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Heartland Institute Learning To Troll On Billboards 735

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tim-mcveigh-was-vegan-too dept.
Fluffeh writes "The Heartland Institute is a lovely group of folks who take issue with mainstream climate science. They organize an annual get-together of like minded folk and talk trash about environmental change. 'The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society.' (That's from a press release!). Recently, when they were tricked by a researcher into sending him a lot of internal documents, they decided to go on the offensive and also get some more media attention. After all, any story is a good story, right? Launching a billboard with the Unabomber on it with the slogan 'I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?' was just the start, with the institute planning Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and possibly even Osama Bin Laden. That's when even their stout backers threatened to walk away, backing started to dry up — and it seems that common sense started to prevail — but only so far as to stop them from making their message too public."
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Heartland Institute Learning To Troll On Billboards

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  • crazy (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:08AM (#39925947)
    Shills for the oil industry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      crazy

      Shills for the oil industry.

      Strictly speaking shills for the oil industry are not crazy, just immoral and money-grabbing.

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @10:31AM (#39927533) Homepage

      Shills for the oil industry.

      Well, they are funded by the fossil fuel industry (not just oil; that includes coal), or by billionaires whose money comes from in the oil industry. (For this campaign, anyway; they also work on other issues.) Whether this makes them "shills" is a value judgement.

      What we learn the billboard, however, is simply this: the Heartland Institute is a policy advocacy organization, not a science institute. They are no longer even pretending to have any interest in actual science. Their only interest in science is to attack it in order to make policy points.

      They have stated this before-- Joseph Bast, the president of Heartland, stated that the Heartland Institute's focus is "commitment to a free market policy agenda," and that the main motivation for the Heartland Institute being involved in this debate is to "prevent the U.S. government from adopting policies that favor renewable energy," which he claims would cause an "economic disaster for the country."

      But, despite clear statements that their agenda is related to policy, not science, people have been taking their attacks on science seriously.

      Some links:
      http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/2012/01/ethical-analysis-of-the-climate-change-disinformation-campaign-introduction-to-a-series.html [psu.edu]
      http://mediamatters.org/blog/201107070016 [mediamatters.org]

  • Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and possibly even Osama Bin Laden

    Wow, I never knew that Ted Kaczynski and the above crew were quoted on Global Warming. So, upon reading the article I found that:

    How did Heartland justify the comparison between murderers and tyrants and anyone who believed in global warming? "Because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the 'mainstream' media, and liberal politicians say about global warming," according to the press release that announced the ads. It went on to claim that "[t]he people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society."

    Wait, so you're telling me that you're putting pictures of some of recent history's most hated and feared men next to quotes about believing in Global Warming?

    Congratulations, Heartland Institute, your argument is now so depraved that you've reduced yourselves to holding up pictures of Hitler in a public forum while pantomiming your opponents. Is that reductio ad ridiculum or is this so childish that people didn't even bother coming up with a Latin phrase for it?

    So they won't mind if I put up a billboard that reads

    "... and when this Earth is fucked
    the free market will build us a better one."
    (read more at www.heartland.org)

    • "... and when this Earth is fucked the free market will build us a better one."

      Thing is, I can genuinely imagine them thinking this is worth a try.

    • by bjourne (1034822)

      Wait, so you're telling me that you're putting pictures of some of recent history's most hated and feared men next to quotes about believing in Global Warming? Congratulations, Heartland Institute, your argument is now so depraved that you've reduced yourselves to holding up pictures of Hitler in a public forum while pantomiming your opponents. Is that reductio ad ridiculum or is this so childish that people didn't even bother coming up with a Latin phrase for it?

      Actually it is called "guilt by association" also known as Reductio ad Hitlerum [wikipedia.org] :). People come up with dog Latin phrases all the time.

    • by Zemran (3101)

      And before the 2nd war in Iraq, Bush would always talk about terrorism etc. in the same sentence as Saddam Hussein even though there was no link. He would talk about Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein in the same sentence even though they were enemies. He wanted to portray Saddam Hussein as the evil so he creates an image - we call this propaganda. Get used to it, it has been around for a long time. If people hear it often enough they will start to believe it. I often meet people that honestly believe that S

    • Funny (and sad) thing is that this advertising campaign will be very, very effective. It's not too childish or ridiculous for the target audience. It's what many are already thinking.

    • As Jon Stewart pointed out last night: Hitler believed an international banking conspiracy threatened to destroy Europe. Today there's an internal banking conspiracy threatening to destroy Europe ... and it's led by the Germans!

      Heartland believes there's a conspiracy to falsify science threatening to destroy civilisation as we know it. Today Heartland's conspiracy to falsify science is threatening to destroy civilisation as we know it.

      Oh the irony?!

  • Non sequitur (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:11AM (#39925973) Homepage

    I dare bet the unabomber, Castro, Manson and Bin Laden all believe(d) in breathing air as well.
    Does that make breathing air wrong all of a sudden?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:12AM (#39925983)

    ...giving them free publicity, meaning their "crazy pill" strategy to garner attention worked.

    Well done, Slashdot!

  • And? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HBI (604924)

    The word "denier" implies the debate is over. So why not do what the Heartland Institute is doing? Smear the shit out of the AGW believers. It's how campaigns are won, and this one is being won.

    How can you even argue that they should be doing anything different, if you assume that they actually believe in what they believe in. The other side is working off of false premises and has been admitting it - not quite openly, but admitting it - for 30 years. All that talk about the emergency not allowing for

    • Did you really think that politicians, an expression of the will of people, were going to let what amounts to a bunch of geeks tell them what to do?

      If you have a society where the people with a clue are not in a position to tell those in power what to do you end up with basket cases like Maoist China, early USSR or Taliban run Afganistan. Your resident buddy horse judge or a Sentator's catamite is not going to do as good a job as somebody with a lifetime in emergency services for example, and if they refu

    • by tbannist (230135)

      Eventually, I suspect the Heartland institute will be broken by global warming. They are becoming the face of opposition to global warming and when something really bad happens and people blame it on global warming. There's money and prestige in that, but also danger. Eventually, people will turn on them. The Heartland Institute will be dragged through the mud and destroyed. I know if they understand that they are going to be the fall guy on this one. When conservative voters wake up to the fact that

  • Wrong Questions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by georgenh16 (1531259) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:25AM (#39926063) Journal
    They're going about it the wrong way.
    You don't want people asking themselves why they care whether the Unabomber believed in AGW.

    You want them asking the right questions:
    1. Is the planet warming?
    2. If yes, by a significant amount?
    3. If yes, is it human caused?
    4. If yes, by a significant amount? (say >=30%)
    5. If yes, can we reverse it?
    6. If yes, should we reverse it?
    7. If yes, do the risks of not reversing it outweigh:

    - taxing your breath
    - crippling the world economy
    - billions of people poorer, governments richer
    - any and all other power grabs and loss of freedom that result

    8. If yes, what are the chances we'll make it worse by trying to fix it?

    There is a lot of doubt added for each of 1-6 (especially if you're a good scientist/engineer with healthy skepticism), enough that there's not good reason for any politician to even look at #7.
    Only 1-5 are actually science/engineering. The rest are political questions.
    Anti-AGW people like myself just like to point out that there is uncertainty in 1-6, and even if there wasn't, the answer to #7 is most certainly "NO".
    And for #8, here I cite the Aral Sea, the tire reef, solyndra, and the recent article about wind turbines causing warming as examples of wonderful government environmental "successes".

    P.S. If you're taking 1-6 as truth with zero doubt, you've got a religion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867)

      LOL plenty of wrong assumptions under number 7. And you don't exhale fossil-sourced CO2. At least I don't.

      And the warming around turbines is very localized. They stir up the air around them.

      • Re:Wrong Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:18AM (#39926571)

        And you don't exhale fossil-sourced CO2. At least I don't.

        I find that incredibly unlikely. You can argue the numbers but very roughly speaking a pound of "food" requires a pound of crude oil. The range of rational argument for the ratio is from 1/10 to 10 depending on the food, fertilizer, herbicide/insecticide, watering technique and source, shipment of all component parts, energy costs of refrigerated storage, capital investments in the transportation infrastructure (think of the giant blacktop parking lot full of SUVs in front of my local organic store).

        You can play enron accountant that if you exhale 1 gram CO2, that gram did technically come from atmospheric sources so it doesn't matter than 10 grams of CO2 was emitted to make it possible for you to eat the food. But thats enron accounting... 11 grams output into the air is 11 grams into the air no matter how you split it up.

    • Re:Wrong Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:28AM (#39928499)

      1. & 2. are settled science. There's always some "doubt" in science, but not in the way you use the term. People like you, or more accurately the people who tell you what to think, profit from muddying the waters. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt... it's not just for software anymore!

      3. & 4. are irrelevant. Who cares whose fault it is? If it's going to disrupt our lifestyles, we should try to stop it. This is just some religious fundie bullshit. "Oh, there's no way humans could affect God's plan!"

      5. That's what we're trying to do, but deniers are fighting tooth and nail to keep us from even trying.

      6. Yes, if you believe the science, the consequences would be severe. Not the end of the world, but a drastic reduction in quality of life for billions of people. But instead you've chosen to believe that all the scientists are in a big globe spanning conspiracy.

      7. Taxing breath Strawman! Crippling the world economy FUD! Billions poorer, governments richer Bullshit! Do you think the governments are going to make a massive money pit filled with gold coins or something? They're not going to be richer, they're going to immediately turn around and spend that money. So your statement should have been "oil execs poorer, working class richer". And yeah, I'd be fine with that as a pleasant little side effect.

      8. "Wind turbines causing warming." That story was revealed to be bullshit in the comments of Slashdot. It was only warming the area immediately around the windmill, not contributing to global warming. But of course, you wouldn't pay attention, because you want to believe all those stupid leftie ideas are back firing. You'll just gleefully go on spreading that lie 'til the end of time.

  • Fallacies are fun! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:27AM (#39926081) Journal
    Incidentally, I've heard that the late Mr. Bin Laden was a big enthusiast of the right to keep and bear arms...
    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Incidentally, I've heard that the late Mr. Bin Laden was a big enthusiast of the right to keep and bear arms...

      However I've heard he's secretly a Muslim and born outside the US, so your mileage may vary.

  • by hxnwix (652290) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:31AM (#39926107) Journal

    Another opportunity for Slashdotters to pity themselves for their victimization at the hands of a global scientific conspiracy. "We've been labeled deniers," the Slashdotters will lament, "it's ad hominem!"

    "In our view, these billboards just return the favor. It's how politics, I mean science and peer review, works! It's hard ball, and climate-change-anistas are big bully crybabies!"

    Indeed, it's reminiscent of how Copernicus, in his deep resentment of the Catholic church, formed the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun and then set about finding evidence of his pre-determined conclusion, labeling those who disagreed "deniers," and proceeded to build "scientific consensus" by using his position to deny grant money and publication to sensible, honest researchers!

  • by TheKnave (879982) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:32AM (#39926119)

    is that it makes the lunatic fringe much easier to locate.

  • by CuriousGeorge113 (47122) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:56AM (#39926311) Homepage

    The only reason they're trolling is to get some widespread attention. Regardless of the ethics, it works. People are going to see this story, go to their website, read some posts and be influenced by their message.

    Usually, trolls get down-voted to (-1 Troll). In this case, however, they made the front page. Not sure how that one worked out.....

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:14AM (#39926541)

    That is trolling. I hate the GW issue in general because it's so political.

    But indifferent to that, the heatland institute shouldn't have done that.

    I mean... I'm sure you can find a pedophile that likes kittens and then make a billboard that says "so and so likes kittens... do you?"...

    There are perfectly reasonable ways to make these arguments without resorting to these tactics.

    The pro GW factions have legitmately taken some body blows with the IPCC apparently not doing a very good job with the science, the universities and scientists apparently having some elitist ideas about what the public should and shouldn't know... and of course the "everything is caused by GW" meme being disproven abotu as often as it's claimed. The polar bear line was recently disproven in that the polar bears are apparently fine and the whole basis for claiming they were in trouble was specious. The scientist that proposed the notion is either under investigation or was disaplined in some fashion for creating the media circus.

    And of course the anti GW groups likewise take a beating on a regular basis because the world does appear to have warmed about 1 degree over the last 100 years and that is very worrying trend. And of course the oil companies keep funding counter studies not unlike the pro smoking studies done in 50s and 60s. So it's very worrying that such biased groups might be influencing the science.

    Long story short, it's impossible to trust anyone and it's a big political circus.

    This sort of ad doesn't make it better. It makes it worse.

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