A Well-Documented Strategy

Exhibit A:

“There is no experimental data to support the hypothesis that smoking causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis………any number of things can influence the onset of a disease. The list includes genetics, diet, workplace environment, and stress…….we understand public anxiety about smoking causing disease, but are concerned that many of these much-publicized associations are ill-informed and misleading……….the media continue to uncritically accept and vigorously promote an anti-smoking agenda…….after hundreds of millions of dollars spent on clinical research, and decades of screaming headlines, we have no more certainty today about smoking causing disease than we did decades ago……….if even a small part of the time and money spent trying to link smoking to cancer were spent instead on studying the other causes of cancer, millions of lives could be saved.”

Exhibit B:

“The claim that human activities cause climate change has not been scientifically proven……….it is a reductionist error and not keeping with the current theories of climate science to attempt  to assign each temperature change to an exclusive single cause………..the use of results from flawed computer models to frighten people by attributing catastrophic future change to current human activities may be misleading and is highly regrettable……..that emotionalism can override objective analysis is illustrated by the headlines………..despite millions of dollars spent by the government on climate modeling and research, many questions about the relationship between human activities and global temperature change remain unanswered……….indeed, many scientists are becoming concerned that preoccupation with anthropogenic global warming may be both unfounded and dangerous – unfounded because evidence on many critical points is conflicting, dangerous because it diverts attention from other suspected hazards.”

Now read the originals.

Exhibit A

“There is no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavourable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape…….any number of things can influence earth’s temperature. The list includes volcanic eruptions, variations in the amount of energy received from the sun, El Niños, and La Niñas – all of which are natural………we understand public anxiety about climate change, but are concerned that many of these much publicized predictions are ill-informed and misleading……….the media continue to uncritically accept and vigorously promote shrill global warming alarmism………after hundreds of millions of dollars spent on climate modeling, and decades of screaming headlines, we have no more certainty today about global warming prediction than we did decades ago………..if even a small part of the money spent trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions were spent instead on fighting hunger or disease in Third World countries, millions of lives could be saved.”

-from the various articles on the Heartland Institute’s global warming page

Exhibit B

“The claim that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer has not been scientifically proven………..it is a reductionist error and not keeping with the current theories of cancer causation to attempt to assign each cancer to an exclusive single cause…………the use of results from flawed population studies to frighten people by attributing large numbers of death yearly to smoking may be misleading and is most regrettable……….that emotionalism can override objective analysis is illustrated by the headlines………despite millions of dollars spent by the government on smoking and health-related research, many questions about the relationship between smoking and disease remain unanswered…………indeed, many scientists are becoming concerned that preoccupation with smoking may be both unfounded and dangerous – unfounded because evidence on many critical points is conflicting, dangerous because it diverts attention from other suspected hazards.”

-from Smoking and Health: 1964-1979: The Continuing Controversy, published in 1979 by the Tobacco Institute

If I hadn’t told you which set of quotes was unchanged, and which I had replaced words like “smoking” and “cancer” with “human activities” and “climate change”, or vice versa, would you even have known the difference?

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24 thoughts on “A Well-Documented Strategy

    • It took a lot of reading that made me very angry

      ……but also very amused, see the previous post about how environmentalism is like an ancient religion. The Heartland Institute has some good stuff.

  1. I doubt I would have been able to spot the difference, since it’s all just recycled bullshit anyway. You see similar arguments used in some of these think-tanks’ lesser-known lobbying efforts, too — for instance, against open source software (not so surprising: they’re also funded by Microsoft. Surprising: Many of them use open source software to run their websites.). It’s all FUD, anyway.

    (Aside: FUD needs some implicit-mockery-verbal form, sort of like “JAQing off“. I’ve tried “Pulling [their] FUD” in the past, but it hasn’t picked up in the counter-denialosphere. Yet.)

    Have you looked through Frank Bi’s archives? His style is silly enough to make reading about, say, S. Fred Singer calling environmental lobbyists “third world kleptocrats” entertaining rather than frustrating. (For the record, that scare piece came out just prior to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was likely an attempt to rile up fear to resist it. George H. W. Bush signed anyway.)

  2. Good experiment! :-)
    There is a clear specific identifiable common rhetoric among denialists and among conspiracy theorists. As this article well exposes (regarding denialism).
    Thx!

  3. Excellent work! Not a big surprise given that climate deniers Singer, Seitz, and Milloy were all tobacco lobbyists in previous incarnations.

    For those who are not aware that the climate Denier and tobacco Denier are some of the same organizations and people, never mind identical tactics … an introduction:

    “Smoke and CO2: How to Spin Global Warming”
    http://www.americannewsproject.com/videos/131
    “A Climate Deniers take on Tobacco Smoke”
    http://www.desmogblog.com/climate-deniers-take-tobacco-smoke
    Tobacco, part 1: “What cigarette do you smoke, Doctor?”
    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/tobacco-part-1-what-cigarette-do-you-smoke-doctor/
    Tobacco, part 2: “A Frank Statement”
    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/tobacco-part-2-a-frank-statement/
    I wonder if they used to work for Philip Morris…
    http://trueslant.com/claudiadeutsch/2009/04/23/i-wonder-if-they-used-to-work-for-philip-morris/
    Read this before your start your global warming “research”…
    http://yetanotheratheistblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/read-this-before-your-start-your-global-warming-research/

  4. Fantastic. While the link between Big Tobacco and Big deniers has been pointed our fairly frequently (not least by me) this little exercise blasts them out of the water. I wish it was shorter so one could use it to reply to the media or in a debate. I hate that we have operate in soundbite land…

    Nick P

  5. I try not to get angry but it is becoming increasingly difficult. I just finished reading Unscientific America by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum and am now reading Mooney’s first book, – The Republican War on Science. How can these people, who likely have children, sell their souls and their children’s futures for monetary gain? Truly heartless folks.

    I have a colleague who is a geologist and he believes Heartland Institute publications religiously and is likely teaching this to his introductory geology students. If some scientists cannot see the obvious, it is truly a sad time for our children. We must keep informing the public with language that they can understand.

    Blogs such as yours are an invaluable resource. Thank you.

  6. Don’t forget Lindzhen and Avery. It’s remarkable how many scientists are experts in both climate and the health effects of tobacco, isn’t it? Must be a remarkably well rounded bunch.

    Also, from Wikipedia:

    CEI scholars have also claimed that the health risks of secondhand smoke have not been adequately proven, and thus restrictions on smoking are unwarranted. … Other documents in the LTDL show that CEI has received funding directly from various tobacco companies.[6],[7],[8] For example, the listing on the Philip Morris Glossary of Names: C gives the note “Received public policy grant from Philip Morris (1995); Pro-market public interest group dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government.”

    And:

    The [Heartland] Institute has been actively involved in debate over tobacco policy, opposing restrictions on smoking and criticizing science which documents the harms of secondhand smoke.[11] Given the close financial and organizational relationship between the tobacco industry and the Heartland Institute, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights described the Heartland Institute as “an active partner of the tobacco industry”.[12]

    Heartland has been criticized for employing executives from such corporations as ExxonMobil and Philip Morris on its board of directors and in its public relations department.[13][14] The Heartland Institute disputes this criticism, stating that “no one on Heartland’s board of directors works for a tobacco company (Roy Marden retired years ago) or for an oil company (Walter Buchholtz was on the board but no longer is).”

    They sound the same in part because a lot of the same people have been employed, and because the fossil fuel industry made a conscious choice to create a climate denial movement modeled on the tobacco denial movement.

  7. You beat me to it! I was in the middle of doing something very similar to post as a guest blogger on another site. Excellent work…much better than my post would have been.

  8. Wow – this post is getting more views and more discussion than anything I’ve written so far – thanks in large part to Tamino! Thanks everyone for your support; spread this issue far and wide.

  9. Yeah, if you draw props from Tamino, you done good!

    BTW, if this link is still alive, it is a place containing some good stuff that will make you angry and maybe amuse you at the same time… more on your topic and in keeping with Greenfyre above – a Frontline interview with Seitz (several others, too – actually quite a good site to get lost in for awhile… at least until your brain starts throbbing):

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/seitz.html

    And I can’t resist clipping this from a July 23, 2001 Newsweek article by Fred Guterl on Richard Lindzen (“The Truth About Global Warming”):

    “Lindzen clearly relishes the role of naysayer. He’ll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking. He speaks in full, impeccably logical paragraphs, and he punctuates his measured cadences with thoughtful drags on a cigarette.”

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/78772

  10. great stuff.

    Is there a sinister connection between the US car companies and the oil ones? Seems to me the GM CEO must have been on the payroll of Exxon.

  11. Very clever. It seems to me that climate deniers also have a lot in common with “birthers” and lunar landing-deniers.

  12. Well done, Kate!

    I’ll add you to my blogroll in the next day or two, and I’m glad that I’ve found you (through Greenfyre).

    I’ve also written frequently about the connection between big tobacco and big oil… It’s connection that I remembered, after reading Heat because I looked into launching a media awareness campaign for youth about smoking around 1997, where I first learned about astroturfing, and how effective it can be. But illness intervened, and I never managed to make it work.

    Anyway… here are a few links about big oil and big tobacco from OBM…

    http://one-blue-marble.com/climate-change-denial-industry.html

    http://one-blue-marble.com/blog/2009/04/21/big-tobacco-big-oil-big-coal/

    http://one-blue-marble.com/blog/2009/07/05/ethics-and-alberta-oil/

    • Nice blog, Richard. I especially liked the post about Alberta’s tar sands – I worry sometimes that it could be what pushes us over the edge, as the only oilfields in the US that aren’t depleted are those which haven’t been drilled into yet, and, given the choice, they’d probably feel safer importing oil from Canada than from the Middle East. And what the US does, the rest of the world will follow….

      Keep up the good work.

  13. Nicely done.

    ACC deniers also share many tactics and rhetorical tricks with creationists, particularly in the realm of slandering science. Another post?

  14. Great blog, well researched well done you!, I’ll post the link via my social media outlets. As I have researched similar aspects regarding climate change

    Its bizarre to think that Heartland can be in such denial of climate change but like the tobacco industry you will always find loose-knit associates, with political and financial motives attached to such institutes. You will also notice that similarities between those associated with the studies to downplay the affects of tobacco are also associated with studies to disprove or discredit climate change. Its sad to say but its of no surprise that your findings are as similar as you have found.

    .

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