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Andrew Montford: A Despotism Over The Mind

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Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill

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.

Bishop Hill, 5 March 2013