Printed letters, June 6, 2010
I was one of the citizens attending the District 51 board meeting where Rose Pugliese gave her presentation voicing parents’ concerns (backed up by signed petitions) in regard to the one-sided teaching of global warming and their feelings that some teachers are introducing their own political philosophies in the classroom.
To my amazement, columnists Denny Herzog and Bill Grant, as well as others, are passionately trying to make more out of the situation than what happened and are voicing the same tired old liberal rhetoric in their attempt to tear her apart.
Rose did not “attack” anyone that evening, as has been alleged. She simply stood up and gave her talk and presented her petitions as part of the public comments part of the School Board agenda. Several other citizens followed, either supporting her position or not supporting it. Everyone was polite and respectable, both those who spoke and the board.
What has followed in the papers and elsewhere seems to prove that some narrow- minded people think Rose and her supporters did not have the right to do this.
I think it is time that District 51 and the teachers’ union wake up. There is great parental concern that students are not being taught there is more than one side to important issues of the day, such as global warming. Also, parents don’t want their children influenced by teachers introducing their own political philosophies while teaching.
These are both rational concerns and should not be belittled by the press and politicians. Rose should be thanked for bringing these issues into the light of day.
Scientific theories are not same as hypotheses
I was pleased that in a recent letter about the petition to District 51 regarding the teaching of climate change in science classes, Kelly Sloan did not make the same mistake that the petition did: using the term “theory” incorrectly. Sloan merely exchanged this for using the term hypothesis incorrectly. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that incorporates facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses. It is a broad, comprehensive explanation of a large body of information. Climate-change theory is an example, as is germ theory. Theories explain and incorporate facts and laws.
A hypothesis is a testable statement that can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations (theories). It is not a guess. Scientists have used many hypothesis tests to develop climate-change theory. Why don’t theories become laws? Laws describe, often mathematically, whereas theories explain. Laws are part of theories. The laws of thermodynamics, like conservation of energy, are used within climate-change theory.
In presenting the “other side” in a science class, a competing theory is necessary. What is another explanation for the changing climate? Sun spots? No. The IPCC report from 2007 addressed changes in incoming solar radiation that occurs naturally. Analyses showed that while changes in solar activity lead to some increases in temperature, it is minuscule compared to other causes — only about 7 percent of the amount of warming compared to that expected from increases in carbon dioxide and other gases.
It is curious that the highest-profile scientists involved as the nay-sayers in this “debate” are the same people who played this role in the debate about smoking and lung cancer, about ozone and CFCs and other controversies. They are using the same tactics that worked for a time in those “debates” (sowing doubt about science), but in the end were discredited. Think how many millions died from smoking while that “debate” continued.
Enough with the spin on Pugliese’s petition
Rose Pugliese presented two petitions to the District 51 School Board, one of which asked the board to enact a policy to prohibit teaching “man made climate change theory as scientific fact.” Those were the actual words in the petition. But the words “man made” never made the article in the Sentinel.
And the article was quick to point out that Ms. Pugliese lost her bid for school board last year, seeming to imply that her motives were political. Yet it failed to mention that Richard Alward, who spoke in favor of teaching “man made” global warming, lost his bid for House District 54 in 2006.
This twisted reporting was later emphasized in a column by Denny Herzog, who said “their stated goal is to ban the instruction of global warming. Period.” This is totally and completely inaccurate. He would have known that had he taken the time to read the petition. But apparently facts aren’t important to Mr. Herzog and really get in the way of his agenda.
Is it really “extreme” to ask that if teachers show students “An Inconvenient Truth,” they should also show the documentary “Not Evil Just Wrong”, a counterpoint to Gore’s movie? Is a fair and balanced education too much to ask? And is fair and balanced reporting and editorializing too much to ask of The Daily Sentinel?