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Educators under fire for teaching climate science, visiting speaker finds

'The similarity we see between the pressures that teachers receive about teaching evolution and pressures that teachers feel about teaching climate change ultimately go back to the fact that people hold strong ideologies that influence their willingness to accept information.'

For three decades, the National Center for Science Education(NCSE) has focused most of its efforts on defending the teaching of evolution in the classroom. Increasingly, however, the teachers its executive director, Dr. Eugenie Scott, hears from are under fire for teaching global warming. So much so that in January, the organization formally added a climate initiative to its efforts to support the teaching of science.
Dr. Eugenie Scott

Scott will be in Minnesota next week to attend a number of events, including a talk sponsored by the Will Steger Foundation and the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where she will be joined by Steger. Free and open to the public, “Climate Science in Schools: the Next Evolution” will take place Monday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Humphrey School’s Cowles Auditorium.

Scott, who holds a doctorate in physical anthropology, recently talked with MinnPost about her work. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.

MinnPost: How did we get from evolution to climate change?

Eugenie Scott: The similarity we see between the pressures that teachers receive about teaching evolution and pressures that teachers feel about teaching climate change ultimately go back to the fact that people hold strong ideologies that influence their willingness to accept information.

In this case, scientifically based information — and that’s kind of a complicated way of saying that the scientific community is uniform in accepting that the universe has had a history, evolution happened. And the scientific community is unified in the opinions that the planet is getting warmer and people’s activities have had a lot to do with that and things have to be done — although the policy issues range all over the place, and that’s not something that science alone can tell us what to do.

But in the case of evolution, the main ideological driver is religious ideology. There are people who believe that evolution is incompatible with their religious beliefs, so they reject it. With climate change, there is a piece of the objection that’s religious but it’s a fairly small driver of anti-global warmingism. When it comes to global warming and climate change, the ideologies that drive the denial of this science are really political and economical.

There are people who believe, for political reasons, that climate change is a hoax, that it’s only a political ploy of liberals to increase big government and take away individual American rights, etc. There’s another group of people, and there’s overlap of course, who believe that climate change is a hoax because it is anti-capitalist and would require changes in the free market. These are free-market fundamentalists, as opposed to religious fundamentalists, who believe that there should be no constraints on, for example, carbon producers like coal and oil and gas.

MP: How does climate change get into the classroom?

ES: Many states have standards which incorporate climate-change science. Climate change comes in to earth science courses. It comes in to biology classes where you’re talking about ecological effects of human and other kinds of changes that take place on the planet. And it sometimes comes in to chemistry because there are activities that humans do that are relevant to a chemistry class. Chemistry classes often can deal with ecological issues, water and air and stuff like that. So, you find climate science scattered throughout the curriculum, although not uniformly in any one particular grade or field.

Certainly any teacher who’s bringing religious views into class is overstepping because the [U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment] Establishment Clause requires a class to be religiously neutral. In the case of climate science, of course, the Establishment Clause issue doesn’t come in unless the teacher is saying climate change is bogus because God would never let anything happen to the climate.

But in the case of just sort of your generic political and economic opposition to climate change, it’s not so much a legal issue as it is a matter of professional competence and professional responsibility. It is the responsibility of teachers to teach good science.

MP: Teachers and schools frequently deal with issues they perceive as prickly or potentially inflammatory by end-running them, by just not teaching anything at all. How often does that happen in this arena?

ES: Because of the decentralization of American public education it’s very difficult to give statistics on something like this, but in our experience districts often will devise a controversial issues policy which may or may not be understood by the teachers. The good policies of this nature will stress that teachers should respect the scholarship of the discipline, whether it’s history or math or science, and not avoid controversial issues, whatever they are, but teach them responsibly but also with sensitivity.

In the case of sex ed — which, goodness knows, makes the evolution wars look tame — you should be respectful of students’ different moral views about sex but you still need to teach them the plumbing. You still need to make sure that students understand that certain behaviors have consequences. In a responsible sex-education class, you should be giving students the full range of behaviors and let them decide, of course with input from their parents, which is the most responsible for them.

In the case of something like evolution, you really need to teach students that the consensus view in the scientific community is that evolution happened. Clearly there are religious views that don’t accept that, and it is the right of the student to reject the science, but the student has to learn it to be an educated citizen.

Learning does not require adherence. We teach students about communism, fascism, the Catholic inquisition and the burning of witches by the Protestants. We don’t expect them to go burn witches.

We’re getting lots of anecdotes from teachers about pressure against teaching climate change and we really want to be there to support them and to encourage them to do the professionally and educationally responsible thing and to help generate support in communities for the teaching of good science.

MP: So where is the pressure coming from, school boards, parents?

ES: Students, who often will be channeling their parents: “My dad says climate change is a hoax,” or “We heard on Fox News that climate change is a hoax.” We have newspaper accounts of parents complaining when a teacher shows “An Inconvenient Truth,” for example, or a teacher brings in other materials about global warming.

Sometimes parents will request equal time for the opposite view, for the denialist view — exactly the parallel that we find with the teaching of evolution and parents demanding equal time for creationism.

And sometimes it’s state legislatures. You may be aware of the recently passed law in Tennessee, where evolution and climate change are bundled as controversial issues that teachers are supposed to teach the strengths and weaknesses. There really is nothing from standard science to teach, so what you have to do if such policy is passed is go to the creationist literature and go to the climate-science denial literature, which does not represent good science.

And state boards of education can also impose these kinds of policies, such as Texas and its pressure to weaken the science standards this last year.

MP: I was actually just about to ask you about Texas. Texas buys so many textbooks it often determines what’s in the curriculum nationwide. So, what is the state of affairs in Texas?

ES: Currently, because of a great deal of work of people who care, especially Texas Freedom Network, our affiliate in Texas, the Texas Citizens For Science and, of course, we spend a lot of time there too, and the fortunate election of a more moderate school board, the Texas standards have a lot more evolution in them than they ever had before.

And there’s also a decent if not really adequate treatment of global warming and climate change in earth and space science, although we’d like to see more. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a flurry of amendments at the end of the process of approving the standards in 2010 opened up some loopholes, if you will, for teachers to bring in creationist materials and for the potential for denialist arguments in climate change as well.

Now, whether this is going to influence textbooks is yet to be seen. We will be returning to Texas because 2013 is when the textbooks will be submitted. The [state] Department of Education’s civil servants will review the textbooks and they’ll have their little check-off sheet as to whether all of these standards are covered and so forth. And then the board will decide yay or nay as to whether the books, in their opinion, meet the standards.

The number of creationist members of the board has dwindled over the last few years and the board is much more moderate, so as long as the textbooks themselves haven’t wimped out on these two subjects, we should be OK.

Textbook publishers, however, in the past have been notoriously nervous about the Texas standards. And they don’t send their books to us for review right now so I don’t know what’s in them.

But it’s true that, by and large, what Texas wants is what you get in Minnesota. Textbook publishers prefer not to do separate editions, but they will if you lean on them. Squeaky wheels are very important in the publishing business.

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Comments (62)

  1. Submitted by Dale Hoogeveen on 08/02/2012 - 10:37 am.

    The elephant in the corner in this discussion has a lot to do with where the various individual teachers get their training and then where they ultimately practice as educators.

    A whole lot of public school teachers get their degrees from relatively local parochial colleges, especially in conservative and sparsely populated areas and then teach pretty much in their home areas, in many cases actually in the same public schools they or their spouses went to earlier in life. They reflect local reluctance to teach the science behind climate change. This goes beyond local school administration policy and its enforcement, actually showing in many cases that the teachers and restrictive local policy are in agreement against presenting the full scientific story. When you get into many of the local, smaller school districts, one very often even finds kinship ties between the teachers, the school administration and the local school board members.

    This is hard to sample, but can certainly be studied by researching the relationship of teacher backgrounds to the schools they end up teaching in.

    • Submitted by Emily Sojourn on 08/03/2012 - 03:11 pm.

      How about backing up your stereotype with actual data?

      “A whole lot of public school teachers” teach ignorance because they’re from the boondocks, never leave and can’t think beyond the narrowest scope, huh?

      How about a little data to back up that ridiculous assertion or is it just easier to stereotype?

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/02/2012 - 11:50 am.

    This is simply another reason

    why the government doesn’t belong in the education business.

    Dr. Scott’s logic is flawed and her motives are suspect.

    The reason man-made climate change is “scattered throughout the curriculum” and not simply taught as another theory in an earth science course is because it’s a political objective, designed to advocate more government control over energy sources, energy use, human behavior, and tax collection, believing the people will acquiesce if they’re told all this new government power is justified because it’s all “in the name of science.”

    The fact that the Left and their surrogates in the teachers union admit to injecting it at every curricular opportunity, from human biology to chemistry tells you that they are actively looking for any and all possibles ways to indoctrinate the kids into their bogus agenda.

    I’ll believe Dr. Scott’s claim that they teach all points of view as with ideology or religion when she stops claiming that there’s a universal consensus on man-made climate change, stops referring to those who disagree as “deniers,” and advocates for the inclusion of materials from people such Professors Tad Murty, Tim Ball, or Tim Patterson or agree to the showing of their video series “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled: What You’re Not Being Told About the Science of Climate Change” in all government school science classes.

    There is no universal consensus on any science or it wouldn’t be considered a science. Real scientists don’t claim they know the truth or have figured out all the answers or they wouldn’t be scientists. Only ideologues and their paid surrogates make those claims. Which is why the skeptics abound.

    Dr. Scott claims that “it is the responsibility of teachers to teach good science.” Parents are learning that you have to pull your kids out of the government schools for that to be true.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/02/2012 - 01:46 pm.

      Mr. Tester seems to be laboring under a few misconceptions

      about science.

      Science is knowledge as well as a systematic way for finding new knowledge.

      Google and Wikipedia are your friends.

      “There is no universal consensus on any science…”

      False. Look up, for example Newton’s first and second laws.

      It is difficult to argue with someone about science when they don’t know the first thing about it.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/02/2012 - 02:12 pm.

        A scientist is someone

        who is in constant pursuit of knowledge. When he believes he has all the answers he stops being a scientist and becomes an ideologue.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/07/2012 - 06:27 am.


          An excellent response to your comment can be found within Mr. Clark’s comment below which contains this:

          “Science isn’t perfect. It often deals more with probabilities than certainties, but it’s certainly our best source for information. There actually is a consensus (unfortunately, not all political stripes are going to like this consensus), and the scientific community has spoken.”

          Today’s discourse is full of people who criticize science for failing to reach absolute consensus on any number of issues – the example in this thread being climate change. And yet – as you point out – a scientist who claims to know “the answers” is also subject to criticism. It’s a sort of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum.

          Those who understand science realize that there is a point where the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is substantial enough to establish a position and move forward because failure to do so leads to paralysis. There is a saying “the perfect is the enemy of the good” which captures this nicely. True scientists are always open to learning more, but they know that they also need to build on what has been learned and reasonably proven in order to continue to progress.

          No one who understands science is claiming it operates with absolute certainty. But no one who understands science condemns it for that lack of absolute certainty either.

  3. Submitted by Lance Groth on 08/02/2012 - 12:12 pm.


    It’s almost embarrassing to call oneself an American these days. How did we become a nation of dumb, superstitious liars?

    I’m going to make a point of thanking my Mom for seeing to it that I received a good education and developed a proper respect for truth and the findings of science.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/02/2012 - 12:23 pm.

    When AGW has an unassailable “fossil record” to display..

    it claim some legitimacy. But as long as it relies on flawed computer models which are kept under lock and key by financially and ideologically motivated academics, it will remain a psuedo-science.

    The very fact that it has a group like National Center for Science Education dragging it around by the belt-loops proves AGW belongs alongside alchemy and astrology.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/02/2012 - 01:10 pm.

      Fossil record

      Did it ever occur to you that we will be amongst that record, and nothing more? You’re willing to condem our species, our children and their children, etc., to a fossil record because it might upset your ideology?

      I find it terribly ironic that people who lack the ability to recognize what science is think they can lay claim to the meaning and use of the term “pseudo-science.”

      • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 08/02/2012 - 02:03 pm.

        It is quite clear now

        That the most intelligent of all the species ever to inhabit the earth will do so for the shortest period of time. Ms Kahler, you are optimistic to believe we will make it into the fossil record. Though I suppose that by our polychlorinated biphenyls they will know us.

        • Submitted by Virginia Martin on 08/02/2012 - 08:58 pm.

          most intelligent species

          Maybe the dolphins and primates will take over. I’m sure they would make better decisions.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/02/2012 - 03:29 pm.

        Curiously enough

        I make a very comfortable living relying on proven scientific fact Rachel. The decisions I make every day rely upon the precision of the data others have proved out.

        That’s why I don’t trust data that cannot be verified. And I don’t trust sources that refuse to provide the means to verfiy it.

        Those that don’t have the means are called hucksters. Those that fall for hucksters are known as rubes.

        Those that have the means, but refuse to share it because it cannot stand up under scrutiny are called psuedo-scientists. Those that believe in psuedo-science are known as uneducated.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/02/2012 - 11:10 pm.

          Here’s a little homework, Mr. Swift

          “The careful analysis by our team is laid out in five scientific papers now online at Four of our papers have undergone extensive scrutiny by the scientific community, and the newest, a paper with the analysis of the human component, is now posted, along with the data and computer programs used. Such transparency is the heart of the scientific method; if you find our conclusions implausible, tell us of any errors of data or analysis.”

          Richard A. Muller is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote this article for the New York Times link:

          Hucksters, rubes, pseudo-scientists, uneducated?

          I submit that you are not a scientist and that you have no background in climate science sufficient to believe you rather than a Berkeley physics prof working in the area. Have you ever published a scientific paper? Have you ever reviewed one? Your naivete in discussing science leads me to believe that you have not, but if I am wrong please provide citations.

          Interested readers who follow our little discussions will remember the Regnerus discussion and how that one turned out. You’ve bet again on the wrong horse in this case.

          Mr. Harris is not actually a scientist either and publishes, when he does, in newspapers. He has had a long and storied history as a PR person for the energy industry. His connection with the right wing Heartland Institute is certainly nothing to brag about. You remember Heartland? The folks who put up the billboard in Chicago with the picture of Ted Kaczynski that claimed he was typical of people who believed in AGW? The billboard that they were forced to take down in disgrace as their corporate sponsors dropped like flies?

          Better luck next time.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/03/2012 - 12:18 pm.

            Luck has nothing to do with the topic, Prof.

            Perhaps I am naive in discussing science, but, using the standards you set forth I question whether you are qualified to make that observation, Prof.

            You have no background in climate science. It appears that you have never published a scientific paper of your own, and haven’t even been named as third seat on one in more than 10 years. If I am wrong please provide citations….perhaps the Director of your department would provide some support? Maybe not.

            Also, I find it highly amusing to see that you note Harris’ connection to the “right wing” Heartland Institute (which is a scientific variable I’m unfamiliar with) as a bad thing, but in Muller’s case (“Koch financing”) the connection changes to become “good”. Outcome influenced observation, Prof? Really?

            Darndest “scientific method” I’ve ever run across.

            • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/03/2012 - 01:13 pm.

              The ever-evasive Mr. Swift.

              We’ve still not heard about your background in science, let alone climate science, that qualifies you to set yourself up as an expert on global warming.

              What are your qualifications? You have degrees in exactly what?

              And of course you know my scientific background. Suffice it to say for our readers information that I do have a PhD in chemistry which, the last I heard, was an important component of climate science.

              And I do have extensive experience in doing original research, publishing peer reviewed papers, reviewing for scientific journals, and directing the Ph.D, M.S., and undergraduate Latin honors theses for many students.

              I have more than eighty scientific papers – Google is your friend.

              But you know all this.

              Rant on.

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/03/2012 - 01:28 pm.

                I have more than eighty scientific papers

                Erm, are you playing another hair splitting game, Prof? You are named as a contributor, not author on those papers. As you know, the order names appear on papers matters. I *did* note that I made a mistake on the date of your last “helper” acknowledgement…

                …it’s been 18 years.

                Twitter does keep a fellow busy, doesn’t it?

                • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/03/2012 - 01:55 pm.

                  Again you display your naïveté

                  about scientific publication practices…

                  Again, I ask – Have you ever published or refereed a scientific paper?

                  All of those listed at the beginning of a paper are authors. “Contributors” would be listed in the Acknowledgments. The order in which authors is listed is often difficult to decipher, but that is a nicety beyond your current comprehension, obviously. Do a little research. Google is your friend.

                  Here’s a start: Publication Etiquette: Who (Co)Authors a Paper

                  You are embarrassing yourself, Mr. Swift. You have passed the point where I can justify wasting further time on you today. I’ve tried to be patient. But there are limits.

                  Good-bye for now.

            • Submitted by Don Medal on 08/09/2012 - 04:04 pm.

              science might drive politics, politics shouldn’t drive science

              Mr Swift’s comments are invariably partisan. He’s a poor contributor in matters of science, but seems to know all the talking points of the energy industry.

              The vast majority of climate scientists agree global warming is real, and that there is a man-made influence on that. Political posturing doesn’t change that, and the day will come when the politics of this argument look as dumb as the arguments against evolution of the species as science.

              The world will (very slowly) warm while Mr Swift continues, until he realize the vast majority of voters accept warming as reality. Somewhere around that point he’ll come up with some new evidence to justify agreeing with them.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/03/2012 - 01:48 pm.


          Interestingly, I too live very comfortably on science. As a matter of fact, I’ve earned my Ph.D. in a scientific field and use my knowledge and training on a daily basis to make my living. Further, my living is not made at the bench, it’s made at the desk in a field that converts discovery into money and business. I kind of get how the science and money thing ticks, Mr. Swift. I’d take more care of calling names and proclaiming various “facts,” if I was you, Mr. Swift.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/03/2012 - 02:00 pm.

            With all due respect “Dr” Kahler

            Given the cavalier manner you’ve interposed “fact” with “unsubstaintiated opinion”, if I converting one of your discoveries into money, I’d have to cobble up a little something on the ol’ bench to prove it for myself.

            It’s nothing personal, I’m just a really careful cobbler.

            • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/03/2012 - 04:15 pm.

              I sense no respect

              I know exactly what I’m talking about, and you would too if you bothered to look (I have no intent to make it easy for my personal life any of your business). I said nothing about you converting any of my discoveries into anything. I said nothing about /anyone/ converting any of my discoveries into anything. My discoveries are in peer-reviewed journals and will remain that way for quite some time. No need to cobble up anything on your part.

              Oh, and it’s not “Dr.” I really hold a doctorate, so putting the term in parentheses is quite disrespectful. It’s also probably personal, but I’ll let you make any claims in that regard that you want.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/02/2012 - 02:00 pm.

      Mr. Swift

      Exactly who are you to be making demands that someone show you a fossil record before you will accept AGW? By the way, it would be helpful to non specialists for you to define AGW: anthropogenic global warming. Meaning man-made.

      “AGW belongs alongside alchemy and astology.”

      Hardly. Would you mind giving me your scientific qualifications for making such a claim?

      In the meantime, I’d suggest you have a look at the recent recantation of your position by a Koch-funded professor of physics at Berkeley.

      See for example:

      I was a Climate Change Denier –

      Call me a converted skeptic. I’m now convinced that it’s happening and caused by human activity. Richard A. Muller


      [Richard A. Muller is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote this article for the New York Times]

      “Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle, is universally accepted. I embarked on this analysis to answer questions that, to my mind, had not been answered. I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes.”

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/02/2012 - 03:45 pm.

        Your outraged response

        is consistent with most warmers Prof. When asked for concrete evidence, the psuedo-scientists that conduct the “research” behind warmer theory will always point you in the direction of a fellow warmer for supporting opinions.

        I could provide you a tit for tat list of competing experts, but as I say, I prefer concrete, verifiable, repeatable evidence.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/02/2012 - 04:24 pm.

          Competing experts?The list

          Competing experts?

          The list of “your” experts is pretty damn small. Or “your” definition of “expert” become pretty contorted.

          97 % of climate scientists are in agreement. If you prefer a TV weather guy (Mike Fairborne, anyone?), it’s not science.

          • Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/02/2012 - 09:35 pm.

            Polls of people who make their living on AGW

            2009 – Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change
            1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
            2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

            90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1.
            82% answered ‘yes’ to question 2.
            Of those with expertise in climate science:

            96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1.
            97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.
            Source: EOS, TRANSACTIONS AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION, VOL. 90, NO. 3, P. 22, 2009
            Is this where you global warming alarmists get the oft repeated canard that 97% of scientists agree that catastrophic AGW is a real problem? The poll is of 77 people, only77 and it was done in 2009. We have had no statistically significant global warming since 1995, even though CO2 levels have increased.

            • Submitted by John Clark on 08/04/2012 - 04:59 pm.

              Here is a little update on some poll numbers, Robert.

              Robert, the poll you cite, and the relatively small number of participants surveyed in this poll, is only one of many polls conducted since the year 2000 where climate scientists are questioned to determine the scientific consensus on climate change. The other polls at the OSS Foundation link you refer to do include larger populations. Here is another link you may want to refer to that includes several additional polls.


              As one would expect, the results of these different polls, conducted on different populations at different times, are not completely consistent. And, it is difficult to break down the results of the all of these surveys into exact percentages that agree or disagree with a particular question. However, it is unmistakably clear that a vast majority of climate scientists agree that the mean surface temperature of our planet over the last 100 to 200 years has increased, and that human activity (ACC) is largely responsible for much of this change.

              So, is this representative cross section of climate scientists that were surveyed during the last dozen or so years being intentionally dishonest so they can receive more funding, or more publicity as is sometimes implied? During my career, I have worked in the area of scientific research, and I have been duly impressed with the researchers I have worked with. They are generally honest, diligent individuals, that at times may disagree with one another, but take pride in the accuracy and quality of their work. I believe, Robert, that climate scientists are equally professional. I have seen no evidence whatsoever to indicate that there is some large, world-wide, political conspiracy by these individuals to misrepresent the data. If you have seen evidence to this affect, please let me know.

              Does this mean that the scientific evidence that has been gathered to date indicating ACC is 100% incontrovertible? Science is, of course, an evolutionary process. What we will understand 50 or 100 years from now on this subject will, no doubt, be more complete. But as inhabitants of the only planet we have, do we wait this long, until the evidence is more conclusive, and let our grandchildren deal with the consequences of no action? I would say no.

              So here’s my two cents, Robert. Science isn’t perfect. It often deals more with probabilities than certainties, but it’s certainly our best source for information. There actually is a consensus (unfortunately, not all political stripes are going to like this consensus), and the scientific community has spoken. I would hope that we would listen, and seriously start discussing methods to mitigate rising global temperatures. Hopefully we would encourage market driven research, and ultimately, market driven solutions to help solve this potentially serious global issue.

              • Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/06/2012 - 10:23 pm.

                Thanks for the update, John.

                “I have seen no evidence whatsoever to indicate that there is some large, world-wide, political conspiracy by these individuals to misrepresent the data. If you have seen evidence to this affect, please let me know.”

                I do think skeptics are alarmed by the fact that raw data is destroyed and hidden, and when it is available numerous erorrs are discovered. Why would honest scientists fight freedom of information requests?

                Also, catastrophic AGW is not only a multi-billion dollar industry ($79 billion of government funds since 1989), but truly a religion.

                If I were to poll a group of bible scholars or pastors on the divinity of Jesus, what do you think they would say? It would be unmistakably clear that a vast majority agree. They are generally honest, diligent individuals who have no motivation to be intentionally dishonest. They are a group of like minded people who reinforce each other’s beliefs.

            • Submitted by John Clark on 08/05/2012 - 09:02 am.

              Statement about no warming since 1995 a little misleading.

              One more thing, Robert. You might want to see what Phil Jones actually said in the statement he made about global warming since 1995.


              And, here’s a good graphic representation of what has been happening over the last 20 years.


              • Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/06/2012 - 09:52 pm.

                You said “no warming since 1995”, not me.

                “We have had no statistically significant global warming since 1995, even though CO2 levels have increased.” This is what I wrote.

                BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

                Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

                This is from your link. Dr. Phil Jones agreed there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995, (Yes, but only just).

                Alarmists continue to split hairs and distort what skeptics say.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/02/2012 - 06:06 pm.

        By the way…

        and with all due respect, I have to wonder if someone who recently claimed human beings reproduce asexually is really best suited to be criticizing what is taught as science in schools, or quite frankly to question anyone else’s credentials for doing so.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/03/2012 - 07:17 am.

          Mr Swift, you are again being intellectually dishonest

          You have seen this comment before. Readers may find it in the discussion section of:

          Former Priests Against Marriage Amendment…
          Here on Minnpost, link =

          The process is called parthenogenesis, Mr. Swift

          It has been known for some time and is usually taught in high school biology courses.

          Here is some background, hopefully at your level:

          Teaching Biology: Parthenogenesis

          Apparently the “credit” for doing this with human cells goes to the now discredited Korean scientist, Woo Suk Hwang, as verified in a 2007 paper cited in the first link below.

          An article that might be at a level you could understand is:

          Scientific American: Korean Cloned Human Cells Were Product of “Virgin Birth”

          Of course human parthenogenesis is of no relevance to the marriage amendment.

          Many heterosexual couples are happily childless or marry after reproductive age. And it is always possible for a woman in a same sex marriage to become pregnant by artificial insemination, as I assume you are aware. Gay couples who wish to become parents can also adopt.


          Please stop your deliberate distortion of what I have written. Thank you.

          I note that you have still failed to respond to my questions about your qualifications to make scientific judgements, nor have you provided any citations to any of your published scientific work.

          • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/03/2012 - 08:05 am.

            He’s also not big on nuance

            There’s quite a difference between saying “human beings reproduce asexually” v.s. saying “it is possible to stimulate human cells into parthenogenesis in a controlled laboratory setting”.

            In case anyone reading this is wondering, I believe Mr. Gleason would agree that his statements would be better represented by the second example and that he never claimed that human beings are capable of simply reproducing on their own via parthenogenesis.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/03/2012 - 12:22 pm.

            With all due respect….

            You cite some research in a lab, Prof., so I let you off the hook, but you, in fact stated that you *were* claiming human beings reproduce asexually.

            In fact, from your link the verbatim quote:

            “And I DID claim that humans are capable of asexual reproduction.”

            Please stop your deliberate distortion of human biology, Prof. Thank you.

            • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/03/2012 - 01:14 pm.

              Please Mr. Swift

              Your dissembling is obvious to anyone who cares to take the time to read what you have written.

              The reference that I gave you clearly demonstrates that humans are capable of asexual reproduction.

              Capable is the operative word Mr. Swift.

              Deliberate distortion of human biology? Hardly Mr. Swift. But I leave that for our readers to judge. Your uninformed opinion really doesn’t matter to me.

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/03/2012 - 01:32 pm.

                We can reproduce asexually…

                and WE CAN FLY LIKE BIRDS!! (inanairplane), WE CAN BREATH UNDERWATER LIKE FISH!! (withasupplyofcompressedair).

                I’ve raised children, Prof. I know how to play these games.

                The troubling aspect is that most kids are just “kidding”…I do believe you’re serious.

  5. Submitted by Rich Crose on 08/02/2012 - 12:36 pm.

    You have to remember

    Ignorance is not caused by humans.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/02/2012 - 02:24 pm.

    So, the people who draw conclusions from the evidence do so out of a love of government and the people who deny the evidence do so because they are wise. I appreciate the irony.

    But I don’t like expanded government and I believe that man-made carbon emissions cause global warming which is happening. As Mr. Schoch put it so well a few months back, I am skeptical of any hypothesis that fails to account for me.

  7. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/02/2012 - 03:13 pm.

    Critical thinking

    As demonstrated by some of the comments, there is belief among some quarters that education operates under some “fairness doctrine” principle, so that if something like “scientific truth” is presented as such, it is equivalent to a TV or radio station editorializing on some issue, or (shudder) insidiously slanting their presentation of the facts to conform to their personal prejudices, biases and opinions. That and telling or tricking people through mis- (or dis)-information is rightfully described as propaganda.

    To a certain degree, education and the transmission of knowledge in this country has always been infected by propaganda. When I was educated during the 1950’s and 1960’s, public schools taught US History and Social Studies from a perspective that might fairly be described as propaganda. No teacher could ever question, if they ever brought it up, that US motives were less than pure in fomenting the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Greece, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Iraq or Iran, to name a few. Mostly, uncomfortable topics like that were simply not mentioned.

    But from my experience with the same educational system, which I imagine was no different from some of those commenting above, science and related disciplines have always been taught to develop a critical attitude toward facts. Skepticism and questioning are welcome and invited. But having a healthy skepticism and critical attitude does not mean closing one’s eyes and mind to the evidence and stubbornly refusing to admit to the facts no matter how convincingly proven. If they have a valid counterproof, then put it forward. If not, then, accept the facts and, do as J.M. Keynes did: ““When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

  8. Submitted by Tom Harris on 08/02/2012 - 03:19 pm.

    Dr. Scott has been misled on the so-called climate consensus

    Dr. Scott, who holds a doctorate in physical anthropology, would understand that the following statement is totally wrong if she were trained in climate science:

    “the scientific community is unified in the opinions that the planet is getting warmer and people’s activities have had a lot to do with that and things have to be done”

    No that is completely false. Warming essentially stopped a decade or more ago and it was never very great in the first place over the 20th century – 0.8 deg C.

    We do not know the degree to which “people’s activities” have contributed to the small warming we have seen so we are a long way from accepting that “things have to be done.” Even if it was warming dangerously, and even if human activities were the cause, it still is probably only worth adapting to the changes as the cost of trying to stop it is too high.


    Tom Harris
    Executive Director
    International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)
    Ottawa, Ontario

    Note: The ICSC receives no donations from corporations, foundations or government.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/02/2012 - 04:53 pm.

      ICSC is a shill for the Heartland Institute, the Heartland Institute is a shill for the big energy players like Exxon.

      97 percent of climate scientists are in agreement.

      The people who make up the ICSC are a disparate set of people with various technical backgrounds little or no actual climate science research background, no laboratories, no research, no testing programs–just words.

      Where are their peer-reviewed papers and credentials on the topic at hand?

      • Submitted by Tom Harris on 08/02/2012 - 05:31 pm.

        Logical fallacies galore

        “ICSC is a shill for the Heartland Institute” – this is guilt by association logical fallacy and wrong besides. We shill for no one.

        “Heartland Institute is a shill for the big energy players like Exxon” – guilt by association logical fallacy and wrong besides. Exxon have not donated to Heartland for many years.

        “97 percent of climate scientists are in agreement” – appeal to consensus/authority logical fallacy and wrong besides – see our discussion of this here:

        “The people who make up the ICSC are a disparate set of people with various technical backgrounds little or no actual climate science research background, no laboratories, no research, no testing programs–just words.” – appeal to authority logical fallacy and wrong besides. We include many world leading climate experts in our advisory body – click on “Who we are” on .

        Where are their peer-reviewed papers and credentials on the topic at hand?

        Here are a thousand or so:

        The arguments presented by Neal Rovick are just the same tired old unsubstantiated rhetoric, very easy to knock down these days. Zzzzzzzzzz.

      • Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/02/2012 - 09:47 pm.

        –just words

        Please give a source and explanation of your assertion that 97% of climate scientists are in agreement. In agreement with what, that man may contribute some to global warming? When was this poll done, who was polled, who did the poll, how many people were polled, who was not polled?

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 08/02/2012 - 05:18 pm.

      Denialist Front Organization

      “Note: The ICSC receives no donations from corporations, foundations or government.”

      Except for $45,000 from the Heartland Institute in 2007 (Heartland form 990 for 2007), just to pick the low hanging fruit?

      Your organization is a well known denialist political organization. To wit, excerpt from Tom Harris speech in 2008:

      … We need to have a high degree of information sharing and cooperation between groups, so that when Vincent Gray for example has an article published in New Zealand, we can take the same piece and we can (say) submit it to newspapers all over North America and Europe.

      Then we have a nicely well-coordinated response, where letters to the editor and phone calls are made. “Congratulations on publishing that article!” You know, it’s interesting because I’ve had many of my articles opposed so strongly, by environmentalists through phone calls and letters to the editor, that they just simply dry up, they just won’t publish us again. So this does have feedback, I mean, these are people that run these newspapers, and they’re scared, and impressed, and encouraged, depending on the feedback they get.

      We have to have grassroots organizations doing exactly that kind of thing: coordinated local activism. ”

      IOW stack the comments pages and letters to the editors with messages from your members, hoping to sway coverage. This is pure politics, nothing to do with science.

      And who is involved? Well, for starters, the Australian affiliate group (interesting, btw, that all of your affiliate groups are hosted by the same ISP, in Arizona) includes “advisors” who are directors for coal and oil industries in Australia.

      Sorry, your group is political, denialist, and an apologist for the fossil fuels industries. You’re not about objective science, and you’re not going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here. And btw, you must think we’re really stupid, which I find to be offensive. Climate change is painfully obvious to anyone who has been alive for more than 20 years. The decade 2001-2010 was the hottest for centuries. The ice is melting, try using your eyeballs. CO2 is a “greenhouse gas”; greenhouse gases by definition retain heat in an atmosphere, and we’re dumping it into the atmosphere by the megaton. Your obfuscation is transparent. Unlike, say, coal emissions.

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/02/2012 - 03:53 pm.

    “The ICSC receives no donations from corporations, foundations or government.”

    Thanks Tom. You obviously have the big picture in clear focus. This readership in particular could benefit greatly with a look through your lens.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/02/2012 - 04:31 pm.

      And if they say it, it must be so

      Mr. Harris’s group has received funding from the Heartland Institute (don’t bother denying it, Mr. Harris. As you should know by now ,your funding is in the HI’s documents). It may not be a corporation or government, but it’s a foundation. There are also the ICSC affiliates in Australia and New Zealand, with their ties to the energy industry.

      There’s a special type of gullibility known as “wishing it were true.”

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/02/2012 - 11:25 pm.

      Doing so, Mr. Swift,

      would be like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

      See the report outlining the disinformation skills of Mr. Harris:

      Climate Change Denial in the Classroom

      An audit of a course Mr. Harris taught at Carleton University: “Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective”

      “This course was run by an instructor who has been actively involved in climate change denial for many years.”

  10. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 08/02/2012 - 04:50 pm.


    I wonder what is taught in school these days–in high school and college, although I doubt that some of these people went to college.
    Science illiteracy in this country is huge problem. The United States ranks about 14 in scientific illiteracy, well behind China, Japan, Korea, Finland, and slightly better than the Czech Republic and Hungary. I’m not sure if these people don’t believe something unless they can see it and touch it (I don’t know if they accept gravity) and I fail to understand why they can’t look at all of the science and experiments that support climate change, and evolution for that matter. They just claim some scientists don’t believe.
    What “science” supports climate denial?
    And why is the argument against these things always put in terms of money and greed? Nobody goes into science to get rich, and nobody does–unless they win a Nobel prize or something. But that is not their aim in life.
    No credible science stands up against climate change and evolution.

  11. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 08/02/2012 - 04:53 pm.


    By the way, facts are not left wing or right wing. They just are.
    And what money do you expect to make, you deniers, when you deny this science?

  12. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/02/2012 - 05:05 pm.

    The ISC receives no donations from corporations, foundations or


    This does not appear to be the case.

    From SourceWatch:

    “According to the ICSC website,

    “Since its formation in 2007, ICSC has been funded and supported exclusively by private individuals… We have never received financial support from corporations, foundations or government.”

    Yet ICSC received $45,000 from the Heartland Institute in 2007, according to Heartland’s Form 990 for that year..

    ICSC unwilling to resolve discrepancy

    Requests that ICSC resolve this apparent discrepancy between IRS records and the ICSC assertions have been rebuffed.”


    There exists a report on a course that Tom Harris taught at Carleton University, Climate Change Denial in the Classroom.

    From that report:

    “This report details an audit of a course taught at Carleton University in the 2010/11 academic year. The course, “Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective” (ERTH 2402) provides an unbalanced and, in many cases, factually inaccurate view of anthropogenic global warming which detracts from the high quality of teaching at Carleton University. We highlight 142 incorrect or equivocal claims and cite the relevant scientific literature to correct those statements. While the principle of academic freedom remains paramount, it is nonetheless imperative that university students be presented with accurate scientific information.”



    We have demonstrated that the Earth Sciences Department at Carleton University has until recently run a course which down-plays and contradicts the overwhelming scientific consensus on dangerous, man-made climate change. This course was run by an instructor who has been actively involved in climate change denial for many years.”


    The report is approximately one hundred pages with 171 references and detailed explanation of the 142 incorrect or equivocal claims made in the course. I highly recommend it to those interested in climate change and its denial.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/03/2012 - 11:29 am.

    You don’t have to go any further than the comments here

    We can talk about Carlton, and denied donations and stuff but all you have to do to evaluate Mr. Harris’s integrity is read his comment. He claims here that global warming “stopped” in 1998. The claim itself is debatable since it’s based solely on surface temp observations ( ), but even worse than that, the paper that made this claim actually affirmed the existence of Global warming, the summary conclusion was:

    “The finding that the recent hiatus in warming is driven largely by natural factors does not contradict the hypothesis: “most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”

    Note, GW is acknowledged as a real phenomena DESPITE surface temp observations, as is it’s human cause. When Mr. Harris to points to this paper as evidence against GW he’s simply being dishonest. He’s taking data out of context and contradicting the authors conclusions without doing any work of his own. Behavior like this is what got him onto trouble at Carlton.

  14. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/03/2012 - 09:52 am.

    If you want to read about Mr. Harris:

    • Submitted by Tom Harris on 08/03/2012 - 01:39 pm.

      Sourcewatch unreliable

      I tried to correct some of the material but to no avail. I ignore it now.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/03/2012 - 10:12 pm.

        Don’t feel bad

        I submitted a comment which included a “youtube” segment by David Roberts that was apparently refused also. Let me paraphrase: your position is irresponsible, indefensible and dangerous.

        The other commenters have made a point which I wished to make in my own words but which the censors have denied for the time being. I hope you take the comments to heart and seriously reconsider your position on this subject.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/04/2012 - 08:38 am.

          Thanks so much for

          pointing out this excellent presentation by David Roberts. It is a TED talk and is available on YouTube.

          Quite easy to find and highly recommended.

          An especially important point made by Mr. Roberts is the intimidation factor used by people like Mr. Swift and Mr. Harris. They pretend to know more than the average bear about what is going on in climate science.

          It is important to call these people out in public so that ordinary citizens will not be confused; confusion is actually the goal of people like Swift and Harris.

          I am very proud of the fact that readers of MinnPost have not been deceived. Also a forum such as this is important for ordinary citizens to read so that they can make some sort of judgment about the obfuscation tactics commonly practiced by climate denialists.

  15. Submitted by Tom Clark on 08/03/2012 - 03:26 pm.

    Nice to see a denialist like Harris

    getting called on his smarmy game here. Here’s a little more about Mr. Harris for the record:

    Happy to see Ms. Scott out there countering the distortions about climate science as well. I remember the good work she’s done on the teaching of evolution and respect her integrity and passion for the truth.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/06/2012 - 07:55 am.

    Forget Carlton

    I don’t care what happened Cartlon Mr. Harris. You misrepresented research right here on Minnpost. If that were your paper instead of someone elses it would be academic fraud. If you have the expertise you claim to have, that makes you a liar because you could not read the paper and fail to grasp it’s conclusion. If you’re misrepresentation is the product of ignorance, you have not the expertise you claim to have. Either way you have demolished your own credibility without the help of either Carlton or Sourcewatch.

  17. Submitted by Marty McGowan on 08/10/2012 - 10:12 am.

    evolution vs newton’s 1st and 2nd

    no one is trying to disprove F = ma. it served us well for 2,3 centuries. we did discover its law applied at speeds we are familiar with. late in the 19th C we began to get hints it didn’t go far enough. what, just two weeks ago we got confirmation there is reason to say we can confirm the mechanism of gravity. no one doubted gravity’s existence for the intervening centuries.

    darwin was quite modest about the mechanisms of “descent thru modification by natural selection”. he saw the evidence, indeed verified it in many cases, though certainly not all. with genetics in the late 19th and discovery of the mechanism in the mid 20th C, we can safely say we’ve better known the mechanisms of evolution longer than the mechanisms of gravity. and the book’s not yet closed on gravity.

    those who say their mind is open had best not use phrases like “government schools”, without opening themselves up to their own criticism. that pejorative follows mr reagan’s famous “the government is the problem” statement, and it expects us to apply it universally without question. the other problem with the argument is “which government”. my 12 years of public education were in the hands of a local school board, who hired folks who’d gone to places like st cloud state, northern u in so dak, etc… and i well remember my civics class, where we learned about how governments operate and derive their authority.

    those of us who used to be conservatives operated from the principal of doing the least damage, and if need be, the least change. i would think by now, true conservatives would be joining the great (not just majority, but) preponderance of climate scientists who observe our climate is changing dramatically because of human behavior. discrediting them for some sort of conspiracy is only shouting down, and not listening to, their message.

    later to appear at

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