McKitrick Letter to Heartland

I wrote this to Joe Bast this afternoon. I am pleased to report that he replied promptly and agreed to take the billboard down.

dear Joe:

I just saw the billboards that Heartland is using to advertise the 7th ICCC:

I am absolutely dismayed. This kind of fallacious, juvenile and inflammatory rhetoric does nothing to enhance your reputation, hands your opponents a huge stick to beat you with, and sullies the reputation of the speakers you had recruited. Any public sympathy you had built up as a result of the Gleick fiasco will be lost–and more besides–as a result of such a campaign. I urge you to withdraw it at once.

Strike the tone in your advertisements that you want people to use when talking about you. The fact that you need a lengthy webpage to explain the thinking behind the billboards proves that your messaging failed. Nobody is going to read your explanation anyway. All they will take away is the message on the signs themselves, and it’s a truly objectionable message.

You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while equating the other side to terrorists and mass murderers. Once you have done such a thing you have lost the moral high ground and you can never again object if someone uses that kind of rhetoric on you.

I have just been cc’d on an email from someone who wrote to both my dean and university president, expressing his outrage that a UofG professor is party to such billboards. Had this simply been someone objecting to my speaking at Heartland I could easily have (and would have) defended myself. But notwithstanding that I have tenure and have the full right to speak wherever I want, the fact is that I have to agree with the person — I’m appalled.

I appreciate what Heartland does, and I know this year has been frustrating for you, and your staff may feel like venting. But I can’t be associated with those billboards. I had really been looking forward to participating in this year’s conference, but unless the billboard campaign is immediately suspended I have to cancel my participation.

Yours truly
Ross McKitrick

Update: Donna Laframboise, a fellow Torontonian, withdrew from the conference today. I agree with her remarks here.


  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    I wrote to Heartland endorsing Ross’ letter in the strongest possible terms. 10:10 was inappropriate as well. That doesn’t justify the Heartland billboards. This sort of bell is not easy to unring.

  2. Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

    And the timing is odd, seems to me
    For each day we’re more likely to see
    Some advancing of sense
    This billboard’s main offense
    Is distracting from our victory

    I have never much cared for this tack
    And their allies are taken aback
    Yes, I do see their aim
    But they’ll only inflame
    It’s too late, sadly, to take it back

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  3. Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    It is discouraging to see such an ad by Heartland. Didnot believe it at first, but realize it was for real. Take it down, and hope the damage will not be mortal.

  4. MarkR
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    Playing nice with radicals is a losing strategy.

    Alinskyites are imposing their rules on your game:

    Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

    Alinskyites fear being caricatured and ridiculed, because they know it works:

    Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

    • clt510
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Permalink


      Playing nice with radicals is a losing strategy.

      Oddly that’s what the over-the-top climate change advocates say too.

      So there’s no difference between either of your groups? Different message, same tactics, means there’s no real difference. Just a bunch of sleazy salesmen running a pitch.

      Just wonderful.

      • Martin A
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

        “Just a bunch of sleazy salesmen running a pitch.”

        I have to admit it looks like that.

  5. Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    What dark calling leads Heartland to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

    Someone must of thought this was a good idea, and someone else agreed. One stupid person is understandable, but two?

    My argument that we’re the adults in the room just took a big hit.

    • Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

      Well, I don’t think that “stupid” is right
      They’re good-hearted and probably bright
      But they did have a fall
      With this judgment call
      They’ve just hit themselves in the fight

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  6. eqibno
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    I wonder when was the last time that any “propaganda” from the warmist regime was repudiated with such speed and vigour?
    Kudos to all that object to this kind of pugnacity. Having been “Gleicked” is no reason to sink below any level of propriety.
    The facts support the argument and that should and will always be enough to win the day. Name-calling and wallowing are best left to the losers, as always.

  7. thojak
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    Difference between geniality and stupidity is, again, that geniality has limits, isn’t it? 😉

    Plty txs for the ‘spotting’ + reaction [Heartland], Ross & Steve!

    Brgds from Sweden.

  8. theduke
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

    Heartland is over-reacting to the insanity of the behavior of the warmists. That said, I understand the anger of Joe Bast and his core group which must have precipitated these ads. In their defense, the ads themselves are not inaccurate. People like Kaczynski, Castro and Manson believe in the so-called consensus science because it dove-tails with their world view. Not unlike Gleick and Mann.

    But a group like Heartland needs to respond to provocations with their head and not their heart. Glad to hear they’ve announced a strategic retreat. They win the argument by sponsoring conferences and funding good causes, not by trashing the opposition through guilt by association.

  9. PhilH
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps Heartland hired the same outfit that UEA hired.

  10. Ivan
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    So, we should assume that Ross McKitrick would have declined any invitation by Greenpeace, “Concerned scientists” and pretty much any other radical environmentalist organization because they routinely compare climate realists with Holocaust deniers and argue that they should be persecuted for crimes against humanity? Or that mr McKitrick would have refused to come to Heartland conference if by any chance James Hansen, who many times compared skeptics with Nazis and called for their legal persecution, accepted the invitation which is routinely extended to him every year? Somehow, I doubt it.

    What is then the source of this strange, selective oversensitivity to strong messages and over-the-top statements? I hope that McKitrick would not explain this oversensitivity by saying that he goes to Heartland events because he agrees with their agenda, hence a greater moral responsibility for their behavior than for say, Greenpace’s or Hansen’s?

    • Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

      This is not “oversensitivity”. It is anger. I am not “sensitive” about what Heartland has done. I am red faced boiling angry. Profanely angry. Until today, the skeptic side was clearly winning. This is a catastrophe. Science will out. The truth will out. And when it does, those who supported the truth will be seen to be the real heros (no I don’t think that is over the top) that they are. And then this idiocy. I must stop now, lest I swear a lot.


      • Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

        No, Ivan, I believe you’ve got it wrong
        Analogies can fool if misapplied
        Ross M’s concerned if he should go along
        With HI since he’s “playing for that side”

        If Union of Concerned (part) Scientists
        And others of such dubious repute
        Add Ross and Steve to their attendee list
        They might go, as flawed science they’d refute

        But if the premise is that M and M
        Are working for the goals of UCS
        The chance of that association’s slim:
        Might that decline be visible? Oh, yes!

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      • Phil
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

        I apologize for using this language but your insinuations and epithet against Dr. McKitrick are outrageous and unfounded. Quite simply very eloquent and talented people accepted an invitation to present their findings to the Heartland conference only to find that, just before its start, HI is effectively putting words in their mouths. Furthermore IMHO you are completely wrong in insinuating that people go to the Heartland conference “because (they) agree with their agenda.” The conference was billed, as I understood it, as a place where respected scientists and authors would present their findings. In fact, right after Fakegate, HI made the point that they had even invited Peter Gleick to speak at the conference. The ad changed that by creating the public impression that the speakers either agreed with or condoned the comparisons being made. Contrary to your insinuations and epithet, the speakers have every right to defend their right to speak for themselves. Agreeing to speak at a conference does not give the hosts the right to use that attendance for their own political purposes, even if HI had not done so in such a controversial manner.

        • Ivan
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Permalink


          any use of the word “Nazi” is an automatic delete.

        • Ivan
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

          Mr McIntyre,
          you deleted all of my comments, but left the critiques of them by the others that mention me by name. Since it is your blog you obviously can banish whomever you want from it, including me, (as you essentially had done) but I think it is pretty dishonest from your part to leave the critiques of me while censoring my comments that prompted the critiques, and not allowing me to respond.

          If I am a persona non grata on your blog, the most logical thing to do would be to delete all discussions about me, not only my comments.

          The comments you censored (perfectly polite, on topic and respectful comments) appeared at Anthony Watts’ blog. Some other people over there also complained they were banished from your site for perfectly polite and respectful comments. Your appalling behavior is not going to reflect well on your reputation among many of your readers.

          Steve: I have different editorial policies than Anthony. Certain words trigger moderation.

      • Ivan
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

        John, the emphasis in my comment was not on “sensitivity”, but on “selective sensitivity”, i.e. the fact that McKitrick is extremely concerned about Heartland behaving badly, but apparently not in the least about Hansen or Greenpace behaving badly. The Heartland adds comparing the AGW with terrorists are inexcusable, but Hansen’s constant comparing the skeptics to the Nazis and calling for their persecution for war crimes are of no great concern. If Hansen accepted the invitation to go to the Heartland conference McKitrick would not have any problems attending.

        I think that this sentence from McKitrick’s letter to Heartland best describes the real reasons behhind this puzzling asymmetry:

        “I have just been cc’d on an email from someone who wrote to both my dean and university president, expressing his outrage that a UofG professor is party to such billboards.”

        So I appeal to you and to all other McKitrick’s cheerleaders to have this in mind and to don’t play the “useful idiots” for the bad guys.

    • theduke
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

      Ivan: you are missing the point completely. What Ross and Steve are doing is exerting influence where they have the power to make a difference. While I hesitate to speak for them, I’m certain that they would treat any organization that invites them to make a presentation in the same manner. It’s just that the chances that Greenpeace will invite McIntyre or McKittrick to speak are “slim and none” as they say. Open debate is anathema to Greenpeace; it’s not to Heartland.

      If Hansen accepted an invitation to speak at Heartland, why should Ross or Steve protest? The problem with people like Hansen is that they won’t engage in civil, open debate. If Hansen had a change of heart and decided to engage, I would expect everyone involved to treat him with civility and hear him out, regardless of whether he deserves it or not. Boycotting is something you would expect from the warmist side. There would be no inconsistency on the part of Steve or Ross if they didn’t boycott Hansen’s speech.

      Everyone knows the debate has gotten entirely out of hand and I agree with you that the worst offenders are among the environmental extremists. But the idea that Ross or Steve can in some way influence fanatics on the extreme warmist side to change their ways by criticizing them is silly. They do have influence with Heartland, and they are using it to make a difference in the tone of the great debate so many of us are engaged in. I congratulate them on upholding high standards for everyone.

      And it’s not like Steve has given the people you list a free pass. I think that if you go back through the archives you will find examples of him either correcting or admonishing them for either bad science or bad behavior.

      Your unfortunate use of the term “useful idiots” implies a certain ignorance or naivete on the part of M and M. Ross and Steve have taken a lot of hits from these people and are fully cognizant of how vicious they can be. They are not being used. They are simply applying higher standards to the debate where they have the ability to do so.

  11. MarkR
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    When one’s job is at risk because of one’s point of view, it makes life difficult……..

  12. Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    Thank goodness they’ve listened to you, Ross.

    I don’t know if HI realizes that with this Billboard they’ve unfortunately handed the alarmists a stick with which they can – and no doubt will – beat anyone and everyone who has any association – no matter how remote – with the organization.

    Perhaps it will all be forgotten whenever the next blunder surfaces (from whatever side of the fence). But as Revkin notoriously said in the aftermath of Gleickgate:

    [Gleick] handed his enemies a huge heap of raw meat with this act and they’ll feed on it — through our polarized politics — for a long time to come. It’s tragic, to my mind.

    In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if in the weeks ahead we notice signs that the alarmists have (finally) ditched the Big Oil funded meme in favour of some variant of a recitation of this incident.

  13. Paul Penrose
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

    My initial opinion is that Ross, and others to be sure, have over reacted a bit here. I’m not endorsing the billboard, far from it, but I don’t think it was as horrendous as people have depicted.

    • MarkB
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

      No – it really is that bad. If you don’t immediately see it, you have a problem you need to think over.

    • Kozlowski
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:17 PM | Permalink

      Agreed w MarkB. It really is that bad. Why resort to such an infantile attack when they could have used facts. Integrity is hard won and fast lost. Joe Bast will need to do an awful lot of work to make up for this.

      • Paul Penrose
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

        I don’t “have a problem”, we just have a difference of opinion, and only in degree. I am looking at this from a purely analytical point of view while many seem to be responding emotionally. Please don’t project your anger onto me.

    • MrPete
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

      Re: Paul Penrose (May 4 19:01),
      What some don’t seem to understand is that communication is not something to be analyzed. It is the very fabric of relationship.

      What matters is not the words, but what is heard. And these billboards are particularly horrendous in terms of their impact on many many relationships.

      It’s bad enough that some people take liberties with the truth. Even if what the billboards said was true from a factual perspective, the associations represented were not helpful in the least. Ross and Steve (and Donna) had exactly the right response.

      We need to avoid creating needless offense whenever possible. It really does make a difference. Science is about more than just the facts.

      • theduke
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

        I agree with Pete. Hitler was a vegetarian. Does than mean all vegetarians are Nazis?

        What Heartland was doing was ascribing guilt by association. This, of course, is exactly what the warmists do whenever they refer to skeptics as “deniers.” It’s nothing more than childish name-calling and it tells us far more about the distributors of the propaganda on both sides than it does about many of the intended targets. Hyperbole is part and parcel of politics. So is hysteria.

        What it also tells us about Heartland is that they’ve lost their composure, mostly likely because of the crimes of Gleick. I’m sure that the protests of Ross and Steve will help them get it back.

        As for Steve’s complaints about “right-wing trappings,” I think he’s being a little naive. It’s a brazenly conservative organization and given the things Steve has uncovered over the years, can you blame them for misunderstanding what he actually stands for? While the scientific debate needs to be waged according to the scientific method, the political debate is by its nature much much more chaotic. I’ve always looked at it as a two-front war: there is the scientific front and there is the political front. The side that promotes CAGW is misappropriating the science to change the culture and dramatically expand the power of government. Groups like Heartland stand in opposition to that. They need to be cut some slack since their main purpose is ideological and not scientific. Steve and Ross have provided them with some of the informational tools to fight the policy battles. Heartland has in turn provided them and others like them with a platform. There are not very many platforms provided for skeptics. I think both sides should be encouraged to cooperate with each other.

        Heartland will not be irreparably damaged by this. In the same way that Steve and Ross sometimes make an error in calculation or attribution, admit their mistake and move on, so will Heartland. When the Gleick legal wars begin, this little contretemps will be forgotten.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

          Heartland has its own objectives, which are not the same as those of Climate Audit.

          I hardly needed to appear at their conferences (in 2009 and 2010) to have a “platform” since the audiences at the Heartland conferences are a fraction of the size of the blog audiences. I was already very well known prior to ever appearing at one of their conferences.

          Up to 2009, I had kept my distance from them intentionally as I did not want my statistical criticisms to be diminished by association. In 2010, I went partly to urge less stridency. I didn’t go to their conference in 2011 and was probably not going to go this year. In the past, I’ve had to think whether going to the conference would cause me more aggravation than it was worth and, other than two years, decided against going. They made the decision easy for me this year.

          Yes, it’s unfair that similar condemnation did not rain down on thinkprogress, desmog and similar blogs for their similar use of Breivik to smear skeptics, but that is not an excuse for Heartland’s thoughtless and self-indulgent billboard. On the other hand, I think that it’s entirely reasonable to inquire into the lack of general offence at the Breivik comparisons last year as the hypocrisy of some of the most “offended” is very striking.

        • theduke
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

          Steve: A few comments to your reply to my post. Then I’m done with this subject.

          Heartland has it own objectives and some overlap with Climate Audit’s. For example, they want to facilitate dialogue. Witness the invitations to speak extended to Gleick and others who views diverge from theirs.

          Granted you don’t need their platform and that your presence enhances their conferences. But videos of their conferences go out as material for many skeptic websites and reach a far wider audience than you’ve admitted here. Is there a skeptic gathering or conference that is more anticipated or more influential than Heartland’s? Or receives greater media coverage? I ask the question because I can’t think of one, although I may be wrong on that.

          That said, your integrity is important to you and I admire your stand against trash advertising such as was engaged in by Heartland in this instance. I’m trying to think what might have precipitated such a rash decision to run these ads. My guess is that the Gleick crimes have damaged them in ways that we know nothing about. Maybe the “anonymous donor” has ceased donating. Maybe they are being ignored by the MSM and wanted to create a controversy.

          I don’t want to get too deeply into this, but there needs to be a political arm of what could be called the “skeptic movement” (for want of a better term) if the policies being formulated in response to the dubious findings of mainstream climate science are to be resisted. I would guess that Heartland sees that as one of its missions. Although your politics appear to be somewhat left of center, I’m sure you would agree with Heartland that bad policy resulting from bad science needs to be opposed.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

          I do not think that Gleick can be blamed for their faux pas.

          Climate Audit has been critical of many studies, but I’ve refrained from drawing conclusions on matters that I haven’t personally studied in depth. I think that there’s a big difference between this and the relative certainty of classic “skeptics”. I think that IPCC has done a very poor job of providing an “engineering quality” exposition of the major points at issue insensitivity, especially clouds, but that’s a different nuance again.

          I’m against poorly engineered responses. But I can hold that position without taking the view that Heartland is an appropriate vehicle for that policy argument. On that point, it is possible to find common cause with people of seemingly different politics (Mark Lynas, George Monbiot, Michael Kelly), but this is complicated by heartland even without the recent faux pas.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

          “On the other hand, I think that it’s entirely reasonable to inquire into the lack of general offence at the Breivik comparisons last year as the hypocrisy of some of the most “offended” is very striking.”

          That was the message of the WUWT post on this (“Heartland’s Billboards and Joe Romm’s stunning hypocrisy”). But there’s a difference between a blog post saying that some bad person shares a belief and a billboard campaign. The blog posts are just annoyingly juvenile. Anthony Watts ran a similar post Charles Manson becomes an advocate for global warming. No general offence was taken.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

          You observe that there are differences between the blog posts at desmog and thinkprogress and the Heartland billboard. The heartland billboard was withdrawn within 24 hours, while the desmog post remains online (and the thinkprogress post was only withdrawn after their denunciation of Heartland.)

          I’ve observed at Keith Kloor’s that I agree that Anthony’s blog post on Manson was offensive. (I hadn’t read the post before, as I can’t keep up with all the posts at WUWT and don’t try to.) However, it did not make any association to named individuals. The blog posts by thinkprogress and desmog made offensive connections of Breivik to named individuals. As one of the named individuals, I find this highly offensive. I find it appalling that you are unoffended by this conduct.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

          “I find it appalling that you are unoffended by this conduct.”

          Well, I’m actually not greatly offended by the ATI billboards. They are, they claim, factually accurate (I haven’t checked). They are just a very feeble argument. So they are, correctly, being taken to task by people who want their case to be better presented.

          But, like most people, I didn’t take much notice of the Watts or Johnston posts at the time (and I still don’t know anything about desmog). The fact that Manson or Breivik argued a case is just irrelevant, and if they cited named people in support (as people arguing often do), that is also irrelevant.

  14. plutarchspam
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:27 PM | Permalink

    Mr. McKitrick, may we assume that you’re going to the conference now?

    For speed, Heartland is well behind the 10:10 video’s producers, who had their video down in well under 24 hours. (Heartland notes on their site that the billboard was up for 24 hours exactly.)

    What remains to be seen is whether any Heartland speakers/partners/sponsors withdraw. A number of the 10:10 video’s partners + sponsors did withdraw their support even after the video had been taken down.

    • MarkB
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

      So you think this is a contest? Don’t be childish.

      • plutarchspam
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

        Read the other comments. Analogy to 10:10 (“no pressure”) showed up in the very first response, from Steve McIntyre. The response of its producers, partners, supporters established a bar, low as it is, for response. So far, Heartland was much slower than 10:10 to pull down their offense, and has lost no speakers/partners/sponsors. And, they do not apologize for it, indeed reaffirm their having done so.

    • Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

      The Heartland billboard certainly wasn’t as nasty as the 10/10 video, but it was an error in judgment. This is all too reminiscent of the trash talking so prevalent in sports now. When I played high school sports – football and basketball – we talked to our opponents: “Nice shot;” “Good game;” “That’s the way to tackle.” It was called good sportsmanship. We still played as hard and as fair as we could, and didn’t get penalties that hurt our team by hotdogging or showboating; taunting an opponent or showing them up.

      Heartland hurt the team by going off the science message to a personal one. Heartland is on the winning side, and helped get the victory, and now should celebrate with class and dignity.

      Let the other side keep up the “denier” meme, although it is tempting to label them “natural climate change deniers.”

      See, it is easy to slip, even when seeking to follow our best angels.

  15. Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    I have to agree here with McKitrick & McIntyre. There may be a place somewhere for skeptics to engage in the same cheap comparisons of their opponents with terrorists and the like that the climate alarmists make with revolting regularity, but Heartland is certainly not the party, and the ICCC is not the place.

    Even if I agree that Peter Gleick is only three glasses of chardonnay away from being the Unabomber, that sentiment has no place being associated with serious discussion of climate issues.

    Heartland is wrong. The faster they say that they were wrong to stoop to the level of their opponents, the better.

  16. daved46
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    I have to wonder if HI tried running this campaign by Dave Wojick or not? I’d think he’d have shot it down. OTOH, if the late John Daly were still around I think he’d have liked it. I complained to him one time that he didn’t help the skeptics position by being so harsh personally with the warmers. He replied that you had to fight fire with fire. I’m with the majority here and think trying the left’s tactics against them is wrong and won’t work.

    Note: I tried posting this at WUWT, but I ended up subscribed to the thread and I don’t know that it made it to the thread, so I’m posting it here too/instead.

    • theduke
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:15 PM | Permalink

      Same thing happened to me. I got a ton of unsolicited (as far as aI know) emails from both ClimateAudit and WUWT after posting at both places.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

        Happened to me as well. Something to do with WordPress. Don’t know what.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

          They have changed the default for the send me email checkbox below your comment when you submit. You have to remember to uncheck.

        • Posted May 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

          Thanks, Nick. I’ll give that a try.

    • theduke
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:17 PM | Permalink

      Note: you can modify your subscriptions at the bottom of the emails. I’m not getting them anymore.

  17. hunter
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    It is the gratuitous inflammatory nature of the billboards I object to. Yes, they are accurate. But the AGW community is nowhere near close to being able to reconcile the facts of Ted, Fidel, Pol Pot, Adolf, etc. etc. etc. with their stated beliefs. HI failed on this because it does not promote good debate and dialog. HI failed on this because, as has been pointed out very clearly, it is not appropriate tot he billboard environment. If it requires a long explanation, it does not belong on a billboard.

  18. TomRude
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    Indeed, good for you Ross! There are enough calls to civil disobedience by green totalitarians such as SFU Mark Jaccard -coals trains protest on Saturday May 5th, a la Hansen- to keep the highroad, especially after the Gleick affair.

  19. Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:10 PM | Permalink

    The damage is already done. Personally, if I were to have been a participant in this year’s conference, my cancellation would be in the mail regardless of whether or not they took down the ad.

  20. GogogoStopSTOP
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:11 PM | Permalink

    McKitrick & McIntyre, you are way off base taking your criticisms into the public arena. You sound like two jilted high school girls. Enough with the “tcsh, tcsh!”

    And… your verbiage is written like an old lawyer… getting paid by the word. Going on & on & on! Lighten up, give it a break. Your so holy, so upright! And, it fazed me that the billboard EXACTLY portrayed the Warmist’s for what they are. Frightening demigod that will turn into eco-terrorists given half a chance.

    • daved46
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:24 PM | Permalink

      Nonsense. We constantly complain about warmers not being willing to rebuke their peers. It would be hypocritical for Ross and Steve NOT to chastise HI in this case.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Permalink


        • thisisnotgoodtogo
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:27 AM | Permalink

          I think Steve has offered to work together on scientific papers with one or more of the worst smearing offenders. If true, it would then seem Ross and Steve would be acting true to form in chastising, yet not to take the route of shunning.

  21. johanna
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:21 AM | Permalink

    Well done, Ross. As a former participant of long standing in the dark arts of advertising and marketing, this ad was both ineffective and unethical IMO. You don’t win people over by insulting them, and you don’t need to descend into the mire with the likes of to beat them.

    It was a major lapse of judgement by HI, and they should be carefully reviewing the process that led them to make such a stupid, and public, error. A lot of people who were agnostic or cautiously supportive of HI will be alienated by this unfortunate episode.

    It’s not about playing nice (although that is a perfectly defensible position), it is about playing smart. Behaving like some lunatic fringe outfit and engaging in campus humour when credibility is critical is not smart.

  22. Phil
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:51 AM | Permalink

    I would like to extend my support to M & M vis-a-vis HI in that these comparisons are abominable. HI’s takedown doesn’t go far enough. A simple “We apologize and we won’t do something like this again – we don’t know what we were thinking” would be a much better response. They still have time to do that.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

      Heartland is a very convenient target for enviro-activists. They’ve inflated its role, an inflation that Heartland has readily accepted.

      I went to the 2009 and 2010 conferences. As I mentioned at the time, I found the right-wing trappings of the conference offputting. I had stayed away from earlier conferences for that reason.

      In 2009 and 2010, they sent advertising materials to speakers ahead of time. Not to invite comment but routinely. In each case, I took issue with their advertising materials. Their 2010 conference was in the wake of Climategate and their advertising heavily promoted the “hoax” angle. While I obviously had been as critical of CRU as anyone, I strongly objected to their draping a supposedly scientific conference in such unwarranted and inflammatory language and said that I would not appear if they used that advertising. They were unmoved. So I asked Lindzen and others for support; Lindzen immediately said that he would not appear with such advertising and it was withdrawn.

      I also had a dispute with them in 2009. They wanted to associate their conference with a call for criminal prosecution of Hansen for one of his protests. I said that this was both pointless and an inappropriate issue for a scientific proceeding. Enough other speakers agreed and they dropped these advertisements as well.

      In my speech to them in 2010, I urged the audience to stop thinking in terms of “fraud” as, regardless of the antics of the Team, many serious scientists were concerned about global warming. I received a standing ovation when I began my speech and very tepid clapping when it ended, though numerous people said that I had made comments that needed to be said. Because of Climategate, I had numerous media interviews in 2010. I did spend quite a bit of time with Lindzen, which was great for me. I also met Roger Harrabin, who I got on with very well, more off the mike than on.

      I sympathized with Heartland’s situation in regard to Gleick’s forgery and the readiness of the media to both accept and condone Gleick’s forgery and covered this topic here.

      I endorsed Ross’ letter both here and in a separate email to Heartland.

      • bahamamamma
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:04 AM | Permalink

        Great comment. Personally I took little notice of Heartland until they shot themselves in the foot and wounded many of their would be supporters at the same time.

        I understand that Donna Laframboise (the IPCC’s Minx) cancelled a non-refundable air ticket rather than appear as a guest speaker at the Institute’s next conference. I am planning to send Donna a few more bucks in the hope that she will come out ahead.

      • Don McIlvin
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

        An interesting aspect is how climate issues have, over the last few years, descended into the partisan political divide in the US. Support for the notion of ‘Global Warming resulting from man made causes’ has dropped off a cliff among the right side of the political spectrum and substantially so even among independents. Support among Democrats is largely unchanged. This per the Pew Research poll in Oct 2010.

        A key question about HI is whether it has a purpose to promote objective alternative points of view on climate issues (suppressed by the ‘team’, peer review bias etc.) or if it is a political advocacy group that engages in hyperbole promoting anti-alarmist positions regardless of their merit. It can’t be both. Funding sources for HI may be pushing it to the political angle given the changing demographics on climate views among the public.

        In reviewing the ‘climate-gate’ emails I was struck by the number of conferences that serve as a forum for the team, and the lack of a forum for serious climate skeptics.

        It seems that the serious skeptics (on the basis of science) themselves need to organize a forum to be free of the political antics.

    • hunter
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

      It is long past time for skeptics to jump through AGW believer hoops.
      Thanks, but no thanks.
      When believers discipline mistakes as quickly loudly and effectively as skeptics, get back with us regarding advice.

      • Phil
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

        Hunter, please accept my sincerest apologies. My comment was directed only at Ivan for his unfounded insinuations against and for calling Ross a hypocrite. It was meant to show up as a threaded reply to his comment. Somehow I goofed and it did not end up there, which probably led to some misunderstanding of my meaning and intent.

  23. See - owe to Rich
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 3:34 AM | Permalink

    Well, I think that Heartland have been very clever. Or maybe very stupid if this really does backfire on them.

    The point is that Joe Bast has said that this was always intended to be a short-term experiment, to provoke a reaction. Yes, as a scientist I was appalled, and I would not generally want HI to engage in this, but as a “shock-and-awe” tactic I have to give it some credit.

    HI have just added some chaos to the global warming politics. Is that going to lead to a tipping point, in either direction?


    • Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:19 AM | Permalink

      Well don’t Heartland in this crass act, in many people eyes you have at once vindicated,rehabilitated and escalated Peter Gkeick into super hero status.. (sarcasm off)

      Utterly utterly dumb from a pr perspective, and from a personal level, you have insulted and embarrassed me and many friends of mine that are climate scientists and environmentalists.

      Heartland needs to apologise now, without any reservations, and have a period of quiet self reflection, if they ever want to even have the slightest chance of ever being taken seriously again. Though I doubt this will be possible. Anybody that cannot see this, or tries to explains it away, well you are part of the problem in this debate aswell

      Very many people have been trying to have a civil, non public debate, this puts it back

    • Mike WWW
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

      What is the nature of this “experimental ad campaign”? I wonder what HI is trying to accomplish here. I have a lot of respect for Steve M, but he’s not a sociologist or a psychologist, and I don’t expect him to grasp an experiment like this. It’s remarkable that global warming has become a belief system separate from scientific study, and I think this silly ad campaign is enlightening.

  24. Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:02 AM | Permalink

    The Heartland ad is just typical US knocking copy like the sort common in US election propaganda. Some-one mistakenly thought they were being “smart” and “clever” in using it.

    Scientific debate does not proceed by this sort of partisan advertising. I’m glad it has been speedily removed.

    • Doug Proctor
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

      I’ve wondered if it the ads were a cultural reflection of their mudslinging political style, also. Like in Iran, how the US is the “Great Satan:, but that is hyperbole (though definitely not to the American electorate!).

      What is scary is that, if true, we can’t tell how much is intentional bluster and actual belief. And isn’t that the whole problem in a nutshell?

  25. johanna
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

    Ross, since Heartland’s explanation of why they did this stupid thing is less than apologetic, and shows little insight into the problem, I hope you take the opportunity at your presentation to make your position clear.

    As an ex advertising person, I find it ironic that an outfit that calls themselves “Heartland” has such a warped perception of how the real heartland – whatever their views – perceives stunts like this one.

  26. bmcburney
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    Attempting to prove a point by asserting that the unibomber, Fidel Castro and others believe the opposite is not only a self-evidently feeble argument, it pushes the conflict onto a battlefield the team have chosen and where they feel comfortable. It is a terrible mistake for skeptics to act in this way or to respond in kind when the team does.

    What the team says (their evidence, analysis, etc.) is not especially credible. They rely on their authority, on who they are, to give credibility to their message. With a few exceptions, the skeptic side has better arguments and worse resumes. Setting good taste and mental hygiene aside, if we make this about personalities, the warmists win.

  27. Manfred
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    Now sceptics have extremely high standards as close to no external funding, open reviews, open data, open code, no censorship.

    Compare that with gigantic alarmist funding, massive special interest group interference, open activism, blending with out of context issues and beliefs, hiding of data, hiding of decline, endless repetition of known errors, lying to the public, infiltration of agencies, journals, media and scientific organisations, spread of fear, media and government propaganda, behind the curtain networking, hidden agendas, research grant fraud, breaking if FOIA laws, conspiration and bribery.

    Then it is just not that easy always to respond purely rational under such boundary conditions but it is still worth the effort to try to maintain them.

  28. EdeF
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

    Ditto Ross, Steve and Steve.

  29. DG
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    Hmm. The aggressor sets the rules, and in this case it is Rules for Radicals by the AGW lunatics. When Hansen speaks of coal “death trains” and the like, climate criminals etc. etc. etc., how can anyone criticize Heartland of being untruthful? People are sick of being beaten over the head by AGW fanatic’s lies, so it is about time to fight back as long as it is factual.

    I agree with Lubos on this. There is nothing untrue Heartland is conveying. Perhaps they should use quotes by Hansen, Suzuki, Romm et al…..they aren’t any less kooky than coming from the Unibomber.

    So if HI were to use direct quotes by any MULTITUDE of scientists calling for imprisonment, blacklisting peers etc. would that suit those that are attacking HI? Probably not.

  30. Jon von Briesen
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps most shocking is the HI considers “Global Warming” to be the theory of their enemies, that must be attacked. I would think that most of HI’s speakers have no problem at all asserting that the globe has warmed, over past century [if not the last 15 yrs.].

    HI has blown the approach that the real enemy doctrine is the Catastrophic emphasis of AGW advocates. It appears they don’t understand their own message.

  31. Ted Swart
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    It is a sad day to see Heartland make such a blunder so soon after the Gleick affair. I agree with everything that Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, Donna LaFramboise and many others have said about this blunder. Now that Heartland’s president Bast has withdrawn the billboards — without a full apology — it must be very difficult for invited speakers to know how to react. It is not surprising that they will not necessarily all react in the same way. And we should all respect the decisions which they make as being both very personal and very difficult.

    The sad thing for me is that the focus in CA and WUWT and has been on putting genuine science back into the exploration of the Earth’s climate. And the billboards were, at minimum, a not very savoury deviation from this focus. It is all very well to correctly point out that unsavoury characters such as Bin Laden were AGW advocates. It is,however, illogical and unhelpful to imply that all AGW supporters are equally unsavoury.

    The good thing about CA and WUWT is that they can be supported by anyone who understands the nature of genuine science in action and wishes to foster it. It is a delight to feel that our personal political leanings or religious associations or lack thereof do not need to get in the way of joining in this noble quest.

  32. bahamamamma
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

    Heartland’s posting of the advertisement was an embarrassment and their failure to issue prompt (and abject) apologies shows that there is something seriously wrong at the top level.

    How could they? If their aim is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory they just made a good start.

  33. Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

    I’d like to wholeheartedly agree with M&M and others. Many of whom I consider to be among the best of the “Senior Statesmen” of climate investigators. Who are leading efforts establishing a credible baseline for factual, science based climate realism.

    It’s good that M&M and others are advocating taking the “High Road” in this particular incidence. Primarily because it’s important to insulate the hard science and the true facts from some of the other, perhaps less lofty venues and forms of communications.

    We can wish that HI would strive to take a similar tact. Primarily because it’s clear there must be one or more higher profile institutions helping to formulate and carry the facts and the science realized by climate realism outward, to as many of the less informed people as possible.

    Of course it’s possible that HI doesn’t wish to take on that roll. And if that’s so, they certainly have every right shy away from it with gusto.

    However, if HI wishes to be perceived as a serious minded organization leading the way in climate realism, which I believe they have repeatedly proven themselves to be, for the most part. They must resist urges to strike out in clever ways such as the billboards that have fueled this entire thread. And they must do so even when their clever message is spot on.

    Simply put, they must leave the clever messaging to those who are not as closely associated the “Senior Statesmen” of climate investigators. To do otherwise distracts from the higher knowledge and messaging they have been attempting to impart.

    With all that said, we must accept that all human beings operate within their own level of interest, study, and cognition. Regarding CAGW, and for every other important issue as well. And clever messages do reach and inspire interest within some people, while others require more cerebral messages to reach and inspire them.

    So let’s allow for HI making an occasional misstep, and stop bashing HI right away. After all, many of us reading here probably accept that HI has had, and do have, many worthwhile goals. And that they have contributed mightily in pushing climate realism farther forward than it would have been pushed without their (appreciated by me and many others) often times Herculean efforts.

    Last, perhaps it’s a good idea for some of us to forge communication venues for some clever climate realism that won’t in turn weigh down the efforts of the “Senior Statesmen” among us who have worked diligently to establish a credible baseline for factual, science based climate realism. And if we do that, perhaps we can enjoy in that clever fun too! But let’s do so from a respectable and thoughtful distance from the “Heartland” of climate realism.

    A personal PS to SM (as if this post isn’t already far to long).

    Steve, it’s good to see you interested, involved and posting. I hope you will make a habit of it once again. But my well of respect for you is deep enough to accept and appreciate whatever decisions you make. I wish you nothing but the best. However you choose to define the best to be. You’ve earned that and so much more here with your climate work, and more than all of us combined can ever even begin to possibly re-pay. So do whatever makes you happy. And I and many, many others will be pleased just to know as often as you wish, that you are doing well.

  34. Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    HI’s billboard reminds me of Paul Krugman’s 6/28/2009 NY Times column equating climate skepticism with “treason against the planet”:

    But Krugman’s inexcusable column does not excuse HI’s similar behavior.

  35. Posted May 6, 2012 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Doesn’t the Heartland Institute have some sort of oversight committee to make sure someone’s head rolls when something like this happens?

    But, we really ought not get carried away here. Every major organisation screws up at one time or another. Clearly someone’s head ought to roll, but I seriously doubt the Unabomber ad is a reason to disassociate oneself entirely from Heartland completely. Heartland is not there to give people a free ride, and to watch them cut and run as soon as something goes awry. Strange how some of the people acting the most indignant today were also among the first in the limelight defending Heartland when the Gleick scandal broke.

    There ought to be more to this than looking out for one’s own interests. Someone’s head needs to roll and an apology issued, of course, but let’s not get carried away. Once the responsible person is fired and an apology issued, then business ought to resume as before. Unless Heartland stays stupidly obstinate about it, I see no reason to cancel scheduled speeches or to file for divorce.

  36. Ron C.
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    Warmists were eager to point out that the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Breivik, is a climate change sceptic. So it didn’t take long for some sceptics to point out that the Unabomber is an articulate global warming alarmist. -snip-

  37. Posted May 6, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    So is it fair to point out that some of the leading wackos and crazies are CAGW advocates?

    I’m inclined to think it is irrelevant to anything meaningful, but it is an interesting observation, indeed one that is interesting enough to deserve some thought. As a result, I’m not all that exercised by the billboards.

    Probably a dumb PR move, however, particularly since it is inflammatory and Heartland had recently been riding high as the ‘nice guys’ following the Gleick affair. Not a smart move to squander any of that political capital with a cheeky ad campain. Also, I’m not buying the “it was just a 24 hour experiment” explanation. Would be interesting to know if the billboard campaign had its initial genesis before or after Gleick.

  38. gnomish
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    whoa! censored? a legitimate, polite comment that conflicts with the narrative was censored, eh?
    while you complain about heartland offending allies?
    you just lost all respect from me. you don’t get a second chance.
    enjoy your cult.

  39. Steven Mosher
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    disparagement by metaphor is a weak rhetorical attack. it alienates at best and backfires at worst. these tactics are stupid and dont work.

  40. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    It is good to see that the HI antics were soundly and publicly discredited by some of the better known names of the non consensus persuasion. I suppose the question becomes whether HI is a partisan body who wants to affect policy through these emotional appeals or through providing a means for a reasoned analysis of AGW and related policy. As a libertarian I have never been that much interested in what HI’s policies and charter were, although I have always thought that, while some of it members had some reasoned arguments about AGW, others had a bit too much of an edge on generalizations about what we know about AGW that might lead to the silliness of a Rush Limbaugh, who can always show weaknesses in the opposition arguments on various topics, but then ruin his own credibility with outlandish statements, like for example, calling global warming a fraud.

    I would think that HI could play a positive role in the AGW discussion but in order to do that this imbecilic episode must be totally refuted and further a statement about how HI plans to proceed and avoid these episodes in the future is required. The very weak apology and calling the signboards an experiment does just the opposite of what I have prescribed above.

  41. jim west
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

    I’m not convinced that Heartland’s billboard will turn out to be the great PR disaster that many here are painting it as. Given its widespread and very public condemnation by many of the most prominent sceptics, and its rapid discontinuation, it will serve as a very useful point of contrast between the generally high standards of those on the sceptic side, and rank hypocrisy of many high profile alarmists. After all, the alarmists are basically applying a comparable slur every time they use the term “deniers”.

  42. Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre, May 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM:

    Yes, it’s unfair that similar condemnation did not rain down on thinkprogress, desmog and similar blogs for their similar use of Breivik to smear skeptics

    Hi Steve

    I agree that there should have been more condemnation of ThinkProgress when they posted that article about Breivik. I did react myself, in the comments on Grist when they re-posted the ThinkProgress article – I said:

    I’m a climate scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre and a lead author on the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, and my personal opinion is that this article [on Anders Breivik] is extremely unhelpful. If you need to resort to these kind of tactics to support your argument then it gives the impression that you are not confident enough in the actual scientific evidence for climate change- which is a bad move because the actual scientific evidence is pretty good. Because climate scientists are associated with guys like you in many people’s minds, you are indirectly undermining our scientific credibility in order to make your political point. I for one would like to take this opportunity to distance myself and my science from your politics and tabloid journalism.

    You and most of the folks here are very wise to distance yourselves from Heartland’s billboard ad – it threatens to do the same to you as I felt ThinkProgress were doing to climate scientists, making it look like they (and hence everyone on their “side”) don’t have a serious argument and therefore have to resort to smear tactics.

    All these non-science arguments, such as association with particular unsavoury individuals, or “vested-interest” funding (whether it’s Big Oil or WWF) or whatever, are mostly completely pointless and only encourage the other side to do the same. Whichever side we’re on, let’s stick to discussing the evidence rather than getting distracted with slanging matches!



    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

      Richard, I appreciate your view on this. Unfortunately, non-science arguments have been popularized by Naomi Oreskes, Michael Mann and others, with Mann’s recent book heavily dosed with non-science. My impression has been that the climate science community has praised, rather than condemned this. Against this backdrop, your occasional blog comments are very welcome.

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:00 AM | Permalink

      good advice. i hope that ross and the other speakers take a few minutes out of their presentations at heartland to publically rebuke them on their own turf and then move on to the science.

  43. woodNfish
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    I guess the lesson to learn from this is that the truth hurts the truth-teller. So just keep lying to each other and, “don’t worry, be happy!”

  44. pdxrod
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    ‘The Guardian’ reported on the billboards, but hasn’t reported on the decision to take them down, a result of pressure from sensible people north of the border. The Guardian wants to portray all skeptics as Sarah Palin clones in the pay of big oil.

  45. Doug Proctor
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

    I wrote a highly critical response on the initial Heartland ads discussion on WUWT. I’m somewhat surprised by the venom I inspired. And the support Heartland has received for NOT repudiating the ads, for not apologizing. Tit-for-tat, an eye-for-an-eye: this seems to be important or at least “reasonable” for many.

    Is the idea that one’s personal and professional standing is impacted by who your “friends” are a peculiar, Canadian thing?

    We want people to speak up and challenge those who claim to represent us but (we say, on the sidelines) do not. Except, I suppose, when they actually do. Even sort-of do.

    Interesting times.

    • Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

      “this seems to be important or at least “reasonable” for many.” I don’t know; perhaps a few. Maybe there were some reactions to your specific comments, but the sense at WUWT has also been highly concerned about Heartland’s actions. The comments are easily 10:1 critical of Heartland’s actions.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

      It seems to me that Canadian “skeptics” were more offended than Americans. I think that one of the reasons is that some of us (e.g. Donna, Hilary, me and even Ross though he’s conservative) do not regard Heartland as, in any sense, our spokesman on policy or much else, whereas their politics is more in accord with many American “skeptics”.

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

        I wonder if any of it has to do with different political/social climates in the two countries. Do Americans maybe just have different expectations than Canadians in regards to “dirty behavior”?

        • Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

          I’m not sure it reflects anything deeper than the fact that Doug ran into a couple of very vocal individuals, including one particular individual who tends to be agressive, confrontational and demeaning to anyone who disagrees with him. The great majority of commenters (including the great majority responding to Anthony’s simple poll) think Heartland messed up. There may be some slight differences in political sensibilities between residents of the two countries, but I don’t think we can read too much into this from Doug’s unfortunate experience.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

          climatereflections, I’m not trying to read anything into Doug or McIntyre’s experiences. I’m just curious if there is a difference between the two countries which would explain/contribute to what they observed. I don’t really know what things are like in Canada on a social/political level, so it’s a hypothetical I think could be explored.

          In other words, I’m going in the opposite direction. I’m asking is there a difference? If I get a yes to that, then I’d ask if that difference could be the cause. But I could ask that same question even without their anecdotal experiences.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

          Canada is more “liberal” than the overall US. More like New York state or Massachusetts. Republican social issues have negligible to zero traction here. Our federal government is fiscally responsible i.e. our federal budget deficit per capita is about 5% of US levels (more or less, I haven’t parsed.) Negative advertising exists, but is not as dominant. And has really backfired on occasion in the past. Phrases like “protecting our freedom” are either not prominent or don’t exist in our political discourse. Few people in cities own guns; certainly noone that I know.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:54 PM | Permalink

          It sounds like the differences could easily explain why Canadians are more offended.

  46. Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    A number of people have queried me on my plans regarding the conference at this point. Upon seeing the billboards I (and others) asked Joe Bast to take them down and to his credit he did so promptly. I know people weren’t happy with the non-apology (it’s not what i would have done) but my demand was that the ads be removed, and that was met. People of ordinary goodwill came away disheartened and angry by all this, weary of getting cut on the shards of all the glass houses littering this wretched street. Meanwhile the crowd who hated Heartland last week continue to hate them this week, but with renewed glee and righteous energy, and there will be much delirious piling on for days to come.

    My intention as of the weekend was to go and present at the conference as planned, because I was booked to take part in a debate panel that I thought would be quite interesting and enjoyable. However, since then I have learned that the other party declined to attend. This is too bad since I think it would have been a very interesting and beneficial exchange of views. It was on the expectation of that event that I had originally agreed to take the time to go to the conference. Since that session won’t be happening I have let Heartland know I won’t be attending after all. Like I say, it’s too bad since, notwithstanding the billboard fiasco, I was looking forward to the session I was booked to speak in.

    • theduke
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

      I think you are selling yourself short, Ross. Any exchange of views you would engage in would be of interest to a large number of people regardless of who was on the panel with you.

      I’m also concerned about your cancellation being used as yet another cudgel by Heartland’s detractors against them. They’ve taken some hard hits this year.

      On the AGW side, there is little separation between the scientific and the political. The scientific is the political for many of the scientists who promote that theory. As a layman with training in history and several years reading this blog and others, I believe that confirmation bias is the rule and not the exception in much of what passes for mainstream climate science. Policy and politics are formulated based upon this science every day. Enormous amounts of taxpayer money is allocated with little oversight on how it is spent. This money could be spent much more advantageously to combat human suffering and dysfunction elsewhere.

      Groups like Heartland are opposing this avalanche of what is often frivolous and wasteful spending. When we belittle them for their occasional mistakes, we diminish their ability to fight the political fight effectively.

  47. Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    I agree with Ross that You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while equating the other side to terrorists and mass murderers.

    But I note that Heartland did not retract that equation, just the billboard expression of it. The web site expression of it is still there, and there has been, nor will be (according to their statement) an apology. And further investigation shows that this is not the first time Heartland has gone to that well.

    Then, too, I see in the comments that it’s pretty common here to agree with that equation. Even by people who claim to want ‘debate’. Again, I refer to Ross’s statement.

    For the folks who are interested in science, I took a look at what Heartland has had to say about sea ice. It’s a topic I know a fair amount about. The look spanned over a decade and quite a few articles of theirs. Their science standards, at least in this area, are terrible.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

      I don’t know how much more unequivocal you expect Ross or I to be. Similar positions have been taken by Hu McCulloch, Donna Laframboise, Hilary Ostrov and most non-anonymous commenters that understand the prerequisites of communication with people who disagree with you. Unfortunately, some partisans do not agree. I think that that’s too bad, but to argue that the views of such partisans are representative of this site is an unjustified slur.

      I note that you did not speak against similar and, in my opinion, even worse slurs by thinkprogress and desmog and others, where Breivik’s actions were linked to named skeptics. Or speak against those “warmists” who, even after 10:10 had been called out, took no exception to the video, saying that they found it funny. (See Revkin’s post).

      Your solicitude would be more convincing if you first called out your “allies” or people perceived to be your allies, before calling out opponents. For you, criticizing Heartland is easy. If you criticized Joe Romm or Brad Johnson for similarly contemptible conduct, that would be more convincing.

      • Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

        Unequivocal would be, say, to condemn it without talking about how you feel the people you don’t like do the same or worse. Or to withdraw from the conference unless the equation was retracted and apologized for, not merely that the billboard expressing it be taken dow, even while leaving up the web site discussion and reaffirmation of the equation.

        I was pretty clear that it is some commenters on this site who agreed with the equation. They did. It was obviously not Ross, nor you. If you consider it a slur for me to make a truthful observation about your comment section, that’s probably your lookout for what you allow in your comment section. If you’re fine with the contents, then you should be fine with truthful observations about them.

        If I had to write up my thoughts on every ‘opponent’ of yours before I could comment on anything here, they would be some awfully long posts. I’ve made public and semipublic comments about most of what you name, and quite a few more besides. Plus, in some cases, private ones directly to the actors involved, sometimes leading to them making changes.

        But viewing it as opponents and allies is not going to do any good for the science. If you want to be my opponent, so be it. I’d rather be pursuing the science, which, per my final comment — that you don’t take up — Heartland looks to be doing very poorly with. If you are as well, then we’re allies. If you’re considering Heartland your ally, against whom I can say nothing because they’re your ally, or because you haven’t seen me say enough against the people/groups you consider your opponents, then we don’t have much common interest.

        Briefer — I’m interested in discussion, not debate — for the long version, see

        I take up the line of Ross’s that I quote because it’s a comment that I’ve made myself for years, in a number of contexts. Heartland does not provide such a venue. Comment section here does not either. Nor at Romm’s, Thinkprogress, or quite a few others. My blog does, as I do bounce equating the people you disagree with to mass-murderers. But, then again, I think that’s only come up once. And, of course, my major topic is sea ice, which few care about.

        • TerryMN
          Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

          Re: Discussion – For starters: does this look right to you? (It does to some).

          Plz snip if too OT / flippant…

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

          Unequivocal would be, say, to condemn it without talking about how you feel the people you don’t like do the same or worse.

          I did that first and unequivocally. As did Ross. I did so without reference to any grievance against desmog or thinkprogress. I referred to their contemptible posts only after some time had passed.

          I agree that the language of “opponent” and “ally” is unhelpful. I’ve tried to stay pretty clear of Heartland though I spoke at two conferences. In my 2010 speech, I spoke sharply against the antagonism and over-charging that characterized the attitudes of many attendees. It was one of the reasons that I attended. I spoke sharply against the Cuccinelli thing which was then in the air.

          However, I think that you will agree that for me to condemn thinkprogress or desmog’s Breivik articles would be perceived as partisan, as compared to my criticizing Heartland or Cuccinnelli, though I don’t share the political views of either Heartland or Cuccinnelli.

          Equally, it doesn’t take much moral courage for you to criticize Heartland, while it would take a little backbone for you to speak out publicly against desmog or thinkprogress.

        • Robert Grumbine
          Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

          Er, Steve ( — the first comment or post of yours on your blog is the above first comment” “I wrote to Heartland endorsing Ross’ letter in the strongest possible terms. 10:10 was inappropriate as well. That doesn’t justify the Heartland billboards. This sort of bell is not easy to unring.”

          That does indeed invoke the 10:10 video. Not, therefore, unequivocal in my book. “They screwed up.”, full stop, is unequivocal.

          I’ve spoken out publicly against people you’d consider my ‘allies’. So, sure, I’ve got that much backbone.

          More to the point is the fact that a major activity of your blog, and of yours, is to attack and condemn people for not doing as you think they should. Adding Heartland to the list, which you haven’t done in a post of your own yet, is no change from your normal posting theme. Except as to the fact that they’re one of what you consider your ‘allies’, and you normally only attack your ‘opponents’.

          And, more to a different point, I’ve never been a speaker or author for desmog or thinkprogress. You’ve been a keynote speaker, twice, for Heartland. You have associated yourself with them, voluntarily and publicly. I have no such association with desmog or thinkprogress. Again, as to backbone, to take your phrase, you’re not doing well.

        • Gerald Machnee
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

          **More to the point is the fact that a major activity of your blog, and of yours, is to attack and condemn people for not doing as you think they should. Adding Heartland to the list, which you haven’t done in a post of your own yet, is no change from your normal posting theme. Except as to the fact that they’re one of what you consider your ‘allies’, and you normally only attack your ‘opponents’.

          And, more to a different point, I’ve never been a speaker or author for desmog or thinkprogress. You’ve been a keynote speaker, twice, for Heartland. You have associated yourself with them, voluntarily and publicly. I have no such association with desmog or thinkprogress. Again, as to backbone, to take your phrase, you’re not doing well.**

          This blog’s activity is not attacking people, but their bad science.

          And you still have not replied to Steve’s comment. You “mention” desmog and thinkprogress but do not comment the same way you are complaining here. So you leave the impression you agree with them. Not being a speaker there says nothing. You noted that the makers of 10.10 apologized. What did you say?

        • trisk
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Permalink


          You are being silly and augmentative. Steve’s response was unequivocal under any reasonable definition of the word. It was unambiguous; clear; having only one possible meaning or interpretation. What part of “…that doesn’t justify the Heartland billboards…” did you not understand?

          The point you are trying to make is strained and foolish.

  48. therussellcook
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    While I do understand Ross McKitrick’s & Donna Laframboise’s concerns here, with all due respect, dwelling on Heartland’s mistake really only gives AGW’ers the excuse to keep broadbrushing ALL skeptics as daffy and unworthy of consideration, which has been essentially their sole talking point to dissuade the public from listening to skeptics. We need to regain the high ground of the narrative and turn this from a defense position into an offense.

    “Heartland Institute ‘Unabomber billboard’ brings out Global Warming Alarmists’ One-Trick Pony”

    • Robert Grumbine
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

      Rather the opposite. If there’s no objection from the ‘skeptic’ quarter to Heartland’s behavior, it’s fair to think they are indeed ok with it. Laframboise’s response, and to correspondingly lesser degrees, McKitrick’s and McIntyre’s, are among the few things to point to as illustrating that any who call themselves ‘skeptics’ should _not_ be lumped with Heartland. Almost the entire Heartland speaker list is still attending, for instance. McKitrick notes here that he’s not, but not because of the billboard and web page equating the majority of Americans to serial killers, but because his debate partner won’t be attending.

      Now, since Heartland has confirmed that they are not apologizing for what they did, it’s also fair to think that they don’t see any problem with what they did. The 10:10 producers that McIntyre referenced immediately, _did_ apologize.

      • therussellcook
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

        Fascinating how Grumbine, in spectacularly missing the point of my 1st comment, is yet one more among many who don’t refute a word I say about the 17 year+ smear of skeptic climate scientists. David Appell is also among those who can’t rise to the occasion in this particular instance:

        • Robert Grumbine
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:14 AM | Permalink

          McIntyre’s blog hardly seems the place to ‘refute’ something unrelated that you say at some other blog. That other blog has its comments closed, so it’s also not possible to address anything there. Convenient.

          But, in terms of ‘refuting’ arguments, I’ll suggest it’s better to consider ‘what would change my mind?’ Some of my own thoughts are in the comments, but the main post is Dan Moutal’s

          Steve: I agree that this debate is better done at the link provided above.

        • therussellcook
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

          “… something unrelated that you say at some other blog. That other blog has its comments closed …”

          Grumbine appears to be someone who wishes people to believe what he says without checking the veracity of what he says. All three blogs’ comment sections on this billboard situation – mine at A.T., Appell’s and Heartland’s – are still open (Grumbine is more than welcome to post his comments at any one of those three), and what I say at those is directly related to what I say here, which centers entirely around diversionary tactics used by AGW’ers to distract the public away from learning about widespread skeptic criticism of the IPCC.

    • Robert Grumbine
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

      I followed your link. Is it really a good thing to rely on sources which talk about a report being ‘thousands’ of pages, when it’s actually 868 — 137 of which are listing names from the OISM petition? (Appendix 4)?

      Elementary numeracy should count for something.

      • therussellcook
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

        Astute readers of course will see my link led to the NIPCC Reports page, reportS plural, that is. Elementary observations and full disclosure should count for something. Fascinating how Grumbine wants to draw everyone’s attention to a page number count, but offers not a word of rebuttal to the content of the NIPCC Reports.

        But Grumbine is known for such shell games, his 2008 blog ( ) described his monstrously time-consuming attempt to debunk The Oregon Petition Project by showing how he could not find a single AGU Fellow who had signed it, but he could not bring himself to show the full context of my comment which detailed how I’d found several such Fellows signers inside of 10 minutes’ worth of common sense searching.

  49. Posted May 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    Yes, this is stooping to ‘their’ level. But consider:

    – Many usuals here were open-minded and persuaded by a superior statistical product after careful consideration. This will simply never appeal to 95% of the population. In a democracy, that is a problem.

    – CAGW is a beleif at an emotional level for its most ardent supporters – it just feels true that nature is eventually coming back to punish us for our decadent ways.
    Spinoza said the only way to overcome an emotion is with a stronger emotion. In this case, you need a strong emotional trigger to even get someone to consider challenging their own dearly held beleifs. This is not a rational or logical message – it is an emotional challenge.

    – Ad Hom is a fact of life in current U.S. political discourse. Unless every political candidate and their campaign team are complete idiots at their job, it is probably the strongest means of persuasion based on how campaigns spend their time and money today.

    Ross, Steve, et al, please never stoop on the science. Maintain open data, code, and never seek to massage results for a cause. Maybe you feel like you need to distance yourself to keep this up.
    However, think about the 10 (?) years now that you’ve spent and still most of the relevant organizations will not discredit the hockey stick. And these are people whose job is examine the subject. Now how are you going to persuade the common man? You’re neither marketer, nor lobbyist (thankfully), you’re a scientist. Be you need to let these people persuade where it has always been done – on the subconcious, irrational level.

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    Hilary is another Canadian voice for civility.

  51. Ted Swart
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    Thanks Steve for drawing our attention to Hilary’s contribution to the discussion. Her very last word in describing HI’s billboard exercise and its pseudo apology — namely “disheartening” — seems to strike exactly the right note.

20 Trackbacks

  1. […] private letter to Joe Bast earlier from Ross McKitrick, and I agreed with Ross in a reply. He has posted it on Climate Audit so I’ll share an excerpt […]

  2. […] The strongest condemnation from someone often associated with the climate skeptic sphere has been issued by Ross McKitrick at Climate Audit. It came in the form of a letter addressed to Heartland […]

  3. By A stupid move | Climate Nonconformist on May 5, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    […] McKitrick is absolutely spot on. Share this:FacebookTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  4. […] if the ads were not removed. Another speaker, climate sceptic Ross McKitrick, called the ads “fallacious, juvenile and inflammatory” and believed the campaign “sullies the reputation of the speakers you had […]

  5. […] dat Joe Bast, de president van Heartland, de posteractie onmiddellijk heeft gestaakt nadat Ross McKittrick met deze brief op Climate Audit aangaf dat hij de conferentie zou mijden als de posters blijven hangen. Het is […]

  6. […] 4:30 PM: Ross McKittrick’s Letter to Heartland Institute: “I am absolutely […]

  7. […] also wrote down an explanation. People such as Ross McKitrick protested and the billboard was removed within 24 […]

  8. […] economist Ross McKitrick said in an a strongly-worded letter to Heartland yesterday: You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while […]

  9. […] McKitrick Letter to Heartland […]

  10. […] stick to beat you with, and sullies the reputation of the speakers you had recruited,” he wrote in a letter to Heartland’s president, Joseph […]

  11. […] created a fuss and a few letters of concern (click here, click here, click here) so it was withdrawn the next […]

  12. […] weigh itself against standards of its own. Behaving properly so as to not give others a ‘stick to beat you with‘, especially when the ‘others’, consist of unprincipled opportunists however, […]

  13. By Heartland disheartens « The View From Here on May 6, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    […] it’s not that this has not been pointed out to them before. As Steve McIntyre has noted: In 2009 and 2010, they sent advertising materials to speakers ahead of time. Not to invite comment […]

  14. […] stick to beat you with, and sullies the reputation of the speakers you had recruited,” he wrote in a letter to Heartland’s president, Joseph […]

  15. […] Ross McKittrick n’a pas non plus ménagé ses mots à l’égard de l’institut, à qui il a demandé de retirer sur le champ la campagne, ce qui a été fait quelques heures plus tard. […]

  16. […] sceptic and economist Ross McKirick isn’t happy either: You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while equating the other side to […]

  17. […] debate further.” Ross McKitrick, another Heartland global warming expert and ICCC speaker, wrote a scathing letter to Heartland President Joseph Bast calling on Bast to take the billboard down because the billboard’s fallacious, juvenile and […]

  18. […] the political rhetoric some degree of separation is impossible in such a convention environment. As Ross McKitrick demonstrated in his rebuttal so well, scientists don’t like mixing with ugly political rhetoric, and political activists […]

  19. […] […]

  20. […] debate further.” Ross McKitrick, another Heartland global warming expert and ICCC speaker, wrote a scathing letter to Heartland President Joseph Bast calling on Bast to take the billboard down because the […]

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