Teachers’ organization finds a truth inconvenient

November 27, 2006

The producer of An Inconvenient Truth offered to distribute 50,000 copies of the DVD to schools for free. The National Science Teacher’s Association refused to accept the gift.

Why? Because it might jeopardize the funds Big Oil regularly pumps into science curricula. See, this is why the private sector is where you should always turn for things like education. Unlike that nasty gummint, the private sector is altruistic, and wholly free of any agenda. Especially from those icky liberal agendas, like telling kids stuff that scientists know.

Poor Al Gore. He shoulda made sure to have lots of product placement for Coca Cola in the film, then maybe he and his producer could have snuck a little science into our science classes.

[Update: in view of a NSTA press release pointed out by commenter “anonymous”, the first para should have said “offered 50,000 free copies of the DVD to NSTA for distribution”. The sticking point appears to have been the distributing, rather than the acceptance of the gift.]



  1. Apparently Laurie David finds the truth inconvenient. According to an NSTA statement (http://www.nsta.org/pressroom&news_story_ID=52959), while they did not agree to distribute the DVD directly, THEY DID offer to make the DVD available through other means of distribution (making its mailing list available, through publications, at its conference etc). Apparently, Ms. David and her representatives never replied to this offer. Why would she not respond at all to this offer, and instead choose to skewer NSTA in the national media? Sounds to me like Ms. David was less concerned about getting this movie into the hands of science teachers, and more concerned about creating media buzz conveniently timed with the release of the movie on DVD. Whether or not she ever sees a penny personally is irrelevant. I guess this is the danger of accepting an op-ed piece as truth, convenient as it may be.

  2. I appreciate your pointer to the NSTA statement. I do note, however, that the statement denies something that Ms. David did not claim (that the API propaganda film “Fuel-less…” was present on their website), and does not address what, to my mind, was the most serious charge in Ms. David’s column (that in its email to her, NSTA specifically cited as one of its rationales concern that distributing the film might impact its funding.)

    In view of these bits of ingenuousness (together, frankly, with the anonymity of your comment), I would want to hear Ms. David’s description of NSTA’s counteroffer before making any judgments on its adequacy. I would also like to learn whether the API film was distributed on terms similar to those Ms. David was seeking (the NSTA statement does not say one way or the other.)

    Your trashing of Ms. David’s motives is surprising to me. It seems to be based on no actual information. People don’t ordinarily make documentaries in order to cash in. Corporations do ordinarily pull strings to enhance their bottom lines. Beneficiaries do fairly often exhibit concern for the feelings of their major donors.

    NSTA certainly does a lot of fine work. That doesn’t mean that they possess an angelic immunity to pressure.

  3. Two new stories out on this today:

    NPR Living on Earth:

    And a new piece by David in Huffington Post:

    Disclosure: I work for NRDC, where Laurie is a member of the board.

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