Someone has leaked a treasure trove of insider documents from the Heartland Institute, which until now has been a major source of climate change obfuscation in the U.S. There’s plenty of illuminating information to chew on, including detailed budgets and an IRS 990 form. Shades of “climategate” reversed?

Much is being made of one line from a strategy document, a line that could easily be the result of sloppy editing, or at perhaps a Freudian slip. Or maybe not. Here’s the entire paragraph, with the offending phrase in bold:

Development of our “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” project.

Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. 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.

It is possible, in my opinion, that the author meant to write “dissuading teachers from teaching climate science” or something similar. That would make sense from the point of view of those of us who believe our students should actually know something about science.

On the other hand, the context is critical here and it could very well be that the phrase means exactly what it says. Again:

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.

This could mean that the author recognizes that teachers, especially of younger students, are wary of teaching any scientific subject that comes with political baggage. The obvious examples are evolution and climatology. So the plan is for the Heartland curriculum to draw attention to the controversial nature of climate science in hopes that teachers would then give it a miss, not to actually dissuade teachers from teaching science in general.

This is still a disingenuous, dishonest and an entirely despicable thing to do. But I, for one, do not want to be accused of taking anything out of context. That’s more the Heartland Institute’s style.

UPDATE: Heartland claims that “at least” one of the leaked documents is false. But considering that there is nothing in any of the documents that is inconsistent with what we already knew about the Institute, it seems reasonable to remain skeptical about the denial. After all, denying is what the Heartland folks do best.

Comments

  1. #1 Wow
    February 15, 2012

    “wary of teaching any scientific subject that comes with political baggage. The obvious examples are evolution and climatology.”

    And biology, chemistry, medicine.

    In fact, the only physics allowed would be quantum physics and elementary particle physics. As long as they’re sufficiently obscure and complex that nobody could understand them unless already “corrupt”, hence of no danger to those who prefer their own reality.

    PS you’re putting a context IN, not taking it out of context.

  2. #2 Jim White
    February 15, 2012

    I’m a planet lover still and now a former climate change believer because we can say Climate Change is real all we want but as long as the millions of people involved with the global scientific community are not marching to save their kids too, the exaggeration of crisis is painfully obvious. If the obvious exaggeration makes you smile, you are a real planet lover who is happy, not disappointed a crisis was not real.

  3. #3 Luzy Ming
    February 15, 2012

    Climate change scientists have done to science what pesticide scientists did for respecting the world of science.

  4. #4 Wow
    February 15, 2012

    What would that be, Luzy? “Do science”?

    “as long as the millions of people involved with the global scientific community are not marching to save their kids too”

    So you’re lazy because you want them to do more first.

    Obviously, you’d prefer your children to die rather than “back down” from a cosmic game of chicken.

  5. #5 Dunc
    February 16, 2012

    as long as the millions of people involved with the global scientific community are not marching to save their kids

    Quite a lot of them are, actually… Of course, this usually results in the denialists dismissing their scientific work on the grounds that they’re political activists. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Here’s a crazy idea – how about we look at the actual science?

  6. #6 Wow
    February 16, 2012

    You’ll also see the ones living the frugal low-carbon lifestyle discarded as “barking mad hippies who want us all to eat tofu and use healing crystals!” and the right and wealthy told off for “not practicing what you preach”.

  7. #7 thomas mc
    February 16, 2012

    The Conservative War on Reality is nothing new, that’s been their M.O. for decades.

  8. #8 Dave Burton
    February 16, 2012

    There’re a lot of suspicious things about the allegedly fake document (the one that all the shocking quotes come from):

    1. It uses the term “anti-climate” to refer to Heartland’s position — which neither Heartland nor any other climate skeptic outfit ever uses.

    2. It is written in the 1st person, with no indication of who wrote it.

    3. It is time-stamped with a Pacific Standard Time timestamp, even though Heartland is in Chicago, and none of its directors are in the Pacific Time Zone, nor even in a State adjacent to the Pacific Time Zone.

    My guess is that it is a fake, and a clumsy one, at that.

  9. #9 Wow
    February 16, 2012

    Hmm, lots of overuse of weaslese, there, Dave.

    1. It uses the term “anti-climate” to refer to Heartland’s position — which neither Heartland nor any other climate skeptic outfit ever uses.

    Except in internal documents…

    2. It is written in the 1st person, with no indication of who wrote it.

    Which is very normal. Heck, they have an Anonymous Donor. Who doesn’t let any indication of who it is be mentioned.

    3. It is time-stamped with a Pacific Standard Time timestamp

    Oooh, that’s so “gotcha” that. What about the timestamp of the hacked CRU emails? Apparently the timestamp on that was irrelevant…

    My guess is that since several of the people who have been shown to be paid by these documents have agreed they’ve been paid (and similarly donations from Microsoft has been admitted to), and that the SEC documents released publicly ALSO agree, and that the person who was said to have been paid to write a K12 curricula to discourage teaching science has stated that, yes, they’ve done this, my guess is that you’re full of it.

  10. #10 dean
    February 16, 2012

    Dave is also a busy man: the same thing he’s posted here is at Greg Laden’s blog (he has two posts about this: Dave’s comment is on each one).

  11. #12 MikeB
    February 17, 2012

    Dean – Dave seems to be multitasking, since he’s made exactly the same post at Stoat, as well as the Guardian, the BBC, Deep Climate, et al.

    Someone commenting at the Guardian pointed out – ‘You seem remarkably familiar with the language, location and inner workings of all Heartland employees, office work and communications and to some degree this extends to all other skeptical outfits too. How would that be? Sounds like you may even work for them yourself.’

    I think we are going to have to get used to this, because, as Ryan puts it, they really are squirming.

  12. #13 dean
    February 17, 2012

    I noticed the same pattern MikeB. It’s almost as though a
    type of bat-loon signal went out, and folks like Burton hauled
    out a pre-written script.

  13. #14 MikeB
    February 17, 2012

    Dean – what kind of signal would it have been? Low dog whistle (although thats more a Gringrich special) or like the bat signal, but with a ‘W’ instead. It could stand for ‘Watts’, or could be cockney slang for a banker…

    I notice that Watts Up currently has a headline article quoting Andrew Bolt, who has apparently decided to call the whole thing ‘Fakegate’ (originality not being his strong point).
    They are also into full spin mode – Watts writes about the Guardian story, and says ‘The most incriminating document was a fake.’ Not only is it unclear that the document in question is a fake, but of course it confirms that the rest of the documents are real. They are trying their best, bless them.

  14. #15 dean
    February 17, 2012

    Not sure what type of signal it would have been – something sent through the atmosphere?:-D

  15. #16 Phoenix Woman
    February 17, 2012

    If the docs are fakes, why doesn’t Heartland provide the evidence needed to show they are fakes?

    Occam’s Razor suggests that this is because no such evidence exists.

  16. #17 William Wallace
    February 23, 2012

    If the docs are fakes, why doesn’t Heartland provide the evidence needed to show they are fakes?

    Occam’s Razor suggests that this is because no such evidence exists.

    That’s one of the stupidest f***ing things I’ve read on scienceblogs in a long time.