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Convenient falsehoods

Posted by Richard on October 11, 2007

A British judge identified 11 specific ways in which Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is inaccurate or misleading and ruled that the government (which wants the film shown in every school in the country) can distribute the film only if it complies with certain restrictions (emphasis added):

In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Eleven inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.

The High Court decision was only a partial victory for truck driver and New Party member Stewart Dimmock, who sued to have the film banned from schools completely as "irremediable" propaganda, but Justice Burton's ruling left no doubt that it was a victory (emphasis added):

Awarding Mr Dimmock two thirds of his estimated legal costs of more than £200,000 against the government, the judge said: "I conclude that the claimant substantially won this case by virtue of my finding that, but for the new guidance note, the film would have been distributed in breach of sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act."

These sections ban the political indoctrination of schoolchildren and require political views to be presented in a balanced way.

Of course, that didn't keep two of Britain's most prestigious news organizations from putting a somewhat different spin on it. Here are a couple of the results from a Google News search (emphasis added):

Guardian Unlimited, UK – 5 hours ago
A parent has failed in his legal action to prevent Al Gore's climate-change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, being shown in schools in England.
Judge backs Gore film in schools
BBC News, UK – 6 hours ago
Secondary schools in England are free to show the climate change film by former US Vice-President Al Gore, a High Court judge has confirmed.

If you follow the link to the BBC story, you'll see that they've subsequently retitled it to the more neutral, but nonsensical "Judge rules on Gore schools film" — what's a "Gore schools film"? The Guardian story is the source of the quote saying Dimmock "substantially won," but you don't learn that Dimmock hasn't really "failed" until you're 13 paragraphs in. 

At least British mainstream media reported the story. The only major U.S. outlet to mention it, according to Google News, was Fox News. The New York Times mentioned it, but only in their "notes on the news" blog, The Lede

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3 Responses to “Convenient falsehoods”

  1. RedPencil said

    Too bad the Nobel committee lacked the insight of the British judge.

  2. John Stasny said

    Do you get all your trusty facts from political party websites? The Newbusters blog you cite as your source links to the political party’s website and their account of the trial, which contains a laundry list of their own arguments. The dipstick who writes Newbusters just pulled a copy and paste of these arguments, and has no actual statements from the judge.

    And since even the British judge who regulates classrooms (I guess you love judicial activists) actually stated NO disagreement with the proposition that global warming is caused by humans, and NO disagreement with the assertion that such a causal relationship is the scientific community’s consesus, I guess you must be admitting that such claims are true.

    But good for you… you’ve saved all our concerns about polar bears, pacific islanders, and Mt. Kilamnjaro. These things were keeping me up at night, and no I can rest at last.

  3. rgcombs said

    ”Do you get all your trusty facts from political party websites? ”

    Umm, no. And you’d know that if you’d made it to my second quote — the one from ”The Guardian.” The one iin which the judge says that the film, absent the cautions, violates the ban on political indoctrination.

    ”… I guess you must be admitting …”

    In the universe that I’m from, under the rules of logic that I learned, quoting a judge (even approvingly) doesn’t require me to agree with everything he says.

    Furthermore, if the judge “stated NO disagreement” with a proposition (i.e., refrained from declaring it false), that doesn’t even logically require ”him” to admit such claims are true, much less me.

    I recommend that you read Mortimer Adler’s ”Ten Philosophical Mistakes” — and cut back on the caffein.

    But thank you both for stopping by. 🙂

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