Teach the controversy: former PM Howard takes a leaf from the creationist playbook

Several years ago the creationist movement in the US brought out a rather silly little film called “Expelled: no intelligence allowed”.

It claimed – ludicrous as this sounds – that a) Darwin’s theory of evolution lead to the Holocaust and b) the scientific establishment was suppressing alternative views due to its left-wing/materialistic world view.

The film itself was widely dismissed critics. It offered nothing new in terms of furthering the scientific debate, but was rather a mish-mash of conspiracy theories and the same tired old creationist arguments.

In fact, the film is so bad that it rates a measly 10% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews. The film bombed at the box office, and earlier this year the production company that made the film declared bankruptcy and was sold to unnamed persons for $211,000 USD.

One of the tropes the film tried (badly) to milk was the idea that “the kids” would “dig” on being rebellious and question the “Darwinian orthodoxy”.

Indeed, the films trailer made a really cringe worthy plea to “the kids” to question fuddy-duddy old scientists and their evil dogma of evolution:

Which is why I was highly amused to see former PM John Howard and noted climate change denier Ian Pilmer join forces to launch a book asking kids to question the science of climate change called… wait for it… “How to get expelled”.

Yes, that’s right Pilmer and Howard have taken a leaf directly from the creationist playbook:

Climate change sceptic Ian Plimer’s book “How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters” arms children with 101 questions to challenge their teachers. 

It has been billed as an “anti-warmist manual for the younger reader”.

Mr Howard attacked the one-sided teaching of climate change in schools.

“People ought to be worried about what their children are being taught at school,” he said

Laugh? Didn’t I!

But I guess when you’ve lost the scientific argument, your next target audience is children.

Just like the creationists.

Won’t somebody think of the children? 

One wonders how Pilmer, who once spend many years debating creationists, sleeps at night. No, really. How does the man sleep at night knowing he has morphed into the very thing he fought?

I mean Ian – couldn’t you have even come up with a more original title?

Or are like “the kids” just gonna go “sick” for this “climate change scepticism” and like, totally question the uh… scientific… paradigm!

Yeah!

Right on!

And if you don’t think this tactic isn’t ripped straight from the creationist playbook, take a look at the “Question Evolution” campaign from some US creationists that asks students to question science:

Creation Ministries International (CMI) created its “Question Evolution” campaign last spring. It is a direct attack on the standing doctrine that every child in the Western world hears in school, and especially in college. The most powerful ammunition: a set of tracts, titled “15 Questions for Evolutionists.” CMI asserts that no evolutionist has ever answered these questions satisfactorily

Sound familiar?

At least some in the mainstream media are alert to just how appalling this tactic is. Tory Shepherd of Perth Now notes:

Plimer has tried to battle scientists, and failed. His claims have been contested time and time again. If you want to have that argument, see here, here and here.

So he’s picked an easier target, and says a teacher that can’t answer his loaded questions is proof of the big conspiracy.

It’s not. If that’s what happens, it’s proof that teachers don’t have time to answer 101 questions designed to mislead. It’s proof that teachers are not climatologists.

As a librarian, I’ve seen plenty of this guff. It goes straight into the bin.

Not because there is a conspiracy. It went straight to the bin alongside because it was as worthless as all the other religious tracts and crazy conspiracy materials people would try to flood libraries with.

Not because of some big ol’ conspiracy.

But because resources are scarce and educators, librarians and scientists have a duty to arm our children with the information and critical thinking skills they need to become thoughtful adults.

The last thing they need are lies.

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7 thoughts on “Teach the controversy: former PM Howard takes a leaf from the creationist playbook

  1. louploup2 says:

    And why did the Geological Society (UK) publish an uncritical, almost sycophantic, review? http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/geoscientist/page11359.html

    • john byatt says:

      How embarrassing for such a absurd critique to appear on that site,

      the reviewer, Reviewed by Julian Vearncombe has a real lack of understanding
      “why were there warm periods before SUV’s”
      gee that would be hard to answer, what a dumbfuck

  2. rpauli says:

    This is not a trivial act. They are asking students to ignore a real danger. To me that sounds like a criminal act – equivalent to inviting someone to return to a burning building or inviting someone to remove their seat belt. Or walk on thin ice.

    They are suborning mass murder. They are abetting suicide. Criminal psychopaths should get expelled from contact with children.

  3. [...] And while Plimer’s crank magnetism has, so far, not made him embrace Creationism, he has, in his new book, fully adopted the Creationist tactic of loading up school children with loaded questions for their teachers. He even borrowed the title from a Creationist movie. [...]

  4. James Killen says:

    I note that at the launch of Pilmer’s latest disinformation manual, Howard pulled the trick of hiding behind the holocaust denier’s coattails. As if anyone who accepts Pilmer’s tract at face value could honestly be called a ‘sceptic.’ The term “climate change deniers” Howard told us, inevitably implied to people of a certain age, “holocaust deniers.”

    No Mr Howard, being a climate denier [sic] is at least an order or magnitude higher on the scale of moral culpability. Holocaust deniers, while they are extremely offensive both to survivors and the truth, were not personally responsible for the deaths. They are, so to speak, accessories after the fact.

    Climate denialists OTOH are accessories before the fact. Their current actions will contribute to the suffering to come. If we must make a comparison to the holocaust, and we should surely resist doing do, the climate deniers are the late C19th and early C20th century authors of anti-semitic pamphlets whose views found their terrible expression several decades later.

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