Tag Archives: Gleick

Is the Heartland "Strategy Memo" a Fake? Let's try using science!

As you know, there is much discussion about whether or not a “strategy memo” leaked from the Heartland Institute is a fake. We are told by a trustworthy source that this policy memo was leaked to him, and that he then tricked the Heartland Institute to supply him with additional documents, which he then used to verify the “strategy memo” based on cross reference of factual information. Only after the apparent veracity of the memo was determined did that individual, Peter Gleick, release all of the documents to the public.

Subsequently, a number of untrustworthy sources, such as Heartland related people and the usual gaggle of Science Haters, have insisted that the original strategy memo is a fake. One set of evidence used to suggest this is that the memo was different from the other documents in several ways: It was a photocopy or a fax with different formatting, etc. This of course is evidence of nothing. There is nothing that requires that all of the documents associated with a particular institution, or even a particular event such as a board meeting at an institution, be created, formatted, and distributed with the same look, feel, and technology. It it obvious to me that if this is the case of Heartland getting caught red handed, they might then be grasping at straws.

However, we can use science to address this question further, and this is exactly what Shawn Otto has done. In a piece posted moments ago (here and soon to be at Huffington Post) Shawn carries out an analysis using a standard and widely respected software system to compare a sample of Gleick’s writing, some samples from Heartland, and the “strategy memo.” In this analysis, the memo is entered as an unknown, and the software shows the difference between that unknown document and the known document. Read Shawn’s analysis to see the details; the conclusion is that the strategy memo was more likely written in house at Heartland than by Peter Gleick.
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