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« NZ Science Media Centre hides the evidence | Main | RP Jr on Fakegate »

More Megan

Megan McArdle is still riffing on the Heartland documents and has come up with some interesting new bits and pieces. For a start it appears that the Koch Foundation were not actually funding Heartland's climate change activities but their work on healthcare. I don't suppose we will be reading about this on the pages of the Guardian.

She also has a useful summary of the evidence about who the faker might be.

For me, this leaves the most fascinating question of all: who wrote it?  We have a few clues:

1)  They are on the west coast

2)  They own or have access to an Epson scanner--though God knows, this could be at a Kinkos.

3)  They probably themselves have a somewhat run-on writing style

4)  I'm guessing they use the word "high-profile" a fair amount.  

5)  They are bizarrely obsessed with global warming coverage at Forbes, which suggests to me that there is a good chance that they write or comment on the website, or that they have tangled with writers at Forbes (probably Taylor) either in public or private.

6)  The last paragraph is the biggest departure from the source documents, and is therefore likely to be closest to the author's own style.

7)  I have a strong suspicion that they refrained from commenting on the document dump. That's what I'd do, anyway.  A commenter or email correspondent who suddenly disappeared when they normally would have been reveling in this sort of story is a good candidate.

8)  They seem to have it in for Andy Revkin at the New York Times.  There's nothing in the other documents to indicate that Heartland thinks Revkin is amenable to being . . . turned?  I'm not sure what the right word is, but the implication in the strategy memo that Heartland believes it could somehow develop a relationship with Revkin seems aimed at discrediting Revkin's work.

Unfortunately, I'd imagine that this is still a sizeable set of people, and it will be hard to identify the author.  I suspect that it will be easier to do if the climate-bloggers--who may well know this person as a commenter or correspondent--get involved in trying to find out who muddied the story by perpetrating a fraud on their sites.

I had to smile at the last bit. I wonder whether we climate bloggers can think of anyone who might fit the bill?

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Reader Comments (57)

Peter Gabriel? Paul Gascoigne? ** Woodhouse? Paul Gauguin? Paul (Michael) Glaser?

I'm sure he's not the author of "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" (Pantheon Books, 2011).

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Based on someone's previous "engage mouth before brain" tirades (or possible "write review before reading book" skills), it does seem strange the silence from certain people...

Probably just skiing.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I like Peter Gabriel's songs.... 'Big Time' is a favorite!

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

"Probably just skiing"

Only if she (because a he couldn't possibly be this devious) could locate some snow. But wasn't that meant to be a thing of the past?

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Somewhat ironic if this pathetic fabrication leads to jail time for the perp whilst other more prominent ones that the authors parade so openly (and that cost us all billions) go unpunished. Maybe in time it'll be a warning shot, but I doubt it whilst *they* control what the masses see and hear.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

From this article by Megan McArdle -

The foundation of journalism is accurate sources. Anyone who considers themselves to be in the business of informing the public about the truth should care very deeply when faked documents make it into the public record. They should especially care if their own work has been the vehicle.

I mistakenly attributed this to Richard Black in the previous thread. My apologies to Mr Black.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

I wonder when it'll be all known as Petergate?

PS there's surely a cottage industry in the making for fake memos by Heartland, CRU, the IPCC, the Suzuki Foundation etc etc. Not for Al Gore of course, his own public statements are caricature enough.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Sound science will, unimpeded by the hysterics, lead to sensible public policy. It is my belief that the final conclusion will be that CO2 produced by humanity will be found to be of only minor importance for global climate and that it will be heavily outweighed by exchange of heat with oceans of evolving temperature and other factors such as solar-determined cloud formation. But I am open to evidence and, alas, a lot of global warming hysterics in the scientific community (and especially in the non-scientific, political community) have their ears stopped with gobs of wax.

In conclusion, global warming is an unchallengeable “consensus” only among those who deeply yearn to save the planet. The conviction of those politicians and activists and (few) scientists that debate is destructive is itself destructive. It arises from the dungeons and dragons psychodrama going on in the minds of those deluded saints – where they embody themselves as the White Wizards and the skeptics as the Morlocks.

(Bold highlighting by yours truly)

I think she has it about right.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

There was a time in days of olden
When 'twas said that silence is golden
Yet thanks to a scientist, an expert on water
Who dared not speak, though many thought he oughtta
His inactions are leading to conclusions unvarnished
That Gleick, by his silence, has glitter much tarnished!

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I am struggling with the amount of finger pointing that is going on about the identity of the " forger" at this very early stage and on the basis of some very weak "evidence".

The people who are doing this are either privy to some extra information or they ought to prepare themselves for the possibility that they may be going to have to make some pretty abject apologies.

I like a witch hunt as much as the next guy...but I like to be absolutely sure I am hunting the right witch.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Athelstan, that comment is in fact cited by Judith - it comes from Michael Stopa's blog. He is a professor of physics at Harvard (and works in an area not a million miles from my own). I wonder if our occasional visitor Russell knows him?

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

I have to chip in my 2 penneth and opine that a more likely source of the leak is a bedroom hacktivist who has read Kevin Mitnicks book on social engineering. Then having got a giggle out of the the papers played their hand a bit too stupidly and added the mash up document to the bundle and sent it to their hero's at desmog.

That still wouldn't detract from the pretty mess the media have got themselves into having themselves been duped by the social engineering angle of their simple minded expectations.

Yet another great article from McArdle shaming the her socially engineered gullible colleagues.

Feb 18, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Jeremy Harvey @ Feb 18, 2012 at 9:51 AM |

Blimey how slack - Jeremy - thank you, sorry my error, apologies to Prof Stopa and to Judith too.

"I wonder if our occasional visitor Russell knows him?"

I wonder indeed.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I don't think it is wise to jump to conclusions about the identity of the faker unless more pointers can be uncovered. If the faker is not Gleick then he or she will be quite pleased that the finger of suspicion is pointing in the wrong direction.

Even if it is Gleick, the strength of the evidence is probably not sufficient to cause him to lose too much sleep over it.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

It takes only one person to create a fak
e. It takes two or more to form a conspiract............ but takes many to perpetuate a lie.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered Commentermac

To be fair, Judith is quoting from Mike Stopa's blog. Mike is "a Physicist at Harvard University and a life-long, fiscally conservative Republican" which probably means that he can be safely ignored by all "right thinking" people as a rampaging denialist nut-case.
None the less what he says makes sense. There is "considerable, scientifically justified doubt" about the feedback effect of water vapour and he cites Solomon et al, "Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming” .
(The link is to
It seems to me that there is an increasing concern among physicists that many climate scientists are placing more emphasis on CO2 and positive feedback than the empirical evidence warrants.
As one who (literally) has ongoing problems with gobs of earwax(!) I can understand the analogy. But there is a Yorkshire saying: "there's none as deaf as them as wants to be" and when opening your ears can mean your sugar daddy tightening the purse strings, deafness seems a sensible option.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

The guardian have update this story to 'correct a quite' from one if the documents..

Ie removed the referbce to the fake dissuade teachers from teaching science. Which they knew was highly suspect, when it was written..

As Goldenburg is the US correspondent, I hope heartland have a copy of the original....

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Don't believe a word that eco-loon, polar-bear-loving, warmista-cuddling, tree-hugging, hockey-stick-worshipping, CO2-is-plant-food-denying Megan McArdle says.

She's one of them! The, is the real-fake a non-fake copy of the actual-fake or a non-fake facsimile of the original real-fake that was faked to look like a non-fake, analysis is pure obfuscation. It's all just a devious plan to distract us from the cool hard scientific fact that we're heading for a new ice age. 7th paragraph:

I should also probably note that I disagree pretty strenuously with Heartland's position on global warming. I not only believe that anthropogenic global warming is happening, but also support stiff carbon or source fuels taxes in order to combat it. While I've expressed some dismay at the behavior revealed in the leaked Climategate memos, they haven't changed my mind about the reality, or the danger, of global warming. I'm not defending Heartland's stance on climate science; I'm mostly interested in this because I have a longstanding fascination with fake quotes and documents.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered Commenteranivegmin

Re: Jack Savage

> I am struggling with the amount of finger pointing that is going on....

I think Steven Mosher originally started this speculation here. At the end of the comment he says:

Its not proof of course, just a speculation, kinda like Mann speculating that Steve mcIntyre had something to do with the leak. which nobody objected to.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Well, so far, the Heartland Institute is coming out of this kerfuffle looking pretty good. The Big Oil conspiracy / largesse smear of the climate hystericals has taken a knock. Trashy journalism in the BBC, the Guardian, and the New York Times has been exposed for all to view, and the demented of such as Desmogblog have had a very public excursion into smear and innuendo. In summary, those on the side of science and calm reason have gained a little ground, those on the side of propaganda and panic have lost some. And perhaps Megan McArdle will gain insight into the quality of the people who make so much noise to keep the scaremongering about climate alive and well. It may not yet be mortally wounded, but she has given it a jab with her spear.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I think it's a dangerous thing to be fingering that gleick guy because should it turn it it wasn't him then thus will just be used to add more distraction to the waters to drown out anything said against their religion.

That bring said, here we have a committed Mann Made Global Warming (tm) believer doing the work that a journalist from a neigh on FOUR BILLION POUND a year organisation could do, actually investigate something! Sadly Black not only utterly failed to exhibit ANY kind of journalistic integrity, he instead allowed his creationist belief in the religion of Mann Made Global Warming (tm) to misinform (deliberately?) the BBC's readers.

It's because of bloggers like Bish, Watts, this Megan person etc that the MFM have found they have been sidelined. You con no longer go to the BBC for 'trusted' news.

What a sad, sad state of affairs we find ourselves in!


Feb 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Like many, I am hanging fire on any accusations of fakery. On the other hand there is no doubt a great deal of slipshod and partisan journalism has taken place.

Unless HI show otherwise there is only one document at issue here, the 'strategy memo'. Everything else seems completely innocuous, though it's regrettable that the privacy of donors has been invaded. But it's about time that the questioning of skewed climate 'science' became a thoroughly honorable cause. There's big stuff at stake and a clear need for more open analysis than has been the case to date. Organisations like Heartland, funding and organising this movement, are rare.

What it all comes down to is choice of language in one memo. Really, is this the best 'smear' that the eco-zealot activists can come up with? We know the likes of Mann wanted to fund a smear campaign against MacIntyre. Looks like they've just shot their wad.

Feb 18, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Fakergate thickens...

Leo tweeted 14h ago "Climate scis + health profs write open letter calling for funding of climate sceptics to be revealed #Heartland #eg"

The letter was at this address

It isn't there now.

The Guardian says: "In a letter that was published on Friday and then subsequently removed, more than 30 leading health professionals and scientists from the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand called on Heartland to come clean. "What motivates the Heartland Institute? As climate scientists and health professionals, we view the systematic manipulation and suppression of climate science for private benefit as confusing at best, and inhumane at worst," the letter said.

"It is in the public, national, and global interest for all funding behind their activities to be revealed. This allows people to make up their own minds about the truth of the climate change threat, so that action can be planned in the light of reality rather than the murky shadows of secretly funded disinformation.""

The letter began thus: The Climate and Health Council release the following in response to Heartland Institute document leaks. Call to reveal ALL funding behind climate sceptics What motivates the Heartland Institute? As climate scientists and...

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Maurizio Morabito

That's interesting how come such sturdy people, "climate scientists and health professionals" no less, have change their minds with so much flakiness, in such a short space of time? Why have they withdrawn their pearls of wisdom from us unworthy swine? ;)

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

It is amazing how some people will do anything to meet an end - the end justifies the means. Smear sceptics in the name of the cause. - that is acceptable behaviour. As they say in Football (UK version) play the man not the ball.

It is about religious zeal and not science as we all know. Any amount of real world data can be ignored and replaced with "certainty" off the top of someone's head or from a computer model. As was said recently Met Office global warming forecasts - never right, but never in doubt. I was told a few months ago that to utter even an agnostic view there is a disciplinary offence. And this is science???

BUT the worst aspect of this affair for me is the Gruniad. I seem to remember that they declined to publish much on the ClimateGate emails because they were "stolen", even after the provenance of the material had been confirmed, but jump straight in here on what appears to be a faked document. And this is just the least bit of their hypocrisy.

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

Yeah, forget about Gleicko. Else, if, as and when the forger is revealed, the warmie gang won't hesitate to dump all the fallout on his/her head. What they are did and are doing even now with Heartland is beyond my understanding, even if the fake document were not to be fake.

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Maurizio Morabito,

It has been reposted within the last hour. There is now no mention of the Heartland leak.

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

"Given the disproportionate influence given to climate sceptics by the media"

B*stards the lot of them all. Evidence they haven't. The British Council has just published a report showing there are almost ZERO quotes by climate sceptics in the media.

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

One senses that a quite a few lukewarmers have just about had it and are turning deniers LOL

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterFitzcarraldo

Thanks Gareth, judging from the quote shown by the Graun, the new version looks a little short of content or purpose now. Oh dear! Now they just come out with an identitkit statement overlarded with the customary unctuous self-regard and empty posturing. Shame :)

They have nothing to say but aren't we ever so humble and great and aren't they ever so awful. If Dickens was alive today he would have to nail that modern creepy enviro posturer type with some archetype - not quite Uriah Heep but getting there.

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

"I think Steven Mosher originally started this speculation here. At the end of the comment he says:

Its not proof of course, just a speculation, kinda like Mann speculating that Steve mcIntyre had something to do with the leak. which nobody objected to."

TerryS... You have a good point. But.... although what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander...... not if the goose sauce was unpalatable in the first place. Seems a shame to risk the moral high ground for lack of a couple of days of patience. miss the point that the leak/hack of the CRU emails was the act of a good person. I would have been proud to have been "accused" of being the leaker/hacker!

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Yesterday Roger Pielke Jr said that he had emailed Gleick to ask him if it was him and that in the past Gleick had usually replied quickly (or words to that effect). Well there is no mention of any reply yet ...

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

I agree, speculation about the faker's identity is a fun pastime, but not very constructive. At least not without much better forensics ...

Personally, I would be very surprised if it where a more public ('high-profile') warming figure. The likes of Gleick may have a very twisted perspective on reality, suffering from illusions of grandeur and savior syndrome and hold beliefs such as narrated in the fake-memo. (Don't many of them?)

But they are not stupid bordering recklessly careless risk taking like this. This memo caters to the belief system of the followers, to reinforce their feelings of belonging to the righteous side ... and it does so in a quite clumsy and amateurish way. So poorly, that it takes an effort (or self imposed ignorance) to disregard how implausible that memo is at describing a 'strategy' for any action.

There are hordes of activists (of all kind of weird leanings) around the trenches of the climate wars, who are candidates for such an effort. And the fact that the fake was produced only an hour before the DeSmog posting is far more interesting, I think:

If the files were delivered as one package, sent to DeSmog by the alleged leaker/insider, this means that they must have read through most of it, found the juicy bits, decided it was good enough (and authentic) and written a posting about it. In one one hour flat!

And I still can't discard the possibility that this may be someones twisted idea of a student prank (someone who doesn't have a bone of his own in this fight), playing and poking fun at both sides of fence. Because that is the only way I can see that this was done with clever intelligence ...

But in the end, my bet would be on some stupid activist ...

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Where are all of the apologists? ZBD, BBD etc. They are all very quiet...

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Jimmy H, I've seen BBD once, trying lamely to deflect the issue:

And this affects the atmospheric physics how?

Feb 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Maurizio Morabito

I think the good doctors at the Climate and Health Council were giving us a demonstration of the patellar reflex.

Incidentally, I see Fiona Godlee is on their board. She has a bee in her bonnet about the funding of sceptical think tanks. She was last heard of supporting Brendan Montague's application to the Information Tribunal.

Feb 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Did Peter Gabriel play the glockenspiel as an instrument in that piece of music?

Feb 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Re: Maurizio Morabito

These demands to reveal "sceptic funding" are just a smoke screen. In the vast majority of cases it would actually be illegal to reveal personal details about who has made private donations and they know it.
The sole purpose behind this is so that when the sources of the funding are not revealed they can and will claim "See they have something to hide". It is intended as a smear tactic and not a genuine attempt to obtain funding information.

Feb 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Of course the other motive TerryS is to get the names and addresses of those donating money so that they can be targetted, either physically or otherwise.


Feb 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

[1] The fact that someone forged a document, is more important than who did it.

[2] The fact that the activists and scientists believed in the forgery, is more important than what's in the letter.

Feb 18, 2012 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

The Guardian and Desmog know well that it is impossible to 'prove' the forgery. Which is why they are sticking to their guns. The Guardian must be the most dishonest thing that ever existed.

Feb 18, 2012 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

The Guardian's stance is hardly surprising when you consider that Alan Rusbridger, who is one of the backers of 10:10, owns 11.1% of the Guardian.

Feb 18, 2012 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Do you have any more background on Alan Rusbridger?

Feb 18, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Re: Bernie

Only what I have been able to get from the internet. One interesting little factoid is that his daughter was a moderator on Cif (comment is free) at the time of the original Climategate release. She goes by the handle BelleM. I don't know if she is still a moderator.

The nine main shareholders of the Guardian are:

Dame Liz Forgan
Larry Elliott
Andrew Graham
Will Hutton
Maleiha Malik
Carolyn McCall
Geraldine Proudler
Alan Rusbridger
Jonathon Scott

Each of them owns 11.1%.

Feb 18, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

@ Mike Jackson,

As one who (literally) has ongoing problems with gobs of earwax(!) I can understand the analogy. But there is a Yorkshire saying: "there's none as deaf as them as wants to be" and when opening your ears can mean your sugar daddy tightening the purse strings, deafness seems a sensible option.

Agreed Mike,

'Cockin' a deaf un', is THE option and; 'There's none so blind as those who will not see'.

Indeed, I am open to be persuaded, clouds and the dynamics of their formation + water vapour, the sun, ocean heat and multidecadal oscillations, what I really do want to know is what triggers a return to a glaciation and an ice advance - because it doesn't take long [some say as little as 10 years] and that to me is very worrying - a little warming imo is a good thing ;^)

Feb 18, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


Checking with the ABC figures on circulation suggests that Rusbridger is therefore on some sort if self-immolation mission - he's collapsed sales for his foetid rag by over 16% in a single year. Clearly the distortions peddled by his staff are alienating customers in droves.

This object lesson in professional hara kiri is, amusingly, dwarfed by the efforts of The Independent, who have managed to deter over a thousand buyers every week in 2011 (27% of sales). A rich reward indeed for how these two two misery sheets seek to disinform through ever more risible 'green' lies.

In marketing terms both are described as 'quality' newspapers. Indeed, both are of a 'quality', and will soon share an additional 'quality' with News of the World, Today and the Sunday Correspondent.

For my part I despise what they have become - I am a former reader of both titles but will not pay to read delusional activist rantings - clearly I am not alone.

Feb 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

I've been cold and I've been warm. Believe me, warm is better!
As has been proved time and again over several thousand years. Whatever nature is planning to throw at us I suggest we learn to live with it because for sure there is nothing we can do to stop it whichever way the thermometer is heading.

Feb 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Athelstan: the bistability is by step change of cloud albedo when tis falls then rises.

In booth directions the amplification is a form of biofeedback.

Feb 18, 2012 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

The Climate and Health Council release the following in response to Heartland Institute document leaks. Call to reveal ALL funding behind climate sceptics What motivates the Heartland Institute? As climate scientists and...
Feb 18, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Maurizio Morabito

The Climate and Health Council is an offshoot of the British Medical Journal run by editor Fions Godlee and her coven of left wing activists masquerading as medical publishers. (She's the one who tweeted about Gordon Brown's sexual magnetism).

The funding question I would like to see answered is - who funds Skeptical Science blog?

Compared to amateur efforts like the Bish, Watts & McIntyre - it's very obviously a highly professional website with multiple interactive, multicolour, multilingual sections and a team of international correspondents.

That doesn't come cheap and when I challenged Dana Nuccatelli here once - he insisted it all came from John Cook's pocket as he struggled to feed his wife & kiddies from his meagre earnings blah blah.

I think the funding of SS could be a good story.

Feb 18, 2012 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Terry S
"The nine main shareholders of the Guardian are:

Dame Liz Forgan
Larry Elliott
Andrew Graham
Will Hutton
Maleiha Malik
Carolyn McCall
Geraldine Proudler
Alan Rusbridger
Jonathon Scott

Each of them owns 11.1%."

I'm puzzled, I thought the Guardian was owned by a trust (the Scott trust?). How did this crowd end up owning it.

Feb 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

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