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« Lindzen vs Hasan | Main | The benefits of shale »
Tuesday
Mar052013

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)

A rather mangled version of the aphorism Ron, and a mangling which changes it's nature rather a lot.

The more usual reference is nearer "Give me a child until seven and I'll show you the man." - a much more nuanced proposition as I'm sure you'll agree, and one very much in keeping with the development of children into adults.

It is much more general too than Quebec, being used around the world by Jesuits and other educators over the years.

Dec 19, 2013 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

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