John Locke Foundation’s Fake “Conference”

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.


Paying for false opinions should be a crime.

Paying for wrong opinions is one thing, false opinions are another.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

There are few things in the world

that piss me off more than presenting propaganda as real science. The Discovery Institute and its mouthpiece Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture is another egregious perpetrator of this sort of thing.

It's telling that the right wing has to misrepresent real science, quotemine, outright lie, and plain ol' make stuff up to give themselves the facade of scientific credibility on so many different subjects.

It's also telling that so many people swallow the Kool-Aid mindlessly. A decent, unspun science education is lethal to the livelihood of the paid purveyors of ignorance as well as the entire structure of the movement which supports them.

I'm ending my commentary here before I start to burn sailors' ears.

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Matt Nisbet compares Heartland to Discovery

Matt discusses Heartland at ScienceBlogs today, on The World tomorrow.

In seeking to bend science to fit with their preferred policy goals, the Heartland Institute (HI) chooses as a rhetorical bedfellow the Discovery Institute (DI), the think tank that brought us the public relations campaign against the teaching of evolution in schools. Not a bad choice strategically. After all, if you can successfully challenge the theory of evolution, you can challenge almost anything in science, no matter how overwhelming the evidence might be against you.

Consider the language used to describe this week's conference. HI talks about the "theory that human activities are causing a potentially catastrophic warming of the Earth's climate," playing on the colloquial interpretation of "theory" as a hunch, a conjecture, or guess rather than a comprehensive explanation confirmed over time by an overwhelming body of evidence.

While manufacturing a scientific controversy where there is none, HI also moves to promote the public accountability frame, arguing that scientists, news organizations, and liberal elites like Al Gore, Hollywood, and the UN are censoring rival ideas. Sound familiar? It's the exact "teach the controversy" train of thought that DI has used for so many years. And linked on Drudge this morning, now HI spokespeople are even appealing to the courts to step in to expose the "climate change hoax and fraud."

More at the link.

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?