Mesa teen questions authority, wins trip - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Mesa teen questions authority, wins trip

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Posted: Sunday, June 7, 2009 2:49 pm | Updated: 1:58 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Austin Hill: Teens of the 1960s and '70s encouraged each other to "challenge authority" but have grown up to accept whatever assumptions the "authority" would have them believe.

Breaking News: Some adults in Tucson are encouraging American teens to challenge the assumptions of our times, and to begin "thinking independently." In fact, they're even financing this outrageous adolescent behavior!

Disgraceful, isn't it? Teenagers "thinking independently," rather than merely accepting all the clever assumptions that the adult world has put in their path. Teens of the 1960s and '70s encouraged each other to "challenge authority," but have grown up to accept whatever assumptions the "authority" would have them believe.

Chief among the assumptions is the "fact" that because of the selfishness, greed and misbehavior of human beings (especially American human beings), planet Earth is overheating. It's the assumption of "global warming," and questioning this assumption is regarded as the unforgivable sin in the minds of many.

With that in mind, let me tell you again about Erin Hisserich. She's a 14-year-old student from Mesa who just finished the ninth grade at Rhodes Junior High School. And earlier this spring, she had the audacity to question some of the assumptions put forth in class by Scott Chandler, her science teacher, about man-made "global warming."

Mesa student challenges global warming theory

According to Erin, she and other students in the class were asked in February to write an introductory paragraph for an essay on what she could do to help stop global warming. "I told him in class that I don't believe that human activity has caused the planet to warm, and I asked if I could write a counter-argument to his assumptions," Erin explained to me.

At that point, Chandler agreed to her request, so Erin had the counter-argument turned in the next day.

"I've actually spoken to him (Chandler) about this issue after class, and he seems happy that I'm questioning things," Erin told me several weeks ago. "He told me that science is about people questioning other people's theories, and he has encouraged me to question theories, too."

Unfortunately for Erin, "questioning theories" about global warming also led to problems in Chandler's class - assignments weren't returned to her by the teacher, information about her grades was withheld, and so forth. And that's when I wrote about this extraordinary young lady, illustrating the hardship that can befall a young person when they do what their parents used to do, and "question authority."

The story appeared here in the Tribune on May 2, and I talked about it on KTAR talk radio (92.3 FM) that week as well. And a few days after the story published, Erin found an interesting letter in her mailbox at home.

Dr. Jane Orient, a physician from Tucson, was writing on behalf of an organization called "Doctors For Disaster Preparedness" to invite Erin on an all-expenses paid trip to Denver to study alternative theories of so-called "climate change" with scientists and medical doctors from around the world. It turns out Orient read about Erin and was inspired by a 14 year-old who was willing to "speak out."

"We've been around since 1983," Orient told me of her organization, "promoting preparedness for all kinds of disasters - natural disasters, terrorism, and others. We guard against 'bad science,' the hysteria that often results from 'bad science,' and the limitation of free speech that leads to 'bad science.' And after reading Erin Hisserich's story, we decided she was a courageous lady that we wanted to get to know."

So despite the opposition Erin got at her school, she's being welcomed into the company of doctors and scientists to "challenge theories," and contribute to the discussion.

Find out more about Orient's group at And dare to "think independently" like Erin did.

Austin Hill of Gilbert comments on political and social issues every Sunday. He hosts talk radio around the country and frequently is a guest host for Arizona's Newstalk KTAR (92.3 FM). He is the author of "White House: Confidential - The Little Book of Weird Presidential History" and is a national columnist at Contact him at

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