So you thought the nuttiest thing we did in North Carolina this week was appoint a director of child development and early education who was against … um, early education.
What’s wrong with you: have you never heard of North Carolina before? This is the NEW North Carolina, with a new governor and bulletproof majorities in both houses of the legislature: Carolinians are calling it “The Reign of Error.” The anti-education educator quickly resigned (the anti-education stance appears to have been only the beginning of the crazy; she wondered on Twitter, for example, whether the 2011 earthquake in Japan may have been caused by ultrasonic waves from North Korea or Japan), but relax: our anti-science scientists are on the case.
Our legislators of course most famously made their bones trying to force scientists not to model sea-level rise, though they regained the spotlight only last month, appointing a leader of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who believes that oil may be a renewable resource and that the science on global warming is unresolved.
Which brings us right back to global warming. Acting as scientific adviser to the group that led the charge against measuring sea level was one John Droz, who has an MA in solid state science and crusades against things like the belief in climate change and wind energy.
What’s that? You don’t think he has much authority? Then surely you’re part of “the con artist clan” – only one of many epithets he used about the scientific community in an hourlong presentation in front of Carolina legislators and others February 6 that threw a lot of slides around to show that … well, in a general way he asserted that environmentalists are “anti-science agenda promoters,” that environmentalism is a religion, that peer review is a racket, and that … well, more stuff like that. He never actually said “Ignorance is Strength” or “We have always been at war with Eastasia,” but you got the message.
At least the title was right. Sam Pearsall, ecologist and adjunct professor of geography and ecology at UNC-CH, dismissed Droz’s presentation but nonetheless found something to admire: "That was the most remarkable example of propaganda delivered as anti-propaganda I’ve ever seen," he said.
Sue Sturgis, of the Institute for Southern Studies online magazine Facing South, does a masterful job of demonstrating the bias in Droz’s (mostly uncited) sources:
“Among the publications Droz cited to make his case were Whistleblower, the monthly magazine companion of WorldNetDaily, a website that promotes conspiracy theories about topics such as President Obama's citizenship; Quadrant, a conservative Australian magazine that was involved in a scandal over publishing fraudulent science; and the Institute for Creation Research, a Texas outfit that rejects evolution and promotes Biblical creationism and the notion that ‘All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the Creation Week.’"
One tiny hopeful sign was that there weren’t all that many legislators at Droz’s presentation (though Sturgis linked to an email DENR head John Skvarla's office forwarded from Droz suggesting people attend).
It’s time for the closing jokes but honestly I’m all out of spirit. North Carolina’s current prosperity has been built on science and education, and the current political leadership has declared war on both. Today, I’m just not finding the funny.