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Leading questions – Part 4 of "Ew, I just stepped in a Heartland study!"

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This is part 4 in a series on the Heartland Institute’s supposedly rigorous study (pdf) on the state of global warming science. This flawed paper has been distributed to 10,000 Utahns by the Utah-based Sutherland Institute, a “sister” of the Heartland Institute.

Paul T. Mero, the president of the Sutherland Institute claims that, “for skeptics, we went out of our way to include a special analysis of the methodology used to create this study. This report is an honest reflection of the international scientific community…”

Let’s see how that holds up.

Flaw #3: Heartland’s study uses leading questions

Sutherland’s Paul T. Mero claims that, “Most [scientists] believe global warming would have some positive as well as negative effects.”

However, here are the questions that were asked of respondents in the Heartland study: (emphasis added)

1. To what degree do you think that climate change might have some positive effects for some societies?

2. To what degree do you think climate change will have detrimental effects for some societies.

Question 1 includes language that makes the question so vague that it would be very difficult for anyone to respond in any fashion other than that which fits the Heartland Institutes desired outcome. If it was instead framed more like question #2, along the lines of “To what degree do you think climate change will have positive effects for some societies,” the numbers would most likely have been a lot less stark.

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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