It Must Be True

The headline reads “Secret Government Weather Machine…” and the story goes on to report that weather anomalies connected with global warming are caused by the “government.” Further, there are those who believe that we will all be asked to pay an “energy tax” of $2,500.00 on top of our normal taxes to help offset the effects of this machine. The money will be deposited in the World Bank. In other words, the “government” is causing global warming so it can collect some more money and grow rich. This is positively funny — or it would be if people didn’t actually believe it! And there are people who believe this. In fact, they not only believe it, they are spreading the word. A bus driver in Kalispell, Montana was overheard relaying this nonsense to two elderly folks who had the audacity to express concern over the melting glaciers in the National Park!

Let’s get real, shall we?? There are several problems with this story that bother me as a philosopher with a sense of humor. To begin with, it is borderline crazy. It is not clear what the pictures taken from outer space as shown on the internet reveal, if anything. Given the level of technical expertise these days it is quite possible that the images that accompany the story (on a very strange web site called “Polyton Civilization Site) are manufactured in-house — someone’s house. Or they are photo-shopped! They really don’t show much of anything except a white ring in the sky above Australia.

But we need to beware the budding paranoia here: who, exactly, is “the government”? I begin to suspect that the word has multiple meanings for people and stands, generally, for “the enemy.” I engaged in an exchange of comments with an anonymous person on the internet recently about the lack of adequate salaries for teachers and the correspondent (who never gave his or her name) kept insisting that the “government” was in control of the education system because “they” wanted people they could control. This is absurd on its face, because no government that I know of is closely tied in with any educational policy I am familiar with. The policies that are set in each state differ and they are determined by agencies that are, in many cases, elected by the voters in those states — not appointed or under the thumb of any state government I am familiar with.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not writing to defend Boards of Education. I think they are a big part of the problem with education in this country. But it’s not because “the government” wants to control our kids and turn them into robots — though they may, in fact!  It’s because these people are too far from what is going on in the classroom to know what needs to be done. I am a big fan of local autonomy and if I were Commissar of Culture I would eliminate all Boards of Education and all outside agencies and turn the running of the local schools over to parents, local School Boards, and teachers. I would reduce the number of administrators by 75% in a New York minute. That would save a bundle, and I would transfer their salaries to the teachers who do the real work.

But back to the crazies who think the “government” has created global warming for its own profit. Does this really deserve comment? Certainly not, except that people believe it is true because they read it on the Internet. Again, if I were Commissar of Culture, I would order everyone to disbelieve everything they read on the Internet — except my blogs, of course — and those of a couple of carefully chosen friends (like newsofthetimes and musingofanoldfart and a couple of others that are downright funny).

Sorry, folks, you’ve heard this before, but it all comes back to education. The fact that people believe what they read without the basic critical skills required to separate nonsense from plausible truth simply shows that they have not learned anything important in school. In a word, we are back to the fact that this nation spends the major portion of its tax money not on weather machines, but on weapons of war when real needs — such as education — go begging.