To Be Young and Carefree

A good way to unwind after an arduous 3-hour orchestra rehearsal is to read – so that’s exactly what I did this evening after finishing up with The Planets. Unfortunately, I decided to read the wrong thing this evening. While browsing what was new at a site that I was just recently banned from, I came across an upsetting entry about a young girl. Shades of a memory not-long-since forgotten, eh?

There’s not much to comment on from Mr. Watts’ own commentary, although someday in the future I’ll come back to this ridiculous notion that psuedonyms somehow diffuse the responsibility of one’s writing. Instead, let’s focus on this idea of “indoctrination.” Indoctrination is what happens when a single idea is preached, when dissent is not allowed, and most importantly, when questions are not tolerated. If schools were really indoctrinating their students to “believe” AGW, then why would Eloise (the young girl against AGW) be permitted to express the following in class:

…when my lovely teacher asked if there were any other injustices in the world I stuck my hand up pointing out AGW. I told my class about Al Gore and how he’s a hypocrite and scaremongers people with his manipulative ways and how it is unjust that he be allowed to preach to people that AGW is a fact, without addressing the “Inconvenient Truth” that AGW is naught but an unproven theory. Then we did a vote on who thought AGW was real (man-made) and who thought it was a myth (natural). About 9 voted for myth and 4 for reality.

Dissent is awesome; some of my favorite lectures have come from times when students challenged the authority of our teacher right in the middle of class. However, dissent isn’t awesome because it develops the dominance of a particular idea or exposes the demerits of another. What it does is akin to something Eloise describse:

The way our brains should work, we should always ask questions. We should always ask why, and how and if the answers aren’t up to scratch we have the right to be skeptical. All I ask is to ask questions, don’t let me tell you what to think, look up a bunch of reliable links on the internet and judge for yourself.

This kid is smart; at 14 years old, she’s learned a lesson that I wish many of peers would learn already: it’s okay imperative to ask questions in all situations. 

But here’s where things turn astray. I struck through the last bit of Eloise’s commentary because it’s antithetical to her main thesis. Looking up information on the internet is not exactly the same as “asking questions.” The internet, for all its glory, is not the resting place of the holy grail of knowledge. Unfortunately, unless you know where to look, it is often a desert wasteland – devoid of substance and basking under the glow of endless amounts of bickering, misinformation, and spin. I think Eloise has become lost in that wasteland. Unfortunately, things are worse than just mere misinformation: she’s being adopted by activist residents of that dreary plain.

It’s ironic; skeptics decry the “indoctrination” of today’s youth with the knowledge of AGW, yet are willing to prop this young girl up to stand for them in their “battle” against modern climate science. The only indoctrination I see here is the purposeful corruption of this girl and the goading of her to shoulder responsibility which she should not have to carry. A 14 year old has no cards in a climate science debate. That a girl as young as Eloise would take an active interest in a difficult field of science is beautifully commendable, but that makes it all the more disappointing to see her interest being molded by people with a clear agenda.

Eloise recommends the following under “How You Can Help”: Asking questions is probably the most efficient way to find out answers. With that said, let me make clear a comitmment which, amazingly, the skeptics latching onto her seem to have failed to make:

Eloise, if you have any questions relating to the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming or its influence on society and policy worldwide, feel free to ask them to me and I promise that I will answer them to the full extent of my knowledge. I don’t care if they’re “gotcha” questions (such as ones relating to Al Gore’s conflicts of interest with climate policy) or technical ones (such as ones interested in the futility of modeling a system as chaotic as the atmosphere); all I care is that you’re receiving honest, accurate answers to your queries and that people do not take advantage of this situation and mislead you with mis- or dis-information.

I encourage others to reach out to Eloise and provide straight answers to her questions as well. It’s a worthy endeavour if it helps educate a passionate young girl about what is real and what is false when it comes to climate science.

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~ by counters on October 11, 2008.

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