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Denialgate - Internal Heartland Documents Expose Climate Denial Funding Network

Posted on 15 February 2012 by dana1981

This is a combined re-post of two major exposé posts on DeSmogBlog (here and here) regarding internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents.

*UPDATE 3* Desmogblog have removed the document Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf from their website as it contained home addresses.  

*UPDATE 2* the link to the climate strategy document below has been removed, as Heartland disputes its authenticity.

*UPDATE* DeSmogBlog now reports on a prepared statement from Heartland Institute regarding the leak:  

The Heartland Institute has confirmed in a prepared statement that it mistakenly emailed its board materials to an anonymous third party - confirming the source of the documents released here on the DeSmogBlog yesterday.

Heartland then goes on allege that one of the documents (the Climate Strategy) is a fake.

The DeSmogBlog has reviewed that Strategy document and compared its content to other material we have in hand. It addresses five elements:

The Increased Climate Project Fundraising material is reproduced in and confirmed by Heartland's own budget.

The "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" is also a Heartland budget item and has been confirmed independently by the author, Dr. David Wojick.

The Funding for Parallel Organizations; Funding for Selected Individuals Outside Heartland are both reproduced and confirmed in the Heartland budget. And Anthony Watts has confirmed independently the payments in Expanded Climate Communications.

The DeSmogBlog has received no direct communications from the Heartland Institute identifying any misstatement of fact in the "Climate Strategy" document and is therefore leaving the material available to those who may judge their content and veracity based on these and other sources.

*SkS note: Heartland could easily prove the strategy document is a fake by releasing the email which they claim contained the released documents.

Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy

An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self "Heartland Insider" has released the Heartland Institute's budget, fundraising plan, its Climate Strategy for 2012 and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.

It is clear from the documents that Heartland advocates against responsible climate mitigation and then uses that advocacy to raise money from oil companies and "other corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies." Heartland particularly celebrates the funding that it receives from the fossil fuel fortune being the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

Heartland also continues to collect money from Philip Morris parent company Altria as well as from the tobacco giant Reynolds American, while maintaining ongoing advocacy against policies related to smoking and health.

Heartland's policy positions, strategies and budget distinguish it clear as a lobby firm that is misrepresenting itself as a "think tank" - it budgets $4.1 million of its $6.4 million in projected expenditures for Editorial, Government Relations, Communications, Fundraising, and Publications, and the only activity it plans that could vaguely be considered policy development is the writing of a curriculum package for use in confusing high schoolers about climate change.

There will be more comment and analysis to follow on DeSmogBlog and elsewhere, but we wanted to make this information available so that others can also scrutinize the documents and bring their expertise to the task.

(1-15-2012) 2012 Fundraising Plan.pdf 89.87 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Heartland Budget (2).pdf 124.62 KB
2 Agenda for January 17 Meeting.pdf 7.4 KB
2010_IRS_Form_990 (2).pdf 2.7 MB
Binder1 (2).pdf 55.36 KB
Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf 11.28 KB
Board Meeting Package January 17.pdf 6.84 KB

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more. -Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999

The January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy states:

We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”

-Heartland Institute’s global warming denial machine is chiefly – and perhaps entirely – funded by one Anonymous donor:

Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 - about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012…”

-Confirmation of exact amounts flowing to certain key climate contrarians. 

funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”

-As Brad Johnson reported today at ThinkProgress, confirmation that Heartland is working with David Wojick, a U.S. Energy Department contract worker and coal industry consultant, to develop a ‘Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools.’

-Forbes and other business press are favored outlets for Heartland’s dissemination of climate denial messages, and the group is worried about maintaining that exclusive space. They note in particular the work of Dr. Peter Gleick:

Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.” (emphasis added)

Note the irony here that Heartland Institute – one of the major mouthpieces behind the debunked ‘Climategate’ email theft who harped about the suppression of denier voices in peer-reviewed literature – now defending its turf in the unscientific business magazine realm.

-Interesting mentions of Andrew Revkin as a potential ally worth “cultivating,” along with Judith Curry.

Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters).”

-Confirmation that skeptic blogger Anthony Watts is part of Heartland’s funded network of misinformation communicators.

We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.”

Stay tuned for more details as DeSmogBlog and others dig through this trove of Heartland Institute documents. The Heartland Institute's legacy of evasion of this level of transparency and accountability has now been shattered.

Read the documents [all PDF]:

Minutes of January 17 board meeting (.doc)

Agenda for January 17, 2012 Board Meeting

Board Meeting Package January 17, 2012

Board Directory January 2012

Binder 1 (maybe overlap with above documents)

2012 Heartland Budget

2012 Heartland Fundraising Plan

2010 Heartland IRS Form 990 (public document)

Stay tuned… see also DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore's coverage.

Minutes of January 17 meeting.doc 50.84 KB
Board Meeting Package January 17.pdf 7.47 KB
Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf 12.51 KB
Agenda for January 17 Meeting.pdf 8.49 KB
Binder1.pdf 67.68 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Heartland Budget.pdf 126.68 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Fundraising Plan.pdf 91.32 KB
2010_IRS_Form_990.pdf 2.7 MB

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Comments 151 to 200 out of 260:

  1. So George Soros is funding SkS? So with all that funding, how come we authors ain't seen none of it. If Soros is funding SkS, how come John Cook needs a day-job at the University of Queensland? And if Soros was backing an AGW site, why would he pick one in Brisbane, Australia. Surely George could have a chat to Bill Gates and get something a bit more up-market than that. Maybe Larry Brin or someone. But Soros decides to back a solar physics graduate from Oz. Is this how the man who nearly brought Sterling down operates? (no offence JC, but I think if George was backing us I wouldn't be struggling with a dying laptop just to stay on-line)
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  2. Ignore the climate strategy doc, which has very little extra real information beyond that in the other docs and those are quite consistent and mesh quite well with my long report that is based entirely on public (if often obscure) data. People really should spend a few minutes and look at the first 4 pages of that and see what else they want to read. For Aussies, pp.63-64 will help explain the presence of Oz in the flow diagram on p.3. To summarize a long story, documented in detail, IRS rules generally forbid US 501(c)(3) charities from sending grants to foreign non-charities except under restricted circumstances ... and saying that such foreign recipients need not be monitored because they are "friends" doesn't cut it.
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  3. The latest Guardian piece on this quotes a Heartland Institute spokesperson as saying: "At any rate, our standing policy is to not discuss confidential documents..." They seem to have conveniently forgotten about the emails. The same confidential documents which formed a "badly hemorrhaging climate alarmoscientists' scandal". A selection of which Heartland published on its own web site. Catch Heartland discussing private documents? Surely not! For 'tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his own petar; and 't shall go hard But I will delve one yard below their mines And blow them at the moon:
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  4. I cannot get beyond the question of whether someone who releases a wad of accurate and damning Heartland documents would also shoot themselves in the foot by including a completely fake document. That stretches credulity. I repeat my point at #123. If the figures the 'fake' document contains are correct (as questions to some of the people mentioned seem to suggest) then how could the 'faker' have got them? Someone should demand that the HI allow an independent auditor to check the figures. Only if the figures are incorrect can the Heartland prove the document is fake. If the HI don't agree to an audit then we should assume they're lying.
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  5. Tom, your proof of non-authenticity logic is sound, but the HI will ignore it like they usually do. My guess is they will spread FUD instead. Whether people will understand your logic is a separate question. The recent date on the doc could either be from a rescan or from a paper doc leak, document provenance is a tricky business and Desmog (or whoever) has more to prove in that regard.
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  6. John Russel, I can think of some reasons. It could be an insider who is doing this for personal reasons, to even some score. Someone trying to lash out is likely to overdo things. I could be a zealot who has lost their sense of proportion and can't see the possibility of a backfire. Remember, believing things because they are what one's side believes is not a monopoly of any political side. There are plenty of people who are concerned about Global Warming, not because they have followed the science but because it is what their side of politics does. There are plenty of ingenious idiots around and some are taking the right side on climate issues for bad reasons. But still, I agree that it is more likely that the the Heartland Institute is lying. Someone is and they have terminal cases of self righteousness and willful blindness.
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  7. John Russell @154, this website exists to combat the incredible amount of stupidity that people seem able to bring to the subject of climate change, including people who think they are very smart, and no doubt score well on IQ tests. As it stands, the evidence supports with about equal weight, at the moment, two hypotheses: 1) The document release was made by a person who had direct access to the 990 form, but who phished for the other documents and created the "strategy document" to give a narrative to the dry facts in the other available documents; or 2) The documents where obtained legitimately by an employee or board member of the Heartland Institute, or somebody closely associated with the above. On this hypothesis the strategy document was a privately circulated physical document sent to a limited number of board members and/or senior staff at the Heartland Institute to explain the basis of the HI's strategy. The Heartland Institute can definitively rule out the second hypothesis by releasing the emails relating to the phishing scam. Alternatively, they can tacitly concede that no such emails exist by refusing to release them, thereby confirming the second hypothesis. The ball is in their court, and until they play it we will not know which way the game will go.
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  8. Really there is no need for Heartland to publicly release the purported phishing e-mails. They are promising to pursue prosecution... the first step in that would clearly be contacting the police and providing them with the e-mails. So the question becomes whether they have actually done that. As to motivations for and impact of a possible forgery... does anyone remember the George W Bush military records imbroglio? The so called 'Killian memo' was a forgery... but ironically it was the other real documents which conclusively showed that Bush had failed to show up for several months (without permission) and did not complete his full military commitment. The Killian memo itself was just designed to provide an 'explanation' of the underlying data... a narrative. Instead, the story became about the forgery and most people don't even realize that the accusations were actually true.
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  9. Thanks for the thoughts, everyone since #154. I still find the idea of someone faking the document to be the least likely explanation. It seems much more likely that a Heartland Exec, preparing for the January board meeting, produced an informal 'executive summary' or overview, pulling together the key elements to be discussed. The fact they had printed this out was probably so they could refer to it during the meeting. A copy was then left lying around and photocopied by the whistle-blower. To me this seems the most plausible explanation. Another point. Clearly the whistle-blower is sitting back watching events unfold with interest. Assuming the 'fake' document is genuine, I suspect that at some point he will try to clear his name by telling how he did it -- or by releasing something to corroborate his evidence. I don't think he'll ever own up, of course, but he won't like being accused of fakery. If the document is a fake then I expect silence. This comment might be construed as a challenge. I suspect the whistle-blower will at some point read this entire thread.
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  10. I can state with confidence that the 2010 IRS 990 document is genuine. US law requires tax exempt organisations to make some matters publicly available: IRS on public disclosure. The Heartland Institute has made the form 990 publicly available: IRS form 990. Any interested person can download the form from Heartland and compare it with any other version shown or linked on line. nullias in verba = show me the evidence.
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  11. For the 'document sleuthers', note that the 2/14 date on the contested strategy memo is time zone dependent. If the document actually originated from Heartland's offices in Chicago it would have been created at 11:47 am local time on Monday 2/13. It might also be possible to get some idea of the location of the sender from the header information of the e-mail DeSmog received... depending on what kind of e-mail account it was.
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  12. Ah, sorry I didn't provide a link to the comical WUWT moderator comment about SkS. I don't feel quite right pasting any WUWT link given their propensity to bash peer reviewed papers and scientists without participating in the peer review process themselves.
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  13. Sadly, having compared the documents, I strongly suspect that the 'January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy' is NOT genuine, it is an 'outlier' as anyone who examines the documents will be able to determine for themselves. It is a great shame, because had it been genuine, it might have been very useful.
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  14. When it is all said and done, mainly because part of the "Leak" does seem to be fabricated, this will amount to nothing. A ship under full sail with strong winds, all of a sudden hitting no winds and dead in the water.
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  15. Surely the main issue is data protection and it seems Heartland Institute are deflecting interest away from this issue. They have failed to adequately protect their clients data as a result of their own poor management and internal systems. This is of course ironic, because as a bunch of red tape cutting enthusiasts, it seems ridiculous that they are now worried that red tape has been cut and information is freely available. They want less legislation but are now wanting to impose it. Which of course reveals the double standards most libertarians have, having no rules is fine until they feel some rules will help their cause.
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  16. As per the directory path info printed on one of the released documents (not the memo), all documents may have come from HI's president Joseph Bast's assistant. If that is the case then it is very likely that he himself prepared the Strategy Memo and printed it outside of HI's offices and eventually handed it over to his assistant for filing (who then scanned it and saved it as "2012 Climate Strategy (3).pdf", the '(3)' possibly indicating the third version of the memo). It is not unthinkable given the nature of the memo that internal HI security rules were violated by its author by creating a physical document outside of HI offices. Joseph Bast, along with his wife Diana Bast are the only paid boardmembers of HI. If the Strategy Memo reveals the original author violated HI rules (not because of its contents but because of its initial format), then both have a direct (financial) interest in claiming the document is fake.
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  17. Regarding the 'Strategy' document and the fact that it was scanned: Whatever it's provenance, the strategy document states that it's for very limited distribution. It was also scanned considerably later than the other documents were created. I don't think this speaks to the authenticity in any way whatsoever - a limited distribution document like that isn't going to be floating around as a computer file on every staffer's computer. But if a board member, or someone representing themselves as such, were to request a set of docs, it would be very easy for a staffer with appropriate access (such as Bast's assistant) to pull a file hardcopy, scan it, and send the scan PDF along. I think email logs showing the message that was sent would clear up uncertainty - both in regards to this scanned document and to their statements that some of the documents may have been altered. Personal opinion - the budget docs confirm the amounts going to various persons and projects. The strategy doc is quite damning due to its tone, but I believe there's sufficient information in the rest to call HI's non-profit status into serious questions.
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  18. Camburn, no this will not 'eventually amount to nothing'... because it has already demonstrated that Heartland is a direct link between the businesses paying for climate change denial and the scientists, journalists, bloggers, et cetera spreading this denial. Some of Heartland's donors have also stated that they are 're-evaluating' their relationship. Thus, the document release has already amounted to something. Whether it will amount to more remains to be seen, but "nothing" is off the table.
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  19. My point @170 was that HI deserve no support if you base your involvement in a discussion on science. Heartland have made hypocritical statements about how unfair things are, yet have involved themselves in attacking climate scientists without seemingly engaging any discussion with those scientists.
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  20. I would have expected companies like Exxon to be on their donor list. What do they do to influence public opinion? The Heartland Institute must be incredibly effective with their limited budget, unless there is a lot more money from other sources sloshing around somewhere. The think it is their intention to interfere in the high school curriculum that has angered me the most. I sincerely hope that David's Wojick's climate doubt modules will not make it to the classrooms. Has anybody described as "one of the more neutral voices with big audiences", i.e. Revkin or Curry commented upon being so popular with HI?
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  21. Mother Jones has obtained a Heartland Institute fundraising email written by its president Joseph L Bast in which it uses the leak incident to seek donations for its legal fund. Some interesting snippets: "Most of the leaked documents appear to have been written by me for a board meeting that took place on January 17. I have not yet had a chance to compare the ones that are posted online with the originals I wrote, so I don't know if they are authentic or have been altered. " & "We have reported the identity theft and computer fraud to the police and to the FBI. We are asking the bloggers and reporters to immediately remove these documents and all statements about them from the blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions." & " I am very sorry that the identities of some of our donors were revealed by this theft. I apologize to them, from the bottom of my heart. We are calling everyone who was named in these documents to give them the bad news and offer whatever assistance we can to repair the damage. We promise anonymity to many of our donors because nobody wants the risk of nutty environmentalists or Occupy Wall Street goons harassing them. We know that privacy is important to you. "
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  22. Re Gringo @ 171: What I found interesting about the fundraising email is its repetitive references to the "left" etc. when talking about climate change. Not a word about the actual science. That says a lot about the interests of Heartland and its donors.
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  23. @Gringo I particularly like the quote near the bottom of that long and rambling email appealing for funds... "Dave Padden, Heartland's founder and long-time chairman, used to say that a lie can run around the world while the truth is still tying its shoestrings. Of course he was right. We're witnessing that right now." I think Dave Padden was thinking about the Heartland's modus operandi when he said that!
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  24. From the horse's mouth - thanks to motherjones, hat tip to gringo #171 Joseph L. Bast says: "I am very sorry that the identities of some of our donors were revealed by this theft." Plain English that couldn't be any plainer confirming the authenticity of the documents which name donors: "the identities of some of our donors were revealed". Joseph L. Bast says: "Right now we are trying to get the individuals and organizations that have tried to make hay with these stolen and fraudulent documents to retract their statements, by threatening legal action if necessary." Good luck with that. How are you going to require blogs and media across the planet to unpublish the truth? I hope that Heartland has a team of linguists on hand to translate the legalese. Just a sample of non-English stories:
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  25. It's worth a reminder that a Heartland Director once wrote about a UEA email: "[it's] good, so juicy". The quote can be found on Heartland's own website: just google the words -- Heartland "so good so juicy" Talk about chickens coming home to roost!
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  26. Personally I believe that HI President Joe Bast fundraising memo will do his organization more bad than good given its wording and his admittance that many if not all of the originals were written by him. That makes it very likely that they all came from one source; his assistant's computer (at least one document, the one with the names, addresses and phonenumbers of HI Board Members) states the full pathname at its bottom; the name which appears there is mentioned in the Budget file as his Assistant). I still have to see concrete evidence (other than HI's claim) that the Strategy Memo is fake. Mr Joe Bast, being the only executive at HI to receive a compensation ($145,135 in 2010), has a direct interest in downplaying this blunder from very likely his assistant if not himself.
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  27. Gringo @171+ It's interesting that the H.I. President Jo Bast has time go on a fund-raising drive yet he is still complaining about folk quoting the leaked/faked documents that he has not yet had time to authenticate. So why is it taking him so long to check a few tens of pages? Perhaps he's realised there are a few comments that would be a bit too damaging to admit to. I liked Bast's appeal when he wrote "This attack would not have happened if we weren't unveiling the truth." Indeed, it seems some truth has been unveiled. Unfortunately for President Bast, it isn't the truth he intentionally wanted unveiled. So sad.
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  28. An observation. A massive number of electrons are being spent determining whether that one document is a fake or not. Presumably, such a large number of electrons would indicate that the authenticity of the documents is a very important issue. Well, consider this: What % of people would view the significance of the Heartland documents differently, depending on a final proof of that one document's authenticity? Would "skeptics" change their perspective on the importance of the documents if they saw definitive proof that the one document is authentic? Would "realists" change their perspective on the importance of the documents if they saw definitive proof that the one document is a "fake?" My guess is that the # of climate debaters who might actually attach any real importance to the authenticity of that one document (in other words, have their view significantly altered contingent on proof) could be counted on one hand, although the # of climate debaters who will argue with great urgency about the authenticity of that document is quite large, indeed.
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  29. I also find this quote from his fund raising email particularly interesting: "We have taken measures to ensure that we aren't victims of identity theft and computer fraud again, but in this age of identity theft and hacking, I can't promise it won't ever happen again." (Emphasis mine) Yep, that for sure will get new funds just pouring in from anonymous donors.
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  30. Martin asks:
    Has anybody described as "one of the more neutral voices with big audiences", i.e. Revkin or Curry commented upon being so popular with HI?
    Well it looks like Revkin has gone from hero ("one of the more neutral voices with big audiences") to zero ("Since the documents were obviously stolen and marked "confidential," what Revkin did was not only unethical, it was also probably illegal".) over the past day or so. Interesting that they call it a "legal defense fund" shouldn't they have called it a "legal offense fund"? Unless they are looking a few weeks down the road when the IRS will be after them.
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  31. Joshua@178: One could pose the question: 1. Who payed any attention The Heartland Institute? 2. What importance would a few million dollars make compared to the millions spent promoting AGW? Being a skeptic means that we don't let others "interpret" the data at hand. We do it ourselves.
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  32. Camburn - Maybe you could explain what your response had to do with my comment?
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  33. And I would love to see who has been "promoting AGW" ! Who are these AGW 'promoters', Camburn ?
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  34. ScaredAmoeba at 163 I agree with your post. If the "strategy" document is a fake and can be linked to an entity, it will be at a minimum a severe embarrassment to the person who generated and the organization to which they are connected.
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  35. Camburn - "Who payed any attention". Well how many hits does NIPCC give you let alone the regurgitation of their nonsense on blogs and media worldwide. 2/ Which millions are these? And I'd like to some evidence of you analyzing the data yourself. So far, you seem happy to prefer other's disinformation that fits your biases.
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  36. scaddenp@185: I don't know how many hits they would have. I haven't been to their site, do they have a hit counter? I think our differences are ones of interpretation of the data. Joshua@182: My response to you was to your last paragraph @178.
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  37. Camburn wrote: "Being a skeptic means that we don't let others "interpret" the data at hand. We do it ourselves." No, that isn't skepticism, it is a symptom of Dunning-Kruger syndrome. Do you let doctors, with many years of medical training, interpret the medical data for you, or do you do it yourself? I suspect the former, and with good reason.
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  38. There is a certain irony in Jim Lakely, Heartland's communication director, apparently not responding to Suzanne Goldenberg's request for them to confirm the authenticity of the fundraising e-mail - from The Guardian He did not respond to a request to characterise the campaign, or send a copy of the fundraising email. He also refused to comment on the authenticity of a fundraising email obtained by the Mother Jones website on Thursday.
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  39. Don’t forget we’re not only dealing with the “Denial” machine but also the “Doubt” machine. The Heartland Institute has had plenty of practice at both so I wouldn’t believe anything this crew say. The worm has turned.
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  40. Being a skeptic means that we don't let others "interpret" the data at hand. We do it ourselves. Incompetence and arrogance, together at last!
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  41. Camburn: "Being a skeptic means that we don't let others "interpret" the data at hand. We do it ourselves." And when someone points out an error or weakness in the methodology of your interpretation . . . ?
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  42. Camburn... "Being a skeptic means that we don't let others "interpret" the data at hand. We do it ourselves." That strikes me as a rather absurd statement. If science operated that way nothing would ever get accomplished because you'd have millions of interpretations on any given published set of data. Instead, why not do what science has always done. Allow scientists to do research and try to publish their findings. If their findings make it through peer review then the broader community has the chance to either point out mistakes or try to replicate it to see if they get the same or similar results, or see if they can improve on the methods and get more robust results. This is my complaint about the whole "climate audit" idiocy. If any given piece of published science is wrong, let it be wrong. Subsequent research will show it to be the case and the research in error will fade from prominence. Understanding how wrong answers came to be is just as important as how correct answers are found. Essentially, if all historical science had to go through "skeptical audits" we'd have to discard 90% of all of science that has preceded. Applying an audit process to science would stop science dead in it's tracks today... But then again, maybe that's their point.
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  43. Being a skeptic means delaying judgement while gathering as much data as possible for as long as possible. I believe the document in question is fake, but I am being selectively skeptic (noting the lack of evidence that it was created by Heartland in metadata, quality and structure, but ignoring the actual content). A true skeptic would not believe or disbelieve the document at this point.
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  44. Eric (skeptic) no, that isn't skepticism, that is sitting on the fence. You can always delay judgment whilst gathering data indefinitely and call it skepticism. Wikipedia says: Skepticism or Scepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts,[1] or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere. Note that a questioning attitude does not preclude comming to a conclusion.
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  45. Dikran, you can always delay judgement when there is no need to judge.
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  46. Eric, in the AGW debate, there obviously is a need to judge as there are likely to be consequences to out fossil fuel use. So we need to judge the competing hypothesis to decide on what action we should take or not take.
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  47. John Mashey: "To summarize a long story, documented in detail, IRS rules generally forbid US 501(c)(3) charities from sending grants to foreign non-charities except under restricted circumstances ... and saying that such foreign recipients need not be monitored because they are "friends" doesn't cut it." The directors and officers of Heartland should bone up on the legal phrase "piercing the corporate veil". The IRS knows what it means ...
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  48. Pirate, It is impossible to ever prove the Climate Strategy memo to be a fake. It is also probably impossible to ever prove it to be real, short of finding a physical copy with Joe Bast's fingerprints on it, or in the briefcase of one of the directors. It is, however, a well-considered piece of damage control on the part of HI to declare it as such, because they will always be able to argue that it was fake, and so imply that you can't trust anything that was released. They probably can't do this directly with other documents, because there are too many copies out there, but they can achieve the same effect by casting doubt on that one. Note that as a US taxpayer you yourself can request past copies of all of their Form 990 filings, not just the copy released. But this strategy also conveniently gets everyone talking about whether or not that was faked, rather than focusing on the fact that their organization actively participates in a purposeful disinformation campaign, is funded by a relative handful of well-heeled individuals, and to my mind has absolutely no right to the claim that it is a charitable, non-profit organization which does not have to pay taxes, and for which the donors can make tax deductions for their contributions (a double-whammy -- basically, the U.S. taxpayers are paying twice to support an organization which is bent on a political agenda shared by a very few, powerful people). On the other hand, there really is nothing in the strategy document that is not in the other documents, except perhaps an embarrassing display of a more cavalier and audacious attitude toward their own documented, planned agenda.
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  49. I think this whole thing, however, sort of says that "charities" should be forced to have explicitly open and available documentation for everything. Certainly, a donor can ask to be anonymous, and that anonymity should be respected within the charity. But if anyone (meaning any US tax payer) explicitly asks then they should be able to see the donors, the private documents, meeting minutes (which should be required), e-mails, copies of all organization publications, and everything else. Basically, by adopting the mantle of non-profit, charitable organization, they have surrendered their right to privacy... as is necessary, since they are in a way being funded by US taxpayers. If they want to keep secrets, they can easily do so... by abandoning the non-profit premise and opening their files so that we the people can make sure that they are on the up-and-up. This would apply to everything from Greenpeace to the Roman Catholic Church to the Heartland Institute. If they don't like it... pay taxes.
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  50. Sphaerica @199: I agree 100%. Any public funding of any type should be open. Research paid by public dollars, all, as you indicated, charitable organizations etc. An open meeting/records policy has never hurt anyone.
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