Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Climate-Gate of a Skeptical Site?

The blog reports under the headline

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

about internal processes within the Heartland Institute (such as funding by whom and of whom). For details see Climate Strategy.pdf.

If true, the details of the report are highly relevant and point towards a larger, coordinated activity on the side of many visible US skeptics. The blog does not refer to a source, as in case of the Climate-gate affair with the CRU mails - are the claims trustworthy?


Addition 21 February 2012

The Heartland Institute has declared that material presented by is false. Reports from other sources, such as or indicate that among the leaked "real" e-mails a document provided by unknown, questionable origin has been placed by Peter Gleick. Quotes from this questionable document has been discussed at some length in this thread (below).

An analysis Leaked Docs From Heartland Institute Cause a Stir—but Is One a Fake? of the text supports the understanding that the document would not be authentic.

We are now closing this thread; as Klimazwiebel is legally responsible also for readers comments, we are prepared to delete comments which would constitute "falsche Tatsachenaussagen" (cf. Rahmstorf verdict). Thus, if somebody considers some comments as such, please contact us, and we will check.

A new thread will be opened soon - as the affair is evolving into a another chapter of post-normal science.


For legal reasons we add

Haftungshinweis: Trotz sorgfältiger inhaltlicher Kontrolle übernehmen wir keine Haftung für die Inhalte externer Links. Für den Inhalt der verlinkten Seiten sind ausschließlich deren Betreiber verantwortlich.


Alex Harvey said...

Hi Hans,

Although I have only scanned the documents so far and read some commentary, it appears to show in fact that none of the important skeptics from the English-speaking countries - Richard Lindzen, Steve McIntyre, Roy Spencer, John Christy, David Douglass, and many of the other skeptics who publish peer reviewed research - have anything to do with this at all.

As far I go, none of the NIPCC authors have influenced my thinking at all. It was already well known that Craig Idso, Fred Singer and Robert Balling received some funding from fossil fuel interests.

I don't really see anything here that I didn't already know or wouldn't have guessed.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S.. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.

"dissuading teachers from teaching science", really shocking.

Oh yes, 88,000$ for A. Watts is new.



Georg Hoffmann said...

Wenn es wahr waere (was ich noch nicht glauben kann), dann wuerde es zumindest meinen Respekt vor der Qualitaet dieser Thinktanks und Industrielobbys deutlich schmaelern. Fuer sowiel Geld so einen Schmarrn kaufen? Haetten Sie mal dafuer fuer den VFL Bochum einen guten Stuermer geholt, dann waere ich schon auf die dunkle Seite der Macht gewechselt.

Anonymous said...

Ich glaube schon, dass es wahr ist. Nicht, weil es meinen Erwartungen entspricht, sondern weil z.B. A. Watts die ihm zugewiesene Geldsumme in einem Beitrag auf WUWT inzwischen bestätigt hat (und er klingt plötzlich deutlich defensiver).

Für mich war im interessantesten zu sehen, welche Projekte Heartland für 2012 außer climate-antiscience sonst so plant: Unterstützung für Walker in Wisconsin, zum "Wohle" der Patienten Projekte zur freien Medikamentenwahl (unterstützt auch von der Bayer AG), ein projekt zu Fracking...

Sehr interessant auch zu sehen, wie knallhart das Fundraising organisiert wird. Zwei Mitarbeiter hatten die erwarteten Ziele nicht erreicht, man hat sich daher von ihnen getrennt. Und äußerst interessant, wie die Führungsebene sich finanziell schadlos hält, neben den Grundgehältern gibt es jede Menge "Zusatzleistungen" (und ganz besonders praktisch, wenn die Ehefrau auch noch in der Führungsebene vertreten ist).

Interessant auch das Anschreiben des anonymen Übermittlers:
Dear Friends (15 of you):
In the interest of transparency, I think you should see these files from the Heartland Institute. Look especially at the 2012 fundraising and budget documents, the information about donors, and compare to the 2010 990 tax form. But other things might also interest or intrigue you. This is all I have. And this email account will be removed after I send.

Praktisch, direkt mit Gebrauchsanleitung: Folge der Spur des Geldes, Vergleiche mit der Steuererklärung und du wirst fündig werden.

Es wurden weitaus mehr als das hier verlinkte Dokumente geleakt, siehe


Anonymous said...

@ Georg

Stell dich schon mal drauf ein, dass es wahr ist. Die Presseerklärung (hat lange gedauert) von Heartland ist jetzt da und klingt etwa so wie die erste Reaktion der CRU nach "climategate":


Freddy Schenk said...

The press release says that the climate memo is a fake:

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.

@Andreas: Where does Anthony Watts confirm that he got money? This would be in conflict with the press release of Heartland.

Freddy Schenk said...

OK, A. Watts confirms that he got money for his project.

Here are some references:

Anonymous said...

Auf seiner Website bestätigt er, dass ihm 44,000 $ für sein Projekt versprochen worden sind.

Allerdings bleibt eine Sache unklar:
In den Dokumenten steht zwar, dass der mysteriöse "Anonymous Donor" 44,000$ dafür geben wird, es steht da aber auch, dass Watts 88,000$ versprochen worden sind und dass man hofft, die restliche Summe durch weiteres fundraising aufbringen zu können.

PS: Ob das eine Dokument gefaked ist, kann ich nicht beurteilen. Ich habe alle gelesen und auffällig waren die vielfachen Überschneidungen und Dopplungen. Mir ist nicht aufgefallen, dass eines nicht zu den anderen passt.


Anonymous said...


YES: fighting against the mainstream opinion network needs funding.
Impossible to do the job without no money at all while there is a lot of funding on the other side.

Funding for what?
Anthony Watts declares himself clearly ...

NON OLET ... depends on what somebody is expected to do for money. Creating a web site devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA’s can hardly be called "horrible".

"access to temperature data is a bad thing?

Is there any important scientific impact to discover? on research and understanding of the issue?
Some results to correct?
Or are we just talking about PR battles?

Who believed that there are just good guys behind the curtains in this "war of worlds (words)"?
No problem with scientists funded by insurances, banks, administrations, NGOs?

"Climate-Gate of a Skeptical Site?"
You mean the one (or two) we hate to talk about - while this one here seems to be welcome to discredit an obviously honest work?

V. Lenzer

Anonymous said...

I almost threw up and had a chuckle at the same time when I read Heartland's indignation at this material being stolen.

Perhaps Heartland may wish to check its own coverage of the e-mails stolen from CRU, and then change its indignation about their documents being stolen to a jubilous celebration?

The comments by the 'insider' do point to a potential problem for Heartland: if the anonymous donor indeed gave so much money as the documents suggests, Heartland may well have lied to the IRS in claiming no single donor gave more than 5%. But knowing there are many loopholes in tax systems all over the world, one would assume they have a way out for that.


Rob Dekker said...

Well, well well. That's interesting (yet not surprising).

Heartland Institute found re-writing K-12 curriculum on GHG theory, executing political public smear campaigns against teacher unions, collective bargaining and public schools, paying people to write their fake NIPCC reports, and violating IRS tax code on multiple accounts to stay a tax-exempt (and tax-deductable) "charity", and most of the climate science denial campaigns funded by a single Anonymous Donor. Anyone want to make a bet that this single Anonymous Donor is McCain's "brother from another mother" ? The same one who declared "the mother of all wars" against Obama this year, and committed $ 100 million to his cause ?

Rob Dekker said...

And FYI, the Heartland Institute is just ONE of the several hundred libertarian "tax-exempt" organisations manipulating public opinion and politics, on internet sites and via traditional media.

And that is just the USA.

Hans von Storch said...

you should be a bit more balanced here - there are certainly also very many ""tax-exempt" organisations manipulating public opinion and politics, on internet sites and via traditional media" with non-libertarian agendas.
I consider these organizations rather similar in character and methods. And I pay little respect for any of them, Heartland included.

Rob Dekker said...

Hans, I appreciate your opinion. However, It would be nice to see which "tax-exempt" organisations are paying a contractor of the US Department of Energy to re-write K-12 curriculum without a scientific basis, evading tax-exempt status, and plan smear campaigns to counter a public recall of political candidates using a political biased strategy :

1. Recruit and promote superintendents who support Act 10
2. Explain the benefits of Act 10
3. Document the shortcomings of public schools in Wisconsin
4. Expose teacher pay in key districts
5. Create blogs that shadow small town newspaper coverage of the controversy

If that's not enough to convince you that the Heartland Institute is waging a political war against science and public education, while funded by a single, very wealthy, Anonymous Donor, who funds any campaign against climate science that the Heartland can come up with, then I don't know which fact would.

Rob Dekker said...

Hans, please mention some non-libertarian tax-exempt organisations that operate with similar political agenda's, and some evidence that they engage in similar political (and decidedly non-scientific) campaigns as the Heartland Institute does (and has done over the past several decades).

That would help.

Anonymous said...

Judy Curry ...

is weighing in with two posts providing some background and interesting insights...

V. Lenzer

Rob Dekker said...

Lenzer, Re. your 5 points in post #9:

Why are you so defensive of the Heartland Institute's political (non-scientific) campaigns ?

RainerS said... openly skeptic think tank funding skeptics. Who would have guessed?

Regarding "re-writing K-12 curriculum":
Anybody here with children in high school or the German equivalent thereof?

Just a few anecdotes from the recent past from the schools my children attend(ed):

- a Religion teacher tried to make 8(!) Year olds sign an anti-nuclear power plant petition. The only parent who stepped in happened to be an engineer (energy, non-nuclear).

- in a German reading textbook for 10 year olds the "dangers" of cell phone radiation are discussed.

- an other Religion teacher gives shoddy nutrition advice to 13 year olds with the intent of turning them vegetarian. Force feeding the kids "Supersize me" backfired, though. The better part of the class took straight off for McD after the show...

- a German teacher and "animal lover" urges her pupils to donate for her pet project (involving pets...) and tried - in part successfully - to instill the feeling in 11 year olds animals are more important than people

- in "English conversation" class, 16 year olds are discussing Climate Change on the basis of utterly alarmist material, drowning polar bears, sinking islands and the like generously included.

And that’s just the recent ones I remember. The interesting pattern here: All this stuff is not taught in science classes.

Who is going to clean that kind of BS from the children’s heads?

Appears to me that for a wide range of topics some material skewed in the other direction might be badly needed to provide for some food for independent thought. /sarc off

Anonymous said...

@ Dekker

I must be funded by big oil - having been offered a 3 cents discount per litre at the filling station the other day ; -)

Just read what I'm writing and what you will find in the links cited - to get a more balanced view on the issue.
There is a PR-battle going on - beyond science - and as in every battle there are at least to parties involved. The Heartland Institute is undoubtably one of them.
No news ... nobody ever thought the HI to be a scientific body. Its influence on science is trivial and its impact on the public opinion should not be exaggerated.
I'm not defending the HI for its political campains but trying to put the whole thing in the broader context of the PR-battle mentioned above.

"non-libertarian tax-exempt organisations that operate with similar political agenda's"

Just to name a fiew ...

V. Lenzer

Werner Krauss said...

@RainerS #18

Thanks for this great post!

Guess what, Rainer S., a cultural institution (school) introduces our children into our culture in providing cultural knowledge - who would have guessed?

Guess what they teach at schools in Hamburg! Oh boy, I am glad that we - parents and kid - survived this somehow!

Anyway, do you think in science class they could teach the "truth" about nuclear power, our relation to animals, about what to eat, about climate change? I severely doubt. Climate wars are culture wars. That's a big dilemma.

Scientists I trust told me that most of Heartland's science is highly speculative science and not very trustworthy.

The only good thing about them is that they show that knowledge (even scientific knowledge) is always interest based, always funded by someone, always cultural. This does not prevent us from making a difference between good and bad science, of course. IPCC knowledge is biased, too, but it passed many peer reviews and institutional barriers which are not easy to pass. Heartland knowledge, my science colleagues tell me, has difficulties to pass these barriers - and probably not only because of gate keeping.

But either way, science cannot decide the questions of culture, of how we live, what we teach our children, which songs and prayers we should teach them, and what our relation to our non-human companion species should be etc. Cows are sacred, whatever science may know about their digestion mechanisms...

Heartland wants a culturally and politically different America, and strangely enough climate science seems to be a good vehicle on the way to achieve this goal. Part of the fault is on the side of "trusted science", too, because they also pretend that they can solve our existential / cultural problems of how we should relate to the world. But they can't.

We can only learn from science that carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions heat up the atmosphere, and that this might have unpleasant consequences. What else can teachers do except teach our children this pretty vague lesson using cultural symbols? Knowing that teachers are biased, too, and that it always ends up in a cultural mess and we as parents have to correct and to intervene and so on...I guess, you have to go to school and complain, this often helps a lot! But you shouldn't try exorcism with the help of Heartland propaganda, this would turn out to be counterproductive.

Sorry, obviously your post made my thoughts run away (maybe because you mentioned children?).

MH said...

Completely irrelevant. It's not the sceptics who have turned me into a sceptic but the believers. Each time I read a comment of a believer I become even more sceptic.

@Rob Dekker

'Hans, please mention some non-libertarian tax-exempt organisations...'

Rob, please mention some of the 'several hundred libertarian "tax-exempt" organisations manipulating public opinion and politics, on internet sites and via traditional media'.

And by the way, I don't have to convince the believers that they are wrong. It's the believers who have to convince me that I am wrong. It's the believers who want money from me. Not vice-versa. And they wont get it. The glory days of global warming are over.

RainerS said...

((somewhat OT))

@19 Dear Werner Krauss,

in order to stop your thoughts from running away even further (you overlooked the /sarc, perhaps? :-)

This is not about Heartland. I don´t identify with them. They are doing what many other outfits are doing on both sides, albeit with a not really impressive amount of money, as we know now. Makes me wonder why they are deemed to be so dangerous.

Actually, the whole Heartland story pretty much sounds like "dog bites man" and will not go down in history as a golden hour of journalism or blogging.

However, that’s not the point I want to address in this reply.

"Truth" also isn’t the point.

That teachers are human and do have biases isn’t the point either.

It is simply not ok when teachers, especially with backgrounds that in most cases are not really helping them to assess even some basic scientific - or statistics - claims themselves, impose their biases on kinds old enough to already have a strongly developed (black and white) moral sense, but still too young to understand the related facts - let alone context.

Especially, when conclusions these teachers are willfully trying to force on the kids are not really backed by evidence or when existing evidence is used to frame the issue of not being in need to be discussed in the "cultural context" you are talking about.

These teachers aren’t conveying facts, they aren’t providing "cultural knowledge"; they are just imposing their personal opinions on the pupils by utilizing the kid’s emotional susceptibility.

It is in perfect order to discuss any of these topics in school - as soon as the kids are able to grasp at least some basic concepts and are provided with these before being confronted with overly emotional or moral content. Otherwise, we will end up with young adults who perfectly "know" what is right and what is wrong but don´t have the faintest (own) idea, why.

Actually, I have the slight feeling there is already a large number of those roaming the Western World. And quite of few of them became teachers, it seems.

To close the loop to climate change: After my oldest one was feed with Deep Malthusian inspired AGW alarmism in English Conversation, it turned out to be my job to explain, among other things, how the greenhouse effect is supposed to be working. Pesky IR-active molecules - too complicated for the English teacher...but a firm opinion she has.
Incidentally, I just learned they watched “An inconvenient truth” today. Uncommented. Oh well.

corinna said...

#RainerS, Werner

As a mother of 5, I can contribute more examples and fully agree with RainerS. Also my children were wathing "An inconvenient truth". It was presented to the kids as scientific truth which only deniers, payed by big oil, will object. This was part of high school teaching in the last 2 years, and the "facts" from the film had to be reproduced in the (science!) tests unless the kids would risk bad marks.

There is a very evident difference to my own high school education: Surely also my teachers had values and believes, but I rememberd from my education that they tried to educate us to develop a critical attitude and to distinguish between propaganda and information.

Anonymous said...


bitte nicht unwirsch werden, aber dies erscheint mir die geeignete Stelle, einmal eine grundsätzliche Frage zu klären.

Oftmals wurden hier Äußerungen kritisch bis spöttisch kommentiert, die die Bedeutung eines von "special interests" gesteuerten Skeptizismus zum Thema hatten. Sie erinnern sich vielleicht an meine Unterscheidung zwischen gutem und schlechtem Skeptizismus.

Ich habe nie so recht die Gründe für die Weigerung, dieses Thema hier zu diskutieren, verstanden, zwei Möglichkeiten erscheinen mir plausibel:

1.) Man hält einen von BigOil etc. finanzierten "Skeptizismus" (ich weiß, eigentlich eine Beleidigung für alle wahren Skeptiker) nur für ein Klischee, ohne Bezug zur Realität.

2.) Man weiß um diese Spielart des Skeptikzismus, aber die Existenz und sein Einfluss ist sattsam bekannt und Diskussionen dazu langweilen daher nur.

Vielleicht könnten Sie bitte ihre Haltung dazu erläutern, es könnte helfen, manches hier besser zu verstehen.


Anonymous said...

At least one document is fake.

Reaction from Revkin: "it could well be something that was created as a way to assemble the core points in the batch of related docs."

Oh, so it's "Fake but Accurate"?

Rob Dekker said...

corinna, ReinerS, Werner.

I am a father of 4 myself, so I share your concern about what our children learn in school, but I take it a bit easier than you seem to.

Of course, the opinions of individual teachers does not always match exactly with our own opinions, and thus there will be days when your child comes back from school with some something that you have strong opposing opinions to (seems that you oppose to them watching "An Inconvenient Truth" for example).

I think that is only natural to feel upset, but remember that it actually will help your child (and you!) to see things maybe from a different angle than you have been looking at yourself for a very, very long time.

If you don't want that to ever happen, and instead you want your child to only see the world that way that you see it, then you should apply for home schooling, and do the teaching all by yourself.

But individual teacher opinions are not what this Heartland leak has exposed.

What it shows is that the Heartland prepares the official curriculum that teachers will be teaching your children. And that in this case the topic as well as the contents and well as the presentation (and mis-representation) of the facts are decided by a very wealthy individual.

Meanwhile, the same wealthy individual also funds the Heartland to abolish public schools in favor of private schools, where it is much easier to push a curriculum void of scientific findings and perspective, but stuffed with marketing material glorifying the merits of the same industry into the curriculum.

If you think "An Inconvenient Truth" is biased, then think what would happen if the Heartland (and the Anonymous Donor) get their way sending industry propaganda and marketing material to teachers, and right into the heads of your dear children.

If that is not the very least concerning to you, then I'm not sure what would.

Reiner Grundmann said...

In some of the comments above there is an interesting parallel to Werner's post on Praise of Skepticism. Everyone treats children as novices, who only can be told the "truth" after a certain time, at a certain age.

In many comments I see the assumption that education consists of putting thoughts into heads, what German's call "Nuernberger Trichter" (literally pouring knowledge through a funnel).
Does it not occur to you that education always causes resistance?

To provide you with an example from my own school: the school director and also our history teacher were former Nazis. Our history teacher was hostile against any "anti-German" readings of the recent history. Did the school produce new fascists? Not to my knowledge. But one pupil went on to join the Red Army Faction (and was killed). The rest was rather leftwing, left liberal, or conservative -- but not fascist.

Children realize early that there are many different viewpoints on contested subjects. They also usually have teachers who they think they can trust (more than other teachers). They will listen carefully to what they say, no matter what the curriculum prescribes. And they will actively distrust teachers against whom they have suspicions.

This does not guarantee that the "good guys" (or "the science", or whatever) will win. It only tells you about the importance of the wider cultural context, and what teachers and pupils (and parents, and others) see as legitimate knowledge and legitimate values.

Werner Krauss said...

@Andreas #22

Tut mir leid, aber ich verstehe die Frage gar nicht. Wie kommen Sie darauf, dass es eine "Weigerung" auf der klimazwiebel gibt, special interests und Skeptizismus zu diskutieren? Das müssen sie näher erklären.

Günter Heß said...

Hallo Andreas,

du schreibst:
„Oftmals wurden hier Äußerungen kritisch bis spöttisch kommentiert, die die Bedeutung eines von "special interests" gesteuerten Skeptizismus zum Thema hatten. Sie erinnern sich vielleicht an meine Unterscheidung zwischen gutem und schlechtem Skeptizismus Ich habe nie so recht die Gründe für die Weigerung, dieses Thema hier zu diskutieren, verstanden, zwei Möglichkeiten erscheinen mir plausibel.

Ich finde es gut, dass hier, individuellen Kategorisierungen die unzulässig verallgemeinern und Menschen in einen Topf werfen, keine besondere Bedeutung zugemessen wird.
Das unterscheidet dieses Forum wohltuend von anderen Foren.


Günter Heß said...

@Reiner Grundmann

you wrote:
„In many comments I see the assumption that education consists of putting thoughts into heads, what German's call "Nuernberger Trichter" (literally pouring knowledge through a funnel).
Does it not occur to you that education always causes resistance?“

I agree with you. If one would apply the „Nuernberger Trichter“ to the political climate debate as Corinna and RainerS described one would replace education for children with indoctrination.
However, I have to defend Nueremberg because the „Nuernberger Trichter“ is usually also applied to adults and is usally said with a smile.
Lets put it this way:
„Hans Wurst wanderte also unverdrossen weiter zum Schloss des Königs von Utopien. Dort sah er zwar den geheimnisvollen Trichter, bekam ihn aber nicht, sondern wurde zu seinem Entsetzen in ein Gefängnis geworfen. Nach seiner Flucht traf er den Zwerg des Hörselberges. Der erzählte ihm freimütig viele wunderliche Dinge. So hatte er am Schluss seiner Wanderung zwar nicht den begehrten Nürnberger Trichter erworben, den er nun gar nicht mehr wollte, aber er hatte viel erfahren und war dadurch klüger geworden, so dass er den Nürnberger Trichter gar nicht mehr brauchte.“
So who is the king of utopia and its climate projections?
Best regards
Günter Heß

Stan said...

Let's compare the budget of Heartland with the budgets of Algore's 300 million fund (all for pushing climate political propaganda), Greenpeace, WWF, Sierra Club, and the legions of alarmists funded with the billions and billions in grants.

If people weren't absolutely livid over Algore's Inconvenient lies or his $300 million propaganda fund, their crying over Heartland's piddling funding comes off as hypocrisy on steroids.

RainerS said...


Dear Reiner Grundmann,

no, as far as I am concerned this is not about „truth“ or using the „Nürnberger Trichter“ approach at all. What I would favor is fostering the ability of school kids to assess and evaluate information.

This, certainly, needs to be done in a way adapted to the conceptual – and mathematical – facilities of the respective age group. And of course it has to be connected in some way to their everyday lives to make it worth their while and keep them interested.

Imagine making school kids play „City Council“. The City does have a number of issues and a restricted budget. Let the little ones discuss e.g. whether it is more important to renovate the rusty playground to avoid injuries or to have a traffic light installed in front of the school to improve safety – or even to donate the money to a school in their partner city in let´s say Chad.

As soon as math skills are sufficient you might have them analyze sth. like the following scenario: The biggest employer (and major source of taxes) in the city is also the main polluter – and this pollution is causing respiratory diseases costing the City hospital a lot of money. Now what might a sensible course of action look like? Close down the factory? Well, then there would be no more company taxes, unemployment would rise and even the hospital would be worse of because there may be no money to treat conditions not resulting from pollution. Obviously not such a good idea. Make the polluter pay for the treatment costs of respiratory illnesses? Possibly. Regulate pollution levels? OK. Or develop a more complex scheme which reduces pollution and still enables the company to stay in business?

Basically this is about letting them roam the biggest possible space of conceivable actions – or inaction, for that matter. But one reduces this space by feeding them morally loaded content and imagery they might not be able to scrutinize yet.

Relying on the kid´s abilities to find out whom to trust or not to trust will not work for a simple reason: People of any age will trust somebody more when this person appears to be genuinely convinced of his or her case. If the anti-nuclear Religion teacher is perceived as a gentle, caring and soft-spoken person , his views on nuclear power will not be doubted.

Additionally, something that is self-evident for someone with your background – the role of „culture“ or „Zeitgeist“ – from my experience isn´t evident for children or even young adults. Recently, a piece by Mike Hulme about Climate Determinism was featured at Klimazwiebel, detailing why the concept was discarded for some time and now appears to experience a comeback. Likewise, in „The Blank Slate“, Pinker gives an account of how extreme Behaviorism might have been a reaction to the fact vulgar Darwinism spawned eugenics (including parts of Nazi ideology), and how this is still hampering assessing human nature.

Even most grown-ups will not have the slightest idea of the twists and turns the sciences and humanities took even in the recent past and instead will be (unknowingly) assuming that today´s Zeitgeist is the only reference frame to evaluate info and make decisions in. They won´t even note there is a Zeitgeist.

To cut this short: in my humble opinion, education should be focused on finding an age-adapted mix of teaching basic facts and methods. The moral component will enter by itself.

Günter Heß said...

@RainerS #30
you write:
„To cut this short: in my humble opinion, education should be focused on finding an age-adapted mix of teaching basic facts and methods. The moral component will enter by itself.“
Yes, and the focus should be on methods.
But I think the parabel of the “Nürnberger Trichter” fits very well.
This is how I was taught the parabel in high school(11th class) by discussing it among the class:
There is no such thing like the “Nuernberger Trichter”. Oneself is the Hans Wurst who is walking around on his path to find the truth. One encounters glamorous kings of utopia who are telling things about the future. But Hans Wurst has to do his own legwork on the way to the truth. Walking around obstacles and taking detours through the information and “facts”.And finally it might be the homely dwarf who one encounters in remote areas who is telling the truth among other things.

The most important thing that we need to teach children is the method to find out for themselves.

If we do this neither the heartland institute’s nor Al Gore’s propaganda pieces about utopia will hurt.

So, the parable of the “Nuernberger Trichter” describes it nicely.
Best regards
Günter Heß

Rob Dekker said...

ReinerS said To cut this short: in my humble opinion, education should be focused on finding an age-adapted mix of teaching basic facts and methods.

Thank you. That makes sense.
Now consider that industry-funded institutions like the Heartland are providing the "basic facts and methods" as part of the curriculum, then how are my kids going to know the "basic facts and methods" ?

Gunter has an answer to this conundrum :

The most important thing that we need to teach children is the method to find out for themselves.

Good. Now we are getting somewhere. However, how do you give teachers an incentive to teach a method so students to "find out for themselves" ?

Anonymous said...

@ Dekker


I must be funded by big oil – taking in account the 3 cent discount I’ve been offered at the filling station the other day ; -)

Just read what I'm writing and what you will find in the links cited - to get a more balanced view on the issue.

There is a PR-battle going on - beyond science - and as in every battle there are at least to parties involved. The Heartland Institute is undoubtably one of them. 
No news ... nobody ever thought the HI to be a scientific body. Its influence on science is trivial and its impact on the public opinion should not be exaggerated.
 Compared with Al Gores influence on teaching climate issues at school it is almost negligible.

I'm not defending the HI for its political campains but trying to put the whole thing in the broader context of the PR-battle mentioned above.

 HI is a conservative think thank, while there are liberal and left wing think thanks on the other side. So what?

If you ask for "non-libertarian tax-exempt organisations that operate with similar political agenda's"

Here are some (just to name a fiew ...) ...

V. Lenzer

Werner Krauss said...

@ Andreas #22

This is not an answer to your question, I guess, but maybe it comes close (I guess):

I found an interesting comment on Heartland, from those who are on "the good side" of the debate.

In my understanding, this is exemplary how the "evil" of the others is used to purify one's own position; meaning, to eliminate each form of self-criticism, self-reflection, and to make forget all discussion inside the own group. Like a miracle, Heartland-Gate turns the good ones into "shepherd tending his flock, threatened by vandals"; into a guardian protecting the nation from mass immigration; into geeky, but self-less scientists "who grew up with a sense of wonder" and now "have to acknowledge that their worst facts were, in fact, coming true" and so on and on...

This is the purifying effect which automatically comes into being when pointing with the finger on others' special interests. Pointing out the special interests is a good thing, no doubt - but it does not automatically turn the one who points into a "good shepherd" - that's too much, at least for my taste.

Instead, one indeed has to reclaim skepticism from those skeptics like Heartland who hijacked the term and never gave it back.

Günter Heß said...

@Rob Dekker#32

you ask.

„However, how do you give teachers an incentive to teach a method so students to "find out for themselves" ?“

It is the right thing to do. Teacher and Professors as any other human being like to do the right thing. And of course it ist he scientific method. You can not teach the scientific method without teaching students how to find out for themselves.

And Life offers a lot of uncertainties. Good and bad teachers. On average the best we have. We have got to live with them. Teachers are as imperfect as you and me.

The heartland Institute is a political lobbyist as is the IPCC.

Günter Heß

Werner Krauss said...

@ Günter Heß #34

I almost agree, except that the IPCC is of course much more credible than Heartland. They are both special interest, I agree, but IPCC knowledge went through the best of procedures we have to guarantee the quality of scientific knowledge on this level. Heartland publications didn't pass peer review and didn't become institutionalized in the same way.
Of course, students should learn about skeptics' opinions, too. But IPCC is the main dish, including all doubts that you will bring up, why not. Yes.

For sure, IPCC (and the unavoidable Inconvenient Truth) will be replaced sooner or later by better knowledge, but right now, I suggest that's the best we have.
And, by the way, Al Gore's slide show as well as Fred Singer's show are less a case for science as for media- and cultural studies. Cultural critic is much more effective than deciding the conflict only along the lines of science. Those guys present ordinary mainstream Hollywood scripts, with a touch of Christianity vs. rationality, apocalypse, (fake) science and other ingredients that make up our Western culture. That's what students have to discuss, because that's the culture they grow up in.

And to learn the scientific method for the natural sciences, climate science offers enough knowledge both sides share, so no reason to censor or whatever.

Werner Krauss said...

add Günter Heß

By the way, thanks for the Hans Wurst and the Nuernberger Trichter story!

(It's amazing that our discussion of the skeptical climate-gate has this strong focus on school and students).

Günter Heß said...

@Werner Krauss

On the term lobbyist I agree with Peter Heller, it is a neutral term. Lobbyism belongs to our democracy. Of course the quality and honesty shows a distribution.
I would agree that the IPCC full report WG1 likely provides a better summary of our knowledge as the Heartland Institute could be envisioned to provide. The WG2 and 3 reports seem to me a travesty of science.
But I do not follow Lobbyists like Heartland, but what I read so far is not worthwhile. I do dislike such institutes and don't see them as scientific institutes at all.
However, I dislike also the IPCC’s summary for policy makers, which I would describe with dishonest, because it cherry-picks the full report. For my opinion it does not summarize knowledge. It rather is a politically biased document using scientific arguments.
But this is my opinion.

Best regards
Günter Heß

Anonymous said...

Yes, lot of talk about school, teachers and so on. Let's add some quotes from the Heartland fundraising document:

Dr. Wojick proposes to begin work on “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether
humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”), climate models (“models
are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is
controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global
food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions”).

Does anybody want his child taught, that the human influence on global warming is "controversial"?

But teachers are not so stupid as Heartwell has hoped for:
"Heartland has tried to make material available to
teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the
alarmist perspective."

@ Günter

Ich kann an Lobbyismus auch nichts verwerfliches finden, wenn dieser an Regeln gebunden ist, und da hat für mich Transparenz oberste Priorität. Dies ist hier aber anders, sowohl die Geldgeber agieren aus dem verborgenen heraus, auch die Empfänger sollen möglichst im Dunkeln bleiben. Wer z.B. die amerikanischen Vorwahlen der republ. Präsidentschaftskandidataen beobachtet, wird unschwer die Bedeutung von Geldmitteln feststellen können. Nee, Günter, ich halte solche Institutionen für schädlich für jede Demokratie.

Zum klimapolitischen Aspekt:
Selten sieht man so offen und unverblümt Beispiele für Politisierung der Wissenschaft. Mehr noch: Mit Millionen an willige Helfer wird für politische Zwecke eine eigene Pseudowissenschaft in Form NIPCC-Berichte initiiert. Und alles, was nun von dir kommt ist so ein lauwarmes aber die anderen tun's doch auch? Bei aller Freundschaft, das fand ich aber etwas dünn.


Anonymous said...

"Natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions". Hmm. Not false per sé, but very misleading. I can see why schools are not that interested in willfully misleading 'educational material'. If I were a high school teacher, I might take the material in to teach the students a lesson in critical thinking, starting with that claim to be investigated and the students having to describe why it is misleading, and what may make people disseminate misleading information.

Could be fun!


Werner Krauss said...

@ Andreas #38

Ihrer Einschätzung der Vorgehensweise von Heartland kann man kaum widersprechen, denke ich. Besonders beunruhigend finde ich, dass sie Judith Curry und, noch viel frecher, Andrew Revkin von der NYT für sich einzuspannen versuchen. (Ähnlich wie wir klimazwiebler auf der website zu "Die kalte Sonne" uns in der falschen Rubrik wiedergefunden hatten.)

Natürlich fragt man sich da auch, ob man selber dran schuld ist? Das ist genau das Gift, dass solche Organisationen streuen. Man sollte sich davon allerdings nicht abhalten lassen, zu sagen, was man denkt (und nicht, was taktisch richtig ist).

Günter Heß said...

Hallo Andreas,

Du schreibst:
„Nee, Günter, ich halte solche Institutionen für schädlich für jede Demokratie.“

Die amerikanische Demokratie lebt mit diesen Lobbygruppen seit Generationen.
Es ist Bestandteil der freiheitlichen Einstellung in den USA, dass sie ihre Meinung sagen können.
Die amerikanische Demokratie existiert seit über 250 Jahren. Sie existiert weil die Verfassung in der Lage ist die Balance zwischen den Gewalten sehr gut herzustellen und vermutlich, weil der Präsident spätestens nach 8 Jahren weg ist.
Dadurch werden die jeweiligen Verwaltungen vom Filz gereinigt.
Und mit den Füßen abgestimmt gehen immer noch eine Menge Auswanderer aus anderen Ländern dorthin.
Meiner Erfahrung nach wird von den deutschen Medien ein völliges Zerrbild der USA vermittelt. Deshalb machen wir uns auch in den Medien immer soviel Sorgen, um die amerikanische Demokratie. Deshalb sind die deutschen Medien regelmäßig von den demokratischen Präsidenten enttäuscht, weil sie so scheint es mir ihn vor der Wahl immer für einen Linken oder einen Sozialdemokraten oder sogar einen Grünen gehalten haben. Wir betrachten eben die USA mit unseren Kategorien und das wird falsch.

Warum die Deutschen diesen Bias haben können vielleicht Reiner Grundmann oder Werner Krauss besser beantworten oder vermuten. Jedenfalls scheint er mir da zu sein.
Das Heartland-Institut ist für die amerikanische Demokratie ein normaler Lobbyist und sie wird stabil damit umgehen. Keine Sorge.
Mich stört das Heartland-Institut deshalb nicht, da es ja offensichtlich kein wissenschaftliches Institut ist, sondern ein Lobbyist, wie eben andere NGOs inklusive das IPCC auch. Eine Demokratie muss damit leben, dass Lobbyisten versuchen Einfluss zu nehmen. Das begegnet man dadurch, dass man Bundeskanzler wählt die alt genug sind, um das zu erkennen und sich ihre eigene Meinung zu bilden.
Das ist von mir kein die Anderen tun es auch.
Ich halte das IPCC wie auch das Heartland-Institut nicht für gefährlich für unsere Demokratie. Beide halte ich für demokratisch nicht legitimierte Organisationen, die man besser nicht hätte. Sie werden meiner Meinung nach nicht gebraucht. Ich bin nur der Meinung, dass das IPCC verhindert, dass die dringlichen Probleme der Menschen in Afrika und anderen unterentwickelten Regionen für das Klimathema in den Hintergrund rücken und aufgeschoben werden. Das IPCC dient meines Erachtens mindestens als nützlicher Idiot für afrikanische Despoten ihre eigenen Fehlentwicklungen aus den Fokus zu schieben.Damit werden die Problem Afrikas wieder verschoben und die Menschen bekommen nicht die Chance sich selbst zu helfen.
Diese Probleme muss man im Jetzt konkret angehen.
Das halte ich für konkret gefährlich und ist eine Fehlentwicklung. Das Heartland – Institut wird aus politischen Gründen in die Medien gerückt. Es spielt wohl zur Zeit eine Art „Haltet den Dieb“ Rolle in den entsprechenden Foren.

Eine Frage. Wo ist denn die Grenze zur Pseudowissenschaft?
Vieles was ich zur Klimafolgenforschung lese empfinde ich als Pseudowissenschaft weil ich die naturwissenschaftliche Methode irgendwie rigoroser gelernt habe. Ist aber doch dann irgendwie nur meine Meinung und Einstellung zur Naturwissenschaft. Andere haben andere Einstellungen dazu. Auch der IPCC Full Report ist für mich deshalb mindestens durchsetzt mit Pseudowissenschaft, wenn ich WG1 bis WG3 anschaue. Nur weil Wissenschaftler etwas schreiben entsteht doch noch lange keine Wissenschaft. Das „Summary for Policy Makers“ ist ein rein politisches Papier.

Meine amerikanischen Freunde würden sagen, jeder hat das Recht seine eigenen Rosinen herauszupicken.

Die amerikanische Demokratie ist vom Heartland - Institut sicher nicht gefährdet, auch wenn es verdeckt vorgeht.


Günter Heß said...

@Werner Krauss #36

I enjoyed the High School Memories, so I am grateful.

You wrote:
„(It's amazing that our discussion of the skeptical climate-gate has this strong focus on school and students).“

Aren’t we all pupils or students of nature and society or if you wish Hans Wurst every day?

Es gibt eben skeptische und nicht-skeptische Klimatoren.

Best regards
Günter Heß

RainerS said...

@40 Dear Werner Krauss,

Which of the Heartland files are you referring to as far as the Revkin and Curry bit is concerned?

Werner Krauss said...

@ RainerS # 43

Rainer, this is from the link above on the original post by Hans von Storch. There, it says

"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 Rornm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who
has become popular with our supporters). AVe 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."

But maybe this is the one which is supposed to be fake?

Anonymous said...

Werner, yes, this is the fake document.
Heartland has said it is fake, and an article in the Atlantic by Megan McArdle has given a very convincing analysis showing that it is a fake.

The Heartland institute have requested that this forged document should be taken down. I think Klimazwiebel should remove it, or at the very least, add a comment to the blog entry saying that it is fake.


Anonymous said...

@ Paul

Can you prove that the strategy paper is a fake? Maybe we can agree that Klimazwiebel should add sth like Heartland claims document to be wrong

BTW: The facts in the strategy paper are all confirmed by the other documents, but the document in question adds some spin.


Leonard Weinstein said...

I cannot believe someone here said: "Does anybody want his child taught, that the human influence on global warming is "controversial"?" If you do not believe that the human influence is controversial, you have not been paying attention to the real world for the last decade or so. The current most likely trend in temperature for the next couple of decades is down! Also Andreas, proving a paper is a fake when the supposed source says it is, and independent reviewers say it is very likely, should be enough unless it can be shown to be valid. Saying it only added spin is more than enough for libel. The whole point of spin is to convey a false impression.

Leonard Weinstein

Anonymous said...


it's common sense that humans influence global warming. If you like to talk about uncertainties, we could talk a lot about the amount of this influence, but influence alone is a scientific fact. Sorry, there's nothing to discuss.

Yes, I agree, the strategy paper is likely faked, but I'm waitng for the proof. Why can't skeptics talk about uncertainties? Heartland could for example release the email they sent, if this paper isn't attached, ok. Why don't they do?

Saying it only added spin is more than enough for libel.
Leonard, did you read the other documents? I recommend the fundraising document, read about the projects. The strategy paper describes the same projects, but added some loaded phrases, which made the whole thing interesting for media. That's what I meant with "added spin".

The current most likely trend in temperature for the next couple of decades is down!
Your strongest argument is the exclamation mark. ;-)


Anonymous said...

A commenter at Kloor's blog found some remarkable words:

" In the end, arguing about whether it is fake or not is not entirely unlike arguing about whether climategate emails are the work of an whistle-blower or a crook. It’s all rather beside the point.
The details of any of the Heartland documents are far less important, IMO, than the larger-scale implications. The larger-scale implications are nothing new, but I do find it important that in watching the responses from “skeptics,” I have yet to see one, one single solitary, lonely little response where a [climate] “skeptic” expresses even one iota of concern that the documents show a systematic and explicit effort to politicize climate science, and even more, politicize the teaching of climate science to children.


RainerS said...

@44 Thank you, Werner,

yes, that was what I was aiming it.

No offence meant, but drawing on a document which is under dispute regarding its authenticity does not quite meet journalistic standards - not that major news outlets care, so Klimazwiebel appears to operate within today´s accepted limits. Whatever that´s worth. Anyhow, my trainee would receive a treat of dusting the office for sloppy work like this. And I´m working in B2B communications with a private company.

@46 Andreas
what is special, IMHO, about the part I was asking Werner about is the explicit mention of Revkin and Curry, which appears not to be included in the rest of the apparently original documents.

Now, in case one happens to have only a tiny bit of knowledge about how PR wars work: what alternative hypothesises could you think of for reasons to include this part in a potentially faked document? Write 1,000 words until Thursday and explain your reasoning to the class in your own words No copying from other sites ;-)
Hint: Imagine to be in your adversaries shoes.

@48 Andreas
you are right Heartland could be strengthening their case by releasing the phished email. That´s what I would prefer, too. However, as a private entity they don´t have to, and the burden of proofs lies with those making use of the disputed document.

RainerS said...

@49 Andreas,

excuse my language, but this is like accusing somebody of pissing in the sewer.

Climate science and its spin-off policies already are politized beyong recognition. Children and other people with a limited access to complex reasoning (like social sciences majors - trigger words for Werner ;-) - are and have been a key target for cAGW communications for quite a while. As the AAAS put it so neatly just recently: "Science is not enough" - you need a good story.

Taking a look at the specific Heartland activities: I am not familiar with the details of the US school system. But I figure I am not mistaken in assuming there is some kind of due process, involving govt. agencies, elected bodies, school boards and the like. Not to forget about public scrunity and the Climate Rapid Resonse Team ("no hockey sticks in here, we don´t want the Mercury of the energy saving lamps all over the place, Sir").

I would be quite content if science education took place in science classes. Except it isn´t.

DirkH said...

Hans von Storch, a warmist scientist, Peter Gleick, distributes documents, one of them a forgery, probably forged by himself.
YOUR SIDE, the institutionalized warmists, do they not partake in "larger, coordinated acitivity"?
I am flabbergasted by your post. I thought you were halfway sane - i.e. not nearly as crazy as the PIK guys. I was wrong.

Anonymous said...


"No one should feel any satisfaction in these events, which have been highly damaging to everyone touched by them, including both Heartland and Gleick"

(Steve McIntyre: )

V. Lenzer

Anonymous said...

Wow, das Drama erreicht den Höhepunkt, die Katharsis hat begonnen.

Jetzt fehlt nur noch ein reumütiger Auftritt des "Anonymous Donor".


Anonymous said...

@ Dirk

Peter Gleick, distributes documents, one of them a forgery, probably forged by himself.
We should give Gleick the same fairness as Heartwell. If his version is true, the strategy paper was written and sent to him by a Heartland whistleblower, who added the spin. Maybe the additions are malicious, maybe it's just Heartlanders talk inside.
And supposed his version to be true, it's just the opposite to "coordinated activities".

I am flabbergasted by your post. I thought you were halfway sane - i.e. not nearly as crazy as the PIK guys. I was wrong.
Speculations about mental sanity are not really helpful. But if you like to think about it, please include your own.


Hans von Storch said...

This thread will now be closed; if somebody finds some of the comments would constitute "falsche Tatsachenbehauptung", please let us know, and we will check is a deletion will be appropriate.

Please refer to the "addition" as of today in the comment in the beginning of this comment.

The discussion will continue in a new thread.