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Heartland Institute's misinformation campaign into schools

Posted on 21 April 2017 by John Cook

Last month, the Heartland Institute sent a climate denial booklet to 25,000 teachers around the US. In Episode 8 of the Evidence Squared podcast, we look at the why and how of this book. What is the chief motivation for the book’s misinformation and what are the techniques they employ to cast doubt on climate science?

Follow Evidence Squared on iTunesFacebookTwitterYouTube and Soundcloud.

Links from this episode

Lee Fang’s video of Heartland Institute director Joe Bast denying his denial of the health impacts of smoking then denying the health impacts of smoking.

2016 paper by Lewandowsky, Cook and Lloyd examining the incoherence of climate denial.

Article about Heartland billboard equating people convinced about climate change to Unabomber

PBS Frontline article Heartland book being delivered to 25,000 science teachers

National Science Teachers Association letter to their members

Science paper Climate confusion among U.S. teachers

Educators Decry Conservative Group’s Climate ‘Propaganda’ Sent to Schoolteachers (Inside Climate News)

NCSE blog post on teachers using Heartland book as a “teachable moment”.

Studies on the importance of “perceived consensus” as a gateway belief:

Studies finding overwhelming scientific consensus on human-caused global warming:

Skeptical Science debunking of the Global Warming Petition Project.

Skeptical Science debunking of “it’s the sun” myth

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. The so called Heartland package on climate change is not so much a sceptical viewpoint, as a collection of lies, deceptions and plain nonsense. As such I would have thought it doesn't meet the threshold of quality and reliability, for material to be taught in schools.

    However students will be aware of some disagreement with climate change theory, and its unwise to pretend this doesn't happen. If sceptical viewpoints must be mentioned in schools, at least keep them to the saner ones, and put them in context, and discuss their weaknesses (and there are many huge weaknesses).

    It's also time we taught students tools to see through poor quality ideas, logical fallacies such as red herring arguments, cherrypicking information, non sequiters, etc,etc. There is so much fake news, and flakey theories, or conspiracy theories, and it's sadly not going to go away, and is the price we pay for an open society and freedom of speech. Students need to know how to evaluate this material rigorously.

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  2. Bast has done some reprehensible things in his long career, but mispronouncing 'Oregon' (25:29) is probably the least forgiveable.  I'm 97% sure, or 0.3%, depending on who is counting.

    Outside Heartland Package: "Why do Scientists disagree about Global Warming?"

    Inside Heartland Package: "Send in this card with your name and address and you, too, can be a 'Scientist'!  We'll ship your diploma out immediately!"

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  3. I'm surprised there is no link to the offending book(let). If for nothing else, there is the idea set out in the audio (Ep8 in theOP) that the book(let) is so wrong in its message that it presents an educational opportunity. So a link is surely needed for all those educational institutes who the deluded denialists Heartland Institute have yet to reach.

    I was also a bit shocked by the reference in the audio to Bob Carter's death. It is true that the booke(let) is the work (I should simply call it "lies" rather than "work") of three fake experts and such fake experts are indeed not such a numerous species. But Carter's name on the book(let) is not a case of postumous attribution of authorship. The book(let) was published a month or so prior to Bob Carter's death.

    Mind, the book(let) tells us it is based on a chapter from a far bigger work but that bigger work has yet to see the light of day. From what we are told, the bigger work would be 1,000 pages. (It is described as the third volume of a marathon 3-volume writing exercise which will apparently total 3,000 pages. The first two volumes comprise 933 pages & 1,062 pages.) Presumably, this Volume 3 of their magnus opus will be no more truthful than the preceeding pair. (I assume the second volume is nought but a pack of lies for the first certainly is. I checked a random section of their first volume  (Section 2.1: Forcings & Feedbacks - Carbon Dioxide, pp151-165.) and found fifty-seven fundamental errors.)


    The audio does discuss addressing the bare-faced lies within the book(let) ("...refute all the physical science claims they are making which are wrong...") but argues that it is more important to counter the bogus claim that "the 'scientific consensus' on the causes and consequences of climate change is without merit." While I would agree, pointing out the eye-watering stupidity of the bogus experts from NIPCC & Heartland can surely assist in showing how bogus is their primary claim.

    And with that in mind, when I randomly picked a chapter from the book(let) and then examined the primary evidence presented to support their first claim in that chapter I found these liars are actually 'hiding the incline' in a manner many time more significantly than the famous 'hide the decline' which they made such a fuss over. Their 'hide the incline' is illustrated by this graphic (usually two clicks to 'download your attachment').

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  4. The activity of these charlitans for the benefit of their financial masters is nothing less that child abuse.  We should make sure to publicize where their funds come from and emphasize the motivations of their funders.

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