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Heartland Institute Document Leaker Comes Forward, Maintains Documents Are Real 442

The Bad Astronomer writes "Last week, an anonymous source leaked several internal documents from the Heartland Institute, a non-profit think tank known for anti-global-warming rhetoric. The leaker has come forward: Peter Gleick, scientist and journalist. In his admission, he cites his own breach of ethics, but also maintains that all the documents are real. This includes the potentially embarrassing '2012 Climate Strategy' document stating that Heartland wants to 'dissuade teachers from teaching science.' Heartland still claims this document is a forgery, but there is no solid evidence either way."
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Heartland Institute Document Leaker Comes Forward, Maintains Documents Are Real

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  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:32PM (#39114719) Journal

    Oh yeah, these are the guys that told you cigarettes were healthy, and that there was no reliable evidence that they harmed people. The world is full of shills and whores who will lie to your face if the price is right. Why should this be a surprise. These guys have a track record. The only thing controversial here is that these reprobates are telling a significant amount of the population exactly what they want to hear. I know its hard, double rough for some, when the lies they tell sound so sweet (consistent with your belief systems...), get over it. These people are not your friends and if China should hire them tomorrow, they'll give you 20 good reasons why eating lead is great for you.

    Wake up, that smell is your ass on fire, and these clowns are holding the matches.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:33PM (#39114729) Homepage Journal

    Have to applaud the whistleblower for having the courage to do this. Heartland is clearly a tool, not just for deniers, but for industry which would profit from a (further) dumbed-down populace. Where is the outrage, probably due to the present level of dumbing-down, there isn't very much. Bread and circuses.

  • Half truths (Score:0, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <`gro.uaeb' `ta' `sirromj'> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:35PM (#39114779)

    This article's summary is half true. Lying by omission is almost as bad as by commission though.

    What isn't mentioned? Note this: "Peter Gleick, scientist and journalist." Not mentioned are the list of accolades heaped on him (according to his Wikipedia page) for work in Global Warming. In other words he isn't acting as a disinterested scientist or journalist in this affair but as a dedicated partisan to a cause who let winning override ethics. By his own admission.

    And "but there is no solid evidence either way" which is true enough on its own. Barring a confession by Gleick we will probably never be 100% certain the memo in question is a forgery. However there is a crapload of circumstantial evidence all pointing that way.

    Not saying Heartland doesn't give me heartburn sometimes and I'm firmly in the skeptic camp, with the downmods right here to prove it. But this memo was a setup. It smelt funny from the start and gets riper by the day.

  • by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:40PM (#39114853)

    I think it's fairly obvious that they're just right-wing jackasses-for-hire, who'll lie for the highest bidder.

    There is no idealism here at all. Just a desire to make a buck and watch the world burn. The epitome of the very worst side of human nature.

  • Re:Fire him (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:43PM (#39114881)

    Why should he be fired if as you say possibly no crimes were committed, and what did he do that was unethical?

    The primary problem seems to be:
    "In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name."

    If he was a tech journalist reporting some babble about apple or samsung or the mighty GOOG or whoever, he'd have run the story without even bothering to verify and that would be considered "just show business as usual".

  • Re:Fire him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:47PM (#39114945) Homepage Journal

    Oh for.... TGS itself said "he cites his own breach of ethics". Sounds to me like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

    I think he did the right thing. It would be even more unethical to let the bastards keep lying.

  • by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:51PM (#39114999)

    Climiate science is SCIENCE. In science, belief is irrelevant. Only evidence matters.

    The denialists don't have evidence. They have good PR, online polls, debates, and other slick propaganda tools, but they will never win the scientific debate, because the evidence for AGW is overwhelming.

    This is a political and ideological issue, not a scientific one.

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:57PM (#39115079) Homepage

    these are the guys that told you cigarettes were healthy

    Citation needed.

    Who, at the Heartland Institute, told us that cigarettes were healthy? Do you have any evidence that the HI told us that, gave money to people who told us that, or were in any factual way related to telling us that?


  • Re:Fire him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:58PM (#39115085)

    Exactly, the truth needs to be made public. If these assholes are lying, then using false pretenses to get information out of them is perfectly fine. You think investigative reporters go around telling the targets of their investigation honestly who they are and what their profession is? Of course not, they'd never get any damning information if they did.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:03PM (#39115141)

    The fossil fuel industry and many of the issues that the Right in this country are harping on have an interesting pattern.

    They take an issue that could be potentially dangerous to their profits and turn it into an emotional issue - in this case Global Warming - and when it becomes an emotional issue, all reason is thrown out the door and rational discourse becomes impossible.

    Global Warming was discovered decades ago. The fossil fuel companies started to become threatened by it. So we go from scientists have data about global warming and what we could possibly do about it to scientists have a Liberal Agenda to destroy capitalism and our Way of Life.

    I have a neighbor and in-laws who live on a steady diet of Fox News and Talk Radio; such as Hannity, and if Global Warming comes up, they say words like "hoax", "socialist", "cause higher taxes", "destroying America", "predictions based upon inaccurate computer models", etc .... in very angry tones.

    They're thinking emotionally. The anti-global warming crowd did a very good in turning this into a personal emotional issue.

    They do this with other issues. Turn an issue from a purely academic one into dumbed down emotional rhetoric, and you got the other guys by the balls.

    That's where the climate scientists got screwed. The fossil fuel industry got their PR people on it and then the right wing talking heads grabbed onto it, and now we have this mess of an issue that I for one have given up complete hope that anything can be done now.

    tl;dr: industry is great at turning a scientific issue into an emotional one - an "us" vs. "them" issue and neutering the opposition.

  • by MatthiasF ( 1853064 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:06PM (#39115161)
    Unless you have in fact replicated the observation and worked through the rationale behind the hypothesis, you agreeing with a hypothesis or theory is literally you BELIEVING it to be true.

    Stop making Science into a religion.
  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:32PM (#39115563)

    Been there, done this.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:47PM (#39115841) Journal

    Except that the Wiki entry doesn't actually say "cigarettes were healthy" in any way shape or form. That is an editorialized addition that is not in evidence. And during the period of time (go back and check) people were claiming secondhand smoke was worse than actually smoking.The Anti Smoking crowd was making up its own BS at that same time. I guess that goes unnoticed and unmentioned because smoking is nasty (it is)

    People lie, exaggerate and otherwise stretch the truth to support their position. Shocking ... I know. The point being, there is no reason to exaggerate unless you're wrong. ;)

  • Re:Waiting.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:54PM (#39115973)

    Harvard graduated 8 American presidents. It's a great school, and you'll have to do a lot better than "So what?" to dismiss its pedigree. Same goes for his U of Chicago position; lecturer is the same thing as professor except without a tenure track. He taught law at one of top five programs in the country while at the same time working as a full-time community activist and pursuing public office. "So what?" That's a prestigious, demanding, and exemplary career in academia and public service that is exactly what we should expect from our politicians.

    He came out of Chicago as a local celebrity, was funded by record levels of individual personal donations after he gave a major DNC speech in 2004, and he talks eloquently and movingly in everyone's opinion but those who've decided not to listen.

    What's hypocritical in advocating for education but not showing his own records? Is he also a hypocrite for favoring auto bailouts but not owning a vehicle? Absurd.

  • Traits of a Cult. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:00PM (#39116059)

    1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.

    Hansen, Jones, et. al.

    2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

    Read the latest textbooks? AGW is taught as a FACT, pages and pages. Have to indoctrinate early ya know.

    3. The group is preoccupied with making money.

    Government Grants. Although I have to say that these guys are more narcissists that money grubbers.

    4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

    Editors losing jobs, those expressing legitimate doubts ostracized, etc.

    5. Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

    Nothing here.

    6. The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth).

    Related to #4. JOnes and friends want to be the only peer reviewers. So no dissent every really sees the light of day in the journals.

    7. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members (for example: the leader is considered the Messiah or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity).

    YOOOU aren't a Climate Scientist so nothing you say matters...Nobel Prize Winner in Physics? [] No matter because Yooou aren't a Climate Scientist

    8. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.

    Juden, Denier, etc. What will I have to sew onto my shirt?

    9. The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations).

    Hiding data, ignoring legal requests for data, etc. No Problem as long as you are on the "Right" side of the debate.

    10. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group (for example: collecting money for bogus charities)

    And here was have Peter Gleick. "I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts -- often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated -- to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved."

    11. The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.

    Starving Polar Bears anyone? What natural disaster hasn't been blamed on Global Warming?

    12. Members' subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.

    OK, pretty much applies to Slashdot guys.

    13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.

    MDSolar? Is that you?

    14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

    I'm sure Jones and Hansen hang out with non-believers all the time.

  • Go live on pluto. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by microbox ( 704317 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:00PM (#39116061)

    See, here's another moron sticking up for this shitty president.

    There are people who just hate one side or another. And they predictably come up with the most shockingly shallow bullshit. And when someone points out /anything/ that might question deeply held prejudices, the ideologues call them stupid.

    The truth is not always on one side or the other, and it is not always neatly in between -- and society as a whole would benefit /greatly/ if people like you suddenly moved to pluto, where you could scream at each other all day, and the rest of society could actually get on with addressing the ISSUES.

    I say this, already expecting a big woooossshhh before I even hit the Submit button. Part of me thinks you are a charity case.

  • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:11PM (#39116221)

    For certain conservatives, Global Warming might actually seem like a big of a threat. Global Warming calls into question their idea of what America is supposed to be. The bastion of free capitalism. The problem that Global Warming presents is huge and scary to them. The problem is that Global Warming shows that the system is broken and not perfect. It's enough to make libertarian heads explode. The government is required to do something that isn't protecting private property from thieves? Heresy.

    It's very existence contradicts the deregulation, trickle-down-economic, let-the-corporations-and-job-makers-run-wild conservatives because it's something the market can't fix. Of course, if there's something that the markets can't fix, then the principles that their lives are built around might be wrong. And that can never be allowed.

  • Re:Let's see.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:31PM (#39116527)

    It takes in excess of $100 million to drill a deepwater offshore well these days, and it takes ~10 years after the exploration phase before the production starts (assuming success). Given those costs and a 10:1 success ratio in less-explored areas, an obscene profit margin can disappear pretty quick, especially if you have to drill in expensive locations because the cheap stuff is already found and dwindling away. The profits also look impressive until the price of oil goes down, and you're floating multi-billion-dollar capital investments that won't start making a dollar for another 5-10 years. It's a risky, high-stakes business. Counting the profit mainly when your gambling pays off doesn't tell a complete story. 8.81% over 5 years is pretty good, but I wonder what it was in the 1980s?

  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:38PM (#39116627) Journal

    They're thinking emotionally. The anti-global warming crowd did a very good in turning this into a personal emotional issue.

    As opposed to the always calm, unemotional arguments of environmentalists and global warming activists? Come on, there's plenty of emotion (if not outright hysteria) on both sides.

  • by microbox ( 704317 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @06:24PM (#39117133)

    As opposed to the always calm, unemotional arguments of environmentalists and global warming activists? Come on, there's plenty of emotion (if not outright hysteria) on both sides.

    The two sides are not even remotely comparable. Most IPCC scientists are thoroughly against environmental alarmism.

    All you have to do, is follow the references that some "alarmist" or "skeptic" comes up with. Keep following them to their source, and assess whether they are actually using them correctly. This is shockingly easy to do, and you if you do it, you will quickly discover that the "skeptics" are actually "believers" since they will believe anything that reifies their biases. (Environmentalist ideologues do this as well -- but we're talking about the "scientific" debate here.)

    Since the facts are squarely stacked against the "skeptics", we see a lot of projection, denial, hostility, anger, externalisation, and very, very little unemotional argumentation.

  • It's not stealing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstrickler ( 920733 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @06:26PM (#39117155)

    Heartland claims [] Earlier this evening, Peter Gleick, a prominent figure in the global warming movement, confessed to stealing electronic documents from The Heartland Institute in an attempt to discredit and embarrass a group that disagrees with his views.

    In fact, he made no such confession. What he said [] is: At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy.

    Then, he went to the effort of attempting to verify the authenticity and accuracy of the documents by pretending to be someone else and asking for information directly from Heartland []: The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget.

    So, he did pretend to be someone else, but he stole nothing. If the original documents were stolen (which is pure speculation), it was by someone other than Gleick. Impersonating someone else is certainly nothing to be taken lightly, but it's a well established technique used by reporter and investigators when using your real name may impede or alter your access to the information. Whether a crime was committed requires more details than given. But there is no evidence that he stole anything, and as such, he may have a slander or libel claim against Heartland for their statement. IANAL.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982