Heartland’s Law: The climate change debate’s nadir, corporation refuses to associate itself with think tank for foreseeable future after offensive billboard

This from Heartland:


Placing a billboard like this in public is despicable. It brings the “climate change debate” to a new low.  

In fact, it’s a campaign so egregious and off-putting that global drinks Diego – one of Heartland’s major sponsors – refuses to have anything more to do with the right-wing think tank::

The London-based drinks giant, which owns brands such as Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Moët & Chandon, said this year that it was “reviewing any further association with Heartland” following the release online of internal Heartland documents which revealed its corporate donors as well as a plan to promote an alternative climate change curriculum in US schools. Following the widespread outcry triggered by Heartland’s billboards, a Diageo spokeswoman told the Guardian: “Diageo vigorously opposes climate scepticism and our actions are proof of this. Diageo’s only association with the Heartland Institute was limited to a small contribution made two years ago specifically related to an excise tax issue. Diageo has no plans to work with the Heartland Institute in the future.”

This comes after General Motors ended their 20 years of association and funding of Heartland because of their extreme climate scepticism.

The actions of these companies tell us the Heartland “brand” is toxic. It also indicated that climate scepticism is increasingly being seen as an “extremist”.

After 24 hours Heartland ripped it down claiming they only wanted to get people’s attention. Well they got attention… condemnation and major sponsors telling them to go to hell. Diego is dropping any association with Heartland to the point very clear, and “no plans” to work with the think tank “in the forseeable future”.

However their billboard is instructive: it shows the desperation of the denial machine, as it splutters and rages against the reality.

Godwin’s Law and other association fallacies

Heartland is employing what is known as the association fallacy:

“An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. The two types are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association. Association fallacies are a special case of red herring, and can be based on an appeal to emotion…”

Heartland is attempting to associate the work of scientists and activists with socialists, Nazis and people who don’t like kittens in order to make them “guilty by association”.

By far the most well-worn and popular version of the association fallacy is Godwin’s Law. Simply put, the longer an online discussion or debate takes place, the probability that someone will bring up Hitler and the Nazis reaches 1.

Heartland’s Law: the probability of comparing your opponents to “evil” is 1

The same is true of the climate debate; indeed our old friend Christopher “Oh Lordy” Monckton compared Ross Garnaut to a Nazi:


However, I propose a new class of logical fallacy, Heartland’s Law.

At the beginning of a debate about climate change the probability that climate scientists/activists/politicians who accept the scientific consensus will be vilified by deniers is 1. 

Updated comments

Open Mind is right on the money: Heartland is beneath contempt.

Gareth over at Hot Topic calls it twisted… and I agree.

Best send up of the billboard?


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