we will pay for is an astroturfing grassroots campaign of criticism on Twitter and Facebook against a given large company that is misbehaving against ours.”


Voiceover [reading advertisement text]: The job requires you to have very good search skills and to find conversations online. You’ll then take on a supplied persona and join in on the conversation. You’ll have to be very clever and adaptive and if you don’t know about a subject, then you’ll have to learn how to sell yourself as authentic.


Hagar Cohen: Last month, Tim Burrowes exposed an astroturf plot that was so extraordinary, it made international headlines. It goes like this: Greenpeace made allegations that the paper company Solaris contributes to destroying Indonesian rainforests by using the timber to make toilet paper, and so endangering the population of the Sumatran tiger. The supermarket chain IGA picked up on the information and cancelled its contract to buy Solaris toilet paper. Solaris was furious, and took out ads accusing Greenpeace of misleading the public by making outrageous accusations.

This PR dispute was the first story on the saga that went on the mUmBRELLA website.

Tim Burrowes: After we reported on this tussle between Greenpeace and Solaris, normally what happens is you’ll have a few comments the day you publish it and generally with a story as it goes down the site there’ll be less and less, but we kept noticing that the comments kept coming in.

Hagar Cohen: In fact, the comments thread on the mUmBRELLA website went berserk and most of the posts were anti-Greenpeace and anti-the South African owned supermarket chain IGA. Here are some examples:

Woman’s voice: As a woman, I have no respect for the lack of testicles shown by the IGA management. To all you South Africans running the show there, we love brave and strong men in Australia, so go home.

Hagar Cohen: The tone of the comments became toxic, and that’s when a Greenpeace activist called Reece Turner, weighed into the online debate. He reiterated Greenpeace’s position on Solaris then the next comments on mUmBRELLAattacked Reece Turner personally.

Man’s voice: Dear Reece, I really have to wonder how the f*ck you can look at yourself in the mirror in the morning. You are a bloody hypocrite of epic proportions. You are a man who masquerades around acting like a do-gooder, when in reality you are just scum.

Hagar Cohen: And then came this one:

Man’s voice: Hey Reece, [ape noises]. Translated from Apeian language into English, that means, ‘Reece, you’re a f**cking idiot extraordinaire.’

Hagar Cohen: A stream of other comments in a similar tone followed, so the editor of mUmBRELLA, Tim Burrowes, decided to investigate. Remarkably, he revealed that some of the offensive comments were being generated from the office of the paper giant Solaris in Australia.

Tim Burrowes: There were some other quite outspoken comments, including this one using quite similar language about, ‘we love big brave and strong men in Australia, so go home.’ Took a look at that one and here we go to 9.01am, ‘Lover of Country’. Now, we can see from this address there are actually three people who posted, just three, but quite outspoken stuff; one person calling themselves, ‘Act Responsibly’; one person calling themselves ‘Crusaders Fan’; one person calling themselves, ‘Lover of Country’. So we now take this IP address, again we’re just copying it, we’re popping it into a service called IP Lookup, paste it in, hit return, and up some details come. And we can see host: office.solarispaper.com.au and that’s the smoking gun.


Hagar Cohen: Ravi Prasad explains the appeal of astroturfing.

Ravi Prasad: Well, it’s clearly highly effective. Public debate in Australia has been shaped in a profound way by astroturfing. If you look at the debate around the carbon tax, the debate around mining supertax, and the public debate around asylum seekers, the public debates in these major areas of policy are being shaped in meaningful ways by astroturfing.

Hagar Cohen: It involves, though, being deceptive.

Ravi Prasad: Yeah, it’s necessarily a deceptive practice, because you are pretending that it is something that it is not.


Hagar Cohen: It was reported that in the US, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich bought hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter; again, to make it look like he’s got more support than he really does. In fact, the website peekyou.com found that only eight per cent of Newt Gingrich’s 1.3 million followers are real. Online astroturfing is now so big that universities are developing software that will detect astroturf campaigns. For example, in the state of Indiana, the Centre for Complex Networks and Systems Research came up with software that has 95 per cent success exposing astroturfing on Twitter.


Taki Oldham: The internet is an incredibly important part of this suite of tools that those who are trying to sway public opinion behind the scenes can use, because it affords anonymity and a way to act in a subversive manner that wasn’t available before. For example, in my film part of what I did was when I went undercover and filmed one of these meetings taking place where basically Tea Party activists being instructed how to go online and manipulate things like amazon.com to improve the ratings of certain types of books and movies and to sabotage other types of books and movies. You’ll see if you do your research that there’s a whole and entire emerging industry now of people who basically can manipulate social media to make products or ideas become more prominent, or indeed become less prominent. 

There is an excerpt from Taki Oldham’s film “Astro Turf Wars”, (James Hoggan is in it also)    which was covered on Desmog by Kevin Grandia here:


Taki describes in the interview how they would go online onto Amazons site & vote one star for any Liberal sided book and vote 5 stars for any Conservative book & would spend about 30 mins a day doing this, despite having read neither.



“Denier dole” is a nice turn of phrase, but this motivated me to look up the annual budgets of a couple of organizations involved in the climate debate.  The Center for American Progress, which runs ThinkProgress and ClimateProgress, for example, brings in nearly $42 million annually. http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/DC/Center-For-American-Progress.html  In comparison, Heartland Institue brings in less than $7 million annually:  http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/IL/Heartland-Institute.html .  Both organizations clearly do more than climate change.

But why are we worried about the $750/month retainer paid to some obscure adjunct professor when one could just as easily complain about Joe Romm being on the “climate catastrophe gravy train” at CAP?  C’mon people, get a life.  It’s no wonder the climate movement continues to lose ground, with such ill-considered Friday fluff pieces as this. Sorry to differ, but I don’t think ad hominems thrown Susan Crockford’s way does ANYONE any good.

“Both organizations clearly do more than climate change.”

The way I see it is , one defends science for the benefit of the wider public, the other attacks science for the benefit and profits for a few.

“But why are we worried about the $750/month retainer paid”

Should we do the same for other conflicts of interests around society? Like certain police that get small payoffs from crooks that pay for them to turn a blind eye . Does it make it ok if it’s only a small bit of money?

Jim, do you believe global warming is happening and that man is responsible for a lot of that warming?

I believe global warming is happening and have no clue whether man is responsible for a little, a lot, or all of that warming.  But as Thoreau once wrote, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

Not sure why what I believe is an issue here. 

“I believe global warming is happening and have no clue whether man is responsible for a little, a lot, or all of that warming.”

Nice euphemism for “I’m a denier”.

“But as Thoreau once wrote, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

I gather you mean deception, as when the farmers watered down their milk to add profit. I just don’t know which side you are refering to. 

“Not sure why what I believe is an issue here.”

I was just interested since you lecture on a subject that is in the vein of environmentalism, whether you had a particular bias. I guess by answering that in a straightfoward way, you would give away to any students watching, what your position is and have to answer to accusations of your own.

Not sure why you are being so evasive here. Your posts elswhere seem to be fairly straight shooting (like the pun?) on what position you take on the debate.







Sounds like if you were a Conservative & disagreed with global warming, then you could look forward to good grades with Jim.


He is a charismatic lecturer, but irresponsible. BEWARE! The readings are so numerous and tilted towards his own viewpoint that it becomes difficult to recognize his agenda. He attacks certain environmental movements and writers without ever examining them. He’s easy to like, but actually listen to what he says and attack him on it.”

Gee, I wonder why you are keen for the Susan Crockford thing to go away?


Hello Mr. Phil M,

I trust that you are better at evaluating evidence and drawing logical conclusions about climate change than you are at making inferences about individuals you have never met and know very little about.

kind regards,

Jim Tantillo

Cornell University

“I trust that you are better at evaluating evidence and drawing logical conclusions about climate change”

I could say the same thing for you Jim. Are those blogs links not you? Just full of ideological nonsense and biases. It appears your evaluation of the evidence didn’t even get off the starting blocks. 

The majority of the worlds scientific institutions oppose your viewpoint and you think I & they have an evaluation problem?

“than you are at making inferences about individuals you have never met .”

If meeting someone was a prerequisite to knowing them, then most of your students would fail.

and know very little about”

Again, is that blog not yours? Your whole profile is there.  You have some links to some anti science as well as pro science websites, which gives the appearance of objectivity. But your stories come from pretty much one perspective. I didn’t see any blog posts or video on pro science themes or video denigrating Conservative politicians or activists.

Or this video of exaggeration you posted of just constant strawmans and attempts to paint AGW as a Liberal agenda.


Where is your posts or video’s of a stereotypical representation of hyperbolic strawman arguments from the Conservative camp? Those POV’s are strangely absent on your blog.


Howdy, Jim Tantillo of Cornell U,

After due evaluation of the evidence, we have come to a logical conclusion about your & Crockford’s fruits.

Or, to paraphrase what “Matthew” supposedly wrote,

“Beware of false [posters] who come to you in [sheepish truthiness] but beneath that disguise they are [rabid anti-science deniers.]”

man is responsible for 80% to 120% of the warming.  Various lines of reasoning suggest that without anthropogenic influences the globe would be slowly cooling this millennium.

Jim Tantillo: A real professor gets fired for this kind of behaviour.  Or at least hauled in on the carpet.  Many professors who’ve been caught faking data at UVic have been turfed.  Past tense, and fact.

The university itself is probably weighing a few things right now… Renew contract… vs Advancements in Dog evolotion.. Confirmed bribe taker from the oil and gas industry… Confirmed anti science stance.

Mounting more pressure will surely succeed in her employment release.  Why is UVic founding someone who is working hard to deride one of its most prestigious efforts by Dr. Andrew Weaver and his team?  Why does the university maintain this conflict of interest?  Why does UVic support people with an anti-science stance?


Calling a spade a spade, I suspect that she will be quietly let go unless her work with dogs is extremely good and it brings in lots of grant money.

NOTE interested parties:  Where does that money come from?

Hey… if UVic turf’s this ‘wonderful person’, I’ll finally sign up for the Alumni association, and donate $1000 to the university.  (I kid you not.)

People might want to read the Heartland sections of the PDF @ <a href=”http://www.desmogblog.com/fake-science-fakexperts-funny-finances-free-tax”>Fake science…</a> to understand the nature of the organization.

p.34-36: the Heartland/Singer NIPCC list a  bunch of contributors, few of whom have much or any relevant expertise or credibility.  NIPCCs list her as:

Susan Crockford, Ph.D. Department of Anthropology University Of Victoria (Canada)

That sounds good … but then it turns out that she's an adjunct, not paid by the university and most of her research was indeed in dog evolution.  She is the only woman in the list besides Diane Bast (old men go in for this, women don't so much, with a few rare exceptions.)

For ~20 years, Heartland has taken money from the tobacco companies:

p.39 shows 1993-2001 for Philip Morris

p.48-49 show both Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds contributing through 2002

p.42 PM's Roy Marden was on Heartland board 1996-2008.

The 2012 documents show Altria (PM) and Reynolds as even larger contribuotrs 2011-2012.

 p.86 Heartland's Environment and Cliamte News has often run smoking-supportive ticles and advertisements for its Smokers Lounbge (p.46 excerpts)  Given the above, one can infer tobacco funding continued through the missing years.

p.38 Most smokers get addicted as children, tobacco companies have known that for decades.  Basically, tobacco companies survive by poisoning children, slowly.  The most successful marketing effort to get kids to smoke earlier was RJR's Joe Camel.

6) pp.43-45 Heartland's Joseph Bast defended Joe Camel, and then asked for more money, eager to help and get paid for it.


Heartland Institute to Host Seventh International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago


What: Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-7)

Theme: Real Science, Real Choices

Where: Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

When: Monday, May 21 – Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Media: Open to all media. Request press credentials here.

“The Heartland Institute will host the Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-7) from Monday, May 21 to Wednesday, May 23, immediately following the NATO Summit also taking place in Chicago. Heartland will be joined by dozens of think tank cosponsors and hundreds of scientists who understand the need for a real debate about the causes, consequences, and policy implications of climate change.”

Theme: Real Science, Real Choices”

Ahahahahaha, stop it Lara….no more, mercy, my sides are hurting and my leg is killing me from the thigh slapping.

So, the Heartland denialopalooza will screen the scientists:

“…hundreds of scientists who understand the need for a real debate about the causes, consequences, and policy implications of climate change”

But they won’t screen them for:

  • relevant expertise
  • recent relevant research
  • relevant, peer reviewed publications
  • citations of their peer reviewed, relevant papers

lara proclaims:

“The Heartland Institute will host the Seventh International Conference on Climate Disinformation (ICCD-7) from Monday, May 21 to Wednesday, May 23, immediately following the NATO Summit also taking place in Chicago. Heartland will be joined by dozens of dishonest cosponsors and hundreds of scientists who have no understanding about the causes, consequences, and policy implications of climate change.”

There I corrected it for you.

Thank you Ian, do you think I wiil need “treatment” too as well as “correction”?

Some seem to think so….  =\

Wow, if Ian’s comment was voted down to -2 & Lara;’s voted up to +2, I can just imagine the vote down mine copped from the denialati.

There ya go m8, bumped you back up out of the wilderness.

“and hundreds of scientists who have no understanding about the causes, consequences, and policy implications of climate change”

Maybe they could get Susan Crockford? She would be in good company. 

Easter Sunday.

Was with family and kids.  Votes are now in.  (Can’t look at this stuff in the evenings… makes me too agitated.)

Lara… you me the anual conference on Anti Climate change.  That is the purpose of Hearltand’s books and other crap right?  That’s what their real documents say, right?  (i.e. document what Heartland refuses to understand, and of course what you’ve been sucked into.)

I’m sure a good 10 people will show up, plus another 100 or so waiting for their checks.  Is this a nice city?  Is there anything to see while I’m here?