Friday, September 16, 2011

They tried to teach my baby (climate) science



From the "autonomous" but not particularly original thoughts of "Autonomous Mind" comes this example of stellar parenting:

Not education, propaganda

Since Mind Jr arrived home from school this afternoon I have been stewing with barely concealed anger [That must be nice for your middle-school-aged daughter -- they love it when their fathers are furiously angry and barely controlling their rage].  For within minutes of getting in, a very earnest Junior sat down Mrs Mind and myself and solemnly announced that we would no longer eat red meat in our household.
The inevitable question ‘why?’ resulted in a detailed explanation concerning today’s Geography lesson.  It was there Junior was informed that red meat should not be eaten any more than once per week, we were told, because any frequency beyond that will kill us all with strokes or heart attacks – and in any case it contributes to global warming [Leaving aside the exaggeration -- this poor shumuck can't even debate a 13-year-old without a straw man argument! -- both of those assertions are supported by peer-reviewed science].
Conscious of the need to help develop Junior’s critical thinking capability, I asked her why she thought this message had been shared in the lesson [Whilst "stewing with barely concealed anger."]  She opined that the class had been taught this because it is good for us.  And right there was the heart of the matter.  No discussion about it in class, no contrary view presented, no balance to the message, just a binary condition of good v bad and that we must listen to what the ‘experts’ say.  So what we have is a curriculum item check box, duly ticked, relying on an appeal to authority with theory presented as fact and a class of 13-14-yr-olds duly brainwashed [Yes, it just takes one easy lesson to brainwash now!] with the partial and biased opinions [sic] of the political class that formed the syllabus.
In Geography this week and in Science last week, the class had been fed the party line on global warming and health.  I probed further to see just how much they had been taught [Whilst "stewing with barely concealed anger." Can't you just see the flecks of spittle escaping his clenched teeth as he unleashes his blog-honed sophistry on his 13-year-old daughter?].
  • Which greenhouse gas is present in the atmosphere in highest concentration?  Methane.  Wrong, I explained. Had she been told about water vapour?  There had been no mention of it.
  • How much CO2 is there in the atmosphere?  That wasn’t covered either, so I explained it was 385 parts per million.  She was stunned [Because we all know that small things can't be important -- that's why bacteria can't kill humans and atom bombs can't level cities].
  • How much atmospheric CO2 is produced by humans and how much by nature?  Most of it from humans she said.  No, only around 5% with the rest coming from nature.  Now she was bewildered [I can well believe it. Maybe she couldn't believe her father, the climate blogger, didn't know the difference between carbon moving back and forth through the carbon cycle and carbon we burn and add to the atmosphere?].  Her next comment summed everything up when she said, cutting out red meat won’t make much difference then.
As for the dietry aspects, had there been any discussion of the effects of sugary carbohydrates, the benefits of the complex carbs and the relatively benign influence of proteins such as meat?  Clearly that was too much to hope for, nothing of the sort had been covered. [Red meat consumption causes thousands of cases of bowel cancer a year. It's got a lot more to it than "protein," and some of that more is carcinogenic. It's not a huge risk, but it's absolutely real and proven. We see again that anti-science denial does not confine itself to climate change -- any facts can be waved away by an ideology that has convinced themselves that they know all about the science.]
It is simply unacceptable that our children are being plied with propaganda in this way.  This is not an education, it is an indoctrination constructed by special interest groups.  Rarely have the lyrics of Pink Floyd been more appropriate, leave them kids alone.

Schools teaching kids science has been a problem for many years, as the Onion cover reflects.  Might I suggest that since the schools are not going to chuck evolution, climate science, cancer biology, or whatever else disturbs you from the ciriculum, that you plan supplemental education for the kids in the beliefs and practices that their parents expect of them. Sunday morning might be a good time for this activity. Like-minded adults who have mastered the basics could gather together nearby to reaffirm and celebrate the transcendent truth they have been gifted with. There are even tax advantages, so I've been told. Mr. "Mind" should look into it, before some hapless passerby sees him looming over his daughter with "barely concealed anger" and involves the authorities.


  1. Mr. Mind unintentionally has a point of sorts. If the lesson plan had been truly good, it would have equipped his child to tell him how full of it he was and why.

  2. I suspect Mr. Mind made up two thirds of his post of whole cloth. The bits that might be true are the kid had a science lesson on climate change and the teacher/book mentioned methane. The kid was probably texting a friend when they covered the part about CO2.

    Also if we somehow had only water but no CO2 present in our atmosphere we'd be sitting on a large ball of ice.

    But, since it comes from a denier blog it has about as much relevance as if it came from an astrology blog. Nada.

  3. "It is simply unacceptable that our children are being plied with propaganda in this way. This is not an education, it is an indoctrination constructed by special interest groups. Rarely have the lyrics of Pink Floyd been more appropriate, leave them kids alone."

    The very nature of education is indoctrination. Nothing is neutral, especially education. Put simply, pick your poison.

    There is such a nasty fight over the very subject of education in America because ideologues on the left and right realize exactly that.

    Mold the kids at age five with a particular worldview, and said worldview will intertwine into future legislation.

  4. Climate change science is NOT propaganda any more than acid/base chemical reactions are. The basic reaction that pushes global warming is the absorption of certain bands of infrared radiation by CO2. This was discovered by John Tyndall in 1859.

    If people want to remain ignorant as adults that should be their choice, within limits. Being ignorant of laws may result in your being jailed. Sentencing your children to a life of ignorance is child abuse.