National Review’s new motion to dismiss Mann’s defamation lawsuit contains false claims

On July 19, DC Court Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene rejected multiple motions to dismiss climate scientist Michael Mann’s defamation lawsuit against the National Review (NR), the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), NR writer Mark Steyn, and CEI writer Rand Simberg. On July 24, NR and Steyn submitted a motion asking to reconsider her refusal to dismiss based on what NR and Steyn claim are “material mistakes of fact.” S&R has been investigating the accuracy of three of the claims made in the NR/Steyn motion to reconsider: that Judge Combs Greene had erroneously conflated actions of NR/Steyn with those of CEI/Simberg, that NR/Steyn had not been critical of Mann’s research over a period of years, and that these two claimed mistakes mean that NR/Steyn might not have been aware that they were making false claims against Mann. After reviewing the public record, S&R has found that while the first claim is likely false, the other two claims are clearly false.

National Review has called for investigations into alleged misconduct by Mann

According to the the NR/Steyn motion for reconsideration, Judge Combs Greene supposedly misattributed requests by CEI/Simberg to investigate Mann’s research conduct to NR/Steyn.

the Order conflates the conduct of co-defendant [CEI] with that of National Review and Steyn, who never petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate or otherwise pressured the agency concerning [Mann’s] research. (emphasis original)

The very specific language of the prior quote leaves open the possibility that either NR or Steyn could have called for investigations in general or other specific investigations such as those conducted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the National Science Foundation (NSF), or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) while still being factually true. Only the EPA investigation is excluded by this language, and as such it comes close to qualifying as an “equivocation” logical fallacy. As such, S&R’s investigation searched for examples of public investigation requests for both general and specific investigations by NR writers or Steyn himself. S&R was unable to find any examples calling for specific investigations, lending some support to this NR/Steyn claim.

However, while S&R did not discover any examples, Mann’s legal team did find several of varying strength, as seen in Mann’s response to the NR/Steyn motion to reconsider. The strongest example is in an NR article written by Candace de Russy titled “Your Stimulus Dollars Lavished on Climate-Alarmist Prof.” where de Russy writes about the Penn State investigation into Mann’s conduct. At the end of the article, de Russy writes:

In these crushing economic times, is it too much to ask that university authorities, our political leaders, and the press jump on this case with a bit more rigor?

While this is not a call for a specific body to investigate Mann’s research, it is a call for thorough investigations by “university authorities, our political leaders, and the press.” As such, it demonstrates that, while the specific claim vis a vis the EPA investigation may be true, NR/Steyn did, in fact, call for investigations of Michael Mann’s conduct.

National Review and Mark Steyn have accused Mann of misconduct since 2009

The NR/Steyn motion for reconsideration also claims that Judge Combs Greene confused NR/Steyn with CEI/Simberg again when she took into account “all of the statements and accusations over the years” against Mann. NR/Steyn are essentially claiming that both CEI and Simberg have a history of attacking Mann, but that neither NR nor Steyn has a similar history. S&R’s investigation turned up 10 different NR articles and three Steyn articles going back to 2009 that disprove this claim. Note that most, if not all, of the allegations against Mann in the examples below have been investigated repeatedly and found to be without merit.

Examples of National Review criticisms of Mann

  • Global Warming: Science or Religion by Sterling Burnett on July 21, 2009. This post makes a number of indirect criticisms of Mann, who is the only named scientist in the article, and implies that he and other climate scientists are “fanatics” who, by supposedly making unprovable claims, engage in “sly but abjectly dishonest” activities.
  • Mann-made Warming Confirmed by Chris Horner on September 28, 2009. This post contains a brief history of Mann’s supposed errors and alleged cherry-picking to produce the MBH99 “hockey-stick.” “The conclusion is inescapable. The tree ring data was hand-picked to get the desired result. (emphasis added)”
  • Climategate: Where Are We? by Iain Murray on November 30, 2009. Mann is explicitly mentioned as a “trickster” (a reference to a Climategate email that Penn State looked at specifically during their investigation) and is thus included in Murray’s “perpetrators.”

    “There have been attempts to muddy the waters with assertions that data were publicly available all along (ha!) and the insinuation that anyone using “stolen” emails is somehow more immoral than the perpetrators of the three frauds outlined above. (emphasis added)”

  • Peer Pressure by the NR Editors on December 1, 2009.

    Phil Jones of CRU, Michael Mann of Penn State University, and other leaders of the climate cartel discussed statistical tricks they used to “hide the decline” of atmospheric temperatures. Other data were fudged to cover up warm periods that didn’t fit their theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). (emphasis added)

  • Groupthink and the Global-Warming Industry by Jonah Goldberg on December 3, 2009.

    CRU scientists discuss with friendly outside colleagues, including Penn State University’s Michael Mann, how to manipulate the data they want to show the world, and how to hide the often-flawed data they don’t. (emphasis added)

  • Climategate: You should be steamed by Greg Pollowitz on January 4, 2010. “If only scientists had taken Dale Carnegie courses, the fraud and sloppy science of Climategate would never have happened. (emphasis added)”
  • Liberals and the Scientific Method by Mona Charen on February 12, 2010. The reference to Penn State in the following quote implies Mann’s involvement.

    The Climategate e-mails from Penn State and East Anglia University were not trivial revelations. They involved deception, intimidation, and manipulation of records by two of the leading research institutions whose data form the backbone of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (emphasis added)

  • Liberty, Tyranny, and the Globe by Mark Levin on April 22, 2010. “The true believers used to cite Mann’s hockey-stick curve as conclusive evidence of man-made global warming. The graph has been demonstrated a fraud… (emphasis added)”
  • Global Warming — RIP? by Victor Davis Hanson on October 27, 2011. While Mann is not mentioned specifically, he was at the time and remains one of the world’s top climate scientists and is one of the, if not the, most investigated climate scientist as a result of Climategate. Thus this passage refers to Mann indirectly.

    Corruption within the climate-change industry explains some of the sudden turnoff. “Climategate” — the unauthorized 2009 release of private e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom — revealed that many of the world’s top climate scientists were knee-deep in manipulating scientific evidence to support preconceived conclusions and personal agendas.

  • Scientists Behaving Badly by Jim Lacey on November 28, 2011.

    Virtually the entire warmist edifice is built around a small, tightly knit coterie of persons (one hesitates to refer to folks with so little respect for the scientific method as scientists) willing to falsify data and manipulate findings; or, to put it bluntly, to lie in order to push a political agenda not supported by empirical evidence. (emphasis added)

    In fact, McIntyre’s work was crucial in proving that Mann’s infamous “hockey stick graph” — the heart of the United Nations’ IPCC-3 report — was a fraud.

Examples of Mark Steyn criticisms of Mann

  • Climate Science and the Peer-Review Consensus Forgery on November 30, 2009. Steyn criticizes Mann and Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) for allegedly manipulating peer review in order to keep poorly refereed papers out of the IPCC, and Steyn agreed with a Wall Street Journal headline about forgery.
  • The science of global warming on December 3, 2009.

    The Settled Scientists have wholly corrupted the process of “peer review.” (emphasis added)

    Phil Jones, director of the CRU, writing to Michael Mann, creator (le mot juste) of the now discredited “hockey stick” graph… (emphasis original)

    Phil Jones and Michael Mann are two of the most influential figures in the whole “climate change” racket.

  • The emperor’s new carbon credits on December 17, 2009.

    The famous hockey stick graph created by Dr. Michael Mann played a critical role in persuading millions of people we’re all gonna fry…. It took two dogged Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, to demolish the hockey-stick fraud (emphasis added)”

In addition to these various examples, there are many more that are similar to the second-to-last NR example above – where Mann is not mentioned specifically, but where the “hockey-stick” is used as a proxy for Mann, or where groups of which Mann would be a member are accused of scientific misconduct such as data manipulation. Whether such examples are sufficient for a court order to be based upon them is beyond the purview of S&R’s investigation.

These lists are by no means exhaustive – they stop in 2011 as the articles published in 2012 and 2013 are dominated by those related to Mann’s lawsuit and NR/Steyn’s responses. There are likely many other examples published by NR and Steyn that are not included above. Regardless, however, the public record demonstrates that both NR and Steyn both had at least a three-year history of criticizing Mann both directly and indirectly before publishing the article that provoked Mann’s defamation lawsuit.

National Review and Mark Steyn were aware of Mann investigations’ results

The NR/Steyn motion for reconsideration also claimed that Judge Combs Greene’s logic was flawed. The motion to reconsider essentially argues that a) there is no evidence that NR/Steyn had ever called for an investigation, b) their awareness of the results of those investigations was not demonstrated in the Court Order, and thus c) there is no evidence of actual malice.

This line of argument is not only based on arguably false information, it’s also illogical. As mentioned above, Mann’s response to the NR/Steyn motion to reconsider provides five different examples, each of which could be interpreted as a call for an investigation into Mann’s conduct. But even if those examples are ultimately rejected by Judge Combs Greene, the NR/Steyn motion essentially argues that there is only one way that NR and Steyn could be aware of the details of the investigations’ results – if NR and Steyn had called for the investigations. Given the media coverage of each of the various investigations, this is an untenable claim to make for both NR and Steyn.

S&R investigated this claim as well and found that NR and Steyn were both aware of the investigations and were very likely aware of the investigations’ detailed results. As with above, the examples below include claims that have been investigated, in some cases repeatedly, and found to be without merit.

  • Climategate and the Scientific Elite by Iain Murray on May 26, 2010. “Few members of the public have accepted the findings of the inquiries exonerating the scientists; most dismiss them as whitewashes. (emphasis added)”
  • Climategate Continues by Andrew Montford and Harold Ambler on May 24, 2012.

    the specific issue of the suppressed record appears to have largely been passed over by the panel, and Briffa’s explanation, like so many others given to the Climategate inquiries, appears to have been accepted without question. (emphasis added)

    However, their machinations have only succeeded in bringing renewed attention to their questionable science and ugly behind-the-scenes shenanigans, reigniting hope that more complete and more independent investigations — on both sides of the Atlantic — will yet be performed. (emphasis added)

  • Senator Inhofe Discusses His Call for a DOJ Climategate Investigation by Greg Pollowitz on February 24, 2010. This is an excerpt of an interview of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) by Neil Cavuto, excerpted extensively, including the following:

    [W]e have the minority report that we put together which shows that climate-gate, fixing the science, cooking the science, actually took place.

    We have it all documented. And people are being investigated right now (emphasis added).

  • ‘Climategate Inquiry Glosses Over the Facts’ by Greg Pollowitz on July 20, 2010. This is an excerpt from a commentary at the Washington Examiner by NR writer Iain Murray, and Murray’s quoted details, while arguably both cherry-picked and distorted, reveal that he was quite aware of the contents of all of the Climategate investigations:

    Yet the [UK Parliament] hearings did not include testimony from the most severe critics of the hockey stick graphic, such as Canadians Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who could have explained exactly why the e-mails did suggest impropriety.

    Yet Lord Oxburgh’s panel handed down a short report which did not examine the quality of the science at all. The panel simply reviewed a selection of CRU papers — selected by the UEA itself — and pronounced itself satisfied that the scientific process was fair and proper.

    The final review, conducted by former bureaucrat Sir Muir Russell, was compromised from the start. Its chief scientist, while purporting to be independent, was a former staff member of the CRU. Once again, it failed to interview the chief critics.This panel did not examine the other e-mails on the CRU server, as it was supposed to do.

  • Climategate Whitewash by Iain Murray on April 1, 2010. “Unsurprisingly, the U.K.’s parliamentary investigation into Climategate whitewashed the implications for climate science, although they did wag a disapproving finger at the University of East Anglia for being naughty about the Freedom of Information Act.”
  • The Climategate Graywash by Greg Pollowitz on July 12, 2010. This is a large excerpt from the Financial Post: “The third British investigation into the Climategate scandal — led by former civil servant Sir Muir Russell — amounts, at best, to a greywash.”
  • by Greg Pollowitz on February 10, 2010. This is a press release from Sen. Inhofe’s office:

    Penn State’s internal inquiry found further investigation is warranted to determine if Dr. Mann “engaged in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities.”

    “As the University moves to the next phase of its investigation, I believe the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation should also commence an investigation to examine possible violations of federal laws and policies governing taxpayer-funded research.”

  • Lord Jones is Indisposed by Mark Steyn on December 2, 2009. “The reviled “skeptics” and “deniers” have forced Prof. Phil Jones in East Anglia to step down “temporarily” and prompted Penn State to investigate Prof. Michael Mann.”

These examples demonstrate that both NR and Steyn were aware of ongoing investigations, and that NR was certainly aware of the results of at least one of those investigations. Furthermore, it is not realistic to imagine that NR cultivated a culture where authors writing about the same subject (climate change/global warming) were so isolated from each other that they never discussed the results of the various investigations among themselves. As such, it is virtually certain that NR and Steyn were aware of the investigations’ results and thus cannot credibly claim ignorance of those same results.

S&R investigated three of the claims made in the National Review/Mark Steyn motion for reconsideration. Simple web searches demonstrated that two of the three claims investigated were clearly false, while a more in-depth investigation found that the third claim (that NR/Steyn had not called for investigations into Mann) was plausible. However, Mann’s legal response to the NR/Steyn motion for reconsideration addressed the third claim and argued that NR and Steyn had both called for investigations following the illegal publication of private emails known as Climategate. As would be expected, Mann’s legal response also addressed the various other claims that S&R did not investigate, such as NR/Steyn’s presentation of a new First Amendment-based argument for dismissal.

Generally speaking, judges react poorly to baldly stated and easily disproved false claims made in legal documents. While S&R’s reading of Judge Combs Greene’s original order finds no reason to believe that she will react any different to the NR/Steyn motion for reconsideration, only time will tell.

Bast responds to Laden et al’s criticism of The Heartland Institute

Joseph Bast of The Heartland Institute

Joseph Bast of The Heartland Institute

In late December a group of climate journalists, bloggers, and scientists led by Greg Laden generated a list of the top 19 climate stories of 2012. Superstorm Sandy, sea level rise, and a new record low for Arctic sea ice topped the list, but down at #19 was a brief mention of The Heartland Institute. Specifically, Laden et al wrote that Heartland “suffered major damage” in 2012 because of funding revelations from the unauthorized publication of confidential Board meeting documents and because of Heartland’s billboard comparing authentic climate realists to the Unabomber.

In response, Heartland’s president Joseph Bast wrote a post for Heartland’s Somewhat Reasonable blog where he erroneously claimed to correct Laden et al’s statements. Several of Bast’s claims are at odds with documented facts while others are deceptive, continuing both Bast’s and Heartland’s habit of dishonest, deceptive, and hypocritical behavior.

Heartland does deny industrial climate disruption

Bast took umbrage at Laden et al for calling the Heartland Institute a “climate denial ‘think’ tank,” writing that “no Heartland spokesperson ever denied the existence of the climate, or even climate change.” It’s unrealistic that Bast is unaware of the fact that “climate denial” is rhetorical shorthand for “human-driven climate change denial.” For that reason, Bast’s response is a disingenuous attempt to distract the reader with a false appearance of candor. Bast’s statement does not address Laden et al’s statement in any way because Bast does not actually say whether or not the Heartland Institute denies that human industry is largely responsible for climate disruption.

For the record, at least two Heartland spokesmen do deny that climate disruption is dominated by human causes – Joe Bast and James M. Taylor. Bast wrote in a deceptive blog post that “natural variation in climate readily explains the small changes in temperature that occurred in the twentieth century.” And Bast and Taylor co-wrote an error-filled primer that “the more we learn, the less likely it becomes that human greenhouse gas emissions can explain more than a small amount of the climate change we witness.”

Accounting of Heartland “experts” doesn’t support Bast’s claim

Laden et al also wrote that Heartland suffered major damage in 2012 as a result of the Unabomber billboard debacle. Bast disagreed, writing that they

more than doubled the number of policy advisors (to 237), and set records for press attention and online traffic for our sites.

Heartland’s own website suggests that Bast is either lying or is grossly misinformed about the number of policy advisors that Heartland gained in 2012. As of 1/7/2013, the total number of “policy advisors” identified on the Heartland website is 162, not 237 as Bast claimed. If Bast actually meant to include every category of expert instead of limiting his statements to just “policy advisors,” then the number is 307. Furthermore, there is at least one documented example of Heartland listing someone as an “expert” without permission.

In addition, as of 5/4/2012 (just after the start of the Unabomber billboard controversy) there were 279 total experts identified on the website, compared to 307 as of 1/7/2013. This is an increase of 28 total experts, about 10%, not the 100% increase Bast claims. And the Unabomber billboard controversy resulted in a net loss of six “Global Warming Experts” including Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Bjorn Lomborg, and Roger Pielke Jr, among others. In the weeks following the billboard a total of 18 experts were removed from the ranks of Heartland “experts.”

Not only did Heartland lose some prominent “experts” from their rolls last year, but Heartland was forced to spin off an entire section of their organization too. The Heartland Institute’s Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate was spun off directly as a result of the Unabomber controversy. Insurance companies are one of the few United States industries that has largely accepted the overwhelming scientific data underlying industrial climate disruption, and journalists reported at the time that the billboard was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As for website traffic, such metrics say nothing about whether or not an organization is healthy or in decline. Controversy generates traffic, after all, and Heartland was at the center of several controversies in 2012. Just because topless photos of Lindsey Lohan might generate lots of attention doesn’t mean that it’s good attention. A far more realistic metric by which to determine the health of a think tank is total donations (revenues), and on that account Bast also makes a number of deceptive claims.

Increased “receipts” does not mean total dollars donated increased

According to Bast, Heartland “increased receipts by about 15% from 2011” and “increased the number of donors nearly four-fold,” while admitting that Heartland lost “a few” corporate donors. These claims are curious, given that nowhere in his response to Laden et al does Bast claim that Heartland’s total revenues increased in 2012.

Bast claims that the number of donors increased by nearly four times. While this claim can be taken at face value, the claim itself is irrelevant to whether or not Heartland suffered “severe damage” in 2012. It’s entirely possible to increase the number of donors by a factor of four without increasing the actual dollars donated.

Similarly, the use of the word “receipts” in reference to donations is strange, as “receipts” means different things to different people. To accountants it means “cash payments,” while to the IRS it’s an alternate word for revenues. To use such equivocal language is misleading and deceptive.

Furthermore, as with the increase in the number of donors to Heartland, it’s possible to increase the number of receipts by 15% without also increasing the value of those receipts. As an example, if a retail store has 15% more customers from one year to the next, but each customer spends 25% less money, the store increased its receipts but still lost 10% of its revenue in the process. Heartland’s 2012 IRS Form 990 (expected to be released sometime over the summer – the 2011 Form 990 was available in August 2012) should clear up this confusion. And in January, 2012, when Peter Gleick published Heartland’s 2012 fundraising plan, Heartland expected a 66% increase in total donations from 2011 to 2012. Even if Heartland increased their revenues by 15% (something that is ambiguous given Bast’s use of the word “receipts”), that’s still a reduction in expected donations of 51%.

In addition, Heartland lost about 45% of their major corporate donors (21 of 46), which is more than just “a few,” as Bast claimed. This is especially true given that those corporations accounted for about 30% of the total corporate donations expected (and about 17% of total projected fundraising, according to the published 2012 fundraising plan) expected in 2012.

It is a tenet of public relations that you trumpet your successes and downplay (or spin) your failures. If total donations in terms of dollars had increased from 2011 to 2012, then Bast would have said so using plain, unambiguous language. He wouldn’t have needed to rely on a vague term like “receipts” to downplay the impact of the loss of $1.315 million worth of corporate donations.

Bast’s equivocations about “receipts” and donors continue his long history of deception.

Heartland's Unabomber billboard

Heartland’s Unabomber billboard

Bast continues to defend Heartland’s indefensible Unabomber billboard

In response to Laden et al, Bast wrote about Heartland’s Unabomber billboard that it

did not “equat[e] people who thought the climate science on global warming is based on facts and is not a fraud with well-known serial killers.” The billboard simply pointed out that Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, still believes in global warming, and asked viewers if they do, too. We know why lefties went nuts over it – Kaczynski, after all, is one of their own – but it wasn’t inaccurate or offensive. (emphasis added, link original)

In that short paragraph, Bast lies three times, demonstrates his own hypocrisy once, and tries to deceive the reader while also doubling down again on his error-ridden claims about the billboard,

It’s true that Heartland ran only the one billboard and only for one day, so technically speaking Heartland publicly compared authentic climate realists to only one serial killer. However, Bast dishonestly neglects to mention that Heartland planned on making similar comparisons to serial killer Charles Manson, mass murderer Osama bin Laden, and communist strongman Fidel Castro using other billboards. So Laden et al are correct that Heartland did compare climate realists to “serial killers” – it’s only the uproar over the Unabomber billboard that prevented Heartland from doing so in full view of the general public.

Bast’s also incorrectly claims that the billboard was accurate. S&R did a search of the Unabomber’s manifesto and found that “greenhouse effect” was mentioned exactly twice,

one of which is a general statement, the other of which asks (without providing an answer) what the impact of the greenhouse effect will be. There are no uses of “climate change,” “global warming,” or “carbon” either. In fact, the word “climate” is used exactly once, in reference to having the right kind of clothing necessary for a given climate.

As S&R documented in May of 2012, Bast has been repeating his false claim about the Unabomber “believing” in industrial climate disruption since at least 2006. It’s not plausible that Bast is still ignorant of the facts seven years later.

Bast also knows that his billboard was offensive, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding. As mentioned above, Heartland lost 18 “experts” over the issue, many of whom left after BigCityLiberal emailed Heartland’s experts asking if they supported the billboard. Ross McKitrick, an industrial climate disruption denier associated with Steve McIntyre and the website Climate Audit, backed out of Heartland’s International Climate Change Conference in May, climatologist Chris Landsea said that the billboard was “not in good taste,” and entymologist Paul Reiter wrote that he was “more than appalled, I am disgusted.”

Furthermore, Bast continues to apply a hypocritical double standard to his and Heartland’d behavior compared to the behavior of others. Bast is on record accusing authentic climate realists of playing “a disgusting rhetorical trick” in order to “inflame” emotions by using the term “deniers.” According to Bast, the phrase “climate change deniers” is meant to invoke Holocaust denial (a claim that Bast make both at the Santa Fe New Mexican link above and here, and Heartland’s communications director Jim Lakely does the same thing here, just for starters). Bast is claiming that his billboard merely asks a question, but that question isn’t meant as an implication – yet he’s complaining about the alleged implications of the phrase “climate change denier.”

It doesn’t help that Bast’s claims about the Unabomber are factually wrong, while the claim that his organization is devoted to “climate change denial” is correct given several dictionary definitions of the word denial:

  1. refusal to admit the truth or reality (as of a statement or charge)
  2. refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing
  3. a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

Finally, Bast deceptively ties the Unabomber Ted Kaczynksi to all liberals (“lefties” according to Bast) and links to approving comments of Kaczynski made by ecoterrorist group EarthFirst! Bast’s implication here is no different than the implication that he made originally with the billboard he’s defending – all liberals are terrorists and serial killers. And this comparison is just as offensive as the original billboard was.

It’s understandable that Bast wouldn’t want to passively accept Laden et al’s criticism of The Heartland Institute for its behavior in 2012. But there comes a point when you have to admit you messed up and try to move forward. Heartland still hasn’t done that with respect to their billboard and the massive financial fallout from it. And rather than admit his many errors of judgement over the years, Bast has chosen to continue doubling down on his factually deficient, offensive claims.

Bast wrote that he expects Heartland “to play an even larger role in 2013.” S&R will be here all year too, documenting Heartland’s behavior. Based on the first week of 2013, it looks like we’re in for more of the same.

Heartland Institute billboard continues a long pattern of hypocrisy (updated)

Update 5/15/2012: On either May 13th or 14th, The Heartland Institute moved the “Our Billboards” essay and an associated press release from the website associated with Heartland’s seventh International Climate Change Conference to the Press Releases portion of the main Heartland website. The essay was also renamed from “Our Billboards” to “‘Do You Still Believe in Global Warming?’ Billboards hit Chicago.” In addition, both documents have been backdated to May 3rd and 4th, the dates when they were published at their original home. The original link remains in the original post below, but the new links have been added here: “Our Billboards” essay and the billboard take-down press release.. In addition, Heartland president Joseph Bast has been identified as the author of the essay.

Part two of a series.

Since The Heartland Institute came to the attention of Scholars & Rogues in early 2010, S&R has documented a pattern of double standards and institutional hypocrisy in Heartland’s activities. While the Heartland’s billboard advertisement comparing climate realists to terrorist Ted Kaczynski is perverse on its own, an essay explaining Heartland’s rationale is worse, albeit less obvious. That essay, titled “Our Billboards”, continues Heartland’s long history of hypocrisy. Continue reading

Heartland Institute billboard feeds critics, drives away allies and donors

Update 5/15/2012: On either May 13th or 14th, The Heartland Institute moved the “Our Billboards” essay and an associated press release from the website associated with Heartland’s seventh International Climate Change Conference to the Press Releases portion of the main Heartland website. The essay was also renamed from “Our Billboards” to “‘Do You Still Believe in Global Warming?’ Billboards hit Chicago.” In addition, both documents have been backdated to May 3rd and 4th, the dates when they were published at their original home. The original link remains in the original post below, but the new links have been added here: “Our Billboards” essay and the billboard take-down press release.. In addition, Heartland president Joseph Bast has been identified as the author of the essay.

Part one of a series

On Thursday, May 3, The Heartland Institute ran a digital billboard advertisement featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski that implied climate realists who accept the reality of human-driven global warming are terrorists. According to their explanation of the billboards, Heartland planned on comparing climate realists to dictator Fidel Castro, lunatic Charles Manson, and possibly Osama bin Laden. But by late Friday, a backlash from Heartland’s critics, allies, and onetime supporters had forced The Heartland Institute to remove the advertisement from the billboard. Continue reading

How much context is in the Climategate emails? (updated)

Given the release of a second batch of hacked emails yesterday, S&R decided to pull this analysis from 2010 back to the front. The conclusions reached in this analysis are as applicable to the emails published in 2011 just as much as they are to the original emails from 2009.

It is impossible to draw firm conclusions from the hacked documents and emails. They do not represent the complete record, and they are not a random selection from the complete record.
– Dr. Timothy Osborn, Climatic Research Unit (source)

After several hundred hours of studying the emails and looking at their references, I have no hesitation in stating that, to my satisfaction, the system is rotten to the core and has been from the start.
– Geoff Sherrington, former corporate geologist, (source)

According to Osborn, there is not sufficient context to understand the “true” story behind the published Climatic Research Unit emails and documents. However, according to Sherrington, the emails and references contained therein provide all the context needed in order to conclude that climate change research is complete hogwash. Reality lies somewhere on a continuum between these two extremes – the question is where.

S&R set out to determine whether the published CRU emails provided enough context for the public to condemn or vindicate the scientists involved. After investigating three primary options and reading a key study, S&R has concluded that the emails do not themselves contain sufficient context to understand what really happened in climate science over the last 13 years. Continue reading

Mann's critics not appeased by NSF investigation, extend unfounded "whitewash" accusations to NSF itself

Third in a series.

When the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) cleared Michael Mann of multiple “Climategate”-related allegations made against him, Mann’s critics cried foul. Since a National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General (OIG) report cleared Mann of research misconduct and concluded that PSU had adequately investigated Mann itself, however, many of those critics have been publicly silent about how their attacks were misplaced. In other cases, critics have instead directed new criticisms at the NSF instead of accepting Mann’s innocence or retracting their misplaced condemnations of PSU’s investigation.

In an “exclusive” for Fox News back in April, 2010, Ed Barnes wrote that the illegally published CRU emails “cast fresh doubt on Mann’s methodology and integrity” and that the PSU inquiry which exonerated Mann of those doubts was criticized for failing to inquire. Continue reading

Milloy proves he's either incompetent or a liar in latest op-ed

In his Washington Times op-ed titled 2012 GOP guide to the climate debate,” commentator Steve Milloy made a large number of claims that are demonstrably wrong – 18 at last count. But one of his claims relating to the illegal hack and release of climate scientists’ emails dubbed “Climategate” casts a shadow over all the others. Milloy wrote that “[n]o input from skeptics, even those mentioned in the emails, was included” in the “Climategate” investigations. However, Milloy’s own prior writings on the topic demonstrate that his statement in the Washington Times op-ed is false.

On July 14, 2010, Milloy wrote a commentary for The Daily Caller titled “Penn State’s integrity crisis.” In the commentary, Milloy wrote that “[o]f the five additional interviews conducted, four were of Mann’s fellow alarmists. The lone climate skeptic interviewed was MIT professor Richard Lindzen.” Continue reading

Milloy's latest climate op-ed riddled with errors

Today, the Washington Times ran an op-ed by science-denier-for-hire Steve Milloy titled “2012 GOP guide to the climate debate.” Based on the number of errors and irrelevancies masquerading as serious concerns I discovered while reading it, the Washington Times should have titled the op-ed “How to lie to voters about climate disruption.”

Here’s a brief rundown of all the problems I found. I’ll be dealing with a few of the worse errors in greater depth in a follow-up post.


  1. “Al Gore and his enviros duck debating so-called ‘climate skeptics.'” – So debates like Dessler vs. Lindzen or Lambert vs. Monckton don’t count? It’s true that debates like these are rare, but that’s because debating a climate disruption denier is about as effective as debating evolution with a young-earth creationist or a proponent of “intelligent design.”
  2. Continue reading

Climate scientists still besieged

S&R interviewed Martin Vermeer, first author of a recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper on sea level rise, about how much context the published CRU emails contained. In addition to answering questions about the emails’ context, Vermeer pointed out that some of the context “bears the mark of a scientific community under a politically-motivated siege.” Gavin Schmidt, climate researcher at the Goddard Institute for Space Sciences, agreed with Vermeer when asked. As a result, S&R examined interviews conducted with climate scientists and critics for evidence that climate scientists and climate research were besieged at present. Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of evidence that climate scientists remain besieged today. Evidence includes false claims made against scientists for work done on the IPCC Third Assessment Report, erroneous and/or unsupported claims made against several scientists involved in the writing of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and unreasonable claims of bias against the CRU email inquiries performed to date. Continue reading

Climategate accusations shrivel under the glare of multiple investigations

For the second time in two weeks, an investigation has found that there was neither a conspiracy to deceive the public nor any scientific misconduct present in the scientific research of the scientists of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). These scientists were at the center of the controversy created by the Climategate email theft.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee tasked itself with investigating what the MPs considered critical points, namely whether the scientific work of the CRU scientists was transparent and open, whether CRU had committed scientific misconduct, and whether the CRU committed any breaches of the UK’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law. In order to address each of these key concerns, the Committee collected a significant number of statements as evidence and looked into the various specific accusations made in those statements.

What the Committee found was that there were a few problems and a widespread disregard for FOI in the wider University culture, CRU’s research was reasonably transparent and free of obvious scientific malpractice. Continue reading