Fred Singer reacts to Deniergate

Earlier this week DeSmogBlog announced the release of confidential documents from the Heartland Institute, the industry-funded political pressure group based in Chicago.  As pointed out by Puckerclust last year, one of the Heartland Institute’s activities is smearing and vilifying honest scientists who are engaged in climate research.  Heartland has the habit of making things up about people and trying to destroy reputations by publishing falsehoods about people’s credentials.

Heartland is now claiming that one of the leaked documents, a “strategy memo” is a fake. Among the information in the supposedly faked memo:

“Our current budget includes funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”

If the memo is fake, it stands to reason that it would contain factually incorrect information.  Such detailed quantitative data should be easy to verify.

As it turns out, Fred Singer gave a presentation at the University of New Mexico last night, where I was able to ask him about it.

My question:

“You may be aware that in the news in the last couple days there’s a story that some documents were leaked allegedly from the Heartland Institute. And one of those says that you get $5000 a month from them.  Is that true?”

Fred’s answer:

“I read the story this morning on the internet.  My understanding is that someone–we don’t know who–impersonating himself as a board member of the Heartland Institute called them and pursuaded a secretary to mail him these documents.  That’s a criminal act…  Maybe if they find him he may go to jail.  But I want to answer your question.  The answer is yes.  …I don’t ask them.  They give money not to me.  Not to me, I get nothing.  But to the Science and Environmental Policy Project.   And what do we do with this money?  Well we in turn hire students whose job it is to review current papers in the literature and these are reviewed and get published in the NIPCC reports. So its a simple transaction.  We don’t gain anything from it, except satisfaction.”

It seemed notable to me that he didn’t deny the specificity of the amount he is paid, only where it goes.  To clarify, I approached him after his presentation and I brought up the supposedly faked memo again:

“I looked at the memo because somebody sent it to me.  And it said they pay you $5000 a month.”

Again, Fred told me where the money goes, but did not contradict the $5000 a month claim:

“I haven’t seen it.  And I hire students.  And we advertise for students.  I’ve now got a group of them visiting and reviewing papers.   I can’t review all these papers.  I don’t get any money.”

Of course, this doesn’t prove anything.  But it strongly suggests that the information in the confidential strategy memo is true.  If somebody was going to fake a document in an attempt to smear the Heartland Institute, why wouldn’t they include fabricated information to exaggerate Heartland’s misdeeds?  And if they already had the funding numbers that Fred Singer doesn’t deny, why didn’t they just release the original source of the information?




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9 Responses to Fred Singer reacts to Deniergate

  1. It seems clear from these links (the second one from Watts!), among others, that the strategy memo is fake but its contents are correct and the other documents are genuine:

    • puckerclust says:

      I think it’s too early to conclude that the document is fake. The evidence indicates that it contains factual information. If it’s faked, how did the fabricator get this information, and why didn’t he just release the original document that contained that information? The simplest explanation is that it’s genuine.

      • The “strategy document” is different from the others in many ways. Could be editorializing by the whistleblower, or added by HI in an attempt to discredit the whole package (but that would imply they knew in advance that the leak was happening). Fortunately, we don’t need to rely on it for anything, since we now have confirmation elsewhere.

  2. John Mashey says:

    Actually, I think the climate strategy document is irrelevant, and mostly distracts from going over the funding and budget documents in serious detail, as there are many useful facts.
    I didn’t see any real information in the strategy doc that was not in the others.
    It was certainly written in Bast’s style, and could have been dashed off in early January, but then, anyone familiar with that style who had the docs could have written it.

    • FWIW (not much), I agree. And I note specifically that $5,000/mo + $1,000/mo salary for Fred Singer are in the budget.

      John, do you know what Altria are getting for their money? And what is the Free To Choose Medicine project?

      • John Mashey says:

        Most likely, help with state nd local legislators to avoid raising cigarette taxes.

        Free to Choose: beats me, but probably against “Obamacare.”
        I really didn’t have the energy to dig around in their other newspapers beyond E&CN.
        Doing that was exhausting enough. Alternate reality is hard on the mind.

  3. Chris Winter says:

    This is just off the top of my head, but I also think that one document is a fake. I base that on the first two sentences, which I read at WUWT:

    “Given the increasingly important role the Heartland Institute is playing in leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming, it is useful to set priorities for our efforts in 2012. This document offers such a set of priorities.”

    First of all, the language is very stilted, and I doubt that an internal memo would pump up the organization that way. Second, January 2012 seems a bit late to be setting priorities for 2012.

    On the other hand, if someone did trick an HI staffer into sending material, that is the sort of thing they might write to summarize and emphasize what HI is doing.

    I could be wrong, but if I had to bet I’d bet it’s a fake.

  4. Pingback: The 21st Floor » Blog Archive » Deniergate: Oil Barons Caught Funding Classroom Anti-Science

  5. Pingback: Denialgate; oil barons caught funding classroom anti-science « From Stars To Stalagmites

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