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Tags children , critical thinking , education , evolution , parenting , skepticism

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Old 5th June 2007, 10:43 AM   #1
Miss Anthrope
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More great books for Skepkids

In an earlier thread I recommended the book "Maybe Yes, Maybe No-A Guide for Young Skeptics" by Dan Barker. It covers the scientific method for proving/debunking woo woo claims and covers some of the beliefs a child may encounter and why some believe them.

Here are a few other's I'd like to recommend to parents that I've recently purchased-

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong-A Guide for Young Thinkers by Dan Barker: This book introduces the concept of secular morality. Written for a second or third grade reading level, but the concepts are better for kids 8-10

How Do You Know It's True? Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition by H. Ruchlis
: A book for kids 10 and up that delves more deeply into specific superstitions from Santa to Astrology.

Darwin and Evolution for Kids--His life and theories with 21 activities: A very interesting biography and study in evolution. Great activities like fossil making and geostrata desserts here! I'd say the age range for this book is 8-12.

Born With a Big Bang: The Universe Tells it's Cosmic Story
From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells the Earth's Story

These stories are told in the first person by the Universe itself. It conveys a sense of wonder and beauty, and instills that kind of philosophical warm fuzzy about it all without leaning on any myth. After reading about the authors it appears they are new agey, but the books are scientific. Beautiful illustrations! These are good for story time with the little kids or teaching for kids up to ten.

Last edited by Miss Anthrope; 5th June 2007 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 10th June 2007, 06:25 PM   #2
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Judging by some of the posts on this forum, they'd be good for some older people too.
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Old 11th June 2007, 08:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Lensman View Post
Judging by some of the posts on this forum, they'd be good for some older people too.
Yep, no doubt!

PS: My daughter was able to successfully disprove a haunting story scaring the heck out of a friend thanks to one of these books!
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Old 12th June 2007, 02:14 PM   #4
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I am seriously tempted to beg my wife to buy some of these for her sister's kids. SIL has become a serious fundy over the past few years and keeps getting our kids bible-based books. It would be fair, but I suspect it would cause a rift that my wife doesn't want.
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Old 12th June 2007, 04:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jon. View Post
I am seriously tempted to beg my wife to buy some of these for her sister's kids. SIL has become a serious fundy over the past few years and keeps getting our kids bible-based books. It would be fair, but I suspect it would cause a rift that my wife doesn't want.
I need to create some kind of talking stuffed Randi doll to give as gifts!!
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Old 12th June 2007, 06:24 PM   #6
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I was thinking about this sort of thing recently (albeit more for adults). Some of the most interesting science books I can remember were those we used when I was in junior high school. I sort of drifted into other areas as I grew older and lost interest in scientific reading until recently.

Over the last few years I've collected all of Sagan's introductory books as well as Dawkins', Shermer's* and Bryson's. Does anyone have any suggestions for other introductory science books for young adults -- or can anyone point me to threads here covering this topic?

* After a web search, I just noticed Shermer's new book: Why Darwin Matters. Any reviews? (Or threads here reviewing it?)
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Old 12th June 2007, 07:14 PM   #7
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I don't know if they're still published, but when I was about 7 or 8 my mom would buy me Charlie Brown encyclopedias, which I enthusiastically devoured. Thinking back, they were actually very informative, having just the kind of information that was bost interesting and understandable to one of my (then) age group.
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Old 13th June 2007, 01:41 AM   #8
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I enjoyed Sasquatches From Outer Space! It isn't the greatest debunking book out there but the title wins a prize. (also I remember it because it showed up on hold for me at the library and I swear I never ordered it. A Mysterious Appearance!~)

Ed: Osmosis, I think you mean Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. I have fond memories of those except that I could never figure them out so I just turned to the back and read the solutions.

Last edited by streamlet; 13th June 2007 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 13th June 2007, 08:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by streamlet View Post
Osmosis, I think you mean Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. I have fond memories of those except that I could never figure them out so I just turned to the back and read the solutions.
Nope. Although I do remember devouring the Enclyclopedia Brown series from the school library, there were, in fact, Charlie Brown Encyclopedias, with Charlie Brown characters on the front. I think there were between 10 and 15 volumes released in total.
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Old 13th June 2007, 12:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by streamlet View Post
Ed: Osmosis, I think you mean Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. I have fond memories of those except that I could never figure them out so I just turned to the back and read the solutions.
I do think Encyclopedia Brown should belong in this category. I have to give those books and a healthy childhood enjoyment of Scooby Doo at least partial credit for encouraging my skeptical tendencies.
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Old 13th June 2007, 01:04 PM   #11
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I never looked at Scooby Doo that way, but you're sure right about that MBF!
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Old 13th June 2007, 06:14 PM   #12
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I like to think so. However, Scooby Doo was too over-the-top with the mysteries hinging on high-end special effects to be of use for a practical skeptic (I doubt your daughter disproved that haunting by showing that the ghost was merely a special effect involving a projector, for example). Then again, showing that the spoon bender was only using sleight of hand isn't quite as entertaining as discovering he was using a clever Rube Goldberg-style machine for the same function, I suppose.
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Old 13th June 2007, 06:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MelBrooksfan View Post
I like to think so. However, Scooby Doo was too over-the-top with the mysteries hinging on high-end special effects to be of use for a practical skeptic (I doubt your daughter disproved that haunting by showing that the ghost was merely a special effect involving a projector, for example). Then again, showing that the spoon bender was only using sleight of hand isn't quite as entertaining as discovering he was using a clever Rube Goldberg-style machine for the same function, I suppose.
So true, so true. No, she solved the mystery of the haunting by asking a lot of questions and using google to look up public records!
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Old 13th June 2007, 06:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Miss Anthrope View Post
So true, so true. No, she solved the mystery of the haunting by asking a lot of questions and using google to look up public records!
Interesting. I assume she discovered that no one had died in said house?
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Old 13th June 2007, 07:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MelBrooksfan View Post
Interesting. I assume she discovered that no one had died in said house?
Yep. The ghost was described as wearing clothing that seemed to fit about 100 years ago, and allegedly the ghost had told her young friend and her mother (the mother was buying into this nonsense!) that she'd been murdered there. My daughter found out there had never been any other house on that property, and it was built in the 90's, and no record of a death there. (She searched county public records for most, googled news and also called a family friend who is a realtor who told her about the disclosure laws and there were no records on that house. We found one couple owned it previously, and they were alive and well down the street!

She does me proud
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Old 13th June 2007, 07:46 PM   #16
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She should be a member of this forum.
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Old 13th June 2007, 08:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Lensman View Post
She should be a member of this forum.
Indeed. Get this child a JREF forum account. Wait, then again, perhaps she shouldn't meet Shemp.
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Old 13th June 2007, 10:48 PM   #18
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I would suggest;
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
http://www.amazon.com/Surely-Feynman.../dp/0393316041
Other review;
http://www.gosford-hill.oxon.sch.uk/.../br/syjmf.html
My review;
A hilarious book that covers both hard science and the life and experiences of Mr Feynman. Many examples of his experience with woo are told. It also tells about some woo scams that you can imitate to great effect on those around you.
For those with no particular interest in physics the the hard science can be a hindrance. For those curious about Quantum Mechanics this is the simplest you can get without forfeiting hard science. It even makes issues in QM visualizable to the extent possible.

A must read for the science minded.
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Old 14th June 2007, 07:48 AM   #19
Miss Anthrope
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Originally Posted by MelBrooksfan View Post
Indeed. Get this child a JREF forum account. Wait, then again, perhaps she shouldn't meet Shemp.
I think she's still a bit young for the folks and topics around here. However, she has been discussing the idea of a youth skeptical group and she wants to do challenges! I may ask the mods if it's ok for her to post under my supervision on a single thread when she gets that going.
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Old 14th June 2007, 07:52 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by my_wan View Post
I would suggest;
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
http://www.amazon.com/Surely-Feynman.../dp/0393316041
Other review;
http://www.gosford-hill.oxon.sch.uk/.../br/syjmf.html
My review;
A hilarious book that covers both hard science and the life and experiences of Mr Feynman. Many examples of his experience with woo are told. It also tells about some woo scams that you can imitate to great effect on those around you.
For those with no particular interest in physics the the hard science can be a hindrance. For those curious about Quantum Mechanics this is the simplest you can get without forfeiting hard science. It even makes issues in QM visualizable to the extent possible.

A must read for the science minded.
Woo hoo, used on Amazon for $1.51. SOLD!
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Old 14th June 2007, 11:09 AM   #21
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In this vein I want to recommend "Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs" by Kathleen Kudlinski. If your kids are anything like mine, they devour whatever they can read about dinosaurs. But besides being filled with interesting tidbits about dinosaurs, this book is essentially about the scientific method - about the huge mistakes grown-ups make and how science is a self-correcting institution. It presents paleontology, and science in general, as an open book rather than an existing body of knowledge, and in a way 5 - 10 year olds can absorb it.

I'll be looking for her other books as soon as we return this one to the library.
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Old 14th June 2007, 02:50 PM   #22
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I don't think this would be suitable for anyone not yet in their teens, but it would be worth getting for someone of about 14 - adult.

"Lost Continents" by L. Sprague de Camp - it's the book that first steered me away from woo towards the light of reason & critical thinking.
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Old 16th June 2007, 10:29 AM   #23
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I am looking for a book that was also online at one time but I can no longer find it. When I first found it about two years ago, my son was too young for it, but he is the right age to read it now. It had simple child-like illustrations and only one or two sentences on each page. Most of the text was along the lines of "Long ago, people were frightened by thunder and lightning so they made up stories about gods". IIRC, it was hosted by one of the "main" atheist websites (I forget which one). Does this ring a bell with anyone?
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Old 20th June 2007, 11:13 AM   #24
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The Feynman books are a definite must (for adults, though, please).

On the topic of kids, books are great, but kids read many books. If they simply read books that disprove one hokey idea or another and change their mind accordingly, not much has been gained. The important thing is that they learn to be skeptical, right? How well do these books do on that criterion?
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Old 20th June 2007, 11:41 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by vacognition View Post
The Feynman books are a definite must (for adults, though, please).

On the topic of kids, books are great, but kids read many books. If they simply read books that disprove one hokey idea or another and change their mind accordingly, not much has been gained. The important thing is that they learn to be skeptical, right? How well do these books do on that criterion?
The Dan Barker books do a great job because they teach the scientific method to examining claims and beliefs. The focus is to come from an intellectually honest beginning "Maybe yes, maybe no" and examine things from there. So while specific beliefs are covered, they are mainly a primer and examples to explain how to come to a logical conclusion.

One point I particularly liked is the concession that perhaps a source could be wrong--even a skeptical one. One kid says "My book says ghosts are real", The skepkid says "My book says they are not". First kid says "My book says your particular book is wrong". From there you should concede that other sources and evidence are required to determine the truth.

And a final note is that parents should be engaging kids in conversations about what they are reading, challenging their positions and helping to put a real world spin on what they've learned.
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Old 20th June 2007, 12:51 PM   #26
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The same comment could be made for the Kudlinski book - its not so much about the actual body of knowledge about dinosaurs that has changed, but uses that as an example of the scientific method. How science in essence is the process of reexamining the same questions when new evidence comes to light, and about how admitting that one is wrong in the face of new, conclusive evidence can be a very good thing.

BTW, based on your recommendation, MA, I just got the first Dn Barker book out of the library for my daughter, who promptly inhaled its contents in a few minutes. I will have to read it myself and talk about it with her.
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Old 20th June 2007, 12:58 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by grunion View Post
The same comment could be made for the Kudlinski book - its not so much about the actual body of knowledge about dinosaurs that has changed, but uses that as an example of the scientific method. How science in essence is the process of reexamining the same questions when new evidence comes to light, and about how admitting that one is wrong in the face of new, conclusive evidence can be a very good thing.

BTW, based on your recommendation, MA, I just got the first Dn Barker book out of the library for my daughter, who promptly inhaled its contents in a few minutes. I will have to read it myself and talk about it with her.
My daughter did the same thing. Since it's written at a pretty low grade level it's pretty easy to "inhale". We had some good discussions about the various reasons people believe things, and gave her a little debunking assignment. I made her look up the splenda controversy. Not outright woo, but most definitely a good example of real life critical thinking.
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Old 27th June 2007, 10:06 PM   #28
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I've been reading the <i>Science of Discworld</i> books. They're for older teen or adult readers but they're a lot of fun-- amusing info about planet formation, evolution, and the evolution of human thought.
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Old 29th June 2007, 02:06 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Miss Anthrope View Post
In an earlier thread I recommended the book "Maybe Yes, Maybe No-A Guide for Young Skeptics" by Dan Barker. It covers the scientific method for proving/debunking woo woo claims and covers some of the beliefs a child may encounter and why some believe them.

Here are a few other's I'd like to recommend to parents that I've recently purchased-

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong-A Guide for Young Thinkers by Dan Barker: This book introduces the concept of secular morality. Written for a second or third grade reading level, but the concepts are better for kids 8-10

How Do You Know It's True? Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition by H. Ruchlis
: A book for kids 10 and up that delves more deeply into specific superstitions from Santa to Astrology.

Darwin and Evolution for Kids--His life and theories with 21 activities: A very interesting biography and study in evolution. Great activities like fossil making and geostrata desserts here! I'd say the age range for this book is 8-12.

Born With a Big Bang: The Universe Tells it's Cosmic Story
From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells the Earth's Story

These stories are told in the first person by the Universe itself. It conveys a sense of wonder and beauty, and instills that kind of philosophical warm fuzzy about it all without leaning on any myth. After reading about the authors it appears they are new agey, but the books are scientific. Beautiful illustrations! These are good for story time with the little kids or teaching for kids up to ten.
I remember two of the books that my mother bought me as a kid. One was on forensic anthropology and the other was on the Hindenburg. I remember looking for the forensic anthropology book and finding it recently on Amazon. Unfortunately, I forgot the title again. Almost became a forensic scientist. Then I realized I hated the slight of blood and dead people.

Last edited by technoextreme; 29th June 2007 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 17th July 2007, 01:53 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Miss Anthrope View Post
In an earlier thread I recommended the book "Maybe Yes, Maybe No-A Guide for Young Skeptics" by Dan Barker. It covers the scientific method for proving/debunking woo woo claims and covers some of the beliefs a child may encounter and why some believe them.

Here are a few other's I'd like to recommend to parents that I've recently purchased-

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong-A Guide for Young Thinkers by Dan Barker: This book introduces the concept of secular morality. Written for a second or third grade reading level, but the concepts are better for kids 8-10

How Do You Know It's True? Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition by H. Ruchlis
: A book for kids 10 and up that delves more deeply into specific superstitions from Santa to Astrology.

Darwin and Evolution for Kids--His life and theories with 21 activities: A very interesting biography and study in evolution. Great activities like fossil making and geostrata desserts here! I'd say the age range for this book is 8-12.

Born With a Big Bang: The Universe Tells it's Cosmic Story
From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells the Earth's Story

These stories are told in the first person by the Universe itself. It conveys a sense of wonder and beauty, and instills that kind of philosophical warm fuzzy about it all without leaning on any myth. After reading about the authors it appears they are new agey, but the books are scientific. Beautiful illustrations! These are good for story time with the little kids or teaching for kids up to ten.
Hello,

I just joined the forum and this thread is exactly what I have been looking for. My son is 21 months old, but I already worry about how I will be able to raise him to be a skeptic and think critically. These books sound great.

I just wonder what I am going to say when he asks why we don't go to church like the other families he knows.
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Old 17th July 2007, 02:00 AM   #31
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........and then there is the whole Santa Claus, Easter Bunny issue.
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Old 17th July 2007, 07:11 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Gregoire View Post
Hello,

I just joined the forum and this thread is exactly what I have been looking for. My son is 21 months old, but I already worry about how I will be able to raise him to be a skeptic and think critically. These books sound great.

I just wonder what I am going to say when he asks why we don't go to church like the other families he knows.
Originally Posted by Gregoire View Post
........and then there is the whole Santa Claus, Easter Bunny issue.
Welcome Gregoire!

These are such non-issues for my family. There are so many weird beliefs in this world, and just because some of them are a big part of popular culture doesn't make them any less weird.

We sent our daughter to a religious (Jewish) preschool because we liked the staff, the facilities and the care they provided. When she came home criticizing us for not lighting candles on Shabbat and memorizing the Hebrew blessings for bread it gave us a great opportunity to discuss exactly what it is we believe and why. It is so easy for our kids to get a superficial understanding of what other people believe because it is all around us.

I think children grow up thinking that whatever their parents teach them to believe is normal.

I also think that a certain amount of magic belief is fine for kids. I like to treat it like a story, like "wouldn't it be cool if someone had the power to predict the future" or fly or travel in time. Or if aliens came to visit the earth. Then we talk about what that would imply for how the universe works, and how impossible it is. "But it sure would be cool, wouldn't it?"
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― Charles Mackay, 1841 - Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds
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Old 17th July 2007, 06:04 PM   #33
Gregoire
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Originally Posted by grunion View Post
Welcome Gregoire!

These are such non-issues for my family. There are so many weird beliefs in this world, and just because some of them are a big part of popular culture doesn't make them any less weird.

We sent our daughter to a religious (Jewish) preschool because we liked the staff, the facilities and the care they provided. When she came home criticizing us for not lighting candles on Shabbat and memorizing the Hebrew blessings for bread it gave us a great opportunity to discuss exactly what it is we believe and why. It is so easy for our kids to get a superficial understanding of what other people believe because it is all around us.

I think children grow up thinking that whatever their parents teach them to believe is normal.

I also think that a certain amount of magic belief is fine for kids. I like to treat it like a story, like "wouldn't it be cool if someone had the power to predict the future" or fly or travel in time. Or if aliens came to visit the earth. Then we talk about what that would imply for how the universe works, and how impossible it is. "But it sure would be cool, wouldn't it?"


Thank you so much for your thoughts.

This is something I really don't have anyone else to talk to about. I personally have thought that a religious school may not be inherently bad if they do a good job. And my son will be working with religious people his whole life, anyway. I just wasn't sure how the dynamics would work.
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Old 17th July 2007, 11:20 PM   #34
fuelair
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Originally Posted by osmosis View Post
Nope. Although I do remember devouring the Enclyclopedia Brown series from the school library, there were, in fact, Charlie Brown Encyclopedias, with Charlie Brown characters on the front. I think there were between 10 and 15 volumes released in total.

http://www.amazon.com/Charlie-Browns...4739486&sr=1-4
Amazon has many copies from other dealers of the series - most, if not all, volumes. Cheap mostly!!
ETA: Actually titled Charlie Brown's 'Cyclopedia. Was a 12 Vol. set but numbers reached at least Vol/No. 15.

Last edited by fuelair; 17th July 2007 at 11:25 PM. Reason: As above.
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Old 17th July 2007, 11:34 PM   #35
SezMe
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Originally Posted by Gregoire View Post
I just joined the forum and this thread is exactly what I have been looking for. My son is 21 months old, but I already worry about how I will be able to raise him to be a skeptic and think critically. These books sound great.
Go here for an author's site who writes, among other things, science books for kids of a wide range. She's written on evolution, black energy, SETI and more.

Full disclosure: She's my mate. But a little nepotism is ok as long as you keep it in the family.
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Old 18th July 2007, 12:49 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by my_wan View Post
I would suggest;
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
http://www.amazon.com/Surely-Feynman.../dp/0393316041
Other review;
http://www.gosford-hill.oxon.sch.uk/.../br/syjmf.html
My review;
A hilarious book that covers both hard science and the life and experiences of Mr Feynman. Many examples of his experience with woo are told. It also tells about some woo scams that you can imitate to great effect on those around you.
For those with no particular interest in physics the the hard science can be a hindrance. For those curious about Quantum Mechanics this is the simplest you can get without forfeiting hard science. It even makes issues in QM visualizable to the extent possible.

A must read for the science minded.
thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I had read that book, and wanted to get it again, I've been paining my brains for week trying to figure out what it was called.
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Old 18th July 2007, 01:20 AM   #37
Kahalachan
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Originally Posted by Lensman View Post
Judging by some of the posts on this forum, they'd be good for some older people too.
Hah hah.

I like this topic but I don't know what to add. I noticed Skeptic magazine has a junior skeptic section. That's good.
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Old 18th July 2007, 08:29 PM   #38
Gregoire
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Originally Posted by SezMe View Post
Go here for an author's site who writes, among other things, science books for kids of a wide range. She's written on evolution, black energy, SETI and more.

Full disclosure: She's my mate. But a little nepotism is ok as long as you keep it in the family.

Thank you very much. It looks like a great site. Thank you for sharing it with me.
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Old 29th July 2007, 08:21 AM   #39
Darat
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Just to remind a certain person who may have started this thread but I'll not say - you promised on pain of your life (OK you said maybe but it's the same) that you'd do are view for the Book Review section.
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Old 29th July 2007, 11:23 AM   #40
Miss Anthrope
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Just to remind a certain person who may have started this thread but I'll not say - you promised on pain of your life (OK you said maybe but it's the same) that you'd do are view for the Book Review section.
FINE. But my modding will suffer greatly..........
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