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A despotism over the mind

American schoolchildren are to have what looks like a monolithic view of global warming imposed upon them:

New national science standards that make the teaching of global warming part of the public school curriculum are slated to be released this month, potentially ending an era in which climate skepticism has been allowed to seep into the nation's classrooms.

They recommend that educators teach the evidence for man-made climate change starting as early as elementary school and incorporate it into all science classes, ranging from earth science to chemistry. By eighth grade, students should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming)," the standards say.

I don't know about you, but I think a balanced view of global warming would involve teaching the evidence against global warming as well as the evidence for it. Human activities are "major factors"? Surely they may be major factors. Surely the failure of temperatures to rise in recent years suggests that they may equally be minor factors. Should the attribution statement not be qualified with the fact that it depends on computer models that may be useful as toys for scientists but, having no proven ability to predict future climate, are far being ready to inform policymakers?

Will the children be told this? Or are they just pawns of a left-wing educational establishment who must hear the recitation of the global warming dogma?

John Stuart Mill had the answers 150 years ago:

A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.

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Reader Comments (51)

And - Sceptic Alerts on a larger scale?

Al Gore's Reality Drop (partnering with Skeptical Science)!!

"The new site is a gamified experience that rewards users for "dropping" facts about climate change into different online forums and comment fields on hot articles."

"It's time for us to go on the offense in a space that we can not only dominate, but change opinions."

You can participate in Reality Drop either by spreading climate facts from the site on your social networks or in hot online discussion boards. You're also rewarded for sharing articles about climate change from all perspectives on Reality Drop. Stories about climate truths are displayed in green and stories spreading myths are displayed in red."

"It's actually a lot of work for someone who's new to the conversation about climate change to shut down denial, but also to serve as a resource," Fox says. "Our ultimate goal is to get conversation open and flowing. We need to move the conversation forward and not waste time arguing over whether it's happening or not."

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The Reality Drop Logo is quite sinister:

Reality Drop
Spread Truth, Destroy Denial

'whose 'truth', whose 'denial', who decides? :(

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The success of an education system should be based on how much people attain critical thinking rather than enforrcing religious (climate) zealotry!

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

One strand of hope is that the pushers of this sort of indoctrination do not actually know how to do it well enough to avoid contrary reactions. Boredom may be one of them, and if so it will help protect many children from the harm that would arise from taking the alarm message on board with any enthusiasm. Ridicule would be a more preferable reaction. Outrage would be even better.

Here is one true believer dismayed by the lack of alarm in children whom he quizzed about climatism in the States:

I recently had an eye-opening experience at work at the National Museum of Natural History. A couple of colleagues and I went into the exhibit halls to ask groups of teens about what they would find interesting to learn more about in a museum. We had a number of preselected topics and we selected a few for each group or individual we spoke with. When asked about climate change, one group responded “Climate change? That again?” with a roll of the eyes. “We’ve been learning about climate change as long as I can remember.”


Another strand comes from States at least considering an explicitly more progressive (in the genuine sense of that word!) view:

With the Kansas State Board of Education preparing to vote on new science standards this year, the House Education Committee has introduced a bill asking schools to include evidence against climate change in science classes.

House Bill 2306, introduced last week, says science classes must “provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis.”

The bill says instruction about “scientific controversies” should be objective and include “both the strengths and weaknesses of such scientific theory or hypothesis.” The only controversy identified in the bill is “climate science.”


Mar 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I fear we are heading for a new intellectual dark age.
Today global warming, tomorrow ...?

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Yesterday evening one of my grandchildren (13 years) sent me an essay on cathastrophies caused by earthquakes and climate. I performed my dute as the knowledgable partner and sent my corrections back for his views. He phoned me late in the evening and said that he had simply echoed his teacher as he was keen on getting good marks. Having had me as his mentor for some time he knew better, but did not dare; and "all the others think as him" (the teacher).

Gösta Oscarsson

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterGösta Oscarsson

It is frustrating to have to witness this but it will all come good in the end. People soon realise when they are being lied to as is now happening with global warming. The brainwashers can congratulate themselves on thinking that they have suppressed the wrong opinions but the bite in the arse is only delayed. When it comes, they will have only ensured it is worse because the feeling of betrayal will make the jaws clamp all the tighter.

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Have a look at the Vimeo link mentioned by Barry Woods above.
“They flood online comment streams with false information” (illustrated with a false webpage full of phoney “skeptical” comments)
“Reality Drop uses game dynamics to counteract the confusion...users earn points for grabbing science from the site, pasting it into comment boards, and cooling the conversation”
Astroturfing as an on-line game.

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

How can pupils deal with the difficulty illustrated by Gösta Oscarsson?

One strategy that could help protect their integrity while still passing exams is to regard biased teaching on climate as a kind of theology class rather than a science one. The pupil's aim then is to understand the theology well enough to respond 'correctly' in examinations, but without the slightest implication of actually believing in it.

So, the conscientious mentor can advise that yes, this is what some people believe in. For example, that sacrificing chickens during a drought will encourage the weather gods to bring rain.

Similarly, some believe that rising human-triggered emissions of CO2 are driving temperature increases that are already causing us, and the polar bears, great harm, and will inevitably produce catastrophes within a few decades. As long as the pupils do not confuse this with science, the light of that subject may not be totally extinguished in their minds.

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Barry Woods -
I happened to visit that site (Reality Drop) a few days ago, but had only the stomach for a quick look. It is truly stupefying.

Mar 5, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

If we look at the 10:10 video as the ultimate objective of the green movement then I say let them go ahead and spread their propaganda. Green activists are totally convinced of the own righteousness and every method is apparently allowed to be used to meet the eco objective. Such zealots lack the common sense to realise that the general population hates being preched to and can see right through them. And will then promptly ignore them - especially the children!

We should insist they have more air time rather then less as the green movement, unconstrained, is its own worst enemy. Ask Gene of Greenpriest India if you don't believe me, even though he knows where I live, apparently.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

front page of Reality Drop

One Guardian has had 15 drops, and Bob wards latest Guardian article has had 4..

they are just encourging activists to cut and paste Skeptical Science written rebutals (that aren't) to sceptica questions, and to blindly drop tem into comments sections of article in the media and blogs and across social media..

total unannounced astroturfing..(by the person commenting) (very well funded by Al Gore) targeting everywhere, Reuters, Bloomberg, fox, huffington post, Guardian, etc,etc

see screen capture (two articles I have commented on at the Guardian have been astroturfed by Al)

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Gösta Oscarsson

Well done! You have given your grandson an education: an understanding of critical thinking. He can see the difference between groupthink, consensus and reality.

Thank you.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

It is called BRAINWASHING and should be banned, it is not education.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

I think they should promote the demonstration of the GH effect in a large (10 litre) bell jar, where the amount of CO2 in the original (atmospheric) contents is doubled by the addition of a teaspoonful of CO2. This highlights the rather large ratio, and the absence of any measurable effect should be very educational.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:08 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

From the last page of the source story:
What About the Skeptics?

So far, the new science guidelines have largely escaped criticism from skeptics of climate science.

Rachel Slobodien, a spokeswoman for The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. that has worked to discredit the scientific consensus on climate change, said the group hasn't looked at the new science standards closely enough to comment on them.

But McCaffrey believes conservative groups will eventually get involved.

"The standards have been under the radar, and deliberately so," he said. But "evolution and climate change are politically and ideologically controversial, even if they aren't scientifically controversial ... It is almost inevitable that they will get some pushback."
Well, IMO, "deliberately under the radar" is not a legitimate way to run a consultation. Looking at the timeline here:

it looks as if the public consultation period was January this year and the release of the revised standards is imminent. I hope that some of the skeptical US contributors - particularly those with educational and scientific credentials can take a moment to have a look at the standards and put a letter of comment on the record even at this late hour.
The old standards made no mention of climate change because the consensus about whether global warming was happening—and if it was caused by humans—hadn't been solidified.

"We understand it a lot better now than we did some 15 years ago," Schweingruber said.
I'd also like to have Mr McCaffrey or Ms Heidi Schweingruber drop by Bishop Hill and share their top ten bullet points on their list of "solidified" evidence. It'd be a shame to see a whole publication run of texts go to waste should things be less "solid" than they believe.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"American public education" has become an oxymoron.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

I see this as directly comparable to [L]ysenkoism in the USSR, which was a state sponsored junk science doctrine which was very hard to oppose.

Eventually it was swept away, because it didn't correspond with reality, as will happen, is happening, here.

I can see why so many are desperate to keep the scam going, but they are fighting a losing battle because nature isn't co-operating.

It's also followed the protracted dynamic of a scare. People can see nothing to be scared about, they are noticing the costs and they are bored with hearing about it.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

The proper place for this indoctrination is in the social sciences where it will likely displace the pushing of some other less fashionable myth.

It's a real shame to ruin the science curriculum. Pupils who are less pragmatic than Gösta's grandson are going to get hell when they disagree or ask for evidence they can verify. Science will suffer when the most scientifically minded pupils are punished for rejecting groupthink.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergenemachine

These droppings do not seem a very good idea to me. They will be dropped out of context, which will be obnoxious - produce effect opposite to that intended by inducing readers to conclude that people who 'drop' must be idiots, and by extension ...

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Bodies are being snatched and truck loads of pods are in transit.
But who are we to speak? We've had this in the UK and Europe for two decades, and those who have teenage children know very well they have been spoonfed mendatious dogma since pre-school.
The difficulty has always been that agw crept in through the back door, embedded in the curriculum in its primary guise: sustainable development. Unseen and undetected for years, it has not only heavily polluted geography, citizenship and the sciences, but is also deployed cross-curriculum, through the core subjects as well.
Now the US are going through the same thing. It's no good just looking at the geography or chemistry syllabus, it's about identifying where and how sustainable development is embedded by the governing bodies responsible for defining the curriculum.
In order to extract agw from the curriculum, first you will need to disconnect it from sustainable development. I don't think that can happen *inside* education. Unfortunately, this could take a decade or more to rectify.

Mar 5, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustin Ert

@ Justin Ert -

The difficulty has always been that agw crept in through the back door, embedded in the curriculum in its primary guise: sustainable development. Unseen and undetected for years, it has not only heavily polluted geography, citizenship and the sciences, but is also deployed cross-curriculum, through the core subjects as well.

Indeed. Here's an example of how blatantly they are playing the Global citizenship card in Scottish state schools:

Climate change offers an ideal context for learning within Curriculum for Excellence, providing many opportunities to develop children and young people as global citizens and deliver experiences and outcomes across many curriculum areas.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, enormous quantities of manmade greenhouse gases have been pumped into the atmosphere. Experts believe that the carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels burn has caused our world to heat up and has caused our climate to change...

... Reflective questions

How can we build upon the existing knowledge and awareness of learners relating to climate change?
How can we use climate change to develop in learners a curiosity about and an understanding of the environment and their place in the living, material and physical world?

How can we use climate change to embed global citizenship and sustainable development education themes within learning and teaching? (my emphasis)


Mar 5, 2013 at 2:18 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I'm a sceptic mostly because I found what I was taught as fact at school was 180degrees wrong.

FDR ending the great depression being the foremost lie.

Mar 5, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Religious indoctrination. An end to secular education in the land of the ... formerly ... free.

Mar 5, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

See the Early Bird @

Mar 5, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

@ Beth Cooper - ironically secular parents in Scotland have had the legal right to opt their children out of any religious observance or instruction in state schools, since the Education Act (Scotland) 1980 was passed. However I doubt that I and other parents will ever have the law on our side when we attempt to stop the school authorities from indoctrinating our children with their anthropogenic global warming religion.

Mar 5, 2013 at 4:42 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

This is absolutely sickening.

And I mean literally - absolutely sickening. Looking at the 'Reality Drop' site made me want to heave.

The entire thing is such an enormous Orwellian inversion of reality.

Right out from the gates it presents immediate deception: making a claim about "extreme weather" that even the IPCC does not support.

And the fact that astroturfing isn't seen for what it is in this context: a purely propagandistic activity.


Mar 5, 2013 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

I was at a school science fair over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see 0 projects on global warming.
There's hope yet!

Mar 5, 2013 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered Commentermike

I went to Catholic schools. My educators included nuns at primary level and priests at secondary level. I had Catholicism pummeled into me ceaselessly, but by around the age of 15 or 16 I had rejected the religion, with its constant emphasis on guilt. And I was far from alone in that rejection.

So cheer up: kids aren't as stupid as self-appointed sacerdotal classes would like them to be. Particularly around puberty, the age of rejection, the first ideas to go to the wall are the ones that the older generation has spent so much time seeking to instil.

Mar 5, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

'By eighth grade, students should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming)," the standards say.'

Errr, what current rise?

Mar 5, 2013 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

The lack of significant warming over the last decade and a half is 'explained' by pointing to natural factors which are 'masking' the underlying rise.
I'm sure that kids can easily understand this.
Equally comprehensible is that weather is getting 'weirder' and extreme events are becoming more common.
I'm sure that these two things could be (and are) taught to schoolchildren but who will point out the contradiction to them?
If the weather isn't getting warmer (due to natural dampening of GW) then what is making it weirder?

Mar 5, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Permit me to help you imagine the worst result. The new national science standards give institutional backing to the concept of "Denier." Of course the word 'Denier' will not be used but there will be the implicit understanding that there is something vaguely wrong with someone who questions the orthodoxy. Teachers who go against the grain will risk being stigmatized.

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

This would really be good news ... But, unfortunately, I don't think they are as hopeless/stupid as that yet ... This will come at a later stage, and equal the Russian Putsch of '91 ...

Children can certainly be indoctrinated, but not all, and not all of the time ...

"hey Teach! ... you told us it would never snow again ... but what is this white stuff outside that's hanging around a few days already named then ?"

I side with Steve Jones ...

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterducdorleans

If we get no warming for another year or too, then there will be no school students who have experienced global warming in their lifetime.

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy scrase

No worries
I went to a catholic school, it made me an atheist

Mar 5, 2013 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

So cheer up: kids aren't as stupid as self-appointed sacerdotal classes would like them to be. Particularly around puberty, the age of rejection, the first ideas to go to the wall are the ones that the older generation has spent so much time seeking to instil.

Amen. All those years teaching safe sex education and/or abstinence show how effective the official line is.

Teachers rebel too. While the teachers opposing the official line don't shout about it, you can be sure that there are plenty who with a small laugh or line of ridicule effectively destroy all the work the well-meaning ones do.

The trouble is when the parents believe. Because only then is the message reinforced.

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Thanks Kim. Just saw this story in Climate Depot and was so pleased it has been picked up. As you may remember I have been calling attention to those science standards and the links to the modelling and simulations of systems thinking that will be visually compelling and just as false as can be. For those of you who remember the Meadows from Limits to Growth and Jay Forester of Systems Dynamics, there poor assumptions in the real world have been turned into Systems Thinking and modelling software called STELLA.

As bad as the science standards are though it is the assessments that drive what goes on in the classrooms and those are tied into Michael Barber's UK education reforms during Tony Blair's term. Explicitly mentioning Agenda 21 and Sustainability as key components of what it means to be a Global Citizen, the UK, Scotland, and Australia got explicit standards. We in the US are getting the Global Citizenship mandate through the open-ended, real world questions and projects that will form the "assessments" of those science standards. I wrote about all this here several weeks ago.

Michael Barber, who now heads up Pearson's Ed Division, that is in charge with coming up with those assessments all over the world is fond of the Spaceship Earth metaphor and talking about what aliens would think if we do do not change how we live. He has also been closely involved with implementing UNESCO's troubling vision of global education reform.

Mar 5, 2013 at 7:34 PM | Registered Commenteresquirerobin

I just posted on :

You can either propagandize "Climate Change" or you can return to teaching Science . You can't do both .

Simply teaching [students] how to calculate the temperature of a radiantly heated colored ball , well within the difficulty level of the highschool PSSC physics course I had half a century ago , would put an end to this nonscience . It is criminal stupidity from it's very foundation .

Inescapable 19th century physics shows Venus would have to be 10 times as reflective in the infrared as aluminum foil for its surface temperature to be explained by the energy it receives from the sun . It [cannot be explained] as a "runaway greenhouse effect" .

See for the computations .

Mar 5, 2013 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Armstrong

Mar 5, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin...and Patagon

I know the feeling, Convent school to start with until I was 7, Christian Brothers (nothing Christian about a lot of them) from primary school until Leaving Certificate (which is equivalent to UK A Levels).

Now I leave them all to their own de-VICES.


Mar 5, 2013 at 9:45 PM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

'Andy scrase' - your comment (Mar 5, 2013 at 6:11 PM ) is now my header quote:

Mar 5, 2013 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"Marilia Gianna... talks to a primary school about climate change"

OPAL London is led by Imperial College, London

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Mar 5, 2013 at 11:19 PM | John Shade

John, I am flattered that you quote me on climatelessons.
Any chance you could fix up the typo? (too => two)

I get embarrassed by spelling and grammar mistakes at the best of times; headlining a blog on education even more so :-)

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:56 AM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

Here is a one stop shop for teachers, children and parents:

Don't have a lesson prepared? Check the video section and run the Britney Spears Video!

Mar 6, 2013 at 5:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Many of the schools-- public or private, university, secondary or primary-- are already centers of indoctrination. This just adds to the items on the agenda that MUST be taught for propaganda purposes.

"I hereby decree . . . "

Mar 6, 2013 at 6:00 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

That was a pretty terrifying quote from Education Scotland. Deliberately embedding political messages within educational material strikes me as a classic example of crossing the line between information and indoctrination.
I do wonder though, that the case that Dimmock brought, back in 2007, that won to a certain extent on some issues, challenged on aspects of the Education Act 1996. This from the biased Wiki

"... In papers lodged at the High Court in London, the plaintiffs argued that showing the film would violate section 406(1)(b) of the Education Act 1996. The Act requires that local education authorities, school governing bodies and head teachers "shall forbid... the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school". Alternatively, the plaintiffs submitted, showing the film was unlawful because it did not provide "a balanced presentation of opposing views" as required by section 407."

Also, according to the same article:
"In October 2006, the Government announced that the academic year 2006/07 would be a "Sustainable Schools Year of Action" to promote sustainable development and environmental consciousness."

It begs the questions: Can belief in climate change or sustainable development itself be challenged as "partisan political" viewpoints, and should not the curriculum have a duty to reflect "a balanced presentation of opposing views" as required by section 407 that would afford and give credence to sceptical opinions?

Mar 6, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustin Ert

Andy Scrase ( 3:56 AM ). Will do. Glad you're ok with my using your words there. Thanks!

Mar 6, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

American children in some states, oft-times have creationism rammed down their throats. AGW is another facet of the policy of assulting the teaching of scientific method. If it carries on, the citizens of the USA will become educationally sub standard, post normal science retards; otherwise known as Democrats,

Mar 6, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Registered Commenterperry

"By eighth grade, students should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming)," the standards say."

Substitute "believe" for "understand"

The psychologists are on the case:

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

The American left began targeting education after they failed to get their revolution in the 60s. Think William Ayers. The imposition of a national curriculum is needed to avoid the efforts of states, like Texas, who have caught on to the movement and begun fighting back with respect to curriculum and text books. The feds will use "aid," aka bribes, to get states to adopt the national standards. Since the left controls the educational schools, most teachers are programmed to teach the party line already anyway, so it is going to be a long hard fight.

Mar 7, 2013 at 7:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGaryM

Reminds me of the claim the Jesuit priests used to make in Quebec in days gone by - "Give us your child until he is 7, and we have him for life"

Dec 19, 2013 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon Sonclair

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