Free Speech at the Heartland Institute

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And who are you that we should care one whit about your opinion?

With that tart quip, Diane Bast of the Heartland Institute dismissed a recent query about the rationale for its last-stand global warming denial conference . Bast, presumably is related to Joseph Bast, founder and president of the Heartland Institute.

Here is the query that elicited Diane Bast’s incurious response:

Why is the Heartland Institute paying skeptical scientists to speak at a ‘conference’?

At most scientific conferences, scientists are not paid to speak. It’s an honor just to be invited to give a talk, and they’re lucky to get some travel expenses paid or the conference fee waived.

The Heartland Institute (right-wing “think tank” with ties to the tobacco and oil industries) is inviting scientists to a ‘conference’ called “The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change”.

“The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.”

The purpose of conferences is usually to discuss ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding, not to attract PR. And the Heartland Institute is paying skeptical scientists $1000 to speak at the ‘conference’.

What do you think are the motivations behind this ‘conference’?

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