Which are the top 5 anti-science think tanks?[Post your picks below.]

In my defense of Obama science pick John Holdren against the deniers and delayers, I wrote:

Amazingly, [NYT science writer] Tierney quotes CEI attacking Holdren. Now CEI is itself probably one of the top five anti-scientific think tanks in the country. It has taken $2 million of ExxonMobil money in the past decade to run an anti-science disinformation campaign with ads that claim the ice sheets are gaining mass when they are losing it and ending with the absurdist and suicidal tag line, “CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!” And those are only some of their ads aimed at destroying the climate for centuries. No reputable science journalist would quote CEI’s opinion on science or climate issues.

Science blogger Joshua Rosenau, who spends his days at the National Center for Science Education defending the teaching of evolution, emailed me a question about the second sentence, which led to this post:

That comment about the “top five anti-scientific think tanks” got me thinking. Clearly the Discovery Institute deserves a place on the list (and in private email, Romm agrees). But who else should be on the list, and what criteria should we use to decide which think tank is the very most anti-scientific?

Other likely selections include Heritage, George Marshall, Heartland, Cato, and AEI. The Annapolis Center for Science-based Public Policy never quite took off in a big public way, but has been working away behind the scenes for a while to promote “sound” science. The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness has worked behind the scenes for years to undermine effective regulation of pollutants, including second-hand smoke and carbon dioxide. Several of these are well-documented in The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney.

Personally, I’m not certain Heartland has the mojo to make the top 5 — I was thinking top 5 in term of impact as opposed to, say, the most egregiously wrong — but I’d like to hear your list. You should rank them (with #1 being the worst), and you don’t need a full list of 5.

Joshua took my suggestion and emailed Chris for his nominations, and also queried his readers. So I’m planning to take all the votes together to come up with a final list. As Joshua says, “this is your chance to make a nomination for the top five, and to make your case for the top anti-science think tank of 2008.”

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15 Responses to Which are the top 5 anti-science think tanks?

  1. David says:


    Where did this quote come from???

    “We must protect the American people from the Scourge of evolutionary and stem cell science.”

    I assume it was not “made-up” and not posted on the web by non-scientists….
    Therefore, I am willing to give $10 to the first person who can send me a printed version of the quote from a source I can verify….

    Science has no bias and does not favor one political party over another…
    However, many researchers do have a bias… and a few will make up non-scientific claims to support their side.

  2. Brewster says:

    I would be more interested in the top 5 pro-science think tanks, particularly those studying GW…

  3. thingsbreak says:

    Frontiers of Freedom
    AEI (okay, more anti-reality than anti-science per se)

    Honorable Mention: The Breakdown Institute’s three stooges

  4. Does anyone have the feeling that our communication, here and now, appears to be convoluted and confused because many too many of us do not yet recognize that the family of humanity literally lives within a modern version of an ancient edifice, the Tower of Babel? The new leviathan-like, distinctly human construction is not made of stone, but instead built out as a “house of cards”. This colossal, artificially designed structure is noticeably pyramidal in shape, duplicitously organized as a patently unsustainable pyramid scheme, and named the global political economy.

    For the people who are the primary beneficiaries of such a scheme, the global economy is effectively an object of idolatry. Nothing else really matters. These people are the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us. They could not care less about the natural world, life as we know it for the children and future generations, the integrity of Earth. You can readily recognize the idolaters as the leading, self-righteous elders of my “Not So GREAT GREED GRAB Generation”. Endlessly consuming and hoarding resources as well as power-mongering are regarded as religious rituals.

    Nothing in this missive is new, I suppose.

  5. Dano says:

    1. AEI
    2. CEI (AEI spinoff)
    3. Discovery
    4. Heritage
    5. Marshall

    Cato, FF, et al have neither the scope nor the reach of these 5. Heartland has some play, and they may make a top 10 list.



  6. Dill Weed says:

    Ask Real Climate.

    Dill Weed

  7. DavidONE says:

    Tough one. So many deserving candidates. I’ll just pick those that have taken the most money from ExxonMobil ( – the amount of funding is going to have some correlation to the amount of damage they’ve caused:

    1. Competitive Enterprise Institute from Exxon corporations since 1998: $US 2,005,000
    2. Frontiers of Freedom Institute and Foundation from Exxon corporations since 1998: $US 1,182,000
    3. Center for Strategic and International Studies from Exxon corporations since 1998: $US 1,112,500 
    4. Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy from Exxon corporations since 1998: $US 868,500
    5. Atlas Economic Research Foundation from Exxon corporations since 1998: $US 780,000

  8. guido says:

    One dis-honorable mention: Senator Imhofe.

    Whatever you do, do not think that by getting on his PR guy, Marc Marono’s email list or the Senator’s minority report, that you are educating yourself.

    I spent more time trying to understand the nonsense that i asked Marc to remove me

  9. David B. Benson says:

    I think Cato ought to have a place on the list. But guido has the right of it: Senator Inhofe has misused his leadership positions to turn part of the U.S. Senate into an ‘anti-science think tank’, sorta.

  10. Keep an eye on the suit Kivalina v. Exxon – now in federal court

    Calling their actions a public nuisance, it will open up these organizations to liability for their participation in this conspiracy.

    The complaint reads p.69
    ” The Conspiracy Defendants have engaged in agreements to participate in the intentional creation, contribution to and/or maintenance of a public nuisance, global warming. The Conspiracy Defendants participated and/or continue to participate in an agreement with each other to mislead the public with respect to the science of global warming and to delay public awareness of the issue so that they could continue contributing to, maintaining and/or creating the nuisance without demands from the public that they change their behavior as a condition of further buying their products. At all times the Conspiracy Defendants were concerned that the public would become concerned by global warming and that the growing concern would force a change in the Conspiracy Defendants behavior which would be costly. Delaying these costs was the major objective of the conspiracies described herein.

    270. The Conspiracy Defendants have committed overt acts in furtherance of their agreements. The Conspiracy Defendants have participated in an agreement with each other to mislead the public with respect to the science of global warming, either individually or through their various industry fronts or trade associations, and have included overt acts that furthered their intentional creation, contribution to and/or maintenance of a public nuisance, global warming…

    Plaintiffs request that this Court:
    1. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to, and maintaining a public nuisance;
    2. Hold the Conspiracy Defendants jointly and severally liable for civil conspiracy;

  11. Anne says:

    Does Fox (Feaux) news count?

  12. Dano says:

    Anne raises an interesting question.

    Perhaps there needs to be a second category: Top 5 Noise Machine Disseminators….

    OK, I’ll start:

    Investor’s Biness Daily
    Watt’s up wit dat



  13. I nominate the Wall Street Journal.

  14. I nominate Religion. Every religion, every religious organization. Remember Giordano Bruno and Galileo! Remember the anti-teaching-evolution laws. Remember the dis-information on evolution that preachers put in their sermons every sunday.
    Science is the cure for religion.

  15. Ok (malformed URL above ) Kivalina info at