Guest post by David Ross
Some have suggested that the Fakegate affair has been discussed enough. They are wrong. Peter Gleick is a minor figure in climate science and his actions are of little account. But the reaction of all the global warming alarmists, who see nothing wrong with what he did, is much more significant.
More important still: this is an aspect of the climate debate that everybody can understand. It is much simpler to grasp than the issues raised by Climategate. You don’t need to be a climatologist or scientist or statistician. There’s no need to draw a graph or drill an ice core. All the information you need is straightforward and laid bare.
The fact that, despite all this, those alarmists still can’t distinguish right from wrong, tells many of us more about the climate debate than anything else. Until Gleick and his supporters admit that what they both did is wrong, we shouldn’t let them off the hook.
Others don’t want to see the science content of Watts Up With That diluted. I agree. But would also argue that we humans are part of the biosphere and examining what forcing mechanisms are operating on us and how we react is a scientific issue. I suspect that what many of the alarmists really want is not geo-engineering to “fix” the planet; it is to conduct a large scale controlled experiment in social engineering. Unfortunately for them, they are discovering that people do not behave as predictably as CO2 molecules.
The alarmists main concern seems to be the possibility that their monopoly might be broken and that “contrary” views might be heard in the classroom. As they regard Gleick as a “hero” and heroes are tend to be taken as role-models. I wondered what kind of stuff they do want taught to our kids. So I dumbed-down Fakegate (for the benefit of the ethically challenged) to an analogy that could be used as a classroom assignment.
School Assignment 1: Citizenship and Ethics
Someone hacks your Facebook account and posts all your personal stuff online. They also insert a page with stuff you didn’t write that makes you look like a horrible person. The hacker emails 15 of his friends and says he got all the stuff, including the nasty bits, from your account. His friends show all this stuff to everyone at school and they tell them it all came from your account.
Almost everyone at school, even the teachers, now hates you and tells you so. You tell everyone that the nasty bits are fake and that you didn’t write them. But the teachers don’t believe you. They say that because most of the stuff is true the nasty bits must be as well. They post some of the pages on the school website highlighting the nasty bits and tell everyone not to talk to you.
Some of your friends speak up for you and point out some flaws in the faked parts that prove they are forgeries. The flaws are substantial enough to actually identify the hacker. The hacker then confesses but only to hacking your account. He says he got the page with the nasty bits anonymously in the mail and that he only hacked your files to find out if they were true. You’re shocked because at the same time he was hacking your files you had invited him to come and talk to your friends.
The teachers ignore the evidence of forgery and then try to justify the hacker’s actions, saying that although document phishing and impersonation is wrong, the hacker is a “hero” because they always thought you were a horrible person; horrible persons are increasing and the school is heading towards a horrible person catastrophe.
Q: Discuss the ethical implications of what just happened. There are bonus marks if you can work in a reference to polar bears.
As for junk science, the movies “The Day After Tomorrow” and “An Inconvenient Truth” are both used in our schools to “teach” kids about climate science. But they deserve an article of their own.
One meme currently being propagated by alarmists, that has all the appearance of a coordinated PR campaign, is that skeptics arguments and tactics are no different from creationists who want to “teach the controversy” in schools. I am not religious and don’t want to see creationism taught in schools, other than perhaps a single paragraph mentioning that such views exist. My belief in the theory of evolution has not changed. However, because of the climate debate, I am no longer as contemptuous of creationists as I once was.
It is regrettable that the alarmists are inserting religion into the “debate” (but it is part of a pattern of caricaturing skeptics). They also don’t seem to realize that, as the extent to which they are wrong about the climate becomes increasingly revealed, they will strengthen the hand of those who want creationism taught in schools.
It is however wrong to assert that studying religion cannot teach us anything useful.
School Assignment 2: History
The Medieval Alarm Period
In the Middle Ages, cathedrals could take centuries to build. Three or even six hundred years was not uncommon. Throughout Medieval Europe there were always many cathedrals in various stages of construction. Except that in the decades leading up to the year 1000, very few significant building projects were started and many existing ones were abandoned.
Most of Christendom had convinced themselves that Jesus would reappear on, what they believed to be, the 1000th anniversary of his birth. Nobody saw any point in starting projects or continuing existing ones that would not be finished before the end of the world. We can only assume that this millenarian malaise affected all areas of life, not just church-building. People gave themselves over to fervent prayer and further demonstrated their fervour by roasting heretics. It must have been a grim time. If there had been a Vatican newsletter back then, perhaps it might have sounded like this:
“God’s wrath continued to worsen during 988 – a year in which unprecedented combinations of extreme weather events killed people and damaged property all over Christendom. The clerical evidence for the accelerating influence of human sinfulness further strengthened, as it has for decades now.” 
When Jesus failed to appear, the Vatican (or perhaps we should call it the Infallible Panel on Christ’s Coming), assured their flock that the fire and brimstone would definitely start raining down on the anniversary of his crucifixion, instead of that of his birth.
Another three more decades of prayer and malaise followed. When it eventually became obvious to all that Christ wasn’t coming any time soon, the clergy told the people to rejoice, because all their prayers and piety had worked, and God, in all His mercy, had postponed Doomsday. There was then a boom in cathedral building, financed off the backs of the long-suffering peasants as they strove to show their gratitude. And the power and authority of the clergy was stronger than ever.
The church maintained its grip for centuries and became ever more corrupt, as institutions with absolute authority always do. On top of all the taxes and tithes, it eventually introduced a system of carbon credits called indulgences where people could avoid being carbonized in hell by paying a fee to offset their sins. When even the dumbest of village idiots, in the dumbest village, of the dumbest province, saw through this scam, there was a rebellion. Centuries of bloodshed ensued before the people of Europe began to realize that perhaps it would be better to keep church and state separate.
Q: Discuss how crises, either real or imagined, can be used to seize or hold onto power. Bonus marks for making any valid comparisons to current events.
I didn’t mean to offend anyone’s religious sensibilities. We all have our bad epochs. There are many different interpretations of history, but there does seem to be a consensus that it tends to repeat.
Let’s use some material so beloved of left-leaning teachers that it is almost as mandatory in their classrooms as a Koran in a madrassa.
School Assignment 3: English Literature
The 1952 play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, portrays the Salem witch trials and popularized the phrase “witch hunt”.
Q: Discuss the language used by the protagonists. Demonstrate how the choice of particular words or appeals to authority can be used to exclude or dismiss counter evidence or opposing points of view. The following excerpts may be useful.
HALE: This is a strange time, Mister. No man may longer doubt the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack upon this village. There is too much evidence now to deny it. You will agree, sir?
HATHORNE: Now, Martha Corey, there is abundant evidence in our hands to show that you have given yourself to the reading of fortunes. Do you deny it?
DANFORTH: What are you! You are combined with anti-Christ, are you not? I have seen your power, Mister, you will not deny it!
Bonus marks for illustrating your answer with current real world examples.
Science is based on observation, religion on authority. The more the global warming alarmists ignore observation and appeal to authority, the more like a religion they become.
School Assignment 3: Citizenship and Ethics
Tick whichever is applicable. People who do not believe in man-made catastrophic global warming should be…
1. branded as deniers.
2. harassed in their homes and workplaces.
3. forcibly tattooed on their bodies.
4. gassed with carbon monoxide.
5. obliterated with explosives.
If you ticked all of the above, full Marx.
2. “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.”
3. “Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.”
Richard Glover, radio talk-show host and 20 year columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald
4. “I’m prepared to keep an open mind and propose another stunt for climate sceptics – put your strong views to the test by exposing yourselves to high concentrations of either carbon dioxide or some other colourless, odourless gas – say, carbon monoxide.
You wouldn’t see or smell anything. Nor would your anti-science nonsense be heard of again. How very refreshing.
Jill Singer, writer for the Melbourne Herald Sun
5. 10:10 video -has to be seen to be believed.
Final Assignment: Question for everybody
There used to be a time when junk science was not taught in our schools and our kids were not indoctrinated. There used to be a time when scientists and everybody could debate in a climate of free enquiry, free of censorship and intimidation. Has the climate changed?