Tag Archives: Heartland Institute

Heartland Institute BS Book

I had the immense pleasure and great honor of joining Molly, Nick, and Tim on the Geeks Without God podcast to talk about the recent mailing of a book and some other material about climate change to science teachers, by the Heartland Institute. This mailing was an effort to sow seeds of doubt about climate science, but the way they pulled off this little caper will probably have the opposite effect.

The Heartland Institute does not survive this conversation. No kittens or puppies were harmed, though.

Go Here To Listen To the Podcast, and Support Geeks Without God (not safe for work, depending on where you work)

As you listen, you may find the following items of use.

For more information about the Heartland Institute, go HERE.

Also, this.

For more information about the Consensus Project (the good guys) go HERE.


The Berkeley Earth Project is HERE.

For more on Judith Curry, go HERE.

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Stop punching the hippies

My coffee mug, just sayin:

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To find out more about ALEC, go HERE.

More on the police state.Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 10.56.17 AM

Public input for Minnesota on the Volkswagen settlement.

This is what a science textbook looks like

LOL:Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.03.06 AM

Making Sense of Climate Denial, Climate Denial 101 course

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Collecting meteorites

Recommended books about climate change:

The central scientific argument explained most clearly: Dire Predictions, 2nd Edition: Understanding Climate Change

But what about the models, were the models wrong or right? Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics

In the eyes of a political cartoonist: The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy

A cogent account of he politics of climate denial: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

Follow the money: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Skeptics Dare Heartland Institute to Take Up $25,000 Climate Challenge

This is a press release from the Center for Inquiry:

Skeptics Dare Heartland Institute to Take Up $25,000 Climate Challenge

A leading science advocacy group is throwing down the gauntlet to the Heartland Institute, a group that claims that global warming stopped in 1998, with a stark, simple challenge: If the 30-year average global land surface temperature goes up in 2015, setting a new record, the Heartland Institute must donate $25,000 to a science education nonprofit.

The challenge is presented by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), a program of the Center for Inquiry, which held its “Reason for Change” conference last week in Buffalo, at the same time as Heartland’s own climate conference in Washington, DC. Heartland’s gathering opened with a keynote address by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who believes that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

Among the key findings of a 2013 report published by Heartland was that “The level of warming in the most recent 15 year period [since 1998] is not significantly different from zero” and “natural variability is responsible for late twentieth century warming and the cessation of warming since 1998.” While the report’s authors dismissed global warming forecasts published by mainstream scientists, they have avoided making any testable predictions of their own.

“If anyone really thinks that human-caused global warming is a hoax, and that the climate has stopped heating up, they must also believe that temperatures will now stabilize or drop,” said Mark Boslough, a physicist and CSI Fellow who devised the challenge. “Well, that’s a testable claim, so let’s test it.”

“It’s time for the Heartland Institute to put its money where its exhaust pipe is,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, home of CSI. “If Earth’s climate gets hotter, and keeps getting hotter, the naysayers at Heartland should publicly own up and pay up.”

If CSI’s prediction proves incorrect, and the 30-year average global temperature does not go up, CSI agrees to donate $25,000 to an educational nonprofit designated by the Heartland Institute.

CSI offered the following challenge:

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) hereby presents to the Heartland Institute a challenge as to whether the Earth’s climate will set a new record high temperature this year. The challenge will be settled using the NASA GISS mean global land surface temperatures for the conventional climate averaging period (defined by the World Meteorological Organization as 30 years) ending on December 31, 2015. If the global average temperature does not exceed the mean temperature for an equal period ending on the same date in any previous year for which complete data exist, CSI will donate $25,000 to a nonprofit to be designated by Heartland. Otherwise, Heartland will be asked to donate $25,000 to a science education nonprofit designated by CSI. It is CSI’s intent to repeat this challenge every year for the next 30 years.

“The theme of Heartland’s climate conference was ‘Fresh Start,'” observed Lindsay. “By predicting that a new record average temperature will be set every year for the next 30 years, we are in effect giving them 30 ‘fresh starts.’ I fear that what we’ll all find, however, is that as temperatures rise and the crisis deepens, each ‘fresh start’ will grow more and more stale.”

Last December, Fellows of CSI – which includes noted scientists, journalists, and other luminaries such as Bill Nye, Ann Druyan, Richard Dawkins, David Morrison, Sir Harold Kroto, Joe Nickell, Eugenie Scott, and Lawrence Krauss – circulated a widely noted open letter, drafted by Boslough, calling for the news media to refrain from referring to those who deny the scientific consensus on climate change as “skeptics.” Learn more at http://bit.ly/SkepticsDeniers.

Cry for me, Willie Soon

And by “me” I mean all the children of future generations.

Willie Soon is a soft-money scientist at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has been producing highly questionable ‘science’ casting, for several years, faux light on the reality of the human caused process of global warming. It appears that most or all of Soon’s funding came directly or indirectly from the fossil fuel industry or supporters of that industry. (See also John Mashy’s comment below about tax breaks.) Recently the dung has struck the rotating blades and the nexus of denialist ‘science,’ fossil fuel funding, and Willie Soon has been brightly illuminated for all to see. Soon’s activities have actually been known for quite some time. Indeed, one of the denialist arguments that this isn’t really a story is the based on the assertion that this isn’t really a new story. (Pro tip: something like this going on for years is a bigger, not smaller, story!) What is different this time is that mainstream media, currently undergoing a transition away from maintaining a false balance debate about climate change has started to get real, and the main main stream media outlet in the US, the New York Times, anointed the Soon story as a story.

Even though Soon is ensconced at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (which is more of a Smithsonian thing than a Harvard thing, but the links to Harvard are very real I am ashamed to admit) he recently made a public written statement about his situation and chose to convey that statement via the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is the infamous Libertarian ‘think’ tank that supported the tobacco industry in their bid to cover up the dangers of smoking, and that has been involved in a range of rather nefarious activities vis-a-vis climate change science denialism. Soon has been an affiliate of Heartland for some time now. Soon’s statement reads:

In recent weeks I have been the target of attacks in the press by various radical environmental and politically motivated groups. This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming.

Um, Imma let you finish reading the statement but first I want to comment on that first paragraph. The “radical” groups include Greenpeace, which I would argue is a radical group, but also, the New York Times, which I would regard as centrist, as well as a number of climate and environmental advocacy groups and individuals including mainstream scientists. What Soon calls an “orthodoxy” is actually a broadly held scientific consensus, like the “Germ Theory,” and “Einsteinian Physics” and such. By “question in the slightest” he must mean, since he is speaking circumspectly of his own work, “radical contrarianism of the important findings of climate science.” So, ladies and gentlemen, we see the magic of rhetoric at work. Soon is the radical, which is why he calls others radicals. OK, you may continue reading now.

I am saddened and appalled by this effort, not only because of the personal hurt it causes me and my family and friends, but also because of the damage it does to the integrity of the scientific process. I am willing to debate the substance of my research and competing views of climate change with anyone, anytime, anywhere. It is a shame that those who disagree with me resolutely decline all public debate and stoop instead to underhanded and unscientific ad hominem tactics.

Soon is famous for deflecting attempts to engage him in Q&A periods after the talks he gives. So forget about the debate. Soon is indeed being subjected to parallel attacks; scientists have been saying for years that his science sucks. That is not ad hominem. It is just that his science sucks. But also, his ethics are now being newly questioned, as he seems to have failed on numerous occasions to properly declare his industry funding. If accusing someone, copious evidence in hand, of ethical violations is ad hominem, then that is what it is. Soon’s reference to ad hominem is misguided. People are saying “Your science sucks. And your ethics are questionable.” The ad hominem fallacy would apply here only if people were saying “Your science sucks because your ethics suck.” No, his science does not stand on its own. OK, sorry for the interruption. Back to the statement.

Let me be clear. I have never been motivated by financial gain to write any scientific paper, nor have I ever hidden grants or any other alleged conflict of interest. I have been a solar and stellar physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for a quarter of a century, during which time I have published numerous peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. The fact that my research has been supported in part by donations to the Smithsonian Institution from many sources, including some energy producers, has long been a matter of public record. In submitting my academic writings I have always complied with what I understood to be disclosure practices in my field generally, consistent with the level of disclosure made by many of my Smithsonian colleagues.

Whether or not Soon or any other author of a peer reviews paper is motivated by financial gain is irrelevant to the question of proper disclosure of funding. Who knows, he may be right. After all, it was just a million or so dollars, who would be motivated by that? That is a distraction. Do note his reference to grant money coming to him via the Smithsonian. We’ll return to that later. I find his reference to “many” of his Smithsonian colleagues interesting as well.

If the standards for disclosure are to change, then let them change evenly. If a journal that has peer-reviewed and published my work concludes that additional disclosures are appropriate, I am happy to comply. I would ask only that other authors-on all sides of the debate-are also required to make similar disclosures. And I call on the media outlets that have so quickly repeated my attackers’ accusations to similarly look into the motivations of and disclosures that may or may not have been made by their preferred, IPCC-linked scientists.

Just to be clear, there really is no question that Soon failed to disclose funding sources in violation of journal policies and standard practice. I should note that his failure to disclose has been on the table for some time and at no point did he address that issue, as far as I know. I suspect that Soon’s repeated references to “others” is a deluded hope that everyone should realize that everyone has been acting unethically and this will motivate everyone to back off. (See this interesting pot by Ugo Bardi on disclosure in science.)

I regret deeply that the attacks on me now appear to have spilled over onto other scientists who have dared to question the degree to which human activities might be causing dangerous global warming, a topic that ought rightly be the subject of rigorous open debate, not personal attack. I similarly regret the terrible message this pillorying sends young researchers about the costs of questioning widely accepted “truths.”

Actually, some of those people are not questioning human cause, but they are questioning the danger. But I digress.

There is indeed a message here to the young and upcoming researchers. Keep your ducks in a row when it comes to ethics and similar concerns. Otherwise, this is exactly the fight Soon says he is ready for. If you produce research that asks questions of a widely held consensus, more power to you! You may well be making an important contribution. But if your research is shown to be seriously wanting time and time again, you may want to refer to that old adage of unknown attribution about doing the same thing that does not work over and over again.

Finally, I thank all my many colleagues and friends who have bravely objected to this smear campaign on my behalf and I challenge all parties involved to focus on real scientific issues for the betterment of humanity.

This sentence really pisses me off. Willie Soon and his denialist colleagues in science and Congress have measurably stalled our collective action on climate change. How dare you play the victim, Willie Soon. You are one of the perpetrators of what could be defined, and some day will be defined, as a crime against future generations (though this isn’t technically illegal, of course). The young pre-school age children of today will suffer more than they otherwise might have because of this delay. Shame on you. Don’t tell us about the “betterment of humanity.” Don’t ask us to cry for you, Willie Soon. You are in a hole. You dug that hole, and got paid a million or two bucks along the way. You tossed our children under the bus, and now you are whinging about your own fate?

And now, for the last part of the statement:

Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Why is Willie Soon of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics releasing a statement indicating he is of that institution via the Heartland Institute, rather than from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics? I think it is very weird that he released a statement that he is not an industry shill through an organization that is an industry shill. Beyond that anything in his convoluted statement makes equal sense.

Note that in his statement, Soon throws the Smithsonian under the bus, or perhaps, drags the institution under his own bus, by reminding everyone that the grants actually came (he claims) to him from the Smithsonian, to which Big Fossil had made donations. Note also that Soon implies that failure to disclose is normal for his colleagues at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, or perhaps, the Smithsonian in general. Wow. One can only imagine the conversations going on behind closed doors between Garden Street and Concord Avenue, Cambridge, MA.

I strongly suspect that the only question that remains in the Willy Soon Gate affair is who is going down with Willie. We see the usual denialists lining up with him, and they are of no consequence. They have already crashed and burned. But we also see various so-called ‘contrarians’ choosing to jump in Willie’s hole, or not, and I strongly recommend not.

Help NCSE Nail Down The Heartland Institute’s Latest Trick

That nefarious leech of an organization, the Heartland Institute, the one that put up the billboards implying that people who think climate change is important are mad bombers, has done something really offensive, again. They made a fake packet of information with fake stuff about climate change and sent it to teachers and other educators, as well as graduate students, to try to trick them into passing the lies and deceptions on to their students. According to the National Center for Science Education:

Around Halloween, thousands of science teachers, science professors, and graduate students received copies of a slick packet attacking climate science. A prominent climate change denial group sent teachers a booklet which mimics a real scientific report, and a cover letter slyly urging recipients to “use that work to inform your thinking—and your students—on this important issue.”NIPCC mailing contents, including envelope, cover letter from Diane Carol Bast, “Climate Change Reconsidered II” booklet, and a postcard offering a chance to “Win $500”

The NCSE is trying to assess how bad the damage is and they would like your help. Please CLICK HERE and visit the NCSE sit and let them know whether or not you receive the package.

Climate Change Items

A few climate change related items I know you will be interested in, especially since you will want to be very current for the big event Tuesday.

There is now a new profession: Extreme Weather Architect. (Hat tip: Paul Douglas)

You may hear again and again that climate change is over, that warming has stopped. This is wrong in many many ways, and I’ve written about that here. Dana Nuccitelli has this important piece as well: We haven’t hit the global warming pause button. Also, see this brand new item for a detailed discussion of how surface warming varies across time.

You’ve heard of the Heartland Institute, the fake think tank that gained notoriety when it claimed years ago that smoking tobacco was harmless, and more recently by equating people concerned with the environment to the Unibomber. One of their “experts” has apparently claimed a link to and Australian university. He seems to have been making that up. Which, of course, qualifies him to be an expert at a fake think tank, I suppose!

Speaking of the Heartland Institute:

Last year Heartland put up a billboard in downtown Chicago comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber. They made it worse online by calling scientists “murderers, tyrants and madmen.” Eventually the group had to pull the billboard down after a public outcry, and promptly lost a great deal of its corporate funding.

Not willing to let sleeping dogs lie, however, Heartland has now landed itself in yet another scandal of its own making, though this time on the other side of the planet. And, unlike American scientists who have largely stopped paying attention to Heartland’s anti-science stunts, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is anything but amused.

Yes, they decided to mess with the Chinese. It is not going well for them.

Meanwhile over on Fox, climate expert Donald Trump explains why global warming is not real.

Peter Gleick vs Heartland Institute

Peter Gleick, my sbling here at scienceblogs.com (see his blog here) is famous for a lot of things, but about one year ago he went up against the Heartland Institute and in a daring effort of investigative (if avocational) journalism, revealed that right wing conservative/libertarian “think” tank’s nefarious plans to interfere with science education in an effort to discredit climate scientists in the eyes of the American public and our students through a series of rather smarmy tactics, including some really obnoxious billboards.

Scott Mandia at “Global Warming: Man or Myth?” has written a one-year-later retrospective of Gleick vs. Heartland. Check it out: Peter Gleick vs Heartland Institute – Scorecard One Year Later. And the Winner Is?

Scott compares the “accomplishments” of the Heartland Institute over the last year with Peter’s activities to produce a rather lopsided score card that resembles what would happen if the local High School football team went up against the Baltimore Ravens.

"Faked" Heartland Institute Doc is Authentic

You know about the Heartland Strategy memo. It is one of several documents produced and used internally by the Heartland Institute, a minor Libertarian “Think” Tank, demonstrating some rather unsavory activities, which are now under preliminary investigation by the US Congress. The memo contains little that is not found in other documents already admitted by Heartland to be genuine but there are a few details added and a much finer point is put on such nefarious programs as intruding into the public school system to trick teachers into “not teaching science” in science classes.

This memo is so embarrassing that Heartland has been insisting that it is fake, but a new evaluation of the document demonstrates that it is not.

Brendan DeMille and Richard Littlemore report a line by line study of the document. It is rather long and involved and is reported in its entirety here. They conclude that the “analysis demonstrates that the Climate Strategy Memo is an accurate executive summary of the information contained in budget and fundraising documents …” and they see “…. no basis whatsoever for Heartland’s assertion that the Climate Strategy memo is a ‘fake” which contains “obvious and gross misstatements of fact.””