More about the Anti-Science Nonsense in New Textbooks for Texas

by Dan Quinn

As we reported on Monday, a National Center for Science Education review finds that a number of proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools promote climate science denialism. One geography textbook, from publisher McGraw-Hill, even includes a passage written by political hacks at the polluter-funded Heartland Institute — the right-wing organization that a few years ago launched an infamous billboard campaign that featured “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski supposedly claiming: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

The McGraw-Hill textbook passage, written by Heartland’s Joseph Bast and James M. Taylor, also attacks the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that climate change is a real and growing threat. The textbook irresponsibly uses that factually inaccurate passage as a counterpoint to a paragraph from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

So who are Bast and Taylor?

Taylor is a senior fellow for Heartland and serves as managing editor of the organization’s Environment and Climate News publication.  He is also a spokesperson on a variety of media outlets and at events held by political groups like the similarly right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. And he writes a regular column on “energy and environmental issues” for Forbes magazine.

But Taylor isn’t a scientist. He’s a lawyer. His Heartland bio says he “studied atmospheric science” but majored in government in college. So what does “studied atmospheric science” mean? He took a class in the subject? Who knows? The point is that Taylor is simply not a credible authority on science. But McGraw-Hill essentially portrays him as a climate science expert in a textbook for millions of public school students.

Just as bad (maybe worse) is that the McGraw-Hill textbook portrays Bast in the same light. Bast is Heartlands’s president and CEO. You might recall that he testified last year in a major school finance court case in Texas. Check out state District Judge John Dietz’s scathing criticism of Bast in his ruling in that finance case last month:

Mr. Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, testified for the Intervenors regarding the Texas Taxpayers’ Savings Grant Programs (“TTSGP”), a school voucher bill that failed in the 82nd Legislative Session. As a threshold matter, this Court finds that Mr. Bast is not a credible witness and that he did not offer reliable opinions in this matter. While Mr. Bast described himself as an economist, he holds neither undergraduate nor graduate degrees in economics, and the highest level of education he completed was high school. Mr. Bast testified that he is 100% committed to the long-term goal of getting government out of the business of educating its own voting citizens. Further, his use of inflammatory and irresponsible language regarding global warming, and his admission that the long term goal of his advocacy of vouchers is to dismantle the “socialist” public education system further undermine his credibility with this Court.

You read that right. The highest level of education Bast completed was high school. He is not a scientist. Nor is he an economist. He’s a political hack who, like Taylor, shills for polluters who claim climate change either isn’t happening or isn’t a problem. But now his and Taylor’s factually inaccurate criticisms of climate science are presented in a high school social studies textbook alongside the IPCC’s factual information.

Had enough of publishers bowing to the ideological demands of politicians on the State Board of EducationSign our petition telling publishers to remove climate science denial from their textbooks.

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@SIECUS @kmillertfn @TXCapTonight This campaign for medically accurate, comprehensive and inclusive #SexEducation will stretch into next year when the TX State Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision. Find the TFN and SEICUS recs and ways to get involved at: tfn.org/sex-ed #TeachTheTruth pic.twitter.com/eoMv…