Technically, they’re think tanks. But they don’t really fulfill the purposes of think tanks, which are supposed to provide independent research to advise the government on policy issues. These as-yet-unnamed organizations do provide some research about climate change, but it’s full of the most elementary mistakes, obviously designed to mislead the reader. It’s an insult to classical think tanks, like the Center for a New American Security, to label Heartland et al as think tanks.
No, their purpose isn’t research, but PR. Influencing the public opinion. But they don’t even use PR responsibly, as Jim Hoggan explains in his new book, Climate Cover-Up (review coming soon). It’s an insult to PR firms to label Heartland et al as PR firms.
I’m also unsure about the term “conservative think tanks”. It better describes their purpose, but it seems to imply that since these conservative think tanks are so despicable, there’s something wrong with conservatism in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with being conservative. It only becomes a problem when it leads to the denial of science. A similar problem is present with the term “free-market fundamentalists”.
A friend of mine suggested “anti-science advocacy groups”. I’m not sure if this is correct either. Their ultimate purpose is not to deny science, but to advance a certain political agenda. The former is simply a consequence of the latter, and is not present in all of their objectives, eg health care. Additionally, these groups are not completely anti-science. They’re very pro-selective-science, such as science from the 1700s when a link between CO2 and temperature hadn’t been established, or discredited science like the initial satellite readings.
Martin Vermeer suggested “dark Satanic mills”. I find that somewhat hilarious, but it requires a little back story. An audience of high school students wouldn’t grasp the character of Heartland et al simply by hearing that phrase.
I’m kind of at a loss. How can we sum up these organizations in two or three words, without denouncing conservatism or insulting the more responsible organizations that would fall into the same category? Any ideas?