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« Scientists decline the poison chalice | Main | Manns rea? »

The inescapable urge to indoctrinate

The latest edition of School Science Review, a journal of the Association for Science Education, is a climate change special, featuring a review of mainstream positions on global warming by Eric Wolff and a host of other articles covering everything from how better to get children on board the global warming bandwagon to a look at biofuels.

Most of it is paywalled, but you can see the covering editorial here, although to tell the truth it's not particularly exciting. I was struck only by this sentence:

Some teachers may not agree that it is our duty to campaign but we surely have a duty to inform our students where the science is clear, and it is important to teach them about what is complex and uncertain and not known.

While I think most parents would be appalled at the idea that teachers should be campaigning at all, the rest of it is eminently sensible. It's therefore interesting to look at the Wolff's article, which was sent to me by a reader. Here are some excerpts:

Using so-called 'proxy' can be shown that the period since 1980 has probably neen the warmest 30 year period in at least the last 800 years.

Others might suggest that it cannot be shown at all.

Ocean heat content is rising, snow and ice cover is decreasing in the Northern Hemisphere, and Arctic sea ice is retreating.

But what about the south and the Antarctic?

The last decade or so has been a period of slower warming...[in part] because of a spate of small volcanic eruptions and a small reduction in the strength of the sun....Changing winds...can cause [changes] in the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and the deeper ocean.

I guess there wasn't room for all 39 reasons.

And what about our old friends the climate models and their manifold failings?

...these essentially contain our best knowledge of the physics and the chemical and biological processes that govern climate, coded into equations.

It's hard to avoid the impression that Prof Wolff thinks 'what is complex and uncertain and not known' should be swept carefully under the carpet.

I also have a copy of the article by Busch and Osborne, two researchers at Stanford. The abstract includes this:

Unlike many other science topics, mitigation and adaptation to climate change will require students to take action.

You can see where this is heading can't you? The authors spend a couple of pages discussing "challenges to knowing and acting that are specific to climate change", including a regrettable reluctance among science teachers to get involved with political campaigns

[Researchers] found that the teachers did not consider it their role to try to solve today's major social or scientific problems. Instead, the science teachers said they preferred to 'maintain the integrity' of the science rather than to explore the social, economic or political implications.

Needless to say, our authors were not impressed with this regrettable display of integrity (as an aside, they quote Michael Mann approvingly elsewhere). In their section on how to deal with these challenges, they declare that social aspects of science must be included too.

[Climate change] is not just a scientific problem for scientists to solve; rather, it is a socio-scientific issue that will require a multidisciplinary approach.

And here's how it ends:

The goal for teachers is to provide the balance between emotion and analytical reasoning to create a situation where students can effectively learn about climate change and feel empowered to act...we need to focus on actions that students can change to mitigate climate change. By promoting the positive, we can leave sudents with a sense of what they can do.

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Reader Comments (40)

According to WUWT, we are now up to 52 reasons for the "pause", "hiatus" or "plateau".

Fortunateatin Balcombe or other tree-hugging activities.

Sep 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As with most fundamental religions - indoctrinate them whilst they are young. I see the Green Taliban is following the same strategy. No matter what reality says, their belief is the real truth.

Blind faith followers have no consciences.

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Child abuse pure and simple!

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

I can call up spirits from the vastly deep.

Why so can I, and any man, but will they come when you call?

I hope my memory is right.

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

The only word that I know which describes this document clearly is "Malevolent"

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

"science teachers said they preferred to 'maintain the integrity' of the science"

How dare they, when there's campaigning to be done!

This really is 24-carat bollocks, isn't it?

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Graeme No 3
Close enough
Why, so can I, and [so can] any man.
But will they come when you [do] call [for them]?
And I assume 'vastly' is a typo for 'vasty'.

Trying to get to grips with this philosophy really is like trying to knit fog. On the face of it there is nothing wrong with wanting children to be aware of what many scientists see as a potential threat. I struggle to find any simple message to counteract the propaganda. Simply saying, "they're lying to you" doesn't quite hack it but we are going to end up with a generation full of some very weird ideas about science.

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"The goal for teachers is to provide the balance between emotion and analytical reasoning...

Students ...feel empowered to act"

Welcome to post- modernist science

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterAsmilwho

"But what about the south and the Antarctic?"

Exactly the sort of question I would expect an intelligent pre-brainwashed child to ask.

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Graeme No 3: That was Hotspur talking to the mystic Glendower. Ever the sceptic he also coined the phrase "tell the truth and shame the devil" . Appropriate and timely really as they were (with Mortimer) agreeing the division of the Kingdom.
Henry IV Part One.

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

Well I think the devil won't be shamed if the School Science Review and Eric Wolff get their way.

Their trouble is will the children believe their propaganda? Some will, but I think that a majority will quietly decide that having it rammed down their throats means there is something wrong with it. And a cold winter isn't likely to make them believers either ( with or without power cuts).

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

A good test for these so-called science educators and their rationalization regarding cliamte would be to ask about GMO.

Sep 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Following along with their line of "reasoning", you can have endless fun by plugging in different causes in place of 'climate change' and watch them howl at the unfairness of it all.

For example, imagine a campaign to get science teachers to enlist their students in the fight to make abortion illegal. "The goal for teachers is to provide the balance between emotion and analytical reasoning to create a situation where students can effectively learn about abortion and feel empowered to act." After all, it's a short leap from "life begins at conception" to organizing students to actively support certain political candidates, all in the name of "science". And who could possibly object, because after all it is "science" that we're talking about.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterfortunatecookie

The science is clear, unfortunately not the Climateer science which changes daily with every counter argument.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

And we wonder why the standard of education is going down the plug hole. Attitudes like those shown in the paper are those that will very quickly give a country third world status.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

“However, he said he still trusts what he believes are the overwhelming number of scientists who have examined the evidence and reached a conclusion.”

Typical. Most Teachers have a hard time with critical thinking. Their standard way of thinking is based on the authority of the curriculum and text books. It is the rare teacher that encourages the development of rational, critical and creative thought processes.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"It is the rare teacher that encourages the development of rational, critical and creative thought processes."

I had one such. The chemistry teacher - a kind and quietly spoken man in his early forties.

I learned many years later that he had formerly been a Lt Col in the SAS.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Climateer" - A possible alternate label for 'alarmist' ?

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSC-Slywolf

@Mike ... "Trying to get to grips with this philosophy..."

I do a mixture of the following.

1) Simply saying "I disagree". And no more. I am a civilised, rational, educated person and I am not paid off by 'Big Oil'. But I disagree. When they say "what about ..." then I just close discussion down by saying "I disagree. I do not think there is a problem". I think just being normal and disagreeing is the most powerful weapon.

2) Humour. Just laugh at them. Laugh at their corduroy trousers and sandals-with-socks.

3) In the case of Keith Ross I would ask him why he uses the word "denier". I would ask what other branches of science try to smear people that have different and possible correct ideas. Ask him why his side of the aisle is not really acting like there really is a problem. For example if we really do need to "de-carbonise" now then nuclear is the *only* way to go - why are they so squeamish about this? And why do they use this "problem" as a wedge issue instead of getting everyone onside to combat the problem?

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Maybe it's me, but I get the impression that teaching in schools has always been like this, in all subjects. Certain things given a politically correct spin, others left out altogether. (When I was at school, we didn't do China. At all. Or Israel.)

Generally speaking, it's considered far more important to be uncontroversial than to be truthful.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Gus

ah well - my chemistry teacher was the drummer in Sailor! (got my A-level and a degree in it)

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

It is alarming that these people have direct access to the young. On the other hand, without attempting to foresee the future, sometimes when teachers come across like moralistic twits, it doesn't have the desired effect on smart kids. I guess I'm agreeing with Graeme #3.

Planned Parenthood has pushed birth control for the young for how many decades, yet we regularly see headlines to the effect that kids refuse to play along. Girls think (reasonably) it shouldn't all be up to them. Condoms may not be enough fun. Most alarmingly, they may want it to be spontaneous and romantic. They're supposed to see sex a purely a matter of science and technology, like guarding yourself against malaria when you go into the jungle. Kids refuse to climb into this Procrustean bed. (Sorry)

Alan Bloom used to say he would ask young people during the Cold War if they were afraid of nuclear war; they would laugh, despite, again, decades of propaganda from well-meaning teachers.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterLloyd R

... snow and ice cover is decreasing in the Northern Hemisphere, and Arctic sea ice is retreating.

Bollocks, it looks like a fairly flat line to me:

Weekly NH Snow cover, 1972-2014 graph, Rutgers University

Source page:

The December, January & February NH Snow cover anomaly graphs suggest an increase in the last few years.

But teachers and climate scientists should never let the facts get in the way of a good story, especially when it come to scaring the children.

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Oh, better far to live and die
Under the brave Greenie flag I fly,
And play a sanctimonious part,
With a Climate head and a Climate heart.
Away to the cheating world we go,
Where Climateers all are well to do ;
And I'll be true to the song I sing,
And live and die a Climate King.
For I am a Climate King.
We are !
Hurrah for our Climate King !
And it is, it is an enriching thing
To be a Climate King.

Sung to the tune of "The Pirates of Penn State"

Sep 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

There is not a child in school - up to and including those graduating at GCSE level - who has experienced any sort of on-going (if it ever was) man-made global warming.

Continuing to push the Greenie message that "[u]nlike many other science topics, mitigation and adaptation to climate change will require students to take action" and thus encourage their students to push their cause, is not only immoral and disingenuous, it is anti-education: not unlike teaching medical students that ulcers are caused by worry and not helicobacter 15 years after the cause had been found.

Sep 12, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Most of the teachers who ply their trade in our state funded primary and secondary schools are functionally illiterate, moreover, the majority of those so called 'teachers' are unable even to comprehend the fundamentals of basic arithmetic - let alone impart more complex 'sums' [Mathematics].

Pure sciences, the tutoring in individual science subjects such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology, have died the death and mostly these days children are forcefully inculcated with a mulch, a pap of lies, myths and hearsay. Indeed, 'they' - the education left wing blob and as Michael Gove so aptly described it; an alliance of Common Purpose, the SWP running the teaching unions and their equally dumbed down lackeys and facilitators in the councils and central administration are complicit. Thus do, the loony Marxist pedagoguery permeate the state sector, at primary, secondary and tertiary level they revel in indoctrination, and name it social engineering.

I call it - a national tragedy.

You get what you pays for, and thus English Grad's get to write and draft ar*ewipe like the 2008 CCA aka Globull warming statute - because they can - well actually, because they don't comprehend. This is Britain, in the third millennia - 'gifted' with a population who are thicker, more dense if you like - intellectually far less competent than their forbears who dwelt - in the previous 10-12 generations and it tells - it was the plan.

Sep 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Presumably a more accurate name for the organisation would be Association for Rotten Science Education, its acronym being appropriate.

Sep 12, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

I go wiith Uncle Gus on this one ...

this "indoctrination" is a good thing, because young people are naturaly and particularly inclined against "indoctrination" ...

I remember what I was taught in my primary school about another religion, Religion ... an hour a day of this indoctrination, to church for a few weeks going into Christmass and Easter, no meat on Fridays and so on, and so on ... There were 4 or 5 masses in the village church on Sundays then, completely sold out all of them ... 40 years later there's hardly anyone going to church anymore ... (and now I find the Bible a very interesting book ... :-) ...)

this whole charade will take time to disappear ... I go for 2025/2030 ... and that is still far away ... but what would you expect ? ... talk reason to these guys ? ... impossible ! ... in that frame of mind, the best thing that can happen to us, Belgians, is a few really major power cuts this winter ... it won't be easy, but it will be a good lesson ...

Sep 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterducdorleans

Thanks saved me looking that up as I was sure it was b*ll*cks.

Sep 12, 2014 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

My goodness but that abstract was echo chamber alarmist cocktail chat. It even discusses how examining paintings of sunsets over time dates climatic changes from volcanic eruptions and in the nearly same breath, correlates current CO2 with rising temperature.
I think if you ask them,they'll have obtained all their info from FOE or WWF. It's embarrassing really to realize that this is the state of current school science investigation. There is none!

Sep 12, 2014 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

The government wanted to stop Asian kids being radicalized by Islamic Extremist in Muslim Faith Schools.
Now all kids get to be radicalized by Environmental Extremists instead.

Sep 12, 2014 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Indoctrination in school has a long history. It also fails often. Part of the reason, imo, is that the ultimate goal is not to control future minds but rather to beat into submission present ones.

Sep 12, 2014 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Reading an extract from a Richard Feynman speech that seems appropriate to this, and the wider climate discussion:

"The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and uncertainty, and this experience is of great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn't know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognise our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of being degrees of certainty - some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain"

Sep 13, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterKav

Here is an extract from the judgement in the case of the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth" in schools. It is relevant to what is being discussed here. (To read the full judgement go here:

2.The context and nub of the dispute are the statutory provisions described in their side headings as respectively relating to "political indoctrination" and to the "duty to secure balanced treatment of political issues" in schools, now contained in ss406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996, which derive from the identical provisions in ss44 and 45 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986. The provisions read as follows:

"406. The local education authority, governing body and head teachers shall forbid …

the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school.

407. The local education authority, governing body and head teacher shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils while they are

(a) in attendance at a maintained school, or

(b) taking part in extra-curricular activities which are provided or organised for registered pupils at the school by or on behalf of the school

they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views."

Sep 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

[Researchers] found that the teachers did not consider it their role to try to solve today's major social or scientific problems. Instead, the science teachers said they preferred to 'maintain the integrity' of the science rather than to explore the social, economic or political implications.

That's encouraging. Putting the integrity of their subjects ahead of obeisance to the campaigners. They might also wish to put the mental health of their pupils ahead of promulgating unhinged alarmism no matter how dressed up it is with the sheep's clothing of 'sustainability' or 'positive actions' or whatever catchphrases are being promoted now.

Sep 13, 2014 at 6:58 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Those who can - do. Those who can't - teach.
Those who can't teach - teach teachers to teach.

It is the last category that are the problem. Teachers generally reflect the community at large. They do a difficult job and deserve respect. But teacher colleges and schools of education are hothouses of political correctness full of people who see no distinction whatsoever between education and indoctrination.

Sep 14, 2014 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan H

Indoctrination in school has a long history. It also fails often. Part of the reason, imo, is that the ultimate goal is not to control future minds but rather to beat into submission present ones.

Deliberate indoctrination basically always fails in schools. It fails because the people delivering it don't really believe it, and resent being forced to deliver it. It fails utterly whenever people see some teachers refusing point-blank to go along, even if it is only one or two. In many cases the message pushed is self-defeating, because being seen to side with the indoctrinators makes one look like a crawler and a sucker. (There's plenty of practical examples -- the Russian communists never came close to cracking religion, yet Franco's insistent backing of Catholicism had the opposite effect of making it less popular.)

People often fear that subtle pressures to conform will be more successful with the young. There's precious little evidence that is true either. For example, despite teachers being overwhelmingly on the left, people continue to vote as much for the right as ever, and nor are religious schools halting the slide from those religions.

In general the desire to push a message in schools is a sign the cause in question is so weak that it cannot persuade adults. If the green message was believable, the parents would sell it to their children much more effectively than schools ever could. But the adults steadfastly refuse to believe the green lies, so in desperation they look for other avenues -- indoctrination at schools, or just avoiding the democratic process entirely.

Sep 14, 2014 at 2:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

We must face the fact that there are large numbers of people in all areas of influence who are fully signed up to the climate change agenda. Those adults willing to speak out against it seem to me to be well in the minority. Fortunately, at least here in the UK, many of our students are very happy to question the status quo and pick up on any means of asking awkward questions. I'm sure there are many students asking their science teachers, "what about the pause?"

Sep 14, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

I stuck this over on unthreaded a few days ago and for those unaware of it - the eco-loons are concentrating their efforts on the under 10s - no doubt in an attempt to channel the Jesuit "Give me a child until they are seven and I will give you the man"

10:10 (yes them)are pushing " Solar Schools " mainly at primary and junior level (40 and counting...) . Predictably - these loathsome ticks use this as a Trojan horse to introduce both young children and their naive, credulous half wit "educators" to much else in the 10:10 catechism (and use straightforward moral blackmail on the parents). I personally see little difference between this noxious drivel and the nut job Islamists taking over Brummie schools in an organised fashion.

'Grüne Jugend' as Harry Passfield commented.

The combination of innumeracy and hectoring proselytizing might have an equal and opposite effect on older children - but doing this stuff to the under 10s constitutes child abuse.

Sep 14, 2014 at 12:37 PM | Registered Commentertomo

In an interview with Bruce Robbins in The Courier Montford said, "I believe that CO2, other things being equal, will make the planet warmer. The six million dollar question is how much warmer. I'm less of a sceptic than people think. My gut feeling is still sceptical but I don't believe it's beyond the realms of possibility that the AGW hypothesis might be correct. It's more the case that we don't know and I haven't seen anything credible to persuade me there's a problem." from
I see no point in denying the warming, especially if it makes us value fossil fuels as a chemical resource - 10% of them are currently used for petro-chemicals and if we can generate our energy without using them (eg Nuclear and various solar) then they will last longer for future generations. I don't understand why people want to deny that the climate is being changed by human use of fossil fuels. Is it that you all want to waste our valuable fossil resources on bigger and faster cars, more and more air flights? The science can never be certain, but that is no reason to do nothing. Cities powered by solar and nuclear energy seem to me to be a rosier future than burning up increasing amounts of fossil fuel. Carbon dioxide levels are now at 400ppm - during the whole time modern humans have been on this planet, till the last 100 years or so carbon dioxide levels never got higher than 300. Why take risks? Why not help mankind move to cleaner energy sources and save the fossil fuels for what they are most valuable for - as chemical feedstock?

Sep 15, 2014 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Deane

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