Did Texas Education Agency overreact to Comer's email?
As a result of the Chris Comer affair, I decided to subscribe to what I believe is the email list that Comer used to inform members of the public about the Barbara Forrest lecture -- though I am not sure. There is a blacked-out email address on the published copy of Comer's email and I presume that this address is that of this list. The email list's address is SCIENCE@LIST.TETN.NET and it is now being distributed by Irene Pickhardt (Irene.Pickhardt@TEA.STATE.TX.US), the Assistant Director of Science of the Texas Education Agency.
I just got my first email from the list. It includes an announcement of a lecture about global warming titled, "Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to Climate Change" (the announcement is reproduced below). Like evolution, global warming is a controversial subject, even though the lecture appears to be mainly about responding to alleged global warming rather than about the existence, magnitude, and causes of global warming (in the same way, the Forrest lecture was mainly about politics and not about science). So IMO by the TEA "neutrality" standard used against Comer's announcement of Forrest's lecture, this announcement of a global warming lecture should also have not been distributed by the TEA.
IMO the TEA should either send out announcements of all public events related to science (along with a disclaimer saying that there is no TEA endorsement) or send out none. Picking and choosing which announcements to send out amounts to censorship of the announcements not sent out. Examples of public events related to science are the Discovery Institute's "Darwin v. Design" conferences, Richard Weikart's "Darwin to Hitler" lectures, and the "Answers In Genesis" lectures and conferences. IMO the TEA should even announce an Aryan Nations lecture claiming that Darwinism proves that non-Aryans are inferior, because no one could reasonably claim that the TEA endorses such a lecture.
The ouster of Chris Comer has completely backfired. I suspect that TEA gave her a lot of hush money to keep quiet about the circumstances of her departure, but then a muckraking newpaper, the Austin American-Statesman, upset the applecart by publishing confidential information obtained by the Freedom of Information Act.
Below is a copy of the announcement of the lecture about global warming:
--Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to Climate Change
On behalf of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, the Energy & Environmental Systems Institute and the Shell Center for Sustainability, you are cordially invited to our upcoming conference:
Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to
Saturday, February 9, 2008
James A. Baker III Hall
Rice University, Houston, TX
Registration at 7:30am
Closing Remarks and Reception at 6:00pm
The conference will bring together leaders committed to educating the public about the impact of global warming and discuss their experiences in crafting public policy in this area. In particular, we will focus on such issues as the economics of climate change, the costs and benefits of mitigation strategies, the role of emerging technologies, and the politics of international, national and subnational response strategies.
For more information and to register, please go to www.bakerinstitute.org/climatechange.cfm. For additional questions, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This event represents a collaboration at the Baker Institute between the Science and Technology Policy Program, the Energy Forum and the Health Economics Program.