The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Climate Science Deniers Copy & Paste Creationist Tactics

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 11, 2010

I recently received the following alert from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)…

AAAS PolicyAlert — June 4, 2010

Climate Change Education Challenged. A petition has been submitted to the Mesa County (Colorado) School Board to prohibit “the teaching of man-made climate change theory as scientific fact in the students’ curriculum.” The petition, which has 700 signatures, was circulated by a movement called Balanced Education for All (http://www.members- aaas.org/ l.jsp?d=4954. 550777.654. 2aatBFCrt9Q. A), a group denying the reality of and human role in climate change, which also submitted a petition to “create and enforce a policy that prohibits teachers from applying their political views to the teaching and grading of students.” School Board members accepted the petition but took no action. The petition is part of a larger campaign by the Independent Women’s Forum, a non-profit based in Washington, DC, “challenging public schools to provide balanced education on the issue of global warming.” The group is promoting a documentary (http://www.members- aaas.org/ l.jsp?d=4954. 550776.654. 2aatBFCrt9Q. A), Not Evil, Just Wrong, that claims to “confront erroneous claims of environmental extremists,” and offers an allegedly “compelling and scientifically accurate film about the true relationship between humans and the environment. “

Here we see that climate science deniers are employing the same pseudoscientific & intellectually dishonest tactics often used in the past by creationists as they misrepresented evolutionary science: the “teach the controversy” and “teach all views” canards.  Of course, these slogans imply that there actually is a supposed controversy about climate science within the scientific community – that is, the notion of human-influenced global warming is somehow “controversial” among scientists, when in fact it isn’t.  The whole point of these kinds of arguments is to sow doubt & suspicion about climate science in particular and, among some extreme anti-science ideologues, about all of science in general.

In addition, note the language in the petition which implies that when teachers try to teach actual, substantiated science that they are actually pushing a political agenda.  This kind of argument is intended to poison the well and explicitly politicize the issue of climate change science so that anyone who, likely for ideological reasons, doesn’t like the science can just dismiss it as part of a conspiracy.

Don’t fall for it.  Fortunately, we’ve seen all these tactics before from creationists & various other pseudoscientific woo-woos, so hopefully we can recognize & fight this junk when those with an anti-scientific agenda push it.  When confronted by those who would distort & misrepresent climate science, or someone who is legitimately confused, a great way to fight back is to download the free app for the iPhone or iPod Touch called Skeptical Science!

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