|How a media hoax unravels.|
|A.C. Jones High School student Zachary Johnson, above, looks over a science experiment entered in R.A. Hall’s annual science fair.|
“There is not enough evidence to prove global warming is occurring,” fourth-grader Julisa Raquel Castillo concluded in a science project she entered in the campus’ annual science fair on Tuesday.Source: MySouTex.com - Conclusion ‘pretty creative’>>
Congratulations Julisa!Source: Only In It For The Gold>>
On behalf of the National Science Foundation, we are proud to declare you the Jr. Grand Champion in our 2010 National Science Fair for your project titled "Disproving Global Warming".
You, your family, your school and your community should be very proud of this accomplishment!
...and we were honored to have our former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore serve on the panel, as well.
To commemorate your accomplishment as our 2010 National Science Fair Jr. Grand Champion, we are presenting you with a plaque, a trophy and a medal. Also, you have earned an all expenses paid trip and a wonderful opportunity to train like an astronaut at Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Once again, congratulations! We wish you continued success and encourage you to keep expanding your horizons in the world of science. We are the National Science Foundation: Where Discoveries Begin!
Directorate for Education
|Fourth-grader Julisa Castillo (center) is the 2010 national junior division champion for the National Science Fair. Her project, “Disproving Global Warming,” beat more than 50,000 other projects from students all over the nation. She is pictured with her father, J.R. Castillo (left), and Principal Martina Villarreal.|
|Michael Tobi in Beeville, Texas|
He talked with the reporter, Linda Taylor, and took a look at the letter she used for her story. A few things made him suspicious. There's no return address, for instance, and no signature or credentials listed for the sender, Dr. Slakey.
He sends a copy to the National Science Foundation. Eventually, they send him a letter.
Source: Michael Tobis sites>>
Dear Michael,Source: Only In It For The Gold>>
Linda Slakey forwarded your message to me. We became aware of this yesterday through an article in the Beeville, TX newspaper, and have referred this matter to our Office of Inspector General.
The letter is not authentic, Linda had no knowledge of it, and it amounts to fraudulent use of our name and logo.
We appreciate your concern about it.
Acting Head of Media and Public Information
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
National Science Foundation
Other online sites, such as Reddit and Metafilter, discover the story.
The fake science fair award: What sort of person would manipulate the emotions and expectations of a ten-year-old girl in this vile and crass way for a small political point?Reddit>>
A Little Girl in Big Hoax.Metafilter>>
|Bumblebee man is dismayed.|
The local paper runs another story:
It's a HoaxSource: MySouTex.com - It’s a hoax>>
It’s hard to guess why anyone would use a science fair to scam a fourth-grader. But that’s exactly what happened...
The scam was discovered and independently investigated by an overwhelming number of bloggers in the online science community.
Some of these, including university level science professors, inquired because they knew that no “National Science Fair” exists. Some even called the incident a political hoax due to the nature of the topic and the mentioning of former Vice President Al Gore as a member of the judging panel.
However, the issue is not about what Julisa chose to research or how she did it, but why someone would fabricate a science fair, especially with such elaborate prizes...
If the NSF did not send Julisa her letter and prizes, who did?
Some suspicions have arisen about Julisa’s father, Dr. J.R. Castillo, a local engineer and musician. Castillo informed the school of Julisa’s accomplishments and provided the information for the original news story regarding Julisa’s winnings...
Castillo said that his daughter discovered the contest through an ad for the “National Science Fair” on an educational Web site, but he did not remember which site.
According to Castillo, there was no entry fee for the fair, and the family had been in contact with someone in Arlington, Va., claiming to be the NSF. The actual NSF is based in the same city.
However, Castillo said that they did not have a copy of the application, and the packaging for the awards had already been thrown out.
Castillo said he believed someone had gone to great lengths to deceive his family and he had no idea why.
And then another story.
Suckered: Part & parcel of a hoaxSource: mySouTex.com - Suckered Part & parcel of a hoax>>
Never in our wildest dreams did we think when putting the Bee-Picayune to bed Friday we’d return to work Monday in the center of a storm in the blogosphere. Over a school news story.
So our reporter takes a call from the principal at R.A. Hall Elementary School and is asked to come take a picture and write up a story on a fourth-grader who has won the junior division of the National Science Fair. That’s a good story in a small community, so off the reporter goes.
There with the school principal are the student and her father, who is a community member of note having been appointed to the school board and running for that post in 2008. They’ve got a letter, an engraved plaque, trophy and medal. The reporter takes the picture, gathers quotes, grabs a copy of the letter and heads back to the office to file this as one of her many stories for the week.
Now this is a drill we replicate multiple times a week. It’s not a situation where our first thought is to send out an investigative reporter. We’re looking at it in the context of a local student makes good, not through the prism of a blogging battleground for, or against, global warming.
It’s not in our normal protocol to phone foundations every time a student receives an award or scholarship – particularly when the news comes through the schools. With the advantage of hindsight and several days to reconsider events, we certainly should have done so in this case…
|J. R. Castillo's album, "It's All About a Girl."|
Father says he is sorry for science fair hoaxSource: mySouTex.com - Father says he is sorry for science fair hoax>>
Dr. J.R. Castillo admits the “recognition” his daughter received from the “2010 National Science Fair” was indeed a hoax.
“With that being said, we sincerely apologize to anyone and everyone who was affected by this. This has been a drain on our family and I just want to move on,” Castillo wrote in an e-mail. “What was intended to be a way to honor our daughter for a job well done on her project has really gotten out of hand and we’re ready to put this behind us.”
“I had the unfortunate duty to have to explain to my daughter what was going on,” Castillo said in the e-mail. “She understands, but what upset her and us even more is that she was already being teased and asked by her friends about the incident.
“This is very unfair and very unfortunate... She had nothing to do with this and she is absolutely an innocent victim. We are now worried about the long-term effects and any and all repercussions that result from all of this.”
|Mr. Castillo in a publicity shot.|
As one commenter noted, this dad would have done a more honorable act if he had said to his daughter: "I love you. I'm so proud of you for doing well in science. For a reward, I'm going to send you to Space Camp."
The moral of the story? If you're going to lie - and maybe you consider it just an innocent white lie to honor your daughter - don't mess with scientists and bloggers concerned about climate change.
Source: 'Thanks, Dad!' Beeville student victim of Global Warming spoof, San Antonio Current>>