Heartland ignorant of public relations – let alone science

You don’t have to hang around the internet for long to recognise the “silo” phenomena. The way the ideological group-thinkers will hang around specific sites feeding their belief. Then there is the “echo-chamber” – the way that bloggers and commenters in ideological silos will frantically circulate links and claims from ideologically approved sources for use by their ideological comrades.

It all seems to foster the illusion of a community which knows the Truth. Tame “experts” are elevated to saint-like status and other experts demonised. The community encourages faith that they are influential and larger than in fact they are.

In the past I have referred to such communities as “ghettos” – because they promote self-containment, self-reliance, and immunise their members from influences in the real world. I notice these phenomena to be very strong among religious apologists and climate change deniers/contrarians.

Sometimes the perverted sense of reality of these communities can cause them to make huge mistakes. Over this weekend we have seen one such example – the billboard advertising the Heartland Institute ahead of their annual conference dissing climate change science.

What a Koch-up!

The Washington Post reported:

“I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” read big orange letters next to the Unabomber’s infamously grizzled face on an electronic billboard along the Eisenhower Expressway outside Chicago, the Heartland Institute’s home.”

The billboard went live Thursday afternoon. But by 4 p.m. Eastern time, an outcry from allies and opponents alike led the Heartland Institute’s president, Joe Bast, to say he would switch off the sign within the hour”

As a libertarian think tank funded by major corporations the Heartland Institute should be expert in publics relations. If they can make such an egregious mistake in their area of expertise – just image how mistaken they could be in scientific areas which lie outside their expertise. Climate science for example.

As the Guardian said – how could they have got it so wrong?

It’s a huge back down – the institute was going to deploy images of Charles Manson, “tyrant” Fidel Castro and Osama bin Laden in future billboards. They have now cancelled these plans.

Even supporters of the Heartland Institute in the climate change sceptic/denier/contrarian communities have criticised the campaign and “Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who was to headline the Heartland Institute’s “annual conclave of climate-change skeptics” said  he “will not participate in the upcoming climate-change conference if the Heartland Institute decides to continue this ad campaign.”

So far, our local NZ climate changer deniers appear to be trying to ignore the embarrassment. Perhaps there are some issues of free travel involved?

See also: Nine out of 10 psychos agree: Heartland’s bonkers climate billboards need company!

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27 responses to “Heartland ignorant of public relations – let alone science

  1. For a “thinktank”, they have precious few thinkers.
    It’s amazing that nobody hesitated and said “Um, is this really a good idea?”

    First, they seem to have a very confused understanding of the Unabomber and what he said.
    Second, and more to the point, why not just use a picture of Hitler and mention him being a vegetarian and be done with it?
    Any high school student can see how laughable is the Heartland campaign.
    They’re not even trying anymore.


  2. It’s not the smartest move, but then neither was the 1010 campaign


  3. It’s not the smartest move, but…

    Aw, come on Andy.
    You probably don’t even understand what they did wrong. Something’s badly amiss but you can’t seem to articulate it.
    Go ahead.
    If you were on the payroll at the Heartland “Institute”, how would you have set them straight?


  4. By the way Ken, Koch is pronounced “Coke”, so the old joke “Koch Up” doesn’t make a lot of sense


  5. I believe a similar thing happened with the 10-10 campaign. A few (not all) of the sponsors pulled out as they felt that a video of schoolchildren being murdered in cold blood wasn’t a great vehicle for promoting their products.


  6. I believe a similar thing happened…

    That’s nice, Andy. Nobody cares what you believe.
    The Heartland Institute is a joke and it’s not possible to distract from this.
    Yell “Squirrel” as much as you like. It won’t help.

    Forbes has put out articles sympathetic to climate denialism in the past yet, nowadays, they seem to be moving in a different direction.

    Self-described climate-change “skeptic” Anthony Watts says he knows why the Heartland Institute shamelessly equated more than 97% of all climate scientists with terrorists on Thursday, when that make-believe “think tank” erected a billboard with the Unabomber’s mugshot and the caption, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

    “I think Heartland is suffering battle fatigue,” Watts told the Washington Post. “When you’re suffering battle fatigue, sometimes you make mistakes.”

    Ah… so that’s it. They’re victims in all of this….

    Yeah, battle fatigue. That line will work. It explains everything. The money will come flooding back. Just you wait. Any second now.


  7. That’s nice, Andy. Nobody cares what you believe.

    Actually the expression “I believe” is a euphemism for “I know”.
    As in “I know that sponsors pulled out of the 10-10 campaign because they thought the imagery of ritualised murder of schoolchildren to make a political point wasn’t the best way to sell consumer electronics”

    Ho hum.


  8. Andy, there seems to be even more funders withdrawing support from Heartland in recent days. And a petition aimed at appealing to remaining funders is underway.

    Seems to me like an extremely serious mistake on their part. Especially as more commenters are raising the question of them violating conditions of their tax exempt status by political action like this.


  9. Yes I agree Ken that Heartland have blundered and even more so that they have not shown any remorse.


  10. Andy, are any of your mates at Treadgold’s blog criticizing their action? Or are they doing their best to ignore it?

    Don’t one or two if them get money from Heartland – makes it embarrassing for them I guess? Especially if they are looking forward to a paid trip to Heartland’s conference!


  11. “Heartland has blundered but…but…but what about 10-10?”
    “Heartland has not shown any remorse but..but…but…. what about 10-10?”
    It’s won’t work Andy.
    The “magical balance fairy” routine will bring any of the money back.

    Or are they doing their best to ignore it?

    But…but what about….



  12. Don’t know about my Mates. I am not responsible for other peoples views or actions


  13. Nothing on that blog then. Telling?


  14. He has now Ken


  15. Who has, what?


  16. Richard Treadgold has posted something about this issue. That is what I meant to say. Sorry about the confusion


  17. Trust Richard to cock that up. I wonder what money he and his mates currently get from heartland – and who is travelling to their conference?


  18. No apology. After all this time and there is still no apology. Their own supporters think they’ve got it badly wrong, yet Heartland remains completely tone deaf. Nothing seems to reach them.

    The climate deniers have the Heartland “Institute”.
    Everybody else has NASA.

    Warming World 1880-2010 (NASA)


  19. Richard Christie

    Trust Richard to cock that up.

    Not all he cocked up


    I’m now probably persona-non-grata over there, lol


  20. How clueless can those dolts be not to understand Copyright Infringement?
    This is the Internet.
    It’s not that hard to understand.
    Why did nobody spot the problem well beforehand?

    Andy says:
    May 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm
    Do you think Tui gives a stuff? Yeah right

    Famous last words.

    Subject: Request to remove Copyright Infringement
    From: Nick Downes
    Date: Thu, 10 May 2012 08:54:19 +1200
    To: inquiries@wordshine.co.nz
    Dear Richard,
    I write in assumption that you, Richard Threadgold, are the administrator…

    Well, looks like they did indeed give a stuff.
    Poor Andy Scrase.
    Doesn’t understand scientific papers.
    Doesn’t understand complicated words in English…like “racism”.
    Doesn’t understand the law.
    The stupid. It burns.


  21. Charming.


  22. Richard Christie

    The stupid. It burns.

    You have to admit that it is out-rightly funny as well..


  23. This is Not Cool: Murderers, Tyrants, and Madmen


  24. Good news for the Heartland “Institute”.
    Coal money.
    Of all the industries that could have rushed to their aid, it turns out it was the coal industry that reached deep into their pockets. Such a surprise!
    They support their work fully.
    They have no qualms.
    Criticism? Why it’s all moot and pointless and absurd, donchaknow?

    The Coal Association and Heritage were not listed on the original conference sponsor list, but appeared to come in about a week or so after the appearance of the offending Kaczynski ad.

    Phil Gonet, the chief lobbyist for the 20 coal companies in the association, said he had no qualms about stepping in to fund the Heartland conference.

    “We support the work they are doing and so we thought we would finally make a contribution to the organisation,” he said, calling criticism of the ad “moot”, “pointless” and “absurd”.

    Gonet went on: “I made a contribution mainly in support of a conference that is designed to make balanced information available to the public on the issue of global warming … In general, the message of the Heartland Institute is something the Illinois Coal Association supports.”



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