The Double Standard

Dishonest opponents can be so predictable. No matter what they do, they will accuse you of doing it.

Do they cherry pick? Sure. Like crazy. Do they accuse real scientists of cherry picking? Of course, even when it makes no sense.

Do they criticize solid work for being inconclusive? Endlessly. But look at the quality of the research they are flogging.

Forensic analysis of the [disputed] Heartland ‘Climate Strategy Memo’ concludes Peter Gleick is the likely forger

First, the Heartland memo as published contains a great many quotations taken from other sources. As originally published, the memo contains approximately 717 words, but at least 266 of those words have been identified as belonging to phrases (or paraphrases of phrases) found elsewhere in the stolen documents)… As paraphrases, they may nor may not reflect the style of the original authors, and they also may or may not reflect the style of the alleged forger. For this reason, we analyzed both the full document as well as the 451-word redacted document with the controversial passages removed.

26 Second, even the full-length document is rather short for an accurate analysis. Most authorship attribution experts recommend larger samples if possible. (E.g., Eder recommends 3500 words per sample, noting that results obtained from fewer than 3000 words “are simply disastrous.”

Got that? The expert on the method says it’s indeterminate on samples of less than 3000 words and yet reports on a single 451-word sample.

OK, the expert then concludes that

In response to the question of who wrote the disputed Heartland strategy memo, it is difficult to deliver an answer with complete certainty. The writing styles are similar and the sample is extremely small, both of which act to reduce the accuracy of our analysis. Our procedure by assumption excluded every possible author but Bast and Gleick. … I therefore consider it more likely than not that Gleick is in fact the author/compiler of the document entitled.

Then Watts jumps to

It seems very likely then, given the result of this analysis, plus the circumstances, proximity, motive, and opportunity, that Dr. Peter Gleick forged the document.

And the Watts readership then concludes that the case is closed!

Do they hack emails? Notoriously and in bulk, claiming a need for openness. (Surely you don’t need a link on that one?) . And what’s their excuse? Why, they imagine a “whistleblower” on their side, despite the fact that nothing of consequence was whistled down.

But when their own documents are released? Well, then, it is of course another story. Sheer outrage, in a desperate attempt to divert attention from the nature of their business model, which amounts, pretty much, to deception for hire for ethically dubious businesses. We at Planet3.0 encourage the continued attention to what they are generously calling Fakegate. It is indeed worth considering which gates are real and which are fake. But the moral distinction they made is that in one case there is at least a possible whistleblower, while in the other, a false identity was used.

Hmm. Well, take down the high dudgeon, folks.

Via DeSmog, according to Cindy Baxter of Greenpeace this is yet another example of the double standard at work.

Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it’s completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers theminto handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012.

The Heartland misrepresentation about which Baxter is now complaining occurred in 2007 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali. The Heartland caller phoned Baxter at four in the morning (Bali time), claiming to represent a U.S. environmental organization and asking if she would hand over the UNFCCC media list – which Heartland clearly had failed to secure through legitimate means.

Baxter demurred, after which Taylor sent out a press release, recounting the conversation, linking to a (possibly illegal) recording that Heartland had made of the phonecall, and “exposing” the fact that Greenpeace has a better working relationship than Heartland with just about everyone in the climate, diplomatic and scientific communities.

At the time, Baxter brushed off the incident as nothing more than you would expect from an organization that exists to take money from tobacco firms and oil moguls and then misrepresent the health risks of smoking and the science of climate change.

True enough. And Baxter’s objections to the double standard make sense. A couple of other comparable misrepresentations by Heartland are also listed in the DeSmog article.

Our main question remains, why is misrepresenting credentials considered a great crime, while misrepresenting the evidence on an imminent threat to all of humanity and the planet we live on is considered minor mischief? Is there not something a wee bit dysfunctional about our priorities?

But we welcome Watts’ reopening of speculation about the disputed meme. We should encourage debate on the subject and engage in it at every opportunity, because very time somebody mentions Fakegate, we get to respond by pointing to the Realgate, which is that people are making successful careers telling convenient lies which threaten the entire world.

UPDATE: see also


  1. We might, for instance, continue the speculation about whether the disputed memo is genuine Heartland material, translated back from another language.

    Perhaps Erokwanas? There are many possibilities.

    And all of the many possibilities lead to wondering why we are talking about them, and not about a nonprofit "research" organization that does public relations for its "donors" in favor of tobacco and greenhouse gas emissions.

    So by all means keep speculating.

  2. Why do the Heartland staff tell lies, hide their funding sources, go shrill, and then project their own faults onto others?

    Because (1) they can, (2) they're willing to, and (3) it makes money.

    -- frank

  3. Hey, I have a new theory. Has anybody ever seen Peter Gleick and Joseph Bast in the same place together at the same time? No?

    From the text analysis report it seems their writing styles are very close. As two of the strongest advocates on either "side", clearly they each profit from the other's existence. They're both in their mid-50s. Bast claims to be from the mid-West, Gleick from New York, but really, wouldn't that be exactly what you'd expect?

    And of course both now have a documented history of lying (well, just once admitted in Gleick's case).

    So, who's in for a real conspiracy theory? What if Peter Gleick is Joseph Bast in disguise (or the other way around)?! 🙂

  4. Ah, thanks. And to save someone else having to dig through comments, I'll note that the bet itself is agreed to hereabouts:

  5. My bet would be for an actual author other than Gleick, but given the stakes and likely motivations, authorship software won't be definitive. How hard would it be for the forger to write so as to finger a particular individual as the most likely author?

  6. (Correction: not "the" forger, a forger, since the document still might have come from Heartland staff.)

    Does anyone else's synesthesia place Gleick-Heartland on the "beach mystery" shelf, and global climate disruption over with the weighty nonfiction?

  7. My theory is that an AI is planning the denial industry's moves; they often seem multilayered and clever, yet they have a mechanistic flavor. And if bots are doing the commenting, why not outsource the planning to them as well?

    (This idea isn't entirely original, but I can't credit the source without providing a spoiler.)

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