Heartland ignorant of public relations — let alone science

By Ken Perrott 06/05/2012

You don’t have to hang around the internet for long to recognise the “silo” phenomena. The way the ideological group-thinkers will hang around specific sites feeding their belief. Then there is the “echo-chamber” – the way that bloggers and commenters in ideological silos will frantically circulate links and claims from ideologically approved sources for use by their ideological comrades.

It all seems to foster the illusion of a community which knows the Truth. Tame “experts” are elevated to saint-like status and other experts demonised. The community encourages faith that they are influential and larger than in fact they are.

In the past I have referred to such communities as “ghettos” – because they promote self-containment, self-reliance, and immunise their members from influences in the real world. I notice these phenomena to be very strong among religious apologists and climate change deniers/contrarians.

Sometimes the perverted sense of reality of these communities can cause them to make huge mistakes. Over this weekend we have seen one such example – the billboard advertising the Heartland Institute ahead of their annual conference dissing climate change science.

What a Koch-up!

The Washington Post reported:

’I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?’ read big orange letters next to the Unabomber’s infamously grizzled face on an electronic billboard along the Eisenhower Expressway outside Chicago, the Heartland Institute’s home.”

The billboard went live Thursday afternoon. But by 4 p.m. Eastern time, an outcry from allies and opponents alike led the Heartland Institute’s president, Joe Bast, to say he would switch off the sign within the hour”

As a libertarian think tank funded by major corporations the Heartland Institute should be expert in publics relations. If they can make such an egregious mistake in their area of expertise – just image how mistaken they could be in scientific areas which lie outside their expertise. Climate science for example.

As the Guardian said – how could they have got it so wrong?

It’s a huge back down – the institute was going to deploy images of Charles Manson, ’tyrant’ Fidel Castro and Osama bin Laden in future billboards. They have now cancelled these plans.

Even supporters of the Heartland Institute in the climate change sceptic/denier/contrarian communities have criticised the campaign and “Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who was to headline the Heartland Institute’s “annual conclave of climate-change skeptics” said  he ’will not participate in the upcoming climate-change conference if the Heartland Institute decides to continue this ad campaign.’

So far, our local NZ climate changer deniers appear to be trying to ignore the embarrassment. Perhaps there are some issues of free travel involved?

See also: Nine out of 10 psychos agree: Heartland’s bonkers climate billboards need company!

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