Heartland Bends the Truth Again

A completely gratuitous brazen misquotation reminds us that the Heartland Institute bends the truth mostly when their mouths are moving.


  1. How do these guys go to work in the morning? For all the disagreements and crap that comes up in the climate science/policy arena almost no one is actually "evil." Most of the deniers/delayers are misinformed, ignorant, or genuinely threatened. I get frustrated when they are obstinate or obdurate, but I can usually find a tiny amount of respect or sympathy.

    These guys at Heartland just completely resist that kind of empathy. Their work is so cynical; they're practically sociopaths.

  2. Sure enough, it's an egregious misquote. On the other hand...

    Mr. Carlin managed to prosper and make a very nice living railing against a giant machine that he certainly seemed to be claiming prevented any possibility of doing anything other than being a wage slave in increasingly pitiable conditions. He had a net worth of something on the order of $6M. While that's not sufficient to fly around in G5s, he didn't have to worry about where his next meal was coming from or shoes for his daughter. To hear him though, you'd have thought that such an omnipotent machine would have crushed him.

    I'm not sure that this point furthers the conversation with respect to the Heartland Institute, which I neither respect nor support. Though I do have some philosophically libertarian leanings, I'm willing to look at data and evidence.

  3. George Carlin earned his $6M for speaking truth to power. He got up on stage and said what I wish I could say. He made me laugh at the ineluctable absurdity of life. He may have been only a vehicle for Truth, but someone has to be. I'll never forget him, and I'm disgusted at Heartland's crass appropriation of his memory.

  4. I think Carlin was a problematic figure, capable of being insightful and funny, but lazy and ignorant and emblematic of know-nothing libertarianism too. But that's hardly the point.

    "That internet memes are garbled is no surprise." I am quoting Abraham Lincoln of course.

    The point is that Heartland is so throughly indifferent to facts that they'll put their stamp on garbled garbage. That actually matters.

  5. "How do these guys go to work in the morning?"

    I'm not defending Heartland, but (a) the quote/pic in question has been around for at least a year - Heartland probably just picked it up because it goes with their grain; (b) these kinds of quote/pics are the perfect illustration of the shallow echochamber nature of knowledge on the internet. I make it a habit to google quotes that pass by me to see if they match the face they're being attached to or if the words are actually correct. Not always - I think I've managed to succumb to some idea pushing my buttons so perfectly that I just reposted it blindly. But when I do check, the amount of times there's no link between quote and person, or the quotes been mangled, is quite amazing.

    Fact-checking is a single search away for most of these things; almost no-one does that. Heartland also don't. Not really surprised.

  6. Heh. I shouldn't post blog comments when I'm on my third glass of wine. In the cold light of the morning, that does sound a little overwrought. Only a little, though.

    "That internet memes are garbled is no surprise." I am quoting Abraham Lincoln of course.

    You may recall Gene Spafford's Three Axioms of Usenet from 1987:

    1) The Usenet is not the real world. The Usenet usually does not even resemble the real world.
    2) Ability to type on a computer terminal is no guarantee of sanity, intelligence, or common sense.
    3) Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap) applies to Usenet.

    I'd say they've survived Usenet's metamorphosis into the blogosphere intact.

  7. Lame apology posted (below). Weird they'd misquote that one when Carlin was on record making a mockery of the concept "Saving the Planet".

    Heartland Institute
    2 hours ago
    A recent post on this Facebook page has caused some controversy. We posted an image of George Carlin along with a quote attributed to him. We discovered, thanks to the diligence of Carlin fans following us that the quote was taken out of context.

    In addition to producing extensive original commentary, we attempt to serve as a clearing house for interesting and informative quotations and thoughts by academics, statesmen, and other public figures. It was through that latter endeavor that we came across the quotation in question. Ordinarily we check carefully to establish the veracity of these posts before reusing them, but in this instance we failed to do so.

    Our intention is always to provide accurate quotes and information, and we acknowledge our failure in this instance. We did not design the meme we posted, but because we did post it, we own it. We apologize for the error.

  8. Problem is they have a charter (and tax exempt status) to create and disseminate knowledge. It would have taken a couple hours at most to get it right. And it's their job to get it right. They are a think tank.

    Their best defense is that they were lazy and didn't perform the easiest and most routine of their duties.

    Yes everyone makes mistakes, but I feel that in order to be forgiven you need to demonstrate a scrap of honesty and good intention.

  9. Our intention is always to provide accurate quotes and information, and we acknowledge our failure in this instance.

    An apology for one inaccurate quote is good. An apology for every instance of misinformation would be better. Best of all would be to stop producing misinformation altogether. They'd have nothing to sell if they did that, though.

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