When documents from Heartland Institute went public, showing strategy and funding for various climate-related research and advocacy projects, some folks immediately hailed it as a scandal to compare with the “Climate-gate” email embarrassment of sometime back. “Denier-gate” and even “Heartland-gate” were the hastily suffixed monikers for the news story.
But then it was discovered that the leak was the result of an inquiry made by a major climate-change activist, Peter Gleick, who had been slipped some allegedly damning documents and asked Heartland for more information . . . posing as a member of the group’s board of directors.
Even more discrediting to Gleick is the fact that he published the original anonymously supplied documents — some of which appear to be fabrications — along with documents he obtained from Heartland, as if they all had the same provenance.
Worse yet? His own defense. Saying that “rational public debate is desperately needed,” he confesses that his own “judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”
Absurd: Gleick’s opponents were not preventing debate, they were insisting on real debate rather than automatic, quasi-religious acceptance of “scientific findings.” Worries about who supports what may be interesting, especially in a political context, but are not relevant to the search for truth or to scientific debate. Relying on who supports what and whom commits the ad hominem fallacy.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.