Cross-posted from The Progressive Pulse
Imagine my surprise today to open The New York Times and see a near full-page ad for a conference co-sponsored by our own John Locke Foundation. It is the "International Conference On Climate Change" at the Marriott in New York City, which promises to "prove there is no scientific consensus on the causes or likely consequences of global warming."
This appears to be more of a public relations stunt than a scientific conference.
How do I know this? The organizers say so in their invitation letter to speakers, where they concede that "the purpose of this conference is to generate international media attention…"
Furthermore, the presenting organization is The Heartland Institute. This bogus group is described as a front group for the fossil fuel industry, as well as a for the tobacco industry. Now that's the kind of work that will make you feel good about yourself! Go here to read all about them. The Greenpeace project, ExxonSecrets, notes that the Heartland Institute has received $791,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
For a hilarious opinion regarding this "conference," go to this link titled: "What If You Held a Conference, and No (Real) Scientists Came?". Among other things, you will learn that they are paying for legislators to attend the conference, that presenters are receiving a $1,000 honorarium, and that last year the American Enterprise Institute offered $10,000 cash for scientists to dispute global warming. AEI has received 1.6 million dollars from ExxonMobil.
And before anybody from Locke tells me to "look at the data, not at the source," let me remind them about peer review. While peer review is not infallible, it is still the gold standard by which scientific inquiry is judged. And while there is still much to learn in regards to global warming, the peer reviewed scientific consensus is not in doubt. Go here to read about the true scientific consensus regarding climate change. From 1993-2003, all 928 papers published in refereed scientific journals regarding climate change were reviewed. None of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. I don't mind saying I don't understand the subtleties of climate science, but shouldn't we be listening to the scientists who are willing to put their research on the line and be reviewed by their peers?
It's that simple. If you are a reputable scientist, submit your research to a credible journal and have your peers review it. There is a proper forum for the discussion of legitimate scientific research, and the Exxon-funded Heartland Institute is not it. Why not use the same formula medical researchers use? Legitimate researchers submit their work to The New England Journal of Medicine for review, not to John Stossel at ABC's 20/20. In the too-good-to-be-true category, noted Heartland Institute global warming scientist John Stossel happens to be one of three guest speakers at Locke's fake conference. I wonder what new data he will be presenting.
This "conference" is typical of right-wing propaganda. The (dis)information serves as a prop for the ideology. These so-called scientists are not enlightened and embattled modern-day Galileo's, swimming upstream against entrenched Dark-Age conventional wisdom. No, they are more like a carnival barker on the State Fair Midway, using illusion and innuendo to appeal to your most base instincts. Remember that sick, creepy feeling you had when you finally stole a glimpse of the bearded lady? Today's attendees at Locke's fake conference ought to feel the same way, knowing they are participating in something they shouldn't. Come to think of it, I get that same sick, creepy feeling whenever I read any "research" from Locke or Civitas.
Say it one more time. It's not about the science, it's about the ideology.
P.S…Rob Schofield notes in his excellent essay here that Locke and Civitas want to be known as "idea shops." I'm not sure how co-sponsoring a fake conference will help. Never fear, Lockeans, the world is simply teeming with bad ideas, and most of them have found a home in your shop.
P.S.S. Before any researchers at JLF get hysterical because I panned a conference I did not attend…do me a favor. Send me their peer reviewed research findings, and a list of their funding sources.