Beneath Contempt


The so-called “Heartland Institute” has not only decided to end their offensive billboard campaign, they now claim that it was just an “experiment” all along.

This provocative billboard was always intended to be an experiment. And after just 24 hours the results are in: It got people’s attention

Then they indulge in blaming the victim of their smear tactic.

In my opinion, their claim that it was always intended to be an experiment is a lie. In my opinion, their claims that global warming activists have sunk as low as they did, is a lie. In my opinion, they showed their true colors, which were so despicable even their own allies couldn’t stomach it.

In my opinion, the so-called “Heartland Institute” would have to elevate themselves by about a million light-years before they could even rise to the level of “beneath contempt.”

Original Post

The so-called “Heartland Institute” has a new billboard campaign. Here’s a sample:

Their campaign is beneath contempt.

Lots of people have commented on this, including:

Washington Post

The Hill


The American Prospect

Andrew Sullivan


Hot Topic

The Guardian


: Yet more …

Discover Magazine

Media Matters

Daily Kos


99 responses to “Beneath Contempt

  1. Are they want to win the prize for “How low can you go” contest ?
    Disgusting !!!

  2. Agreed: the campaign is sickening and illustrative of the irrationality of denialism.

  3. Yet more confirmation (as if any were needed) that AGW denial is based on neither reason nor evidence.

  4. Will we see Roger Pielke Sr write angrily about professional ethics again?
    His minion Watts even is one of the speakers at that conference. He’s awfully quiet on the matter…

  5. I found this comment @Guardian cheerful for me:
    Let’s guess the next Heartland poster session. Perhaps: Stalin thought the world was round, which proves that earth is flat?
    Or this one:
    Stalin thought the gravity is real. Do you still think gravity is real ?
    (My clue for those who do not trust Old Joe Stalin about gravity: Please, do us a favor and try your “theory” by jumping from the top of Empire State Building. But please, do it in time when not a lot of folks are walking below in case your “scientific” experiment fails).

  6. So where’s that Heartland donor list again?

  7. Beneath Contempt is the phrase I was looking for. Thanks!

  8. You know who else believed the earth was round?


  9. jasonpettitt

    My favourite comment from elsewhere:
    “This proves global warming. Without rapid sea level rise, how else can you jump shark in Chicago”

    Quite honestly, I thought it was a photoshop. I’ve no love for Heartland, but I never supposed they’d be quite so blatantly stupid in such big letters.

    And it’s not any old campaign either. It’s the PR for their International Conference on Climate Change – the swanky hotel do for phony skeptics.

    The list of people lining up to speak at this years Heatland Institute International If you still believe in Global Warming You are Just Like a Mass Murderer Conference reads like a who’s who of the nicest people you couldn’t wish to have their reputations sullied like this.

  10. Holly Stick

    I don’t think this is necessarily the best way to respond to that poster campaign, but the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik is a climate change denier, among his other rightwing beliefs:

    [Response: Please let’s not sink to the despicable level of the Heartland Institute.]

  11. John Mashey

    Heartland is (for now) a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity in USA.

    Click to access %281-15-2012%29%202012%20Fundraising%20Plan.pdf

    pp.22- lists folks who got tax-write-offs for funding Heartland.

    As a reminder on 501(c)(3): PDF p.8:

    (quoting , Rev. Proc. 86-43, 1986-2 C.B. 729 )

    “Educational Purpose” section:


    .03 The presence of any of the following factors in the presentations made by an organization is indicative that the method used by the organization to advocate its viewpoints or positions is not educational.

    1 The presentation of viewpoints or positions unsupported by facts is a significant portion of the organization’s communications.

    2 The facts that purport to support the viewpoints or positions are distorted.

    3 ==> The organization’s presentations make substantial use of inflammatory and disparaging terms and express conclusions more on the basis of strong emotional feelings than of objective evaluations. <==

    4 The approach used in the organization's presentations is not aimed at developing an understanding on the part of the intended audience or readership because it does not consider their background or training in the subject matter.'

    Of course, given Heartland's ~20-year tobacco connection, I suppose nothing is surprising.

  12. This is good news — for those who want action on climate change.

    There are many rational right-wing Americans following the Tea Party line on climate because they think it’s the route to power. This Heartland ‘own goal’ will help separate conservatives out into the rational and the nutcases. And the more extreme the nutcases’ denial becomes, the more they’ll lose the support of the great bulk of ‘don’t knows’ dithering in the middle. These ditherers will hopefully now take a look at what the Heartland and their fellow travellers are becoming so hysterical about and discover it’s rational and… well, science.

    I’m confident that, overall, this is a positive event — the Heartland and everyone who decides to still attend their forthcoming denial conference are revealing themselves for what they are: idiots.

  13. Watts covers this on his website. His comment, after first lammenting what Romm and others have done before:

    That said, I’ll be blunt; I think Heartland’s billboard campaign is a huge misstep, and does nothing but piss people off and divide the debate further. IMHO it isn’t going to win any converts, and had they asked me I would have told them that it is a bad idea that will backfire on them. [quotes the Heartland press release] Ugly, ugly.

    For all the wrong reasons.

    • …And @RogerPielkeJr just tweeted…

      “Heartland invited me to debate a skeptic at their mtg, I declined due to a conflict if I accepted, would have canceled after new ad campaign”

      Are these the first signs of the backlash that I’m very confident we’ll see (see my comment above)?

  14. Gavin's Pussycat

    The best comment on this so far was on the Esquire web site:

    If they want to point out the Unabomber is more sane than they are, I am not sure we should stop them.

  15. TrueSceptic

    Some complain that we in the UK are over-regulated but we have an Advertising Standards Authority. No one would even consider such a campaign here. Actually, they probably wouldn’t even if we didn’t have the ASA.

    Have they no shame whatsoever?

  16. Holly Stick

    A tweet reporting that Bast has said they will take the posters down:!/brianvastag

    • Holly Stick

      Yes, Washington Post is promising to have the story soon:!/brianvastag/status/198519498108706816

    • Sorry boys, scrub as hard as you want, that stain ain’t coming out. Looks like they went all in holding a weak hand, and now they want to take their chips back.

      If they haven’t done so already, look for the following right-wing tactics to appear soon:

      The Rovian trick of accusing your opposition of what you’re doing. “But a climate scientist said something bad in a private email once. It’s the same thing!”, and other false equivalencies.

      The non-apology apology: “I’m sorry you took offense by what was stated”. Followed by fellow right wingers claiming they’re the civil ones in all this because they apologized, and why hasn’t the entire AGW community apologized for what that climate scientist said in that email?

      Al Gore is fat and leaves the lights on in his house.

  17. What I think all of you may be missing because you are sane is that this really reflects that way these people think. They really do equate the reality-based community with murderers and madmen. The problem is that there really isn’t a vast middle out there whose hearts and minds we have to win. There’s a majority who care more about who wins American Idol than the Presidential race, let alone the debate over climate change. There is a small minority of the reality-based community. Then there are the tin-foil-hat toting nutjobs who actually listen to the likes of Heartland and the Discovery Institute. This is red meat to them–they’ll see it as “telling it like it is.”

    Now they’ll take the billboards down and what do you want to bet that Roger the Dodger suddenly finds time in his busy schedule to attend the conference and the great unwashed will simply say “Heartland? Yeah, I think I have one of their old CDs.”

  18. Alex the Seal

    I vaguely recall this whole debate being about science.

  19. Alex the Seal

    Oh…. They were only doing it to “prove” that they are the good guys.

    Now I get it. (???!)

    • TrueSceptic


      The content there is every bit as disgusting as the poster campaign itself.

  20. John Mashey

    Negative infinity + million light years still = negative infinity.

  21. Wow. Beneath contempt is certainly waaaay more charitable than I could be….

  22. I like this display of just how far from reality they have split and it damages their ‘brand’. In Australia Delingpole and Bolt are running around saying Wind farms create more environmental damage than Oil spills and I love it as it reveals to all and sundry just how nuts they are, far more effectively than any logical rebuttal, which essentially they are immune to any way. Anybody dumb enough to accept these claims is beyond help anyway.

  23. …and yet strangely, contempt is precisely what I feel for these folks…

  24. By doing this, this far-right extremists are showing a classical example of PROJECTION.

    In a nutshell, projection is an attack against the adversary in a discussion that is actually a twisted form of self-criticism.

    Think about this: pollution kills hundred thousands of people every year, mainly by respiratory and enteric illness.This is already enough to call someone that pollutes or oppose regulating pollution a mass killer. This killing becomes murder if he/she/they is/are aware of the consecuences of his/her/their acts, and persists in his/her/their deadly activity (there is even a phrase in latin for this cases:” errare humanum est, perseverare est diabolicum”)

    Now, it is obvious that several degrees of man-made Global Warming will not kill thousands, will not kill millions, it will kill BILLIONS of people!

    Not a single mass murderer (not even Hitler or Stalin), not a single global war, not a single pandemic infectious disease (like plague in the mid-1300 or avian influenza in 1918-1920)could be even close of being so deadly!

    The only thing that could rival the deadlyness of the coming man-made disaster is a kilometer-sized asteroid hitting the Earth, triggering a global firestorm that will cause a natural version of the “nuclear winter” scenario …

    An asteroid impact, if known with decades of advance, can be prevented by shifting gradually the asteroid path (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) What the polluters are doing (and their ideologues supporting) is just right taking an asteroid and putting it on a straight course of collision with the Earth to extract precious metals from it in the decades before the impact.

    This is beyond insane, but is the most accurate analogy in paleontological terms.

    Dear anti-science, anti-humanity, anti-life, anti-people polluters and deniers, if you want to talk about mass murder, please take a look in front of a MIRROR!

    • It’s true that projection is found very often in denialist screeds. Just a couple of weeks ago I was described by one as an arrogant, supercilious, out of touch geek who mostly argued ad hominem.

      Though I think I may have phrased it a little more elegantly than he. ;-)

  25. John Mashey

    Actually, the most likely human disaster over the next century is the billion deaths from cigarettes, see the fine recent book Golden Holocaust. (I wrote a review there,)

    But Bast did his best to help that along as well, defending Joe Camel. And of course, tobacco built the anti-science machinery inherited by climate anti-science, often via the same people and especially the same thinktanks.

    • TrueSceptic


      I’ve just got around to reading Monbiot’s ‘Heat’. He describes the formation of the anti-science stink tanks. You’ve done a lot of excellent work on joining the dots but have you read ‘Heat’?

  26. Is this Heartland’s presidential candidate?

  27. john byatt

    Our own Australian sceptic morons think that it’s justified

  28. You got this from The Onion, right?

  29. I don’t think that any form of outrage is appropriate, it [the advert] is contemptible but free speech allows them to be seen for what they are. I am not one for censorship unless it is a lie, but Heartland appear to be constantly confused and should be publicly corrected,- one of their guest speakers – Roger Helmer MP, is in fact a UKIP MEP, that is a fringe politician within a fringe [anti europe] party at the European Parliament.

    [Response: Outrage isn’t censorship. I never suggested they don’t have the right to promote their despicable message — but I have the right to opine that it is despicable.]

    • Outrage is appropriate as a personal response. Publicly performed, it becomes a rhetorical move that can force social action against the offense/offender. Heartland, of course, is not staffed by idiots. They know quite well what sort of fallacies they engage in, and they know quite well what sort of reactions to expect from various audiences. They pay attention to moral outrage like a big capitalist pays attention to worker complaints (how much will it cost?). I’ll wager they had their retraction statement written before they posted the billboard, and there was probably an office pool for how long it would take before the inevitable donor/sponsor calls started coming in. The billboards were effective, as Heartland implied in the retraction note: “The Heartland Institute knew this was a risk when deciding to test it, but decided it was a necessary price to make an emotional appeal to people who otherwise aren’t following the climate change debate.” In other words, this message was not directed at the well-educated and well-informed. This was to solidify any wobbling nutter convictions and, more importantly, to pique the interest of those who have comfortably come to accept the idea of AGW without having engaged the science or the blogosphere (bourgeois liberals and suburban moderate conservatives — the lion’s share of the middle class). Pique the interest and then inject doubt.

      Heartland knows that the misinformation network of which it is a part controls the internet debate. They control not because they’re right, but because they’re willing to repeat rhetorically-ramped-up standard talking points all over the place without engaging the science–in other words, knowing full well that they don’t have to stick around and engage in a more technical debate. In that sense, they are just like the non-expert, un-engaged people they refer to in their retraction. When these people begin to look online to see what the big deal is, to see if some new research has come out that tells us that AGW is not happening (“geez, I thought that debate was over”), they will encounter much more misinformation than science, and they won’t be able to sort through it. They’ll remain un-engaged, but the doubt will be a little more than it was. When no one is willing (or has the time, energy, means, and/or training) to identify the evidence or, indeed, analyze the evidence, the master of rhetoric wins.

      I seriously doubt that John Mashey’s excellent analysis of the legal problems with Heartland will ever be advanced successfully against Heartland by anyone. HI is too useful to too many people. The worst that will happen is that HI will do a two-year transition into a new name. Unless, of course, we begin a massive push to get into the public the idea that Big Oil and Big Corporate are avoiding their tax responsibility. The counter, of course, will be that we’re just trying to silence The Truth. It is very difficult to fight against people who are A) willing to sell their integrity to the highest bidder, B) supported by powerful elements of government, and C) supported by powerful economic entities. Mercenaries of the mind.

      Maybe I’m giving them (HI and its analogues) too much credit, but there does exist a debate where, based on the evidence, there shouldn’t even be the usual number of conspiracy nutjobs that attends any Big Idea.

      • Outrage is not censorship, I completely agree, in the UK the advertising standards agency is able to censor if the gist is to mislead, [lol] but the consensus appears to be either a bullet in the foot or foot in mouth. But, being on the side of enlightenment is not the easy course, never has been, the opposition will always use the simplistic and popular arguments as the truth requires effort to explain. Education is hard work, if Spinoza had chosen the easy route we would not be here. The choice is easier, we can avoid the pitfalls of outrage and truly dismiss the nonsense for what it is. How we go about it is another matter as you say in your post the dice is so loaded we need to make a stand, but how?

        It is not about who has been more affronted [!] who has been most outrageous, but ultimately the truth. The mercenaries of the mind have spread this story far beyond a distant highway [all for $199.99] and the level of organisation is disturbing. Something I find repugnant is the notion that climate scientists have committed a crime against humanity and that criminal charges or camps await them. These views are just wrong but the challenge is to combat misinformation, on this occasion only the really idiotic parrot the marketing, most see the error in such comparison. And sure, more marketing will follow yet free speech has to remain. At the moment I think the best strategy is to give them enough rope to hang themselves.

        whatever something needs to be done.

  30. Tamino:

    In my opinion, their claim that it was always intended to be an experiment is a lie.

    Well, we have as evidence their initial statement claiming that this billboard was to be the first in a series, along with their claiming that the most prominent promoters of AGW (their words) are murderers, terrorists etc.

    And then, we have Eli Rabbett, pointing out that the Unibomber-Al Gore equivalence has been touted by Heartland at least as far back as 2006

  31. Horatio Algeranon

    They may be beneath contempt, but certainly worthy of a ditty:

    “Heartland Hotel”
    — Horatio Algeranon offers his sincerest apologies to Elvis (wherever he might be) for mangling his classic

    Well, since my conscience left me
    I found a new place to dwell
    Well, it’s down at the end of Baloney Street
    At Heartland Hotel

    Where I sell ba-loney baby
    Well, I sell ba-loney
    Where I’ll sell ba-loney, til I die

    Oh, the truth is always clouded
    You’ll find a bank of fog
    You pseudo-skeptic bloggers
    To post up on your blog

    So fulla ba-loney baby
    Fulla ba-loney
    So fulla ba-loney, til you die.

    Now, Joe Bast’s tears keep flowin’
    And their lawyer’s on attack
    Well, they’ve been so long on Baloney Street
    Well they’ll never, they’ll never get back

    And they’re so
    Fulla ba-loney baby
    Fulla ba-loney
    So fulla ba-loney, they could die

    Well, if your charity status leaves you
    And you have a sad tale to tell
    Well just take a walk down Baloney Street
    To Heartland Hotel

    And you will be, fulla ba-loney baby
    Fulla ba-loney, baby
    So fulla ba-loney you could die.

    Oh, the truth is always clouded
    You’ll find a bank of fog
    You pseudo-skeptic bloggers
    To post up on your blog

    So fulla ba-loney baby
    Fulla ba-loney
    So fulla ba-loney, til they die.

  32. Horatio, that was your best! I _literally_ laughed out loud! Please make that a Youtube video!

  33. Heystoopid

    A complete travesty if there ever was one!

    Sadly, this evil billboard, brought back memories of another era, in 2010 when former college trustee Joe Bast, ran a back door ideological takeover of Shimer College.
    link 1 Article:

    link 2 College Alumni blog:

    link 3 College sacks President Thomas Lindsay:

    The words outrage, travesty and beneath contempt, are far to mild to describe this very ugly campaign run by Joe Bast.

  34. Susan Anderson

    I was struck by the usual suspects defending the indefensible. Their true colors are so obvious, it is sad people seem unable to see it.

    Chris Hayes did an interesting interview with Mooney and Haidt on “Up” at MSNBC:

    Particularly enjoyed Hayes uncompromising statement that he would have no truck with deniers on his show (minute 16) and explains why. Nice bits throughout, for example:
    “motivated ignorance”

  35. There is a missing “ard” it seems.

  36. You know, I think that there’s more strategic thinking involved than in this ‘unabomber gambit’ than we’ve discussed. That is, I suspect that there is a defensive purpose for Heartland: the Breivik trial has put a denialist mass murderer front and center; Mike Mann’s book is out, detailing the harassment and threats to which he has been subjected; the Monnett affair rather rebounded against the victimizers, I think; and a drumbeat of nasty incidents like the Limbaugh ‘climate scientists should be drawn and quartered’ comment, or the presentation of the noose to Dr. Schellnhuber has painted an unflattering picture of denialism.

    I’ve been forthright in naming this tendency in denialism as the true ‘green fascism’ active today:

    Yeah, I know–Godwin’s. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… (Though I suppose ‘anti-green fascism’ would be more accurate.)

    It seems quite possible to me that someone has spotted a trend toward a negative image of denialism, extrapolated that this could hurt down the line, and decided that the best way to counter this is to fling some feces–that is, to invert the truth, as they have done so consistently in other respects. “Warmists–the real mass murderers…”

    Of course, it is also the mother of all ad hominems, but that won’t stop anyone. Contemptible all round–oh, right! You already said that.

    • Kevin,
      There is a saying in military matters: “The generals always prepare to fight the last war.” In so doing, they may ignore other historical precedents that might be more helpful. What we are facing is an anti-science, anti-intellectual assault. The bad actors have alligned themselves with fossil fuel interests, but only because that’s who will pay them to put out their anti-science message. Heartland’s message is only nominally “capitalist”. They really resemble the anti-intellectual jocks in high school trying to shut the geeks inside their lockers. This isn’t “Revenge of the C students” but really more like “Revenge of the D and F students,” and in America, there are a lot of D and F students when it comes to science.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Yeah, and the denialists have such thin skins: they are happy to name the call by some (Hansen) to bring climate criminals to trial, ‘persecution’. What objection could reasonable people have to bringing criminals before a court of law, and if found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, convicting them? The evidence for these folks intentionally delaying steps that would help prevent a loss of human life that could well match or exceed the Holocaust, is as convincing as anything criminal courts routinely sentence on these days.

      And then, taking ‘denialist’ as an insult, when it is the proper term that even Sigmund Freud (father of the ‘denial’ term) would have accepted as valid semantics. A more proper term would be ‘liar’, but it has legal issues. Denialists should be grateful for being described in more merciful terms glossing over the intentional dishonesty they are in fact guilty of.

    • Not sure I follow your main point, Ray–though I agree with all the component parts. Who are the ‘generals’ in this particular case?

      Anyway, adopting that image (though possibly not as you were applying it), I’m saying that I think this is another offensive move (pun definitely intentional!)–a strategic attempt to make sure that denialism is not ‘branded’ by association with acts that anyone–OK, *almost* anyone–can recognize as illegal, distasteful and unethical–acts like attempting to destroy people’s livelihoods and reputations, or even worse, to attack their children (as has been repeatedly threatened against a number of climate scientists, including Drs. Mann and Jones, as well as lower-profile ‘warmists.’)

  37. In war thy call it blue on blue or in the UK ‘own goal’ =there are some outraged sceptics

  38. Phil Scadden

    Dr Inferno is baaack! Enjoy his take on this at

  39. Horatio Algeranon

    “Some-ad Like Manson”

    I heard that you took them down
    That Alarmists complained, and they’re outraged now
    I heard that your “test” came true
    Guess Pfizer gives you dollars Chuck doesn’t give to you

    Old friend, why are you so shy?
    Ain’t like you to hold back or run from the fight

    I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
    But I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it
    I had hoped you’d see my blog and that you’d be reminded
    That for me, it isn’t over

    Never mind, I’ll find some-ad like Fidel
    I wish nothing but the Bast for you, as well
    Don’t forget Ted, I beg, I remember you said
    Sometimes it works with ads, but sometimes it hurts instead
    Sometimes it works with ads, but sometimes it hurts instead

    You know how the time flies
    Only yesterday was the denial of our lives
    We were born and raised in a skeptic haze
    Bound by the lies of our glory days

    I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited
    But I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it
    I had hoped you’d see my blog and that you’d be reminded
    That for me, it isn’t over

    Never mind, I’ll find some-ad like Osama
    I wish nothing but the Bast for you, (and your momma)
    Don’t forget Ted, I beg, I remember you said
    Sometimes it works with ads, but sometimes it hurts instead
    Sometimes it works with ads, but sometimes it hurts instead

    • Horatio Algeranon

      Nothing compares, no petition affairs
      Giant billboards, they’re memories made
      Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

      Never mind, I’ll find some-ad like Osama
      I wish nothing but the Bast for you, (and your momma)
      Don’t forget Ted, I beg, I remember you said
      Sometimes it works with ads, but sometimes it hurts instead
      Sometimes it wroks with ads, but sometimes it hurts instead

    • Susan Anderson

      OK, once again I can’t figure out the tune, silly me.

      good stuff as usual.

  40. Horatio Algeranon

    Horatio neglected the credit: Adele “Someone like You”

    Apologies all around

  41. I disagree with many of you on many things but this campaign is indefensible. They should be taken to task by all rational people – and irrational ones as well! If you have a point to make, then make it logically. Not everyone will follow the logic and arrive at the same conclusion but at least it gives a basis for discussion. This campaign does nothing but foment hate and anger. Unbelievably stupid.

    • Veritas: “If you have a point to make, then make it logically.”

      Uh, Dude, this is Heartland we’re talking about here.

      • And your point is?

      • It is just that the words “Heartland Institute” and “logically” are rarely associated in the same sentence without some sort of negation intervening.

      • I think the point snarkrates was trying to make was that Heartland haven’t made a point that was backed up by solid evidence (and/or logic) since their inception in 1984.

      • I think the point that snarkrates was trying to make is that Heartland haven’t made a point that was backed up by solid evidence (and/or logic) since their inception in 1984. It’s not the way libertarian think tanks roll.

      • I’ve only recently heard of the organization and can’t debate the merits (or lack thereof) of their viewpoints. I wouldn’t dismiss them because they are libertarian but their track record may speak for itself. The billboard campaign certainly speaks volumes. Sadly both sides of the AGW argument have lowered themselves to use these kinds of analogies, which brings nothing positive to the debate.

        [Response: I’m not aware of anybody sinking as low as the so-called “Heartland Institute.” Don’t bother suggesting examples — that’s nothing more than a cowardly way to make excuses for their execrable behavior, and this thread will not give voice to apologists for them.]

      • I am not a defender of libertarian philosophy (protecting liberty whilst protecting an economic system that systematically creates anti-democratic conditions seems like a bit of a paradox), but I should point out that Heartland is not a libertarian think tank, no matter how they dress themselves. What they do is shape public opinion by telling the public what it should believe, and what the public should believe, for Heartland, is whatever is in the interests of Heartland’s current clients. If Louis Althusser were alive today, he would call Heartland an Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) of globalizing capitalism. Heartland serves as a mechanism that explicitly attempts to reproduce the conditions necessary for the continued dominance of the current mode. Heartland is not attempting to change the world to a form more amenable to the libertarian dream of actual laissez-faire capitalism (which would not include corporatism). There is no control over these organizations. When dissolved to avoid public uproar, the organization’s elements re-form elsewhere and continue to do the same work. Joe Bast, for example, tried to get himself an actual existing 20th century ISA, a semi-reputable college (Shimer). He failed, and now he’s stuck with Heartland (or whatever it becomes next).

      • [edit — what part of “Don’t bother suggesting examples” was unclear?] I daresay my original comment showed I am not afraid to call out any group who resorts to such behavior. I am not looking to excuse anyone and find your cowardice comment confusing.

        [Response: I don’t think your statements betray any sort of cowardice on your part. But it is a general principle, that when people try to excuse despicable behavior by changing the subject (as in, “Somebody else did it too!”), it’s a cowardly attempt to divert attention from the real issue. Look over there!]

      • Susan Anderson


        That is an amazing synopsis. May I borrow it?

      • Susan Anderson

        This “both sides” argument is just a tactic. Simply not true. It’s a matter of proportion. Just like in our polity, one side is absolute in rejecting reality if it disagrees with their agenda, while the other is all too ready to accept criticism. And I’m not defending 1010, just saying it’s overused, invalid, and beside the point if you look at the bigger picture.

        Suppose climate scientists (as is likely) are right, how can you do this to your descendants (and if you are young, yourself)? Have you no shame?

      • Aye, Susan, for five dollars — and only for an hour. If the militia men catch you with it, you don’t know where you found it. j/k of course – it is now part of the public domain, unless Tamino has a problem with that, because, you know, he’s greedy — it’s that whole lucrative being a shill for the CAGW industry that has him commodifying everything in sight. All the comments on this website are now copyrighted to GF according to the statement contained in the dot (actually a micro-text dot) of the “i” in the word “this” in the support-the-site statement. Denialisty-type people, I am totally joking. I strongly suspect someone will take what I’ve just said and spread it around the internet.

      • Veritas,
        The actions by Heartland are reprehensible. The remain reprehensible regardless of what anyone else anywhere associated with any controversy may have done.

        Citing misbehavior by others cannot justify or mitigate them. Misbehavior by others does not absolve us of the responsibility to behave well.

      • Susan Anderson


        snigger, snuckle, chort – thanks. I do love it when people say things clearly and well and the megaphone might as well broadcast the truth instead of the other stuff.

      • [Response: I don’t think your statements betray any sort of cowardice on your part. But it is a general principle, that when people try to excuse despicable behavior by changing the subject (as in, “Somebody else did it too!”), it’s a cowardly attempt to divert attention from the real issue. Look over there!]

        Point taken. I did not intend to divert attention but clearly see how it can be taken that way. I appreciate your reasoned response.

        @Susan Anderson – My point is that ALL groups who engage in such behavior should be called out, not just those on the “opposing side”. If you are comfortable that you’ve applied the same ethical and moral standards equally, and expressed the same outrage, that’s all I can ask.

      • Response to ‘Veritas’.

        The only example I can think of where ‘my side’ made an error of judgement of a similar magnitude to this was the infamous 10:10 Commercial, ‘No Pressure’ which, as a professional film-maker, I thought from the first moment I saw it, was appallingly bad taste.

        [Response: In my opinion, it wasn’t just in bad taste, it was reprehensible.]

        However, just read how 10:10 subsequently responded to the public outcry: . Bit of difference from the way Heartland handled this fiasco, isn’t there?

        [Response: Quite. But this post is not about that. When we shift the focus to others’ transgressions, it only diverts attention from the topic of this post — the so-called “Heartland Institute.”]

  42. dikranmarsupial

    It was only an experiment? well that’s alright then – NOT! Since when did something being an experiment make it O.K. to be offensive?

    On the bright side, having gained the attention of the public, the mesage that they conveyed was probably not the one they intended! ;o)

  43. Why, that Heartland is much more given to spin, distortion, cherry-picking and similar sins than to logical argument.

    For just one recent example, see the blog post on their site in which one of their ‘experts’ accuses the NY Times of ‘misrepresentation’ of the consensus on the climate change problem–but himself misrepresents (either willfully or out of incompetence) the state of research, by ignoring well-known papers on that topic.

  44. Susan Anderson

    Veritas (am putting this in new comment because it reaches beyond your comment, IMO) – If I were assured that, for example, you had followed the CRU hack honestly through all the twists and turns of its exploitation to distract from the most critical situation facing the world today, I would be honored to make your acquaintance. The problem with Heartland is they revel in false arguments and provide fodder for a phony “fight” that prevents real business being transacted. They are very professional about this, but that’s form rather than content.

    However, you appear to me not to have done so and if you wish to remedy that, you could read right through at least some of this with comments, which represents a lot of sleepless nights and admirable if extreme patience:
    This one includes an interesting sidelight “Where’s the Data

    I’ll skip the two years later one; this is plenty of fodder for anyone wanting to truly investigate what happened instead of pushing their agenda.

    Unfortunately, people promoting doubt and delay and making false assertions about lack of transparency, along with taking statements out of context, if not outright distorting them (this has been done to me personally many times though I’m not important enough for threats, mostly) appear to prefer playing in an uneven playing field with a lot of false equivalence.

    Meanwhile, in the world of evidence, things are getting worse and on the whole the high-end “alarmist” position is beginning to appear moderate.

    Must desist now …

    [Response: This post is not about Veritas’ perspective on the stolen emails from CRU. That kind of side issue just dilutes the message about the real topic, which is: the behavior of the so-called “Heartland Institute.”]

    • Susan,

      We will have to take our debate elsewhere but I appreciate you providing the links you did. As the moderator/host has indicated, this thread is about Heartland and their completely insane behavior. There is no justifiable excuse for it.

      Perhaps our paths will cross someday and we can discuss the issues and our different viewpoints in person.

      Best — Mike Lewis

  45. Bernard J.

    There’s been a bit of talk about how “the warmists did it too”, but in doing so this establishes somewhat of a false equivalence.

    Heartland, WWWT, and all the other major denialist agents set themselves up on one side* as the major defenders of truth against the International Conspiracy of Fraudulent Consensus Climate Scientists on the other. Therefore, if a comparison is to be made, it should be with the professional body of physicists and climatologists, and not with their lay advocates.

    Curiously, those pesky professional scientists have been rather civilised about the whole thing, even when they are occasionally empassioned. There’s certainly been no propaganda campaign as there has been from the pseudosceptic camp.

    [It’s simply not possible to refer to as a significant opposing body the Moncktons, the Lindzens, the Spencers, the G&Ts, et al of the world. Each of these has been soundly refuted, and they aren’t the real players in the matter – they’re just the (discredited) excuse to oppose what the deniers don’t what to acknowledge.]

  46. John Mashey

    Veritas is a good reminder of why all blogging software should support a 1-click “send to {Borehole, Rabett Hole, Stoat Burrow}” function, which would greatly improve the S/N ration of discussions, especially relevant here, given the great discussions of of extracting signal from noise.

    Now.,back to noise, i.e., Heartland.

  47. Susan Anderson

    My apologies, Tamino.

    I guess I don’t make much distinction any more between all the tentacles, but returning to Heartland and the obvious retort, and the tentacles everywhere, it comes down to holding a community responsible for the actions of an individual. In this case, the community’s situation (being the world’s entire population and the world’s best expertise) is so serious that the playing of variations on a theme of what about …, what about …, ad nauseam, most powerfully exemplified by an institution that appears to be without conscience in how it pushes its agenda, and uncaring about regarding the substantive significance of what it is trying to bury, is criminal in my book, though probably not in the legal sense. I would love to see an honest pursuit of their nonprofit status at the very least.

    Creating a pretense of misdeeds by parts of the community to destroy the whole seems to work very well in a situation where delay is success. Not so much the other way, where there appears to be a united front of denial, pretending to be skepticism (which it is not – but it is sad that one has to say so).

  48. Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against U.S. clean energy strategy, plan ‘subversion’ and ‘dummy businesses’

    A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama’s energy agenda.

  49. Climate Change Believers Split from Heartland Institute

    “There is one thing that will certainly change from ending our association with Heartland: R Street will not promote climate change skepticism.”

  50. “I left My Heartland in Ad Fiasco”
    Horatio’s parody of “I left my Heart in San Francisco” (the lovely song by Tony Bennett)

    The memory of Gleickgate
    Seems somehow sadly gay
    The glory that was Climategate
    Is of another day
    I’ve been terribly alone
    And forgotten in DC
    I have a feeling, I’m going to have to pay

    I left my Heartland in Ad Fiasco
    High on a billboard, Ted calls to me.
    To be where Fargo armored trucks
    Deliver piles of bucks!
    The funders’ flight may chill the air
    I don’t care!
    My love waits there in Ad Fiasco
    Above the dark and stormy sea
    When I come home to you, Ad Fiasco,
    Your golden sun will shine for me!

    Listen to Horatio sing it here (or not)