Yet more on NSTA and An Inconvenient Truth

Contributed by
Dec 3, 2006

The plot thickens.

Our story so far: Laurie David, a producer of Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth", called the National Science Teachers Association, which represents 55,000 science teachers in the US (note: I have been a member of NSTA and do workshops at their meetings), offering them 50,000 copies of the DVD of the movie. NSTA rejected the offer. David then writers a scathing and damning editorial in the Washington Post, asking why NSTA would accept money from ExxonMobile but not free DVDs from the "other side". NSTA responded by saying they do not send out third party materials, which has been its policy for many years.

Now, the august Science Magazine weighs in. It's an interesting summary of events, and it sounds like SciMag leans toward the NSTA view, but it's hard to say.

In my last post about this, I asked three questions:

  1. Was Ms. David informed [by the NSTA] about the NSTA policy of not supporting outside organizations?
  2. Was Ms. David informed that the NSTA would help her advertise the DVDs to their members?
  3. If the NSTA is not influenced by sponsors, then why did they make the statement about "unnecessary risk" to their support?

Interestingly, from the SciMag article, it does appear that the answer to Number 2 is "yes". The NSTA did offer to help Ms. David advertise the DVD to its members, but she elected to leave that out of her OpEd in the Post.

It is implied that the answer is the same to Number 1 as well. This casts Ms. David in a very poor light. It sounds to me at this point that she was ticked at the NSTA, and broke a cardinal rule that most people on the 'net learn via discussion boards: don't post angry. You'll pay for it later.

But this still leaves Number 3: why did the NSTA tell her that sending out those DVDs would jeopardize their funding from sponsors? It sounds very much like that means they didn't want to upset their oil industry funding. This puts a bit of a pall on the NSTA.

I cannot ignore the overwhelming irony here. In the global warming "debate", there are obfuscation, spin, and outright lies being tossed around just to sow confusion and to protect interests. While I cannot say anyone in this kerfuffle is lying, there does seem to be some hiding behind words going on. Accusations of bad behavior and undue influence are getting to be distressingly familiar.

So who's at fault? What's going on? We're still short on answers here. What I want are the original emails. I think it's about time we see them, too.

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