18 Feb 2012

Heartland Memo Faked

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The Chronicle of Higher Education’s short posting warning that Heartland Institute was paying experts to develop school curricula and other public presentations casting doubt on Anthropogenic Global Warming received the most attention.

The Guardian’s environmental blog was particularly gleeful, trumpeting the news that “Leaked Heartland Institute documents pull back curtain on climate scepticism.”

Megan McArdle, at the Atlantic, looked closely, however, and concluded that the most scandalous of the leaked documents was almost certainly a fake.

The textual analysis alone would make me suspicious–but the fact that the document was created much later, using a different method, with different formatting–makes me fairly sure that while the other documents are real, this was written after the fact, by an author outside of Heartland. If there were any way to get conclusive proof, I’d bet heavily against this document being real.

later discovers that another blogger’s commenter ran a pdfinfo script over the suspicious document, and lo-and-behold! found it had been created in a different (West Coast) time zone from the others.

Why did they fake it?

[T]he quotes were punchier, and suggested far darker motivations than the blandly professional language of the authenticated documents–and because it edited the facts into a neat, almost narrative story.


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