A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Australian Academy of Science trains school children to be lobbyists and teachers don’t mind

Wow. Just wow. Tony Thomas has uncovered the material the AAS provides to thousands of Australian teachers and students under the guise of science education resources.

As far as climate science goes, they might as well have hired Greenpeace. Mining is a questionable activity, Bob Brown is a hero, students should be lobbyists, and climate activists are champions. Forget the calculator, just whip out the placards. Science is not about evidence or thinking, but about following “reputable web sites” (which is code for “give me your brain and I’ll tell you what to think”). Coal is not so much a combustible mineral, as the number one “climate killer”. Not quite the dispassionate, logical path we used to think an Academy of Science might pursue.

“Ask students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause.” — AAS advice to teachers.

Or how about this:

Lesson outcomes: At the end of this activity students will …  appreciate the need to lobby at all levels of government to ignite and lead change – even if it is unpopular with the voters.”

Because 15 year olds obviously know more than the voters, right?

But the young ones [...]

Merchants of Doubt — insidious propaganda in schools

The book Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes, was made into a box office bomb (it crashed). But, darkly, it has an ongoing life in our schools. Tony Thomas uncovers the push to put propaganda in front of children, dressed up as education.  The director of the film tells the world that his aim is to stop skeptics from being broadcast on TV. (Because that’s what you do when you can’t win a fair debate eh?)

This film was never about science, but about doing exactly what it claims to “expose”. (It’s projection all the way down.) The real merchants of doubt are those that seed doubts about honest whistleblower scientists, using character assassination, namecalling, tenuous associations, innuendo and allusion instead of scientific arguments. They don’t find a scientific fault in anything skeptics say, but resort to twenty year old false tobacco smears.

What we need are resources for teachers to help students critically analyze propaganda like this. How do children spot what isn’t said? What clues do we see in this movie that reveal its anti-science, political nature? Is it that they don’t let their skeptic targets talk about climate science at all? Readers suggestions are welcome.  How do [...]

Who will be the next IPCC chairman?

The last time an IPCC chair position was up for grabs was in 2001, when things were not so politicized and aggressive, and there was not so much money and power on the table. Lobbying for this role is running hot and Tony Thomas compares the five men who are standing for this role. The position will be decided by October 8, and the new chairman will presumably be influential, or at least very visible, in Paris at the UNFCCC in early December. In the elections, there is one vote per country, so it is not so much about scientific credibility (and never was, think of Pachauri) but more about the powerful voting blocks that may form with small developing nations. Given that the new chairman will be in the media frequently and soon, this post is about being prepared. No  matter who wins, I think the IPCC is unsaveable and needs to be shut down or deprived of funding as soon as possible.   — Jo

Guest Post by Tony Thomas

Five candidates have put up their hand to become chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from October 8.

They are Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium), Hoesung [...]

The UK National Trust wants to stop floods with leeks and lightbulbs

Tony Thomas visited the UK and found old fading National Trust signs using scary photos of flood damage and warning people to “eat local” and change their light globes to stop more floods. He followed that thought to a 2005 web plea from the National Trust, to find them claiming floods are accelerating but using 20 year old photos to scare people with.

Years from now people will study climate propaganda and marvel at how stupid it was.  — Jo

Guest Post by Tony Thomas

My wife Marg and I, two Antipodean yokels, wound up at the National Trust’s Bodiam Castle in Kent last month, awed at its 650-year history. After all, our colony’s iconic historical moment was in 1854, when someone broke a hotel lamp in Ballarat, Victoria and precipitated a scuffle between goldminers and police. The ringleader, instead of being quartered like Mel Gibson  — sorry, William Wallace — acquired a seat in Parliament next year and eventually died in bed. That’s all you need to know about Australian history, unless you’re into sheep.

Marg and I had lunch and wandered out the back of the Bodiam cafe towards the Rother River. “Hey, come [...]