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An exercise for the reader

This sounds like fun: An online and open excercise in stylometry/textometry: Crowdsourcing the Gleick “Climate Strategy Memo” authorship

If enough people participate, it might become a story in itself.

UPDATE: I would like to add a few more thoughts.

– First, as I said in the comments, battle has been joined. Joe Bast, the president of the Heartland Institute, has openly accused Peter Gleick of forgery in this video interview for the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. There is no going back for either of them. Gleick must now sue Bast for libel if he is to maintain what’s left of his reputation.

– Second thought: the key question in determining whether Gleick’s story of receiving the strategy memo in the mail is true or not is whether the strategy memo was created before or after the authentic documents. Thus Gleick to prove his innocence, or Bast to prove Gleick’s guilt, must concentrate their attentions on the period between “the beginning of 2012”, when he says he got the strategy document, and the creation of the other documents.

For one thing, we need an actual date of receipt rather than “the beginning of 2012”. If it can be proved that there is information (e.g. specific figures) or chunks of exact wording in the strategy document that was not in existence at the date that Gleick says he received it, then he did not receive it but created it. Of course we also need to see the paper copy and the envelope it came in. Dr Gleick has no reason to refuse to provide this; if he has been the victim of a fraud or sting himself he should wish to uncover the culprit.

21 comments to An exercise for the reader

  • Hmm

    Act quickly: Be sure and download the docs before they get removed from the Desmog site!

  • I’ve downloaded the docs, but I’m failing at the second hurdle. I should explain that compared to most Samizdata readers I am very ignorant of computer matters; I know how to do what I need to do daily – any rarer than that and I forget it – and practically nothing else.

    Watts’ explanation says,

    “The jar will be named jgaap-5.2.0.jar, once it has finished downloading simply double click on it to launch JGAAP.”

    I double click, but it doesn’t launch. All it does is enable me to look at a list of files and documents and stuff.

    It’s sitting in something called WinRAR which I’ve met before and was confused by then also.

    (I did download the latest version of Java like it said. I think I did anyway.)

  • Dom

    Pencils down, everyone. The statements from HI has now been analyzed, and thoroughly debunked. No doubt about it. Here it is:


  • Dom

    Natalie — a JAR file is a Java Archive file. When you double click it you are getting a list of the all files in the archive. You need to unarchive these files. Thats what WinRAR does.

  • Dom, thank you for the information in your second comment. The thing I still don’t understand is what actual buttons do I press to unarchive the files and/or to run the programme?

    Regarding your first comment – I am completely unconvinced. Someone has read a statement of Heartland’s very closely and concluded that it could be read to allow for the possibility that they created the document, i.e. it could be a piece of lawyerly misdirection, literally true but misleading.

    This might be just about plausible – although I would find slightly clumsy phrasing hugely more probable – if the situation had not moved waa-aay beyond that. Bast, the head of the HI, has explicitly accused Gleick of forgery. Here’s a link to the video interview where he does it.

    Your link’s argument rests on the assumption that Bast was keeping open a line of plausible deniability. But Bast has burnt that boat utterly by his open accusation of Gleick. In fact as far as I can see Gleick must now sue Bast for libel if he is to maintain what’s left of his reputation.

  • In my last “plausible deniability” was not the best choice of term.What I meant was that your link’s assumption was that Bast could be twisting words so as to not actually deny something like a non-official HI “associate” or something like that having written the strategy document in his bath at home.

    And I’m saying, he’s denied it now. He named Gleick, and no other, as the originator of the document. Battle has been joined.

  • Dom

    Natalie — I should have had the first comment wrapped inside . Sorry. I thought the link was just grasping at straws. In fact, I thought it was a parody. Didn’t you laugh when you read the analysis of “from an office”?

    About the second comment, sorry again, I use WinRAR from the command line. If you have the graphical version, is there no button saying “Extract to” or something similar?

  • Dom

    Wrapped inside sarcasm tags, that is.

  • I’m afraid did fail to spot your sarcasm – which I can now see in your original post, now you point it out.

    In a similar vein, the “evaluation” on DeSmogBlog is an equally poor argument to the one in Scholars and Rogues. It goes to a lot of trouble to prove that the strategy memo “also uses phrases, language and, in many cases, whole sentences that were taken directly from Heartland’s own material. Only someone who had previous access to all of that material could have prepared the Climate Strategy in its current form.” – without seeming to realise that nothing in that contradicts the assertion that it is a fake.

    There is an “extract to” button in my version of the cursed WinRAR, now you come to mention it. What do I do with it? You may still be underestimating just how small is the extent to which I understand verbs such as “archive” or “extract” in this context. I really am looking for answers at the level of “click where it says X”.

  • Hmm

    Natalie, make sure that your computer has Java – if not follow Anthony’s links to get it for windows or Mac… then download the Jgaap5.2.jar file not the .zip version(Link)http://evllabs.com/jgaap/5.2/jgaap-5.2.0.jar

  • Hmm

    Once you have downloaded the .jar file it should open automatically if you have java.

  • Hmm


    Sorry – messed the link- my excuse is I’ve just managed to escape from IKEA where I’d been trapped for a couple of hours unable to find the exit… my mind is still in escape mode 🙂

    The Jar file is self contained so clicking on the downloaded jar file will launch it if your computer’s java is working.

  • Chris Cooper

    Natalie, like the dozens of commenters on Anthony Watts’s post, I can’t wait to see the results, and I can’t wait for someone else to do the work.

    The so-called evaluation of the putatively fake memo on DeSmogBlog is pathetic.

    The Rogues and Scholars analysis of the HI statement is actually a pretty tight piece of verbal analysis. But it’s profoundly stupid in its belief that composing a masterpiece of evasion is a more likely explanation than sloppy drafting.

    Dom, the moral is: although sarcasm in general may not be the lowest form of wit, sarcasm that merely consists of saying the opposite of what you mean has a pretty good claim.

  • Stonyground

    Peter Gleik has form for this kind of thing. A recent book about the misdeeds and incompetence of the IPPC recently became available on Amazon. Gleik immedeately dashed off a negative review. The review itself was proof that he hadn’t read it, he seemed to have no clue what the book was actually about.

    He also wrote an article criticising “Deniers” for pointing out that the earth’s warming trend had levelled off since the late nineties. His argument that they were somehow wrong was to say that it is still warmer than it was, something that no “Deniers” appeared to be denying.

  • Hmm

    Here’s a link to a pdf file of instructions for JGAAP5.2 (instructions)

  • Thanks Hmm. Downloaded. In yet another embarrassing confession of failure, I downloaded your earlier link (took ages) and it worked – up came a screen that looked like the one you are meant to see.

    Then I had to go away for a bit, and I closed the program – and lost it. Could’ve sworn I saved it or pressed “keep” or some such. Now it’s not on “All programs”.

    I would just like to announce that I am rather clever at many other things. Thank you.

    Meanwhile, just to show that I am unafraid to let the chips fall where they may, I see that someone on WUWT has linked to the first result – and the result is not Gleick but Bast as most likely author.

    I hope that will spur the rest to greater efforts, Chris. For myself I will probably be joining the slackers for the rest of this evening as I am expected to participate in family life.

  • Dom

    I thought the strategy memo was a cut and paste of the other documents. If so, what will an analysis of style prove?

  • Hmm

    Natalie, I thought this might help, I created a text version of the fake pdf file. Just copy everything below this paragraph(beginning with “January 2012…) into a notepad or word type file and save it and use it as the unknown author doc. Then just play with the parameters in the JGAAP file and see what you get.

    January 2012
    Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy
    Given the increasingly important role the Heartland Institute is playing in leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming, it is useful to set priorities for our efforts in 2012. This document offers such a set of priorities. I propose that at this point it be kept confidential and only be distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff. More details can be found in our 2012 Proposed Budget document and 2012 Fundraising Strategy memo. In 2012 our efforts will focus in the following areas:
    Increased climate project fundraising
    Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 — about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012 — see the 2011 Fourth Quarter Financial Report. We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.
    Development of our “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” project. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain — two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.
    Funding for parallel organizations.
    Heartland is part of a growing network of groups working the climate issues, some of which we support financially. We will seek additional partnerships in 2012. At present we sponsor the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports and paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered. Expenses will be about the same in 2012. NIPCC is currently funded by two gifts a year from two foundations, both of them requesting anonymity. Another $88,000 iS earmarked this year for Heartland staff, incremental expenses, and overhead for editing, expense reimbursement for the authors, and marketing.
    Funding for selected individuals outside of Heartland.
    Our current budget includes funding for high profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.
    Expanded climate communications
    Heartland plays an important role in climate communications, especially through our in-house experts(e.g., Taylor) through his Forbes blog and related high profile outlets, our conferences, and through coordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts). Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high profile climate scientists (such as Glieck) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important ot keep opposing voices out. Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters). We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.
    Finally we will consider expanding these efforts further, or developing new ones, if funding can be obtained.

  • Hmm

    For a different approach – from a comment by “Robin” on “WUWT” here’s a link to a very good human comparison test using google as a comparison tool. (Link)

  • Sam Duncan

    I don’t think an automated analysis coming up with Bast as the likely author of the whole thing really tells us anything. Almost from the start the document has appeared to be genuine Heartland stuff interspersed with incriminating fakery. It’s like scrawling “I think our masters in Moscow should see this – Harold W.” over the minutes of a 1970s Labour Party conference: an egregious slur, but 99.9% genuine. The parts about “anti-climate” people and dissuading the teaching of science stick out like sore thumbs. No sceptic talks like that.

    However, I suspect the two likely faked paragraphs constitute too small a dataset to reliably link them to any particular author. There may be other ways to find out who’s behind it, but my impression is that statistical analysis of the text is a dead-end.

  • lucklucky

    “I thought the strategy memo was a cut and paste of the other documents.”

    You were wrong.