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Bast on Forged Memo

February 27, 2012

An Analysis of the Forged “Heartland Climate Strategy” Memo

By Joseph L. Bast
The Heartland Institute
(Fake Memo PDF)
(Bast Analysis PDF)


Fakegate: A Short History 

On February 14, 2012, an environmental activist named Peter Gleick sent to 15 fellow activists and sympathetic journalists several documents he stole from The Heartland Institute, along with a forged memo he claimed was also from Heartland. On February 20, Gleick confessed to stealing the documents but claimed the forged memo came from an “anonymous” source.

The forged memo, titled “January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a mixture of text copied and pasted from the stolen documents and original commentary by the forger. By distorting and misrepresenting the plans set forth in the stolen documents, the fake memo paints a false and disturbing picture of Heartland’s motives and tactics.


False Claims

The memo contains several false statements about The Heartland Institute’s work on climate change. Following is our refutation of some of the most damaging claims:

  • The Charles G. Koch Foundation does not fund our climate change efforts and did not contribute $200,000 to us in 2011. The foundation has issued a statement confirming that its 2011 gift of $25,000 – its first to Heartland in ten years – was earmarked for our work on health care reform, not climate.
  • “[D]issuading teachers from teaching science” is not and never has been our goal. As the “Fundraising Plan” clearly states, we are working with highly qualified and respected experts to create educational material on global warming suitable for K-12 students that isn’t alarmist or overtly political. We don’t believe this should be controversial.
  • We do not seek to “undermine the official United Nation’s [sic] IPCC reports.” We have openly and repeatedly shown that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports are not peer reviewed in any meaningful sense, exaggerate the certainty of scientific understanding and forecasting abilities, and are written and promoted to serve political rather than scientific objectives. We have produced two highly regarded volumes of scientific research, part of a series titled Climate Change Reconsidered, showing how peer-reviewed science rebuts many of the IPCC’s claims.
  •  We do not pay scientists or their organizations to act as spokespersons or to “counter” anyone else in the international debate over climate change. We pay them to help write the Climate Change Reconsidered reports, in much the same way as any other “think tank” or scientific organization pays the authors of its publications.
  • We do not try to “keep opposing voices out” of fora, such as, where climate policy has been debated. The truth is just the opposite: We send Heartland spokespersons to debate other experts at fora all across the country and invite persons who disagree with us to speak at our own events.
  • We are not “cultivating more neutral voices” by reaching out specifically to Andrew Revkin or Judith Curry. I do not view Revkin as a neutral voice in the debate.


Finding the Forger’s Own Words

I say without qualification that I did not write this memo. However, some of the text in the memo was copied and pasted from or closely paraphrases the stolen documents, authentic versions of which I did write.

Attached to this analysis is a copy of the forged memo with the forger’s own words highlighted. All un-highlighted text was taken from one of the stolen documents.

Notes: Text that is not highlighted is not necessarily accurate, and often it is not. Such text generally paraphrases text appearing in one of the stolen documents but was deliberately twisted or falsified to create a false impression. Also, if you plan to print this memo, be sure to specify printing “Document and Markups” to preserve the highlighting.

A line-by-line analysis of the memo follows.

First paragraph: Except for the titles of the “2012 Proposed Budget” and “2012 Fundraising Strategy,” this entire paragraph is the forger’s own words. The writing style differs from mine in several ways, including: I always capitalize the “T” in “The Heartland Institute,” the author of this memo did not. I avoid referring to policies or ideas as “dangerous,” since that implies the use of force (or fraud) might be justified to stop or suppress them.

Second paragraph: The forger’s own words appear at the beginning and end of this paragraph. The phrase “Anonymous Donor” in the first sentence appears several times in the Fundraising Plan, though not as the “key Anonymous Donor” as he is referred to by the forger. The numbers in the first sentence are taken from the “2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report,” one of the stolen documents in the “Binder1.pdf” document. The title of that document also appears in that sentence.

The second sentence reads, “He has promised an increase in 2012 — see the 2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report.” This apparently is based on the statement on page 20 of the Fundraising Plan that “In January 2012, he pledged $1 million.” The title, “2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report,” is taken from the stolen document by that title.

The third through fifth sentences read:

“We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests.”

This statement is erroneous, since the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave $25,000 in 2011, not $200,000, as reported on page 22 of the Fundraising Plan, and the gift was earmarked for our Free To Choose Medicine project, not climate change, a fact confirmed by the Koch Foundation. It appears to be a distorted and inaccurate paraphrase of the following text on page 7 of the Fundraising Plan:

“The Charles G. Koch Foundation returned as a Heartland donor in 2011. We expect to ramp up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to the network of philanthropists they work with.”

The final clause of the fifth sentence and the entire final sentence of this paragraph are the forger’s own words.

Third paragraph: Part of the bold-faced title of the paragraph — “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” — is copied from page 18 of the Fundraising Plan, where it reads “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools” [italics added]. The first sentence is a direct copy of the following sentence from the same source: “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.” The second sentence is the forger’s, with the author once again substituting “classrooms” for “schools.” The third sentence is made up by the forger, but ends by repeating the name of the project as it appears in the Fundraising Plan, this time using “schools” instead of classrooms. (The Fundraising Plan is consistent in referring to “schools.”)

The fourth sentence is a word-for-word copy and paste from the Fundraising Plan, which in turn is a word-for-word copy and paste from Dr. Wojick’s bio on Heartland’s Web site. The fifth sentence is the forger’s words. The sixth sentence is an attempt to paraphrase the Fundraising Plan, again on page 18, which reads: “We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $5,000 per module, about $25,000 a quarter, starting in the second quarter of 2012, for this work.” The forged memo reads, “We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012.” Note the error: The Fundraising Plan forecasts spending $75,000 in 2012, not $100,000.

Fourth paragraph: The title, first two sentences, and first part of the third sentence are the forger’s own words. The third sentence says we “support the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nation’s [sic] IPCC reports.” This is wrong. We don’t try to “undermine” anything, we critique, answer, and rebut them straight on and in massive reports (800 pages in the 2009 report and 400 pages in the 2011 report) and in six international conferences so far.

The rest of the third sentence and the rest of the paragraph in the memo paraphrases this text from page 13 of the Fundraising Plan:

“Heartland sponsors the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international network of scientists who write and speak out on climate change. Heartland pays a team of scientists approximately $300,000 a year to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered, the most comprehensive and authoritative rebuttal of the United Nations’ IPCC reports. Another $88,000 is earmarked for Heartland staff, incremental expenses, and overhead for editing, expense reimbursement for the authors, and marketing. NIPCC is currently funded by two gifts a year from two foundations, both of them requesting anonymity. In 2012 we plan to solicit gifts from other donors to add to what these two donors are giving in order to cover more of our fixed costs for promoting the first two Climate Change Reconsidered volumes and writing and editing the volume scheduled for release in 2013. We hope to raise $200,000 in 2012.”

Note another error: The memo says we spent $388,000 in 2011 and “Expenses will be about the same in 2012.” This may have been derived by adding the two figures in the text above in the Fundraising Plan, or taken from Table 2 on page 7 of the 2012 Budget. But the memo writer says “Another $88,000 is earmarked this year for Heartland staff, incremental expenses, and overhead for editing, expense reimbursement for the authors, and marketing.” The text is a copy and paste from the text highlighted above, but the author double counts the $88,000.

Fifth paragraph: The paragraph purports to describe our “Funding for selected individuals outside of Heartland.” It is all the forger’s own words, but the names of three scientists (Craig Idso, Fred Singer, and Robert Carter) and the amounts they are allegedly paid per month were taken from the 2012 Budget, Table 3 on page 7.

We do not fund Idso, Singer, or Carter to “regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message.” They (or more accurately, in two of the three cases, their organizations) are paid to write and edit the multi-volume NIPCC report, described in the previous paragraph. This results in another error: The forger double reports spending that was described in the previous paragraph.

Sixth paragraph: All but the final sentence of this commentary on the state of the global warming debate is the forger’s own words. The final sentence was copied and pasted from pp. 19-20 of the Fundraising Plan. Errors in the contents of this paragraph include the claim that we can somehow “keep opposing voices out” of Forbes. We cannot and do not keep anyone from blogging at Forbes. No one here at Heartland would imagine that we have this power, or would make this a goal. The memo author also refers to Andrew Revkin as one of the “more neutral voices” in the global warming debate. No one here would agree.

The last sentence of this paragraph reads, “We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.” This is taken from the following discussion of a project on pp. 19-20 of the Fundraising Plan:

Anthony Watts proposes to create a new Web site devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA’s web site and converting them into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public. Watts has deep expertise in Web site design generally and is well-known and highly regarded by weathermen and meteorologists everywhere. The new site will be promoted heavily at

Heartland has agreed to help Anthony raise $88,000 for the project in 2011. The Anonymous Donor has already pledged $44,000. We’ll seek to raise the balance.


Computerized Text Analysis

Efforts apparently are underway to use authorship analysis software to find the true author or authors of the memo. Since the memo contains so much material copied and pasted from, or paraphrases of, my own writing, such a comparison of the content and writing style of the forged memo and the stolen documents wouldn’t rule me out as a possible author of the memo. I hope persons conducting such analyses will use the text highlighted in the forged memo attached to this current essay, rather than the entire memo, so that their investigation is limited to the actual words of the forger rather than my own.

Since I am a prolific writer, other samples of my writing can be found easily by going to, clicking on the “PolicyBot” button, scrolling down the page a bit, and then clicking on my name. The results can be sorted chronologically. Writing by other Heartland staff and spokespersons can also be found using this search tool.

Finally, I should point out that the cover essay of the current issue of QPR, Heartland’s quarterly report to our supporters, contains a summary of ten new projects that began as a copy-and-paste from the Fundraising Plan. That essay should not be used as a sample of my writing since I have shown that the forger copied from and paraphrased the language of that same document.

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