Talk:Great Barrington Declaration

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Koch funding subclause in the lead needs looking at[edit]

In describing AIER as "a libertarian think tank funded by billionaire Charles Koch's conservative Koch Foundation", the article lead somewhat overstates the extent to which AIER is Koch-funded. Here's what Ahmed actually says:

... sponsored by an institution embedded in a Koch-funded network that denies climate science while investing in polluting fossil fuel industries. ... Corporate records filed with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirm that the AIER operates as part of a Koch-funded network of climate science deniers who see environmental regulation as a threat to its vision of unfettered, deregulated markets. The latest available IRS documents reveal that in 2018, the AIER received $68,100 for “General Operating Support” from the Charles Koch Foundation, which acts on behalf of right-wing billionaire Charles Koch. ... Through their various foundations and other entities, Charles and his brother, the late David Koch, are well-known for being among the world’s biggest founders of climate science denial. The AIER itself is no stranger to such denialism. All its climate change related reports and commentaries are studiously dedicated to downplaying the severity of climate risks and obfuscating the science around human exploitation of oil, gas and coal in driving current global warming levels. ... AIER owns a major investment firm, American Investment Services Inc., which harnesses the think-tank’s research to help inform investment advice. Security Exchange Commission filings seen by Byline Times confirm that AIER’s American Investment Services Inc. runs a private fund valued at $284,492,000. The most recent SEC document filed in August reveals that the fund’s holdings include a wide range of companies including: Chevron, ExxonMobil, General Electric, One Gas Inc, Duke Energy Corp, Northwestern Corp, WEC Energy, Xcel Energy, tobacco giant Philip Morris International, JP Morgan Chase, Visa Inc., Mastercard, Alphabet Inc (the owner of Google), Microsoft, McDonalds, Verizon Communications, Intel Corp, Nike Inc, consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble, Host Hotels & Resorts, Dow Inc., Pepsico, the major stock market advisors Vanguard Group, and many more. This context, none of which is acknowledged on the Great Barrington Declaration website, suggests that it is less the product of a rigorous, reliable and impartial scientific process, than the outcome of an opaque lobbying effort.

$68,000 two years ago is peanuts relative to their overall budget, so I suggest this "funded by" wording could do with looking at. I'd rather mention that they downplay climate change (a claim that a look at their website readily confirms) and invest (to what extent?) in fossil fuel than make a statement about their funding sources that goes beyond even what Ahmed has alleged. --Andreas JN466 17:47, 12 October 2020 (UTC)

It doesn't matter that they may get their real money elsewhere, that's not what "funded by" means. The fact is that a well-known "philanthropist" has seen fit to supply his wealth and political patronage ("funded") to endorse the organization's aims and methods with Koch's own public gesture. The Guardian source cited uses near identical wording, calling it: "a libertarian thinktank funded by the Koch Foundation". I also like the term opaque lobbying effort, if you'd like to use that as well. GPinkerton (talk) 17:59, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
GPinkerton, I am aware of the Guardian source, as I first added it to the article. I still think that you're overstating what Ahmed says. You say in your edit summary "funding sustained and ongoing, pluperfect inappropriate". Ahmed mentions a single payment of $68,100 from the Charles Koch Foundation in 2018, which is about 0.2% of AIER's assets. Do you have a source for "sustained and ongoing"? Without a source, it's just not credible. And by the way, "has received" is present perfect, not pluperfect. ;) --Andreas JN466 20:07, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
Are you suggesting a weekend seminar, a Sunday photo-shoot, a press conference, and web petition costs more than seventy grand? It says on their website [1] they're affiliated with Koch foundation, along with the Atlas Network and the Ayn Rand Institute, Cato Institute, etc. etc. GPinkerton (talk) 20:28, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
Ahmed is not saying that the Charles Koch Foundation paid for the Great Barrington Declaration stunt. He said that AIER received $68k from the Kochs two years ago – nothing to do with this event, or declaration. Thank you very much though for the link to AIER's acknowledgement of Charles Koch Institute funding for AIER's Bastiat Society, which they describe as their "central outreach program". That along with the Atlas Network connection bears out your assertion of "sustained and ongoing" funding, and I'm feeling more sanguine about the present wording. Cheers, --Andreas JN466 20:47, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
Jayen466, the relevance is rather obvious. The Koch think tank network is responsible for using exactly the same playbook on climate change. Do you think that the right would ever allow us to carry an article on a petition organised by a group funded by Soros, without mentioning it in the lead? And in fact the funding by Philip Morris and Exxon should also be in there. This is an absolutely classic corporate shill think-tank. Guy (help! - typo?) 20:50, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
JzG, I couldn't agree more with you about the relevance. That is why I twice added those sources. I am trying to make sure that the wording the article uses is robustly covered by the sources we cite, and in line with verifiable facts. Anything else provokes a plausible-sounding discourse about bias that muddies the issues. So, if in doubt, I'd rather use cautious wording that is less susceptible to having holes poked in it. (FWIW, AIER has responded to this aspect of Ahmed's report here.) Cheers, --Andreas JN466 23:09, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
Jayen466, there are a lot of sources that discuss their funding, so their spat with Ahmed is pretty much irrelevant. And "libertarian think tank is funded by dark money" is probably the least surprising thing about any of this. Grifters gonna grift, and indeed grifters gonna come up with all manner of pious excuses when caught grifting. That's how it works. Guy (help! - typo?) 23:19, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
JzG, I searched for Koch + AIER and I found zilch in news searches on DDGo and Google, except for pieces published in the last couple of days. What good sources are you aware of? The American Institute for Economic Research article could do with them. --Andreas JN466 00:06, 13 October 2020 (UTC)
JzG Ahmed has published a follow-up article going into some more detail: [2] --Andreas JN466 15:52, 13 October 2020 (UTC)
See also notes I added to [talk page]. AIER has gotten money for Atlas, as well. Year 2018 Form 990s are the last available for many, although 2019's should be appearing soon. JohnMashey (talk) 21:31, 13 October 2020 (UTC)
I think there is some confusion about finances, in part due to the unusual financial structure, unlike anything I've seen in studying Koch-related think tanks. AIER is a 501(c)(3) "public charity" but owns American Investment Services, Inc. AIER may own some of the assets in AIS, but certainly not all, as it is an asset management service for others. AIER publishes its Form 990s, so here is 2019's, which conveniently shows summary for 2018 as well. Charles Koch gave $61K in 2018, Atlas gave $54,133. In 2018, they had $184M Total assets, $85M liabilities, $99M Net assets, and on operating basis lost $2.9M, which seems odd. That year they got $1.3M in investment income and $806K in grants, of which $122K came from Koch+Atlas. Presumably some of their assets are in AIS, but it is nontrivial to figure out what's going on. I've never seen one of these (nonprofit) think tanks run a (for-profit(?)) asset management company for others.JohnMashey (talk) 05:28, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
2018 seems to be the year they hired Jeffrey Tucker and started spending a lot on social media promotion. Pelirojopajaro (talk) 07:39, 14 October 2020 (UTC)

GPinkerton, please take a moment to read Ahmed properly. He does not say that the bulk of AIER's funding comes from Koch, he goes out of his way to say that they earn most of their money from their own $285m investment fund, with holdings in fossil fuel, tobacco etc. What he does say in addition is that AIER is "embedded in a Koch-funded network" – the network is thus funded, not AIER itself, Ahmed says – and I have taken trouble to add those points of Ahmed's to the article. The fact is AIER is simply wealthy enough by itself. By over-egging the Koch funding angle you are doing the article – and indeed Ahmed himself, who is cited, but was more perspicacious in what he said – a disservice. It's one thing to preach to the choir; it's another to write in such a way that people on both sides of a fence can agree that it's true and relevant: and isn't that our aim? I'll not revert again, but can you not see the point? --Andreas JN466 21:31, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

As I have said already, The Guardian is also cited, and uses the same "funded by" wording that Ahmed does. Your arguments are not convincing. GPinkerton (talk) 21:51, 13 October 2020 (UTC)
The think tank accepted a lot of donations from other organisations as well. Should we list all of those in the lead? What makes Koch so special? --Distelfinck (talk) 20:46, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
The sources point out that AIER operates as part of a Koch-funded network. See also ongoing talk page discussion below - #Extended-confirmed-protected edit request on 15 October 2020. --Andreas JN466 20:59, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

Andreas, you reinserted that AIER "is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial". That is what the source says, but per the source, getting donations from Koch and denying climate change is sufficient to be considered part of that network: "Corporate records filed with the [IRS] confirm that the AIER operates as part of a Koch-funded network of climate science". There is therefore no information lost by simply stating that AIER received funding from Koch and denied climate change. The way it's worded in your revert, people can be mislead into thinking this is a formal network -- it's not. --Distelfinck (talk) 21:03, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

What I'm trying to avoid, Distelfinck, is a presentation that describes AIER as being largely bankrolled by Koch. They're not, their main income is from their investments (see section below), and we can be credibly accused of lying, or making too much out of a comparatively trifling amount, if we say otherwise. Ahmed used that wording advisedly, and I think we should follow it closely. (I'm not sure the wording implies great formality, but as it happens, they are also part of the Atlas Network, as mentioned in the Sponsor section, and a wider sort of network is spelled out on their chapters' partnerships and agreements page: [3].) Cheers, --Andreas JN466 21:44, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
Agreed. Jane Mayer's Dark Money is a key source for understanding the methods of the Koch network, of which AIER clearly became a part after the management change in 2017. See my long comment [in this section]. In addition, as Andreas mentioned, AIER's Bastiat Society has partnerships. They include (Koch-funded and tightly involved) Atlas, CATO, Charles Koch Institute (different from Foundation), Institute for Humane Studies (Chaired by Charles Koch). In 2017, Bastiat was run by Brad DeVos, who was a member of Mont Pelerin, studied with Atlas and Charles Koch Institute. In 2017, GMU Economics PhD Edward Stringham became AIER President, AIER acquired Bastiat, and there was a big influx of Koch-connected folks into AIER.JohnMashey (talk) 22:07, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
You used the word "Koch network". Could you please give a definition for that? --Distelfinck (talk) 22:27, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
Try Column: David Koch’s real legacy is the dark money network of rich right-wingers or the inside covers of Jane Mayer's definitive Dark Money: front: "THE NETWORK-Political and Issue Spending (501c4s and 501c6s)" and back inside cover: "THE NETWORK-Think Tanks, Academia, Policy (501c3s)". Koch Netowrk is the usual term, although one sometimes sees Kochtopus for combination of Kochs+funding allies + large number of entities in those categories.JohnMashey (talk) 22:53, 15 October 2020 (UTC
I find that Wikipedia page Political_activities_of_the_Koch_brothers (which you cited) has a section called The Koch Network.JohnMashey (talk) 23:05, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
Andreas, the word "network" is vague. It means that there is a connection between those think tanks, but doesn't say in what way they are connected. In this case, the connection seems to be an indirect one: AIER got a donation from Koch, and Koch also donated to the other think tanks. So I would suggest replacing "network" with one or more words, that are clear, so that readers know what is meant by "network". I would suggest replacing with "[AIER] and other think-tanks have received donations from Koch and are associated with climate change denial". --Distelfinck (talk) 22:33, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
It seems to me you are sort of trying to reverse-engineer Ahmed's conclusions. :) But the point Ahmed makes in the two cited articles is not just that these organizations have received (varying amounts of) Koch funding, but that they actively collaborate as a network, sharing key personnel (I found JohnMashey's comments on this talk page of interest in this regard) and services, and this collaboration is openly acknowledged and advertised on the partnership and agreements page. Bearing all that in mind, I really think "network" is the best expression to use in the lead we've had to date; it's the term repeatedly used in the cited sources, and precisely what is meant by it is explained in more detail in the body of the article (Great_Barrington_Declaration#Sponsor). Best, --Andreas JN466 00:17, 16 October 2020 (UTC)

This text "The declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.[1] It was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.[9][10]" Does not follow the rules of logic. Using the same argument one could not explain how Osama bin Laden's niece, Noor Bin Ladin, is an ardent support of President Trump's policies, especially his foreign policy. What is the mistake here? Guilt by association is not adjudicated by dropping bread crumbs, and in this case what Koch does or thinks has no established relationship to the opinion of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) any more than just because both parties communicate in the English language and use the same linguistic conventions proves they are part of a white privilege conspiracy. The nonsense implications in this write-up are not a public service. Consider this, if the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration are correct, policy should be changed to save lives. I do not see any flaws in the logic of their reasoning as presented in this fluff of a write-up, and if there were any, I would be the first person to point it out. I think this article is potentially important enough that it should be edited by epidemiological content expert reviewers.216.197.221.129 (talk) 03:43, 17 October 2020 (UTC)

So, you want us to believe that the fact that Koch-funded free-market organizations deny every science finding which, if generally accepted, could make the market less free, such as climate change and COVID dangers, is just coincidental? Maybe want to sell us a bridge too? We have enough reliable sources drawing that connection for us.
We are aware that guilt by association is a fallacy. No need for examples. But even your supposed counterexample does not work: one of the best ways for an enemy of the US to damage it would be to support an incompetent US president who is running it into the ground, alienating its allies, killing its inhabitants and splitting it into factions who hate each other.
"Epidemiological content expert reviewers" are not needed as long as we quote epidemiologists writing for reliable sources, but even if they were here in person, they would contradict the Great Declaration. --Hob Gadling (talk) 18:26, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
Trump and bin Laden: both right-wing extremists dependent on the wealth religious right. I see no conflict there. GPinkerton (talk) 18:28, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
Are the sources we're using directly mentioning climate change? If not, that (small) phrase should probably be removed. It's true, but it might be SYNTH to mention it in this context if these sources aren't. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:21, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
The first source cited has the headline "Climate Science Denial Network Behind Great Barrington Declaration". --Andreas JN466 13:59, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
Some editors have been confused by the AIER financials. See p.17 of AIER 2018 Annual Report, which includes: "AIER currently manages $151 million in split-interest trusts (Charitable Remainder Unitrusts and Pooled Income Funds). AIER’s tax-deductible planned giving program offers a lifetime income plan for up to three generations." Basically, a donor gives money to a charity, which then manages it and splits the income stream with the donor (and maybe descendants). That may be listed as assets on AIER's IRS Form 990s, but AIER can't just spend it. For instance, check 2019 990, where AIER got $575K in donations, $3.7M from investments, i.e., some from their own and some from split interests. It's unclear to me how much of the assets are theirs and how much is restricted. See also American Institute for Economic Research post at Desmog, obviously not RS, and not yet complete, but with many links to RS items, of which some may be useful in discussions and save some time. As noted earlier, it's not just Koch funding, but the number of Koch-related people that got involved from 2017-onward.JohnMashey (talk) 06:14, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
The point still stands that what ever the truth of the climate change association by adding it in the page frames a negative viewpoint based soley on the aforementioned fallacy. The neutrality of the page and information on the GBR would be much better served without mention of climate change denial. BobDark (talk) 03:34, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
It would be a fallacy of guilt by association if it were used to counter the content of the declaration. But we already have other sources taking apart the "science" behind the declaration. This one adds vital context: distorting science for economic reasons is what this organization does. It's their job. --Hob Gadling (talk) 05:03, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
Exactly though. By bringing it in as it has it is used in a way to deligitimise its claims. The climate change issue has no bearing on its claims. Surely you'd agree that the science doesn't agree on this. Many scientists say one thing and many others say another thing. The fact is the climate change aspect can be covered off in the write up on the funding organisation as one of the many issues it funds. BobDark (talk) 10:21, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
No. The science is pretty clear. Of course there are loud outsiders contradicting it, whose opinions are multiplied by people who cannot tell good science from bad, and by people like the AIER folks whose ideology is in sync with the bad science. This is true for COVID as well as for climate change: it's a consistent pattern of libertarian think tanks supporting bad science for ideological reasons. They are not credible. --Hob Gadling (talk) 22:10, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
Except it isn't. It does seem that political ideology trumps a neutral and relevant write up though. BobDark (talk) 11:22, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
The reliable sources disagree with you. Science, the universe, and its facts are also heavily biased against your opinion. And Wikipedia articles too, because they are based on those reliable sources, which in turn are based on those biased facts. You will not succeed in making Wikipedia articles align with the "alternative facts" crowd. Can we stop this please? --Hob Gadling (talk) 18:53, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
You've devled into a series of assumptions and fallacies there. I'm not here to debate those. I stand by my original statement. BobDark (talk) 09:41, 21 January 2021 (UTC)
So you are not swayed, but you cannot give reasons. Fine. The important thing is that you stopped trying to push fringe opinions such as denial of climate change consensus. --Hob Gadling (talk) 09:12, 22 January 2021 (UTC)
No, I'm not swayed by your continual use of fallacies and assumptions. Nor should anyone else. It doesn't lead to healthy discussion nor is it clever/smart. BobDark (talk) 11:09, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
Here is what the article herein says is "Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial." This is left-wing propaganda. Koch is not a one dimensional character. For example, Koch funds NOVA, NOVA produced "How to cool the planet," which entire episode never discusses why one should need to or even want to cool the planet. Instead we are treated to Koch funded climate reactionary drivel with no context other than fanciful presumption, and some very extreme measures that look more like science fiction than science. OK, assume the climate is getting hotter, so what? Earth's climate from a historical perspective has typically been hotter than it is now. Furthermore, the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration are all distant relatives of Mr. Koch himself, which is equally irrelevant, because you are as well. I am not signing in because the left doxes people whose opinion they do not like. Moreover, I will never support Wikipedia financially whilst it harbors drivel like this uninformed hit piece.216.197.221.129 (talk) 02:03, 31 December 2020 (UTC)
Do not insert text into older contributions that have already been responded to.
What you are saying here (left-wing propaganda; so what?) is just a collection of denialist talking points, plus a red herring (distant relatives of Mr. Koch). Wikipedia will not help you spread fringe propaganda, even if you pay for it (I will never support Wikipedia financially whilst), and neither is fringe propaganda valid reasoning on Talk pages. --Hob Gadling (talk) 00:09, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
Illogical; you are denying my "talking points" because they are "denialist." I am not denying anything, you are projecting your own opacity and intransigence and claiming that I have some ownership of them because you don't like what I said. This is a left-wing hit piece. It uses hate words employed by the left including such nonsense projections as "denialist." Be careful what you wish for, hatred affects those who harbor it, not the target of their affections. My greater concern is for those to whom you peddle your hatred.216.197.221.129 (talk) 01:22, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
Learn how to indent. I fixed that for you.
That is just confused. Those talking points are the typing bad reasoning denialists use for justifying their denial and have been refuted quite a while ago. Now you are using them to justify edits that depict COVID denialism as legitimate science. That will not fly because of WP:FRINGE. You are misjudging the situation: those words are not used by "the left", they are used by scientists who researched the denialism phenomenon - who in turn are pidgeonholed as "the left" by the right-wing anti-science liars whose methods they have uncovered. Wikipedia will stay on the side of science, and you will not succeed in squeezing your fringe ideas into articles, neither by threats to withdraw attempted bribes, nor by more vague threats, nor by bad reasoning such as poisoning the well. --Hob Gadling (talk) 07:59, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
There is no linkage between the Great Barrington Declaration and climate change; you argument is conflated. Your claim that your reactionary POV on any subject is settled "science." I am an actual scientist who reviews for 20 journals. Science relies on testing hypotheses, it is not a system of belief, but a system of disbelief for disproving quaint ideas. Now, if you will permit, I have some actual science to review, which proposed article, BTW, is dangerous because of sweeping generalizations with no basis in fact, much like the drivel in this hit piece. Someone needs to do that unfortunate job. It is unfortunate that this article is not subject to peer review. It is garbage.216.197.221.129 (talk) 19:02, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
There is a close and monetary link between the GBD and climate change denial. You are right of course to say there is no casual link between this instance of rightist politicking and anthropogenic climate change, but that is beside the point. The denialists of both Covid and climate change are one and the same and take money from the same hand. Deny that in your 20 journals, not here. This is an encyclopaedia of reality, not a right-wing puff piece. GPinkerton (talk) 19:08, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
(e/c)The linkage between the Great Barrington Declaration and climate change denial is the AIER, which has sponsored both. If you can't follow simple logic and observe widely-held standards of evidence for historical fact, then perhaps you should refrain from editorializing on articles where these skills are required. Newimpartial (talk) 19:09, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
As I have said before, the linkage between Mr. Koch and climate panic is just as strong. The government sends me checks, does that make me a spy for the CIA? So the climate is changing, it is difficult to investigate how much non-radioactive carbon (read as fossil fuels) has been put into the atmosphere because of the C-14 contamination from atmospheric atomic bomb testing in the 1960's. We are retreating from an ice age, and the climate has been warming for thousands of years. The current CO2 levels are increasing now for several thousand years and are now about 1/2 way to the top over the last 250,000,000 years. That is perhaps "alarming" but I don't know what it means in terms of any policy decisions. There are a lot of unsettled questions, and this really has nothing to do with the Great Barrington Declaration, at all, not in a pig's eye.216.197.221.129 (talk) 19:40, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
The fact that you deny anthropogenic climate change and presumably also deny the current consensus about population health measures cannot be used as an argument that the work of the AIER is not germane in both domains. In fact, your argument to this effect is incomprehensible. It is the reliable sources on this topic, rather than porcine oculatory faculties, that connect the GBD with the policy preferences of those funding it. Wikipedia follows the reliable sources that are available to date. Newimpartial (talk) 20:13, 1 January 2021 (UTC)
I have not denied anything, I just don't know how to measure our contribution to climate change. The problem you seem to have is that you are perfectly happy with having politicians make up policy decisions because they can, not because what they are doing makes any sense. I could elaborate on this no end, but if you do not examine what the Great Barrington Declaration says, and why it is worth considering, then you should be contributing to any comments about it. What this article does is support special interests including the CPP, gov't overreach, and anti-democratic authoritarianism. I do so wish you would reconsider what you are doing---it is not the correct thing to do, and is a public disservice.216.197.221.129 (talk) 20:40, 1 January 2021 (UTC)

I have read the GBD more than once, thanks, and understand fully the fatuity of its recommendations according to the available epidemiological evidence. I also know Climate change denial when I see it. This Talk page, however, is not here to discuss personal readings or feelings about the GBD much less about Climate change denial. This page is for the discussion of the content of the article, and such discussion needs to be based on actual reliable sources. Reals over feelz, people. Newimpartial (talk) 20:47, 1 January 2021 (UTC)

I have read the GBD more than once, thanks, and understand fully the correctness of its recommendations according to the available epidemiology. Climate change has nothing to do with the GBD. You have just presented your personal feelings about GBD without discussing anything other than the linkage the exists in your mind with climate change. This article seeks to present the politically correct interpretation of GBD, a page right out of Lenin's playbook. I see no discussion of statistical evidence, nor is that the intent of the article. If you want to discuss facts, you could start by presenting some. For example, the image of the GBD is illegible, even when clicked on, leading me to believe that you really don't care to have anyone read it, discuss it, or fact check the drivel you are presenting as if no public discussion were desirable. Prove me wrong.216.197.221.129 (talk) 00:18, 2 January 2021 (UTC) BTW, read this https://gbdeclaration.org/focused-protection/ It puts forth the statistics motivating the GBD. The excess mortality caused by political ineptitude is very concerning, we need better policy, not better propaganda.216.197.221.129 (talk) 03:01, 2 January 2021 (UTC)
According to the reliable sources, neither the GBD nor any of the authors of the GBD have proposed any plausible strategies of "focused protection" that would actually work in real-world situations. Certainly jurisdictions that have tried philosophically-similar approaches, like Sweden and Belgium, have failed to protect vulnerable populations.
As far as "facts" are concerned, my analysis reflects inter alia the reliable, secondary sources cited in this article. When I want to consult primary sources, like a normal person, I use search engines to find original documents, not links to image files. The fact remains that the GBD is not taken seriously in the epidemiological and public health communities, who see it as a dangerous, ideologically-motivated policy intervention. Newimpartial (talk) 03:25, 2 January 2021 (UTC)
Also, it is interesting to know that the GBD, like climate change denial, is motivated by free-market ideology, which denies that a free market can do anything wrong, and views any attempt to fight things a market obviously cannot handle right, such as climate change or COVID, as gov't overreach, and anti-democratic authoritarianism".
You have been preaching this ideology here, and you emphasized it by "I am a scientist!!" chest beating, but that will only impress ignorant non-scientists who are not aware that every scientist is a layman in every science except his own specialty, and think "wow, a scientist! Surely he knows what he's talking about!" Did you ever, in a discussion between scientists, see one of them use his degree or his published papers as corroboration of his own views? So ridiculous.
The common organizations and common motive behind GBD and climate change denial is relevant, to reliable sources as well as to this Wikipedia article, and we will not help you trying to hide it. --Hob Gadling (talk) 06:59, 2 January 2021 (UTC)
You have wandered far off topic, which is that Mr. Koch is not one-dimensional. My purpose in attacking this nonsense is that it is so far from reasonable that you have alienated a good fraction of Wikipedia’s readership, and if you want to appear to be less biased you really should remove it, precisely because it is irrelevant, and you are only talking to your own "bubble". I have been censored by Wikipedia. I have removed that label in protest. Further conversation is now terminated.216.197.221.129 (talk) 01:09, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

I think a major problem with including the Koch relationship is that you must then follow that policy consistently everywhere. Will you do the same with the GOP or DNC pages, mentioning every major sponsor and every project they'd paid for? If a tiny and utterly unrelated sponsorship towards AIER made only once years ago is important enough to start your article with 'the GBD was sponsored by someone with links to climate change denial' then where does this precedent end?

The Koch Brothers have also sponsored liberally-aligned groups, but would I see the same information about them there? And how far can we take the chain of association? AIER didn't sponsor anti-climate change studies to the best of my knowledge. The Kochs did. So the GBD was sponsored by someone who at one point was sponsored by someone who had sponsored something bad... Where does the chain end?

And you can say the writer didn't 'specifically' say the project was heavily sponsored by climate denialists, but if you call it a 'rosey color' and I say it's not red, you can't reply with "I didn't necessarily call it red." We can't just watch out for open bias, we have to watch out for words that could cause bias, even if the person could argue it wasn't his intention. It's not about intention, it's about end result. If the end result is a line that inadvertently creates an unfair association between the GBD and climate-denial and thus creates bias against the GBD, it doesn't matter if the writer didn't mean for it to do that.— Preceding unsigned comment added by DonaldK 012 (talkcontribs) 05:44, 27 February 2021 (UTC)

Tangential connection to Koch brothers[edit]

As it currently stands the final paragraph of the lead includes the sentence The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank with financial ties to the Koch brothers, known for funding organizations associated with climate change denial. There are a handful of problems that I see with this that I'll outline below, and I propose changing the sentence to The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank with financial ties to the Koch brothers, known for funding organizations associated with climate change denial.

1. It inaccurately implies a distance between the AEIR and climate change denial. AEIR is not just tied to the Koch brothers who are known for funding climate change denial: the AEIR themselves are producers of climate change denial articles. This is a primary connection, not secondary or tertiary.
2. It violates WP:UNDUE. The Koch brothers have donated tens of thousands of dollars to the org., but it has an investment fund worth hundreds of millions. They are not a major funder of the organization and it is false to imply such.
3. There is a connection drawn between the Barrington Declaration and the AEIR which is direct and appropriate for inclusion, but that connection is then further extrapolated by drawing the connection from the AEIR to the Koch brothers. These are both accurate connections by themselves, but the implication that those connections can be put together in a sentence and a direct Koch brother - Barrington Declaration connection implied is WP:SYNTH.
4. The inclusion of this tangential and indirect tie to the Koch brothers screams blatant bias and appears, in my opinion, to be an attempt to make absolutely sure that the reader is aware that this declaration is WP:FRINGE even if that means grasping at straws to draw this connection and thereby imply guilt-by-association. While I understand the motivation, violating WP:UNDUE, WP:NPOV, and WP:SYNTH to push a POV is not appropriate even if the POV being pushed is correct. It's also not necessary since the AEIR is themselves engaged in the same fringe climate denial as the Koch brothers. Paisarepa 03:38, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Paisarepa, Kochs giving money and AEIR receiving that same money is in no way tangential. It is of direct relevance. GPinkerton (talk) 04:10, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
How is that donation of direct relevance to the Great Barrington Declaration specifically? And please cite your source. Paisarepa 04:19, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Paisarepa, cited in the article already. Where the AEIR, which wrote the screed, get its financial and ideological backing is most significant. Both The Guardian and the Byline Times article focus on exactly that, and even the AEIR has admitted it in its own defensive counter-articles. How could it not be of direct relevance? How could it not be linked when a billionaire businessman's millionaire think-tank publishes a eugenicist mantra for the abatement of economic losses to AEIR-linked businesses? Where is the missing link? I think I can see all of them … GPinkerton (talk) 04:25, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Articles in the Japan Times and the Jerusalem Post also cover this angle. GPinkerton (talk) 04:28, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Indeed, the funding (and spurious science) and far-right nature of the declaration were agreed upon by both sides of the aisle in the House of Lords, no less. Both Richard Faulkner, Baron Faulkner of Worcester and James Bethell, 5th Baron Bethell mentioned its shoddy methodology and nefarious backers. GPinkerton (talk) 04:33, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
How could it not be of direct relevance? How could it not be linked when a billionaire businessman's millionaire think-tank publishes a eugenicist mantra for the abatement of economic losses to AEIR-linked businesses? That exactly the WP:SYNTH that I mentioned. You're claiming that a $68,000 donation to an organization with a $300,000,000 investment fund makes it that 'billionaire businessman's millionaire think-tank' and worse, you continue that extrapolation to claim that there is a direct connection between the Koch brothers and this declaration, an allegation which no source makes and for which there is no evidence. Paisarepa 05:25, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Paisarepa, it's not synthesis if I'm not the one making the connection, that's nonsense. I refer you to the sources cited, please stop repeating arguments that will go nowhere. The connection between Koch, climate change, and the Declaration are clear and unequivocal and reported by multiple reliable sources. Ultimately, the stunt was a singular failure and gained no traction among capable policymakers anywhere in the civilized world. Would removing Koch's money's involvement from the Wikipedia article really improve its chances of uptake? GPinkerton (talk) 06:13, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
WP:GOODFAITH...--JBchrch (talk) 09:58, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Agreed.--JBchrch (talk) 09:58, 9 February 2021 (UTC) Let me add that you should consider an RfC about this.--JBchrch (talk) 10:00, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
The Koch obsession looks rather silly, and I think it indeed reduces uptake. It should be removed from the lede. In the Sponsor section at least one reference to "Koch-funded" would be better removed. The donation from the Koch Foundation should also be junked, it is de minimus. The description situating AEIR's political and social worldview will be stronger if it simply describes actual positions and activities of AEIR. Which includes partnership with the Koch Institute. All the other Beware the Mark of the Koch stuff mixed in contaminates the message. (And those Byline Times articles--the basis for the Sponsor section--suffer the same problem.) -- M.boli (talk) 13:46, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Since AIER is not a well-known organization (e.g., on par with Apple or Facebook), it's important to provide some description of it. If you think that this description is not the best, then please feel free to propose a better one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:51, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Here is what I suggested above. What remains is an accurate and stronger description of AEIR.
  • Last paragraph of the lede section: ... a libertarian think tank with financial ties to the Koch brothers, known for funding organizations ..
  • Second paragraph of Sponsor section, first sentence: ... Nafeez Ahmed has described the AIER as a "institution embedded in a Koch-funded network that writes AIER "denies climate science while investing in polluting fossil fuel industries"
  • Same paragraph later srike the irrelevant remark about the tiny Koch donation: and included a US$68,100 donation fee from the Charles Koch Foundation.
  • Same paragraph strike the gratuitous: and other Koch funded think thanks
What's left is a good description of AEIR, its investments, and it's policies. The mention that AEIR partners with the Koch Foundation remains. The article is more persuasive because it doesn't read like a conspiracy theorist looking for The Evil Mark of Koch everywhere. -- M.boli (talk) 22:20, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
M.boli, certianly not, since that would have the effect of suggesting these facts are not true and might be misunderstood as merely someone's opinion rather than objective reality. Why ignore what multiple reliable media are telling us, that the money behind the Great Barrington Declaration and its far-right acolytes comes from Koch and the AIER and the other big businesses of America? This is more important than what they chose to put in the document or whose names were attached to it. The Res Gestae Divi Augusti hardly deals with the text itself until the end of the article, as is proper for a historical piece of propaganda, the thing must be put in its proper context so the reader can understand its contents. Omitting the most famous of the Declaration's backers is like omitting de Gaulle from the history of post-war France. GPinkerton (talk) 01:28, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
I don't get it. Why is is better to write that AIER gets money from the Kochs, who pay for denial, than that AIER are denialists? If we have sources for both? This sounds like of would be even better to write that they get money from somebody who is a member in the same club as the uncle of somebody who has worked for a close friend of the Kochs. --Hob Gadling (talk) 07:38, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
institution embedded in a Koch-funded network that denies climate science embarrasses me as a Wikipedia editor.
  • This article is about a Covid policy document, sponsored by AEIR.
  • AEIR also denies climate change. (I'm OK with this as relevant.)
  • AEIR works with other institutions, some of them are also climate deniers
  • Some of those other institutions ... Koch family money is in there somewhere.
DING DING DING! You are a winner! You get to tar the Great Barrington Declaration with the mark of the evil KOCH family!
Just because that embarrassing sentence occurs in a source article doesn't mean that Wikipedia is obligated to repeat it. I think that was a lapse of judgment. -- M.boli (talk) 15:25, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
I'd imagine that someone somewhere has made the obvious connection: the Koch agenda is to resist anything that interferes with the "freedom" of businesses to do whatever they please. Climate change regulations? Interference! COVID lockdown? Interference!! Now, I'm not proposing to write this in our article if there's no source to support it. But let's not pretend to be ignorant about the reason (okay, one of the reasons) AEIR (as a Koch-funded entity) takes the positions it takes. Anyway, as things stand what we say has perfectly adequate support from the sources given. Nomoskedasticity (talk) 15:48, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Yes, but why make the long connection "Barrington - AIER - Koch - Climate change denial" rather than the shorter one "Barrington - AIER - Climate change denial"? Why does nobody answer that question? --Hob Gadling (talk) 16:00, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
We could do both, if the sources support it. I think it's still important to "follow the money". Nomoskedasticity (talk) 16:13, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
"Following the money" is not appropriate when it means cherry-picking a single highly controversial donor (whose contribution was small relative to the organization) in order to discredit through association. Imagine if we "followed the money" in the same way with, for example, Nobel laureates Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee. Duflo and Banerjee work at MIT -> MIT has received $185 million from the Koch brothers -> therefore Duflo and Banerjee's work is part of the Koch agenda. Paisarepa 18:29, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Quite. The reference to Koch in this article is POV pushing of the worst kind. It's wholly unjustified, and the point you make is enough to consider removal of the offending text; and offending it certainly is. Arcturus (talk) 19:50, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Paisarepa, No, that's a logical fallacy. (See: straw man argument.) No reliable sources are calling MIT "Koch-funded", yet wherever the money behind this astroturfing is mentioned, Koch's name is there. Giving money to universities is quite different to giving political backing to a far-right think-tank. GPinkerton (talk) 22:08, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
False. Analogy != straw man. As to your claim that No reliable sources are calling MIT "Koch-funded", MIT literally named an institution after them. No one, certainly not MIT, is denying their receipt of Koch funding. However, you're missing the point which is that it is inappropriate to cherry pick small donors in order to discredit through association. Paisarepa 22:37, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Paisarepa, we're not mentioning any "small donors". Koch has paid huge sums. GPinkerton (talk) 22:43, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
$68,000 compared to the AEIR's ~$300 million investment fund. I.e., small. Paisarepa 22:58, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
In the usual formulas, $300M endowment might mean $12M annual spending. A $60K donation would be 0.5% of the annual spending. That's not big, but it's not exactly "small". In the grant-making world, 5% of a project (not the whole organization – a single project) is usually considered the low end of "significant" funding. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:52, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
Hob Gadling, I completely agree with you, and this was Paisarepa's initial proposition intends to do. As of right now the article states, "Barrington - AIER - Koch - Climate change denial", while it should state "Barrington - AIER - Climate change denial".--JBchrch (talk) 17:22, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
JBchrch, it is WP:UNDUE not to mention the most politically active supporter of the political actors' political supporters, especially when every reliable source never fails to mention his involvement and its significance. GPinkerton (talk) 22:10, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
JBchrch, it seems that NOTCENSORED may apply here, in addition to DUE. If many or most sources discuss the AIER and climate change denial in relation to Koch funding, what policy-relevant reason is there for this article to do otherwise. Newimpartial (talk) 22:27, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
GPinkerton, Newimpartial, The relevant policy here (aaah wikilawyering—my favourite past-time) is MOS:LEADNO. But please note, for the avoidance of doubt, that the only proposal in this whole section I personally support is Paisarepa's initial proposition to remove half a sentence in the lead—which does not remove the message that the AIER is bad, simply gives WP:DUE weight to the Koch's involvement in the Declaration, and does not remove any content from the body.--JBchrch (talk) 23:12, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
The subject of this article isn't the AEIR though, it's the Great Barrington Declaration. Paisarepa 22:46, 10 February 2021 (UTC)

True, but I was only taking into consideration sources that discuss the AEIR and climate change denial in the context of the GBD. Newimpartial (talk) 22:53, 10 February 2021 (UTC)

The most Koch-hungry source comes up with: institution embedded in a Koch-funded network that denies climate science. It is embarrassing that Wikipedia would repeat that phrase in an article. If the name was Soros instead of Koch I think all the editors here would see it for the dreck that it is. -- M.boli (talk) 23:13, 10 February 2021 (UTC)

M.boli, what's the relationship? Soros has no decades long relationship with political extremism, as Koch does. It would be wrong to omit the central ideological influence behind the AEIR and its publication, which is very much the subject of this article. GPinkerton (talk) 23:33, 10 February 2021 (UTC)


RFC: Reference to Koch brothers in lead[edit]

Should the sentence in the lead: The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank with financial ties to the Koch brothers, known for funding organizations associated with climate change denial include the reference to the Koch brothers? Paisarepa 23:20, 10 February 2021 (UTC)

  • Yes, as numerous media report this important and influential political connection, which at the same time should surprise no-one, since far-right anti-science causes have long been espoused by those into whose hands Koch's money comes. GPinkerton (talk) 23:32, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No, per WP:DUE and MOS:LEADNO, as explained by Paisarepa here, and illustrated by her/his proposal : The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank with financial ties to the Koch brothers, known for funding organizations associated with climate change denial..--JBchrch (talk) 23:37, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No, 👎. AIER's denial stance on climate change is documented and relevant, its financial relationship with Koch family are weak. Throwing it in is gratuitous and looks silly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by M.boli (talkcontribs) 05:16, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No. In the article, yes. In the lead, no. But AIER's own climate change denial activities should be in the lead. --Hob Gadling (talk) 08:58, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No per WP:OFFTOPIC, because while (according to the statement) The Koch Brothers are known for funding climate change denial, climate change and denial of climate change have little to do with The Great Barrington Declaration. 4D4850 (talk) 15:20, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No. Puts undue weight on a minor connection with Koch brothers.Glendoremus (talk) 04:47, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No. I see no reason why the Koch connections should be mentioned in the lead. The association between the declaration and AIER should most definitely remain, however, as this being a strategy associated with a libertarian think-tank is important to understand the context in which it was issued. PraiseVivec (talk) 12:39, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
  • No per Hob Gadling - Idealigic (talk) 22:20, 15 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Yes -- it is perfectly reasonable to indicate, in the lead, where the financial support for this initiative comes from, as given via reliable sources. It's a mystery to me why some editors would prefer not to include this angle. If we were to work from PraiseVivec's premise ("important to understand the context in which [the declaration] was issued") then the question of financial basis is a key topic. Nomoskedasticity (talk) 10:33, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
    Do we have sources for the financial support intended for this initiative specifically? My understanding was that we have sources saying that AIER does get money from Koch and from others - therefore, the connection between GBD and Koch via AIER is too indirect to include it in the lede, although not too indirect to include it in the article. But it's news to me that Koch specifically gave money for the GBD. That would indeed belong in the lede. --Hob Gadling (talk) 11:58, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
I am going to let Nomoskedasticity respond, but I have not seen a source that makes a direct connection.--JBchrch (talk) 12:11, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Yes and no - I propose instead: The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that also promoted climate change denialism.[1]PaleoNeonate – 10:40, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Yes but I think the wording by User:PaleoNeonate would be better. -----Snowded TALK 06:37, 27 February 2021 (UTC)
Snowded, I'm confused by your reply. You say 'Yes' to including the Koch reference in the lead, but you also say that PaleoNeonate's wording which removes the Koch reference is better. This appears contradictory; could you clarify your opinion? Thanks, Paisarepa 17:42, 3 March 2021 (UTC)
It means what it says, given the RFI choice I vote one way, but I think the alternative proposed is better -----Snowded TALK 17:38, 5 March 2021 (UTC)
  • No. Koch donated to AIER. So did various other people and organisations. There is no reason to single out Koch. And especially no reason to mention Koch in every instance the word AIER appears in Wikipedia. Pelirojopajaro pointed out in a previous discussion that in this article from AIER Donald J. Boudreaux says Tyler Cowen and the Mercatus Center this past Spring awarded funds to Imperial College modeler Neil Ferguson. The reason for this grant of funds was Tyler’s admiration of the fact that Dr. Ferguson’s model served as the spark for massive lockdowns in the U.K. and the U.S. But here’s the thing: Until last year, Charles Koch served on the board of Mercatus and has been, and continues to be, a contributor. Clearly, if the Koch Foundation is buying opposition to covid lockdowns, it’s doing a poor job!.--Distelfinck (talk) 17:44, 27 February 2021 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

    • Sodha, Sonia (2020-10-11). "The anti-lockdown scientists' cause would be more persuasive if it weren't so half-baked". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-02-19. I doubt Gupta et al are signed up to the AIER's political ideology. But her claim that the declaration should sit outside politics while launching it at an event hosted by a libertarian thinktank funded by the Koch Foundation sits very oddly. The kindest interpretation is these are three politically naive but self-important scientists with little idea about how to engage with the real world.
    • Greenhalgh, Trish; McKee, Martin; Kelly-Irving, Michelle (2020-10-18). "The pursuit of herd immunity is a folly – so who's funding this bad science?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-02-19. The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), where the declaration was signed, is a libertarian thinktank that is, in its own words, committed to "pure freedom" and wishes to see the "role of government … sharply confined".
      The institute has a history of funding controversial research – such as a study extolling the benefits of sweatshops supplying multinationals for those employed in them – while its statements on climate change largely downplay the threats of the environmental crisis. It is a partner in the Atlas network of thinktanks, which acts as an umbrella for free-market and libertarian institutions, whose funders have included tobacco firms, ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers.
    • Dyer, Gwynne (2020-10-21). "Herd immunity, reinfection and the Great Barrington Declaration". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2021-02-19. Never mind that the sponsor is the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think-tank funded by the Charles Koch Foundation and other hard-right American groups whose main business is climate change denial.
    • Dyer, Gwynne. "Herd immunity, reinfection and the 'Great Barrington Declaration'". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2021-02-19. Never mind that the sponsor is the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank funded by the Charles Koch Foundation and other hard-right American groups whose main business is climate change denial.
    • Geoghegan, Peter (2021-01-03). "Now the Swedish model has failed, it's time to ask who was pushing it". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-02-19. Lockdown sceptics have had financial support, too: the much-discussed Great Barrington declaration, which advocated herd immunity, was coordinated by a US thinktank that has received funding from the billionaire Koch brothers, who pumped huge sums into the Republican party and its fringes.
    • George, Monbiot (2021-01-27). "Covid lies cost lives – we have a duty to clamp down on them". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-02-19. Lobby groups funded by plutocrats and corporations are responsible for much of the misinformation that saturates public life. The launch of the Great Barrington Declaration, for example, that champions herd immunity through mass infection with the help of discredited claims, was hosted – physically and online – by the American Institute for Economic Research. This institute has received money from the Charles Koch Foundation, and takes a wide range of anti-environmental positions.
    • There is strong evidence that the relationship between the AIER and the Koch vehicles are important to mention whenever the Great Barrington Declaration is discussed. It would be remiss to omit it. GPinkerton (talk) 16:02, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
    Yes, that relationship should be mentioned in the article. I think everybody agrees on that. But this is about whether it should be mentioned in the lede. --Hob Gadling (talk) 17:06, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
    Hob Gadling, in all these instances, the three things are all mentioned together, which suggests reliable sources frequently treat of the connections are of vital and central importance. GPinkerton (talk) 17:15, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
These sources only mention an indirect connection. Besides, if you look closely, you only provided two sources: The Guardian, a biased (although reliable) source and a Gwynne Dyer column, reprinted as an opinion/commentary, and thus unreliable per WP:RSEDITORIAL. As such, I maintain that the "Koch connection" should not be mentioned in the lead.--JBchrch (talk) 17:26, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
JBchrch, They all mention a direct connection, as can be seen in boldface. I maintain that the Koch connection is sufficiently evidenced by the sources already cited in the article. These further support that conclusion. The claim thus unreliable per WP:RSEDITORIAL does not appear to be based on reference to that policy, because it doesn't not say they are automatically unreliable, and in any case we already have reliable sources that state these things. These are merely to prove it to other editors that the fact that Koch funded the declaration's parent body is significant and mentioned by multiple news media (i.e. The Guardian, the Jerusalem Post, the Japan Times, and so on. Even the AIER's own "news" blog makes repeated reference to it. It's relevance cannot be questioned. GPinkerton (talk) 23:15, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
Actually, the thing that bothers me most about this difference is not that it adds the Kochs. It is that it removes the fact that AIER is itself associated with climate change denial and replaces it by a weaker connection, via the Kochs. That makes the sentence seem as if someone had tried desperately to find any kind of fault and could only find a bit of dirt in an alley two streets away. Which is not the case: the GBD is crap, and AIER sponsors other crap too. We should not give the reader the impression that the case against the GBD is weaker than it actually is. --Hob Gadling (talk) 08:46, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Need to be alert here[edit]

We already have two SPAs involved in this discussion, I suspect we may get more -----Snowded TALK 06:44, 27 February 2021 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Nafeez, Ahmed (9 October 2020). "Climate Science Denial Network Behind Great Barrington Declaration". Byline Times.

Suggest dumping the 'signatories' section[edit]

Let's dump the Signatories section about the online petition. Funny names in an online petition are not encyclopedia-worthy information about the GBD. And of course a public online petition that attracted three quarters of a million signatures attracts a bunch of people who aren't experts in the subject. This section makes Wikipedia look dumb. -- M.boli (talk) 12:53, 3 March 2021 (UTC)

No, it makes the idea of an online petition as a means of informing health care decisions for millions of people dumb. For as many professionals and experts that were included, many others had no equivalent relevant experience, insight, or know-how, making it an ideological statement to associate thenselves with, rather than a peer reviewed paper or similar.
In short; they want the benefit of looking legitimate as much as possible but to avoid an actual legitimising process, while also having their signatories padded out as much as possible. Well it worked. And they got lots of silly ones. Koncorde (talk) 11:38, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
In other words, it is important to include a paragraph showing that people wrote silly names to an online petition because it makes the GBD look silly. As I said, not encyclopedia-worthy. The online petition is not a notable part of the story, absent the silly names nobody would have bothered to mention it. -- M.boli (talk) 12:41, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
No, it's important to give the context of the signatories. That a significant portion of the RS coverage highlighted grave concerns with their auditing / control of the signatory element is WP:DUE. We don't exclude coverage because it is flattering.
And, to be clear, the vast majority of coverage is very much concerned with its trial by public opinion methodology, of which the signatories are a large portion. Koncorde (talk) 13:02, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
Hi, I come a little bit from a different angle: How can we know today(!) if the current signature-count provided is legitimate, verified, which is the only data that should be acceptable if we would ever discuss it, use it, etc.? FAQ does not say a word if the currently (total, adding the three groups) of 819.766 is unique signees. No, I did not ask the authors, but I have a feeling there might be a tool for filtering such lists. What is the meaning, if it is not verified, a self-confirmation? KR --17387349L8764 (talk) 20:02, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
That is just one of the many problems with the list, which has not been mentioned yet because it would only be interesting if such lists had any meaning. Which they don't because of all the other problems, the most damaging is that this is not how science is done. I am not saying that you should not have mentioned it, just that this is the usual situation with pseudoscience proponents: most of the time, what they do contains so many rookie mistakes, each of which alone would have doomed their argument, that it is to be expected that people find new ones all the time. --Hob Gadling (talk) 09:33, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
M.boli, I agree. It's a political stunt, not a scientific document, and the list of signatories lends it spurious credibility, as the sources make clear. Guy (help! - typo?) 20:09, 4 April 2021 (UTC)

AIER[edit]

What is the relevance of "Controversial research funded by AIER in the past includes a study asserting that sweatshops supplying multinationals are beneficial for those working in them," to the topic of this article? Seems like a coatrack. Kenosha Forever (talk) 17:07, 23 March 2021 (UTC)

Gives our readers a little background into the nature of the organisation. -Roxy the grumpy dog. wooF 18:37, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
But this is not an article about the organization. The nature of the organization is adequately described as "a libertarian think tank based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.", and it is wikilinked, if people need more information. Its positions on sweatshop labor has absolutely no relevance to the topic of this article. Kenosha Forever (talk) 19:06, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
Read Wikipedia:Coatrack_articles#All_About_George and tell me how this section is different. Kenosha Forever (talk) 19:09, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
I don't really see the similarity. In the GBD article, we have multiple sources discussing the AIER - including all the points made in our article - as part of the context in which these sources suggest the GBD should be interpreted. In your "All about George" link, the would-be article is seizing on a "GW slept here" location to slag on the former slave owner president. I don't really see the similarity: the latter is a COATRACK; the former isn't. Newimpartial (talk) 19:50, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
You don't see the similarity? This article is seizing on a "AEIR sponsored GBD" mention to slag on AEIR as a supporter of sweatshops and a climate change denier. It is exactly the same - neither issue has anything to do with GBD Kenosha Forever (talk) 20:59, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
If you think the point of that paragraph is to "slag on the AEIR", rather than to provide context for the GBD, then I'm not sure we are reading the same paragraph. The paragraph's sources suggest that this is relevant context for understanding the declaration, and that's how I see it as well. Newimpartial (talk) 21:03, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
All the sources for that section, except two, are from the same person - Nafeez Ahmed - who seems to be on some sort of crusade against AEIR. The two other sources are actually criticizing him for misrepresentations in his articles, which is a viewpoint not preesnt in the section, violating NPOV. This is a massive undue coatrack. Kenosha Forever (talk) 21:55, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
We are definitely not reading the same section. My reading of The Guardian and the Berkshire Edge pieces are not reflected at all in what you just wrote. Newimpartial (talk) 22:50, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
Newimpartial, The Edge piece say this "Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed wrote in the Byline Times, an alternative investigative newspaper in the United Kingdom, that the “think-tank behind the Great Barrington Declaration is part-funded by right-wing American billionaire Charles Koch...Ahmed did find a $68,100 donation from the Charles Koch Foundation to AIER. ....The Koch gift, however, makes up a fraction of AIER’s total revenues of more than $2.2 million for that same period." - you don't read that as criticism of the claim that AIER s fund buy Koch, when it amounts to just 3% of the funding? Kenosha Forever (talk) 23:34, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
I would call that context, rather than criticism. You also neglect to mention the paragraph in the Edge about the climate denial pieces on AIER's website, which I see as validating the GBD's critics. Newimpartial (talk) 23:43, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
What is the context in which $68K out of $2.2M would be considered "funding"? If I gave a dollar to AEIR, would I be considered "funding" them"? Technically I am , but any "investigative reporter" who reported it that way is a disgrace. Kenosha Forever (talk) 00:05, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

And what are your sources for disgrace? I don't see that in the Edge. Anyway, the Koch bit is only one element in the paragraph. You seem to be objecting to the whole AIER section, which is absolutely do for the article - no AIER, no GBD. Period. Newimpartial (talk) 00:12, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

What I object to is the massive undue weight this places on something which is not the topic of the article, to the point of it being a coatrack. I am ok with saying AEIR is a sponsor (even though that's' not completely clear), I am ok with briefly describing it as libertarian, and I'd even go as far as saying that its critics called some of its research controversial. But the current section is not appropriate, violates NPOV, and it doesn't look like you have consensus to include it.Kenosha Forever (talk) 00:33, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
Have you read the previous discussions? The Koch funding bit was controversial as part of the lede and so was moved to the body, but I haven't seen anyone contest the relevance of the AIER context on general, until now, and we've had quite a lot of discussion...Newimpartial (talk) 00:53, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
Just read the comment below this one, where JBchrch says "I would agree that excessive WP:WEIGHT is given to the AIER's activities. A note/sentence in passing would be sufficient IMO.". You do not have consensus for this massive undue coatrack. Kenosha Forever (talk) 00:58, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
And you have no consensus that it is a massive undue coatrack. Please read the previous discussions before continuing your crusade. Newimpartial (talk) 01:01, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
The onus is on those wishing to include disputed content to show consensus for it, not the other way around. Kenosha Forever (talk) 01:11, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
And I am saying that we have express consensus from previous discussions to maintain the AIER content. Newimpartial (talk) 01:15, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
Consensus can change , and you don't have it now (assuming you ever had it). Kenosha Forever (talk) 01:19, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
One or two editors now do not outweigh the consensus previously documented, e.g., in this discussion. The article is more balanced now, with the longer discussion of AIER's role in the body and a short mention in the lede. But if you think the community's views really have changed, NPOVN is that way. Newimpartial (talk) 01:22, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
that discussion was about AEIR in the lead, and ended with a decision against it. There is no discussion I can see that supports the current "Sponsors" section, which as can be seen here, does not have consensus. Kenosha Forever (talk) 01:53, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

Once again, what you are reading and what I am reading are very different. I recommend NPOVN. Newimpartial (talk) 02:11, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

Since the disputed content is just one sentence long, I think an RfC is more appropriate. Kenosha Forever, if you want to do it but don't know how to just tell me.--JBchrch (talk) 08:12, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
JBchrch, I haven't done it before, so yeah, you could start one Kenosha Forever (talk) 14:13, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

The problem is that the sources the article is based on generally mention the AIER connection, including its activities and track record. However, I would agree that excessive WP:WEIGHT is given to the AIER's activities. A note/sentence in passing would be sufficient IMO. JBchrch (talk) 19:49, 23 March 2021 (UTC)

I agree. I don't have an issue with mentioning AEIR as a sponsor, and describing(as currently in the article) as libertarian think tank, perhaps with a note that it is has controversial views or has been criticized. But as it currently stands, there are 3000+ bytes of irrelevant content, a massive coatrack. Kenosha Forever (talk) 20:59, 23 March 2021 (UTC)

To my mind that quote institution embedded in a Koch-funded network gives the game away, viz: there is nothing substantive. Weasel words to obscure that the dreaded Taint of the Koch is by transitivity, AEIR collaborates with other institutions that received Koch funding. I think at one point that embarrassing line was run into the article. After a lot of dispute it is retained as a quote. Only the lede part was put to a vote, where it lost by a large margin. Personally, I've given up arguing the Koch issue, but very happy to see it out of the lede. The there are numbers of editors on both sides, and the faction who see it as important context are more persistent.

Regarding that longish 2nd paragraph in the Sponsor section, I'd cut everything in that paragraph before the sentence Controversial research funded by AIER in the past.... That sentence to the end leaves a brief mention of the sweatshops and a bit longer mention of climate denial. To me, that provides just enough taste of context and eliminates the ridiculous Koch fixation. -- M.boli (talk) 03:27, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

Including criticism of this declaration makes complete sense - yet referring to the declarations sponsor as supporting climate change denial seems, in my eyes at least, an Ad Hominem, which doesn’t seem entirely appropriate for an impartial page. Especially when the relevancy of climate change to covid is somewhat dubious. Raidiohead55 (talk) 13:27, 10 April 2021 (UTC)

RfC: "Controversial research funded by AIER in the past includes a study asserting that sweatshops supplying multinationals are beneficial for those working in them"[edit]

In § Sponsor, should the sentence Controversial research funded by AIER in the past includes a study asserting that sweatshops supplying multinationals are beneficial for those working in them,[1] be removed?--JBchrch (talk) 16:43, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

  • Comment: I am launching this RfC on behalf of Kenosha Forever. Kenosha Forever, you should add a comment stating your position and argument(s) below this comment. Assume editors will not necessarily read the discussion that took place hereinbefore. See WP:RFC for more info. --JBchrch (talk) 16:49, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

  • Remove, and also remove the subsequent paragraph - This article is not about AIER, but about Great Barrington Declaration. AIER's only connection is that their website hosted the declaration. Any work AEIR has done on Climate change or sweatshops is entirely irrelevant to the topic at hand, and only serves as a coatrack - associating presumably negative aspects of AIER's work with the GBD. We should briefly describe their role (sponsor/ web host), but without this undue content. Something along the lines of "The declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a libertarian think tank based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts" , and maybe add ", that has conducted research that was considered controversial by critics". But right now we have a 3000 byte paragraph that describes all sort of irrelevant AEIR materiel. Kenosha Forever (talk) 17:51, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
@Kenosha Forever: WP:COAT is not a policy/guideline. It's an WP:ESSAY so it may or may not be honored. It depends entirely on consensus. --AXONOV (talk) 16:34, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
Meta-discussion about the wording of the Rfc question; now resolved.
  • Comment (edit conflict) : Kenosha Forever, can you say whether the Rfc question as stated above, is the issue you are trying to resolve? My concern is that you mentioned in the AEIR discussion above that "there are 3000+ bytes of irrelevant content" but this Rfc question seeks to remove a sentence of ~ 140 characters. Is this a faithful representation of your issue? Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 18:02, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    Reping: Kenosha Forever this question was directed to you; sorry; repinging. Mathglot (talk) 18:04, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    Mathglot, In the discussion abode, I was trying to solve a bigger problem. I think the entire "Sponsors' Section should go, save for a singe line description of AEIR which could go into the section right above. But this is a good first step, which might be easier to get agreement on. Kenosha Forever (talk) 18:08, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) @Kenosha Forever: Based on your comment of 17:51 above [reinforced by your 18:08 comment], the Rfc question clearly does not state your concerns. I recommend that you change the Rfc statement (starting, "should the statement...") above, so it corresponds with your concern. No one else has responded with !votes yet, so the Rfc question may still be changed. Ideally, make it a yes-no question, which doesn't make an argument for your PoV, but just states the question that you would like to see answered. "Should the statement (section/paragraph/four sentences/whatever) starting with "FOO..." and ending with "...BAR" in section BAZ be removed from the article?" would work. Mathglot (talk) 18:13, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    Missed that last part; if you think the question as stated is satisfactory because easier to get consensus on and you're good with going ahead with the Rfc as stated, that's fine; feel free to leave the Rfc as is, if you're happy with it, or change it, if you're not. Up to you. Mathglot (talk) 18:17, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    @Kenosha Forever: if you feel like I've misunderstood your concerns, first of all I am sorry, and second go ahead and edit my question as you please. --JBchrch (talk) 18:56, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    I had a bigger concern, but I am ok with the question as is, let's see if we can get agreement for that. Kenosha Forever (talk) 20:30, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
    Good, so we can proceed with the current Rfc question as is; thanks for your feedback. Mathglot (talk) 22:21, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Comment collapsed meta-discussion about wording. Rfc remains open for !votes and comments. Mathglot (talk) 22:21, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Comment Fuck no! If a text attacking a scientific consensus in order to protect the Holy Free Market comes from a pro-free-market organization that has in the past attacked another scientific consensus as well as attempts to protect poor people from being exploited, both in order to protect the Holy Free Market, and both to the detriment of the well-being of humanity in general, that is very much worth noting. It puts the whole thing in a perspective similar to WP:MANDY. The GBD is just what you would expect from a pro-greed organization, and the reader needs to know that. --Hob Gadling (talk) 06:58, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
  • No This declaration did not fall out of the sky, but was sponsored by an organisation who's sketchy past is highly relevant to the sketchy declaration that is the subject of the article. The ideological context that stood behind the writing of this document should not, and can not, be ignored. PraiseVivec (talk) 15:03, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Keep the said statement (it should be probably moved to «Controversy» sub-section). --AXONOV (talk) 16:25, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Remove. It is too far-removed from the declaration to deserve inclusion (per WP:DUE), and was only brought up by one source. In response to Hob Gadling, Wikipedia is not here to right great wrongs or to prevent readers from accidentally becoming paleocons: as I am sure you know, we have to write articles from a neutral point of view. JBchrch (talk) 22:20, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
The credibility of a source is important information. Not mentioning it would help the propagandists spread their lies. Wikipedia needs to supply context that allows the reader to categorize standpoints: "this is what the top scientists say, and that is what the loons with an ideological agenda who have spread misinformation about other subjects say". This is not righting great wrongs, it is supplying necessary information. --Hob Gadling (talk) 07:12, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Remove. It is undue and misleading. Pelirojopajaro (talk) 07:42, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • No, Keep but no need for a "Controversy" section, (The whole declaration is controversial). -Roxy the sycamore. wooF 12:37, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Yes, remove the sweatshop statement. It is an instance of one economic research document, not salient to the issue at hand. The history of climate denial could be salient context, since it shows persistently AIER following a policy known to be at odds with science. But the sweatshop thing seems to have been mentioned merely because superficially it makes AIER look nutty and callous. It is far from "necessary information." -- M.boli (talk) 13:07, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • No, keep — I tend to agree with Roxy here. XOR'easter (talk) 19:38, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Retain, as important context on the motivation behind the thing. It's a "free enterprise" grift mill and this document is part of the grift; myou can't understand the reasons for its publication and promotion in the right wing media without understanding that it comes from the walled garden of right wing think tanks. Guy (help! - typo?) 20:11, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
    The declaration was not written by AIER. AIER just sponsored it --Distelfinck (talk) 12:05, 14 April 2021 (UTC)
  • Keep - Useful for context, considering that the "declaration" is also against general public interests, —PaleoNeonate – 22:44, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
  • Remove as not particularly relevant. As currently phrased, it also gives the impression that Wikipedia is promoting a particular political view. To quote WP:NPOV: "When editorial bias towards one particular point of view can be detected the article needs to be fixed." It's worth noting that at least some respected economists agree that sweatshops are good for the people working in them. If the sentence is kept, the word "asserted" should be changed per MOS:SAY. —Mx. Granger (talk · contribs) 08:00, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
    Mx. Granger, no, it's documenting the POV of the group behind it. If you're familiar with the role of conservative grift mills in US politics, you'll understand its significance. These people use money to produce the illusion of academic and scientific support for everything from tobacco-cancer denial to climate change denial to COVID denial. Anything that interferes with corporate profit, they will manufacture evidence against it. We have decades of evidence of this, and its important context. Guy (help! - typo?) 10:36, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
  • Keep It does seem like useful context. Richard Nevell (talk) 14:59, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
  • Strong Remove This is loaded language that should not be in a Wikipedia article. In fact, this whole article needs to be edited for neutrality. LK (talk) 02:57, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
  • Strong Remove for all the reasons given above and remove all other content not related to the subject of the page. User:FailedMusician

Discussion[edit]

Note for eventual closer: because the Rfc was worded as a "removal" question, no and keep votes are on the same side of this question. Mathglot (talk) 03:52, 26 March 2021 (UTC)

The editor Kenosha Forever is a sock. Their vote should be disregarded. Snooganssnoogans (talk) 01:00, 13 April 2021 (UTC)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Greenhalgh, Trish; McKee, Martin; Kelly-Irving, Michelle (18 October 2020). "The pursuit of herd immunity is a folly – so who's funding this bad science?". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2020.

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