Teach our Children Hell: Heartland Hearts Tobacco, Carbon, and Above All, Ignorance
April 4, 2017
The Heartland Institute, famous for misinforming on the Health effects of cigarettes, and the bogus science of climate denial, is now pushing climate misinformation out to hundreds of thousands of public school teachers across the country.
Not a surprise to me, as, when I attended the Heartland “science” Conference in 2012, I sat thru a lecture where former astronaut “Jack” Schmitt expressed support for education bills passed in Tennessee and Louisiana, which essentially allow schools to teach creationist tracts as part of the science curriculum – see above.
Twenty-five thousand science teachers opened their mailboxes this month and found a package from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.
It contained the organization’s book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” as well as a DVD rejecting the human role in climate change and arguing instead that rising temperatures have been caused primarily by natural phenomena. The material will be sent to an additional 25,000 teachers every two weeks until every public-school science teacher in the nation has a copy, Heartland president and CEO Joseph Bast said in an interview last week. If so, the campaign would reach more than 200,000 K-12 science teachers.
Accompanying the materials is a cover letter from Lennie Jarratt, project manager of Heartland’s Center for Transforming Education. He asks teachers to “consider the possibility” that the science is not settled. “If that’s the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists,” he writes. The letter also points teachers to an online guide to using the DVD in their classrooms.
The Heartland initiative dismisses multiple studies showing scientists are in near unanimous agreement that humans are changing the climate. Even if human activity is contributing to climate change, the book argues, it “would probably not be harmful, because many areas of the world would benefit from or adjust to climate change.”
But science teachers generally don’t like to be taken for fools. Judging from the reactions we’ve seen, the most common response to the mailing is a visit to the recycling bin. (And the DVD? One ingenious teacher reports making “a table-top hovercraft” out of it!) A few teachers took advantage of the enclosed response card to take Heartland to task (with references to the “alternative facts” on offer not uncommon). And a few enterprising teachers have taken the opportunity for a teachable moment with their classes on the nature of propaganda, reveling in the jiu-jitsu irony of using the efforts of the enemies of science education against them.
Heartland is an equal opportunity whore, of course – in addition to shilling for oil companies and creationist wack jobs, Heartland CEO Joe Bast has famously, and for many years, touted the safety of tobacco smoking, as this 1998 op-ed shows – below.
Real science, courtesy of deniers. If you haven’t seen my summary of the ridiculous, moronic, and racist goings on at a typical Heartland conference, see here.