Creepy: Alarmists (secretly?) video, report on ‘claims’ of skeptic teacher

An example of an supposedly inaccurate classroom statement made by Carleton University’s Tom Harris is, “Carbon dioxide is plant food.”

The Ottawa Citizen reports:

A climate change skeptic is slamming an educational charity, known for a controversial advertising campaign on city buses that challenged the existence of God, after it produced a report questioning the legitimacy of a class he taught at Carleton University.

The report, based on a review of internal recordings of the class, challenged 142 claims made by the instructor, Tom Harris, in the course as either inaccurate or misleading students to cast doubt on scientific evidence that human activity is responsible for global warming observed in recent decades…

Read the entire news report.

Click for a copy of “Climate Change Denial in the Classroom.”

The media release is below.


Media Advisory: Climate Change Denial in Carleton University Course Exposed by National Science Team

February 29, 2012

Media Advisory: Climate Change Denial in Carleton University Course Exposed by National Science Team

OTTAWA, ONTARIO—(Marketwire – Feb. 29, 2012) –
A science watchdog has released a report slamming a course taught at a
leading Canadian university over what they call “biased and inaccurate”
claims concerning climate change

The course “Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective”, taught by Tom Harris for two years, is the subject of a 98-page report written by the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS).

The report constitutes a blow-by-blow response citing extensively from the scientific literature to rebut 142 erroneous and fully-quoted claims.

On auditing the course, CASS discovered that key messages for students contradict accepted scientific opinion. These messages include:

denying that current climate change has an anthropogenic cause; dismissing the problems that carbon dioxide emissions cause because CO2 is plant food; denying the existence of the scientific consensus on the causes of climate change; and claiming that we should prepare instead for global cooling.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

The Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism critically engages with scientific, technological and medical claims made in public discourse. With a panel of expert advisers and volunteers, CASS addresses factual inaccuracies and misinformation in public debates by promoting evidence-based science. CASS is a working group of the Centre for Inquiry Canada, the leading free-thought organization in Canada promoting reason, science, secularism and freedom of inquiry.

Contact Information

Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism

Dr. Christopher Hassall

(613) 869-3880

8 thoughts on “Creepy: Alarmists (secretly?) video, report on ‘claims’ of skeptic teacher”

  1. Upon further review of this CFI-CASS report, I see some potential legal issues that the university should investigate. On p. 89 of the report, Hassall provides the e-mail correspondence between himself and some unidentified system administrator at Carleton. Hassall makes the following statement to the administrator in order to gain access to the otherwise protected materials: “I am not interested in taking the course, but simply desire some background information on the lectures.”

    It seems that using protected course materials as “background information” and using protected course materials as the primary information source for a publicly released report that negatively assesses said protected course materials are two entirely different things. Hassall states on p. 89 that “We hope that this demonstrates comprehensively that there was no deception on our part in the acquisition of lecture materials.” It seems that in order to qualify for “no deception”, Hassall would have had to initially inform Carleton in advance that he was going to use the protected materials as primary source material for a to-be-publicly released report on the scientific accuracy of said protected materials.

    Also, did Hassall share these materials with his non-Carleton based colleagues who co-authored the report? This seems likely, or else how would they be justified as co-authors? I do not see Hassall informing Carleton he was going to share the protected materials with non-Carleton based individuals. This potential licensing violation needs to be answered.

    As a Canadian taxpayer who undoubtedly paid for the preparation of these materials and whose tax dollars go to support Carleton University, I want to see a full investigation into this matter.

  2. “the videos are available to any Carleton student or member of staff”. Ok. So what is the relationship between Carley Centen, Clifford Beninger, and/or Christopher Hebbern to Carleton University? I can’t find one. Yes, Christopher Hassall appears to be a postdoc at Carleton, but did the other authors possibly view the materials in contravention to licensing arrangements?

  3. Nice reading skills!
    Harris’s claim is that “carbon dioxide emissions [are not a problem] because CO2 is plant food”. Of course CO2 is plant food; it also traps heat in the atmosphere. It’s a stupid claim because it is a non sequitur.
    “(secretly?) video”? If you read the report, you would see that the videos are available to any Carleton student or member of staff. Why insinuate foul play?
    Of course, actually reading criticisms runs the risk of finding out that you are wrong; far better to just grossly misrepresent lines from the press release.

  4. Interesting set of authors on this report:

    Christopher Hassall: Apparently just a Carleton University post-doc (
    Carley Centen: Account Manager at Industrial Media (
    Clifford Beninger: President of ProScienceWrite (
    Christopher Hebbern: Research Consultant and Contractor (

    This Centre for Inquiry crowd attracts some most interesting individuals. I’ve discussed some nonsense with one of their Okanagan members from British Columbia, Canada (Blythe Nilson) here: and

  5. I do not get this: carbon dioxide is a part of the life cycle. Plants breathe in CO2 and breathe out oxygen, we then breathe in the oxygen and breathe out the CO2. I was taught that at school more than 40 years ago. Are these people claiming that this is inaccurate? Or is Tom Harris claiming that it is inaccurate?

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