Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Leaked insider docs from Heartland Institute goal: "dissuading teachers from teaching science" (ps hey Scholarly Kitchen do you support this?)

Yesterday I worried about the deceptive climate change related writings and work of one of the authors at the Scholarly Kitchen blog: Something rotten in the Scholarly Kitchen?

Basically, I wrote about how one of the authors at the Scholarly Kitchen - David Wojick - has been involved in some groups that have taken a decidedly deceptive anti-science stance on the issue of climate change.

I did not translate all of my worries into words because they were not completely formed. One of the reasons for my concern was the feeling that Wojick might be using his position in a apparently scholarly group to boost his authority in some way. Note - he has no apparent record of working on climate science yet he has written about it extensively with attempted authority.

Well, my unformed thoughts have hit me smack in the face today. Alexy Merz pointed me to this article published today:INTERNAL DOCUMENTS: The Secret, Corporate-Funded Plan To Teach Children That Climate Change Is A Hoax | ThinkProgress

The article quotes internal documents from the "Heartland Institute" discussing the development by one David Wojick of a "global warming curriculum for elementary schoolchildren that presents climate science as 'a major scientific controversy.' "

And more disturbing, the internal papers imply that they believe Wojick's curricula have great potential for spreading because of his connections to organizations involved in "producing, certifying, and promoting scientific curricula." So, in a way I think it is not a stretch to interpret his involvement in the Scholarly Kitchen as a way to boost his "authority" in academic circles even in the absence of any expertise in climate science.

And then as the evening progressed I found out more detail from the internal documents of the Heartland Institute that are even more disturbing:
Mind you, I generally try to avoid mixing writing about science and politics - and I am pretty open to diverse political points of view. But this is different.  The Heartland Institute and Wojick and others are using the same strategy used by Intelligent Design advocates. They want to "teach the controversy" and they want to make equivalent the thoughts of a few people with actual research by 1000s of scientists. I am all for freedom of speech and think anyone should be able to express their beliefs and opinions in a free and open manner.

The ultimate to me is in this leaked document:
Development of our "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" project. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain- two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.
Let me repeat one part:
His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.

UPDATE 4: More stories
UPDATE 5: 2-15 Kent Anderson, head of The Scholarly Kitchen blog responds and says actions of Wojick are irrelevant to his blog.

@phylogenomics @drs1969 it's an irrelevant topic to this blog. It's not a science blog, it's a publishing blog.

Incredible. So - apparently being paid to deceive about the science behind studies of climate change is not relevant to a blog about publishing which has a big emphasis on peer review and science.

UPDATE 6: 2-15 8 PM More stories

UPDATE 7 with even more links:


  1. *And* he gets $100,000 for it? Huh. Crime really does pay.

  2. Ah, you are finally realizing that America has a 五毛党 too. But of course, this being America, we spare no expense for our Fifty Cent Warriors, and the anatomy of our misrule is somewhat different.

  3. A comment from David Crotty who is one of the people who blogs at The Scholarly Kitchen

    Hi Jonathan,

    Wanted to drop you a line. I tried to leave a comment on your recent blog entry but I don't seem to have any of the proper accounts to do so (it won't seem to accept my Google account). Please feel free to post this on your blog:

    I can't speak as an official spokesman for The Scholarly Kitchen as no such thing exists. We are deliberately a diverse group, from a variety of backgrounds and holding a variety of opinions. To me, that's what makes it an interesting place. I regularly disagree with the opinions of the other authors, and they with mine. I often learn something new, or am forced to clarify my own thinking on a subject to better defend it.

    We are unpaid volunteers, and not connected in any meaningful way, other than playing some role in the scholarly communication landscape. Please don't fall prey to "guilt by association" (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/guiltbya.html) and please don't take anything one author says as representative of other members of the group.

    Though I made my feelings on climate science pretty clear in a recent comment thread (http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/02/02/mysteries-of-the-elsevier-boycott/#comment-43299) it seems a bit of a dodge here. If you wish to take David Wojick to task for his stance in this area, you'll get no objection from me. But it shouldn't be used as an excuse to dismiss an argument about open access mandates with which you disagree, particularly since it was someone else entirely who made that argument.

    There's a compelling set of reasons for increasing access to the scholarly literature that is quite capable of standing on its own without relying on red herrings.

    David Crotty

  4. I wrote back:


    Thanks for the email.

    I will post this - sorry that you could not do it directly,

    A few things to note

    1. I think my post (I assume you mean this one) is quite balanced.


    2. I stand by the statement:

    "So, in a way I think it is not a stretch to interpret his involvement
    in the Scholarly Kitchen as a way to boost his "authority" in academic
    circles even in the absence of any expertise in climate science."

    3. I ended the post with a question

    Wow. Not anything else to say here. I wonder if any of the other
    writers at the Scholarly Kitchen will comment about this.

    I would still like to see this

    4. I have tried (but maybe failed) to not accuse individuals at TSK of
    anything. However given the history of fraud, deception, fronts and
    bribery in some of the anti-science movements out there I think it is
    entirely reasonable to ask for those at TSK to clarify their conflicts
    of interest, their sources of funding and whether or not they support


  5. Follow up response to David (with some edits from what I emailed him)


    I think this has nothing to do with open access or not. And it
    really has nothing to do with climate per se (I think my thoughts on climate science are someone in the moderate camp). This is about
    Heartland and Wojick purposefully deceiving the public about
    scientific work that has been done. And I will not stand for it. I
    note - though I am clearly a pro-open access person, I am unlike many others in the arena in that I am also more than willing to
    go after inane activities of supporters of OA - from the spammy new
    journals, to PLOSs not so good commenting system, to inappropriate behavior anywhere. I still want to see OA spread, but I am open to the
    difficulties of doing it well ...


  6. The "2012 Climate Strategy" document (which Heartland says is a forgery) is the one that the shocking quotes come from. I noticed several suspicious things about it:

    1. It uses the term "anti-climate" to refer to Heartland's position -- a derogatory term which neither Heartland nor any other climate skeptic outfit ever uses to describe their own position.

    2. It is written in the first person, yet there's no indication of who wrote it. (Have you ever seen a memo like that?)

    3. The PDF is time-stamped with a Pacific Standard Time timestamp: 2012-02-13T12:41:52-08:00 But Heartland is in Chicago (two timezones away), and none of its directors are in the Pacific Time Zone. Most are in Illinois, and none are in or near the Pacific Time Zone.

    So it appears likely that, as Heartland claims, the document really is a forgery, and a clumsy one, at that.

  7. Thanks --- that doc does have some anomalous, suspicious qualities. But I note the NY Times article on the topic says

    "Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute. In an apparent confirmation that much of the material, more than 100 pages, was authentic, the group apologized to donors whose names became public as a result of the leak."

    So I am not so sure.


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