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Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for May, 2011

Los Alamitos School Board Member Makes U-Turn on Climate Change Teaching

Posted by keith on 19th May 2011

I’ve just had a very interesting and productive email discussion with Dr Jeffrey Barke. Some of you may be familiar with his position on the teaching of climate science. Here’s some background information, from MSNBC:

LOS ALAMITOS — A new high school advanced placement class that addresses global warming has prompted the school board to start requiring teachers to present opposing views in courses that include controversial topics.

Los Alamitos Unified School district trustees unanimously agreed to update the policy on controversial issues at the request of board member Jeffrey Barke, who said he is concerned about “global warming dogma” and wants students to be offered a balanced perspective on the topic.

“There are two clearly divergent opinions on global warming,” Barke said in an interview. “There are those who believe that global warming is a fact, created by man’s impact on the environment and the consequences will be devastating. There are others on the conservative side who believe it’s much ado about nothing. It’s overhyped and politically motivated, and the science is not solid, and there’s room for more studies.”

Since news of the board’s decision was posted on a numerous national blogs, Barke said he has received more than 100 e-mails criticizing the district’s move and attacking him personally.

Los Alamitos resident J.M. Ivler, who has a daughter at the high school, did not e-mail Barke, but he was critical of the school board.

“There is consensus in the field that we have global warming happening, it is getting warmer and it is related to what we are doing to the planet,” he said. “That is not in dispute in the scientific community. It is in dispute in the political community. This is a science class. Teach science.”

Below is a word for word copy of the emails we exchanged in relation to an interview published in The Guardian yesterday. The outcome of our discussion is that he agrees (twice) that science teaching should reflect the balance of evidence in current climate science. Dr Jeffrey Barke will now need to go back to the school board and state that clearly before kids really do start thinking that science is just politics with numbers.

>>>> Dear Dr Barke
>>>> I have just read an interview between you and Leo Hickman in today’s Guardian, and have a question that Leo either left out in the printed version or did not ask. I think it should sort this out once and for all.
>>>> Would the school board be amenable to the science class teaching climate science based on the balance of information that climate scientists can attest to (rather than just “believe”)? In other words if, as I believe, the balance is between 100 and 1000 climate scientists being able to show scientifically that civilized humanity is the predominant cause of current climate change, for every 1 who opposes this view, then between 0.1% and 1% of the science class should relate the dissenting view, with the remaining 99% to 99.9% of time spent teaching the majority view.
>>>> This seems like a fair and logically inarguable outcome for a science class which, I would assume, teaches according to scientific principles.
>>>> Kind regards
>>>> Keith Farnish

>>> From: Jeff Barke
>>> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:28 PM
>>> To: Keith Farnish
>>> Subject: Re: Fair Balance re Climate Change Science
>>> Facts are facts. I disagree with your premise. The following is a partial list of scientists who also disagree.
>>> Global Warming Skeptics (Scientists and Thought Leaders) partial list:
>>> Tony Abbott
>>> Don Aitkin
>>> Dennis Avery
>>> Sallie L. Baliunas
>>> Tim Ball
>>> Robert C. Balling of Arizona State University
>>> David Bellamy
>>> Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
>>> Douglas Carswell M.P.
>>> Robert (Bob) Carter
>>> Ian Castles
>>> John R. Christy
>>> Ian Clark
>>> Alexander Cockburn
>>> Martin Cohen, and philosophical objections to the global warming theorists
>>> Joseph D’Aleo
>>> Martin Durkin
>>> Paul Driessen
>>> David Evans
>>> Ray Evans
>>> The Rt. Rev. Peter R. Forster The Bishop of Chester
>>> Stewart Franks
>>> George Fox
>>> Robert Giegengack
>>> Steve Goddard
>>> Bill Gray
>>> William Happer
>>> Chris Horner, the author of “Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming
>>> Sherwood Idso
>>> Andrei Illarionov, chief economic adviser to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin
>>> James M. Inhofe
>>> Aynsley Kellow
>>> William Kininmonth
>>> Czech president Vaclav Klaus
>>> Donna Laframboise
>>> Lord Lawson
>>> David Legates
>>> Marlo Lewis, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute;
>>> Richard S. Lindzen
>>> Bjorn Lomborg
>>> Stephen McIntyre
>>> Ross McKitrick
>>> Patrick J. Michaels
>>> Christopher Monckton
>>> Andrew Montford
>>> Alan Moran
>>> Luboš Motl
>>> Alan Oxley
>>> Garth Paltridge
>>> Tim Patterson
>>> Roger Pielke Jr.
>>> Ian Plimer
>>> Arthur B. Robinson
>>> Frederick Seitz (deceased 2008)
>>> S. Fred Singer
>>> Willie Soon
>>> Roy Spencer
>>> Carlo Stagnaro
>>> Bob Stallman
>>> Philip Stott
>>> John H. Sununu
>>> George Taylor,
>>> Wolfgang Thüne
>>> Jan Veizer
>>> Len Walker
>>> Anthony Watts
>>> Sammy Wilson
>>> Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

>>> Hi Jeff
>>> I’m not sure about your list. Sammy Wilson, for instance, is a politician from Northern Ireland, Tony Abbot is an Australian politician, Lord Nigel Lawson is a politician, Martin Durkin is a journalist, Bjorn Lomborg is an economist and so on. Even Tim Ball isn’t a climate scientist, even though he claims to be (he’s a geographer).
>>> So, all I ask is that the balance of *climate scientists* be reflected in the teaching. I can’t see why you would disagree with this.
>>> Regards
>>> Keith

>> From: Jeff Barke
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:17 PM
>> To: Keith Farnish
>> Subject: Re: Fair Balance re Climate Change Science
>> And look at all those that signed off on the IPPC position. Certainly not all “scientist.”. Answer me this why is the majority of true believers on the left if this is not a political issue and simple just scientific fact? The IPCC is a UN political body. The list I provided you includes politicians because ultimately they are the ones that determine governmental policy. To suggest that the science is settled is intellectually dishonest.
>> Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

>> Jeff, please could you just consider what science is – that is, after all, what this issue is about. Politicians, activists, businesspeople etc. on any side of the fence should not determine the balance of what is taught. Human biology for instance wouldn’t now be taught based on the writings of Aristotle, even if a large number of politicians agreed that it should, because Aristotle has been shown by modern science to be wrong on almost all aspects of anatomy. The same should stand for climate change in science: it should reflect the current view of climate science which is overwhelmingly on the side of anthropogenesis.
>> Anyone who suggests the science on anything is settled doesn’t understand science. That’s why I said “current view”.
>> So do you agree that climate change should reflect the views of climate scientists or not? That’s all I am asking.
>> Thanks
>> Keith

> From: Jeff Barke
> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:49 PM
> To: Keith Farnish
> Subject: Re: Fair Balance re Climate Change Science
> Agree. But what I do not think you realize is the large number of main stream scientists that are skeptics and their work is not reported by the media.
> Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

> That’s good – I hope that is reflected in your discussions with the school board. Don’t forget that there may be many mainstream scientists who are skeptics, but if their evidence doesn’t support their position then it’s not scientifically valid. In the end verifiable evidence is what counts, and there is very little around that stands up to scrutiny.
> Best
> Keith


Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

Posted in Good News! | 4 Comments »

Scholastic U-Turn On Coal: Shame About Their Other Partners

Posted by keith on 17th May 2011

Well, that didn’t last long. From the first outrage to a “Move along, nothing to see here!” clean up of the website, Scholastic seem to have recovered relatively easily from what they claim was just a mistake. When Scholastic published a set of four worksheets and a printable map (see here for a cache image) that had been produced by the American Coal Institute, the group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood went into overdrive. May 11, 2011 saw the first offensive which had snowballed into a well-orchestrated furore the next day, followed a couple of days later by an apparently complete reversal of publishing policy by the much-loved American publisher of schoolbooks and materials.

Here’s how it played out in the New York Times:

Coal Curriculum Called Unfit for 4th Graders
Published: May 11, 2011

Three advocacy groups have started a letter-writing campaign asking Scholastic Inc. to stop distributing the fourth-grade curriculum materials that the American Coal Foundation paid the company to develop.

The three groups — Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Friends of the Earth — say that Scholastic’s “United States of Energy” package gives children a one-sided view of coal, failing to mention its negative effects on the environment and human health.

Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vice president for corporate communications, was traveling for much of Wednesday and said she could not comment until she had all the “United States of Energy” materials in hand.

Others at the company said Ms. Good was the only one who could discuss the matter. The company would not comment on how much it was paid for its partnership with the coal foundation.

Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake
Published: May 12, 2011

Children’s books and other educational materials produced by the publisher Scholastic reach about 90 percent of the nation’s classrooms. With this enormous access to what amounts to a captive audience of children, the company has a special obligation to adhere to high educational standards.

It fell short of that when it produced a fourth-grade lesson packet called “The United States of Energy,” a treatise on coal that was paid for by the American Coal Foundation, a nonprofit group. As Tamar Lewin noted in The Times on Thursday, the lessons talked about the benefits of coal and the pervasiveness of power plants fueled by it — and omitted mention of minor things like toxic waste, mountain-top removal and greenhouse gases.

The issue came to light recently when children’s advocacy groups hammered Scholastic for giving a one-sided view of coal usage. This is not the first time that the company had come under fire. Last year, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood attacked Scholastic for encouraging schools to have classroom parties with, and to collect labels from, the sugary juice drink SunnyD as a way of winning free books.

(We’ll come to that last point later)

Letters: This Lesson Plan Is Brought to You by…
Published: May 16, 2011

“Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake” (editorial, May 13) acknowledges that Scholastic’s children’s books, magazines, reading programs and Web site content are used in most American classrooms — a responsibility and trust that we have built through painstaking work through 90 years of service to teachers and schools.

A tiny percentage of this material is produced with sponsors, including government agencies, nonprofit associations and some corporations.

Your editorial criticizes a lesson packet called “The United States of Energy,” about different sources of energy — coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and natural gas — primarily for its sponsorship by the American Coal Foundation.

We acknowledge that the mere fact of sponsorship may call into question the authenticity of the information, and therefore conclude that we were not vigilant enough as to the effect of sponsorship in this instance. We have no plans to further distribute this particular program.

Because we have always been guided by our belief that we can do better, we are undertaking a thorough review of our policy and editorial procedures on sponsored content to ensure that we publish only those materials that are worthy of our reputation as “the most trusted name in learning.”

Chairman, President and C.E.O.
Scholastic Inc.
New York, May 13, 2011

It is now all but impossible to find any evidence that the worksheets and map were ever on the Scholastic web site unless you search various web caches. Of course the American Coal Foundation still proudly peddle their filth because that’s what business does. There is no sense in suggesting that the coal industry stop producing these materials as the commercial model that they and all corporations work by is the need to continually generate profit for shareholders; if they don’t grow then they fail, therefore any way of getting in the minds of vulnerable individuals (including you and me) is fair game for a corporation.

Scholastic is a corporation – it may produce what it likes to call “educational” materials (a.k.a. whatever is approved by the industrial capitalist system) but it still needs to make money, so willingly takes any handouts it can from other corporations. There isn’t a lot of money in “educational” publishing, the margins are simply too low, so sponsorship is the way to go for any good corporation. As CCFC point out:

For years, Scholastic has exploited its reputation as an educational publisher to serve as a Trojan horse for all sorts of inappropriate marketing in schools—from the highly commercialized content of its Book Clubs, to marketing the over-the-counter drug Claritin in elementary schools, to urging teachers to throw parties for the sugar-laden beverage SunnyD in their classrooms. Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division offers its services as curriculum producer for hire. The program is designed “to promote client objectives” and “make a difference by influencing attitudes and behaviors.”

So this apparent U-turn and clean-up of the web site is really just a way of saving face because a lot of potential customers really do want less commercial influence in schools, enough customers to offset the losses caused by refunding the American Coal Foundation.

Not to worry, though, because there are plenty of other sponsorship opportunities available that might seem a little more acceptable to the school system. I had a look through the Science section on the Scholastic web site and, as they say, there are few overt commercial connections: I found the Lexus Environmental Challenge and the extremely blatant Count on Wet Ones Wipes (that’s for the indoctrination of tiny people). But what was more interesting was the number of resources that clearly had an extreme bias towards industry and the culture of imperialism:

What Is Technology, and How Does It Benefit Us? is such an obviously loaded title that you don’t have to read the contents to realise that technology is bound to be seen as a Great Thing. But read I did, and found this little gem (my emphasis):

Explain to students that although technology presents many benefits to humanity, there may also be by-products or issues that arise through the process of manufacturing and the development of technology. Engage students in a discussion of these benefits, as well as the by-products or issues and how these issues are being or might be addressed. If your students don’t include environmental challenges in their discussion, suggest the responsibility everyone has in controlling waste, and that recycling represents our effort to achieve that. Examples of how technology can enhance society might include: battery technology, solar power, satellites, text messaging, MP3s, gaming, plasma TVs, air and water testing, improved product designs.

Nice bit of accentuate the positive going on there.

The Culture of The Inca does a remarkable job in ignoring virtually anything to do with the culture of the Inca, including their brutal massacre by Spanish conquistadores, favouring instead to focus on llamas!

The empire of the Inca existed for many centuries in Peru. Today the descendants of these people continue many aspects of the culture, including traditional language, stories, folk songs, dance, and farming practices.

The descendants of the Inca still live in Peru. Visit them, listen to their songs, read their jokes, and try out a bit of their language at

[various instructions]

Did you notice llamas in the pictures you looked at? The llama was the most important animal to the Inca, and is still important today. To find out why, go to List at least three ways the Incas used llamas.

Extension Activity:

Llamas are also popular in the United States. You can find out much more about llamas at Work with your classmates to research and report on different aspects of llama care, llama behavior, and how llamas are used today.

And just as I was going to wrap up the examples, I found a perfect example of state-sponsored brainwashing in the form of Save the Flag: Find out how to keep yours in shape for summer’s patriotic holidays. Are you ready?

What you need:

one 12″ x 12″ sample of each of the following: red felt, white felt, blue felt, 100% cotton white fabric
bowl of hot water
sunny window

What to do:

1. Discuss famous flags from U.S. history with your child — the Betsy Ross flag and the flag that inspired the national anthem, among others...

…at which point I could safely assume that Scholastic probably isn’t the best place to get information about the slaughter of Native American peoples either. Nope, thought not.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 5 Comments »

Everyone Must Follow The Rules (Apart From Those Who Make The Rules)

Posted by keith on 4th May 2011

Enjoy the moment – the personification of Evil is dead. Take to the streets and express your sheer joy at the end of a symbol. Paint your banners and hold them high; unfurl your flags and wave them in the night sky; don your army surplus trousers and bare your chests: we have a winner folks, and it’s the US of A!

Now haul that son-of-a-bitch in front of the public and make him justify his atrocities. How did he raise such a complex network of followers and stay safe for 30 years? Where did the money and the weapons come from? How did he cause so much destruction with so few people? Force him to explain the killings. Why does he hate the West so much? Why, just why?

Sorry, we can’t do that, we seem to have killed him. Bullet to the back of the head – easy mistake to make. We will speak for him.

But the body. There has to be a body we can examine, if not gloat over, and confirm that the bogeyman is once and for all dead. Show the world that the conspiracy nuts were wrong – he didn’t die ten years ago in Tora Bora; he wasn’t killed in a shoot-out in Kabul; he didn’t breathe his last before now. The palace of Islamist dreams held his evil self right on the doorstep of the Pakistani authorities, and America smoked him out. His lifeless self lies on the slab.

Sorry, we can’t do that, we dumped him in the ocean where the fishes feed on his flesh. Muslim tradition, you see. We had his body, ok – there’s DNA and everything.

Now if you don’t mind we have interviews to do; elections to win; oil to pump and an empire to run.

Hold those flags up higher.

Posted in Political Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »