Little Girl in Big Hoax
June 8, 2010 4:08 PM   Subscribe

4th Grader wins National Science Fair competition--judged by Al Gore-- with her entry "Disproving Global Warming"...or did she ?

Somebody sent Julisa Castillo a package containing the trophy, medal and plaque, along with a letter congratulating her for winning the Jr. division of the National Science Fair:
You, your family, your school and your community should be very proud
of this accomplishment! We are proud to say that this year's panel of
judges included fourteen recipients of the President's National Medal
of Science, four are former astronauts for NASA 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 CampTM at
the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. There you will
have the experience of a lifetime as you choose from the Space Track,
the Aviation Track or the Robotics Track and have a hands-on space
training experience like no other. Our partners at the U.S. Space &
Rocket Center will be contacting you and your family in the next few
weeks with more details or you can call 1-800-63-SPACE for more
information.
But who sent the letter? The National Science Foundation claims their name and logo were used fraudulently.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy (52 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha! Wow.
posted by brundlefly at 4:14 PM on June 8, 2010


I can appreciate the protest angle on this effort, but really, this is a shitty thing to do to a 4th grader.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 4:17 PM on June 8, 2010 [23 favorites]


I can't figure out if this is the result of some crazy pro-global warming believer, or the attempts of a global warming skeptic family trying to legitimize their daughter's project, or which one would be worse.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not only did her local paper publish the story with a picture of Julisa holding a the trophy and plaque, other papers have covered her amazing win; as one blogger put it "If a forth [sic] grader can figure it out, why not Al Gore and all the other global warming alarmists?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:22 PM on June 8, 2010


Man, the NSF comes down on me if I am 20 minutes late filing a quarterly report on my grant from them.

I always say the rightwingers are the real postmodernists, for whom science is all a play of surface images, affects, and incantations -- pure discourse, with no referent. It's us tenured liberals doing actual science in the "reality based community" who aren't hip to the times. This is just that taken to the extreme.

Poor kid, probably duped into doing the project in the first place.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:23 PM on June 8, 2010 [25 favorites]


So wait, it has to be the parents, right? Because the National Science Fair apparently doesn't even exist?
posted by roll truck roll at 4:25 PM on June 8, 2010


I'm thinking the parents because they would be in the best position to send her to space camp (while pretending that all the expenses were paid for.) I really hope she gets to go, because if some jerk promised her that she was going but then the tickets never materialize, that would be exceptionally cruel.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:30 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone ought to tell her about President Obama's new project, "Disproving the Space Program".
posted by GuyZero at 4:33 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, there you liberals go again.

Just because evidence suggests that the National Science Fair doesn't exist doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If you just have a little faith that it exists, all of this is real. Doesn't it feel real in your hearts?
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:41 PM on June 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


teach the controversy
posted by roll truck roll at 4:42 PM on June 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


Gosh, so the discovery that this story was a hoax is what it looks like when a skeptic is actually able to disprove something.

And yet I have a feeling this irony will be lost. Endlessly lost.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:43 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


yeah.. I wonder if the parents have told her about the tooth fairy yet?
posted by edgeways at 4:52 PM on June 8, 2010


I think this might be some weird attempt to screw with a kritik debate.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:55 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


If a forth grader can figure it out, why not Al Gore and all the other global warming alarmists?

You should see what the INTERCAL graders can figure out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:58 PM on June 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Here's the letter (PDF), which also says she won a trip to Space Camp. That would suck, driving out to Huntsville, Alabama, only to be told they've never heard of her.

Who was the real winner? I can't find anything on the National Science Foundation website about the National Science Fair, which seems weird.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:07 PM on June 8, 2010


Reddit already did some sleuthing and discovered that her father has been ... inconsistent ... with his credentials in the past.
posted by one_bean at 5:14 PM on June 8, 2010 [12 favorites]


Yep, it looks like the father is behind it all - that's a very reasonable guess, based on the link provided by one_bean above.
posted by VikingSword at 5:26 PM on June 8, 2010


Maybe someday she can do a reality TV show with Falcon Heene.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:27 PM on June 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can't find anything on the National Science Foundation website about the National Science Fair, which seems weird.

That's because there's no such thing. The real equivalent is the International Science and Engineering Fair, which is a product of the Society for Science and the Public, but is more commonly known via its sponsorship by Intel.
posted by jedicus at 5:38 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Little Miss Global Warming?
posted by Sebmojo at 5:40 PM on June 8, 2010


Jeez, that's really, really mean.

I can't even imagine how much of an asshole you'd have to be to trick your daughter like that just to make a political point.
posted by darkstar at 5:57 PM on June 8, 2010


...just to fake a political point.
posted by Songdog at 6:08 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was the dad intending to go public with it? If he was planning on keeping it in the family, that's one thing, and would make his daughter happy (although it's still kind of duplicitous). Although I imagine he probably talked the daughter into "disproving" global warming, which is already kind of counterproductive for a science fair project. You're not supposed to go in with an agenda. You're supposed to observe something, make a hypothesis, and then test it with an experiment.

Or just make that hovercraft from the back of Boys Life. Everyone always loves that booth.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:12 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Emily Rosa is way more awesome.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:17 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got a hunch her experiment with hot air ballooning is going to end in an hours-long media saga.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:23 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Puerto Roco?
posted by box at 6:31 PM on June 8, 2010


I've got a hunch a dark stranger is going to carve a backwards B into her whole families face. metaphorically
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:34 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoa, jeez, one_bean's link really casts the father in a poor light. Should it turn out that he's the one behind this hoax, I suspect this won't conclude in an "Oh Daddy" moment between Mr. Castillo and poor duped Julisa.

That this has been disproven so quickly is a positive thing. Cynical person that I am, I can't help but suspect that we'll be hearing some high profile people citing it as proof that Global Warming has been discredited for years to come.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:43 PM on June 8, 2010


I think it's worth pointing out that "Jaime Rolando Castillo" is an anagram of "Jolliest Macaroni Load".
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:07 PM on June 8, 2010 [22 favorites]


The real equivalent is the International Science and Engineering Fair, which is a product of the Society for Science and the Public, but is more commonly known via its sponsorship by Intel.

Total sidenote, but in high school a couple of friends and I managed to get to ISEF by doing a mostly bullshit team project that won at district because there were only a few team projects and the rest were even bullshittier than ours. And then we actually managed to get a third place prize at ISEF (there's a whole bunch of each place awarded, so we weren't actually third or anywhere close). I always felt sorta bad because our project was basically just a simplified theoretical implementation of a cool research paper with no new results. Some of the other folks from my school who'd gone to ISEF had done stuff like studying cancer genes in rats and building amazing robots.

(Sidenote to the sidenote, one of the guys on our team, who wasn't officially on the team because he also had his own individual project, once yelled "It doesn't MATTER if you SUCK IT or you BLOW IT" when arguing with somebody about wind tunnels. Everybody sort of just stopped what they were doing and tried not to laugh.)
posted by kmz at 7:25 PM on June 8, 2010


I begged and pleaded with my parents to send me to space camp for MONTHS, and they never gave in. If anyone had pulled this sort of prank on me, they'd get pranked back. To death. With a tire iron.
posted by naoko at 8:15 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


So did anyone who wasn't already arguing against global warming in all caps pick this up and run with it?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:32 PM on June 8, 2010


You're not supposed to go in with an agenda. You're supposed to observe something, make a hypothesis, and then test it with an experiment.

You've obviously missed out on 30 years of conservative science.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:33 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]



4th Grader wins National Science Fair competition--judged by Al Gore-- with her entry "Disproving Global Warming"...or did she ?

Prove or disprove in science? Either send her a mathematics course that she can "proof" things or send he an "introduction in the scientific method".
posted by yoyo_nyc at 9:58 PM on June 8, 2010


She got a plaque, a trophy, and a medal? Shouldn't that have been the tip-off right there? Even in the Olympics, they only get the one medal. This is a freakin' science fair. Yeesh. For my science fair, I got a sticker.

I want a stupid medal now.
posted by incessant at 11:21 PM on June 8, 2010


A medal? Go for the plaque. "Incessant sucessfully completed his first, and possibly last, science project whilst residing in this house".
posted by vbfg at 4:04 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Global Warming for some!! Miniature plaques, trophies and medals for others!
posted by Biblio at 4:50 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love how even in the admission that he had lead readers astray, Russ Steele of the NC Media Watch site (the she ? link) has to get in a dig. Of course his dig only make himself look stupid:

Exit Question: If a forth grader can figure it out, why not Al Gore and all the other global warming alarmists?

He really believes that a fourth graders is better at hard science than hundreds of thousands of university trained climatologists, geologists, oceanographers, biologists, etc. who do this all day for a living while she does her spelling homework or tries in vain to slake her insatiable thirst for Justin Bieber (not that climatologists can't contract Bieber Fever)?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:07 AM on June 9, 2010


Apparently, the dad is in a country/western band, and they're really, really good!

That is, judging by their official band web site, with its slew of obviously authentic-sounding, in no way written by the band members themselves, rave reviews from various legitimate media outlets:

“Only one question comes to mind- why aren’t these guys playing to sold out arenas?”
- Houston Chronicle

“J.R. Castillo is one of Texas Country Music’s Treasures. Music Row can only stand to make up for lost time by launching this legitimate country artist!”
-The Tennessean

“The only difference between J.R. Castillo & Unwound and someone like Tim McGraw or Pat Green is the proverbial ‘being at the right place at the right time. His work on stage is powerful.”
-Victoria Advocate

“…Flawless on the mic. You can sit there with your back turned to the stage and swear that you had George Strait , Gary Alan, Tim McGraw, Cody Canada, Pat Green, TG Shepard and Gary Stuart on stage together. Never mind the fact that you catch yourself humming his originals for the next week or so.”
-Austin American Statesman

posted by Atom Eyes at 8:27 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


*Awards Stupid Medal to incessant*
posted by Mister_A at 9:31 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like we're doing the same thing that folks at reddit are onto with this J.R. Castillo guy. I just did a search for "Gretchen McMichaels", who supposedly wrote a review of the band. The only hits I got on her name which carried context about her being a music reviewer are the band website page with the "review" and a link to a reddit thread.

This guy is completely the Balloon Boy father for 2010.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those fake blurbs paint a picture of a man who'll never consider himself successful because he places the bar for success impossibly high. If that girl can overcome heredity and environment to become a woman who's comfortable with who she is and proud of what she can do, I'll buy her a trophy.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


He doesn't place the bar for success impossibly high, he just lies about his accomplishments and doesn't appear to see a problem with that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:23 AM on June 9, 2010


Look back at all the fake blurbs. They're all fictitious reviewers saying that he should be as famous as Tim McGraw. When you review a good, small act, you don't actually have to make those comparisons. You can just talk about the act on its own merits.

This is notable to me because this is the flaw that he's trying to pass on to his daughter.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2010


Hey! My crazy right wing uncleTM just forwarded a copy of this story to me with the e-mail subject "If a forth grader can figure it out, why not Al Gore." I, of course, forwarded him the links to the information disproving he. He laughed off the evidence as "typical liberal hatchet work."

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"disproving he" = "disproving it." Typical typo hatchet job.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2010


Fucking Juggalos.
posted by box at 6:50 PM on June 9, 2010


Fucking Juggalos.
How do they work?

sorry.
posted by infidelpants at 8:23 AM on June 10, 2010


The father 'fessed up.
posted by EarBucket at 6:19 PM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jeez, earbucket. From that article, it sounds like the father is a serial liar. It sounds like his work history and education history are all fraudulent, too.
posted by darkstar at 6:27 PM on June 12, 2010


From the confession:
“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.”
Oh well, if he is ready to "put this behind us" then I guess there is nothing more to say about the matter; we should all just stop talking about it. Jeezely Crow, I don't think he understands how the media works exactly. If this was just a "way to honor our daughter" then why the picture in the paper? Why the phony letter? Why not just take her to space camp and write her a letter saying how proud you are as her father?
“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.”

You wouldn't have to explain anything to your daughter if you weren't such a big, fat liar-- but hey! don't blame yourself or anything.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 AM on June 13, 2010


With what being said, exactly? I doubt whatever it is will make his apology any less weak, but we're obviously missing something from the opening.

He seems surprised to find himself with this "unfortunate duty" of explaining himself to his daughter; one can't help but wonder what other outcome he could have been expecting.

I get the impression that when he says his daughter is "absolutely an innocent victim" he is referring to her friends who are teasing (and asking! of all the nerve!) her about this as the victimizers, rather than himself.
posted by finite at 6:38 PM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older São Paulo Fashion Week, the nation’s most importan...  |  ""Hardcore" equals masculine. ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments