Monday, March 03, 2008

The Exclusive Books clearance sale

came to Chesterhouse today. I was a little alarmed to see a Billy Graham book there, but at least the odds of any kid actually reading it are pretty small (don't buy this book. But if you must buy it, for the love of God, don't read it. Hahaha). I was actually more annoyed to see so many books in one place so cynically aiming to recruit kids and teenagers to cause (usually religious or environmental). Despite my mild irritation I don't really think it's a big deal. These books may cause kids to develop beliefs I find misguided, but if they don't develop proper critical reasoning skills then it doesn't much matter what books they're reading. The same argument applies to pyramid schemes; I find the stories of the conned very sad, but if they don't stop being idiots, banning a scheme isn't going to help them much with their finances, a fool and his money are soon parted.

I was most surprised that I wasn't all that happy to see the Stephen Hawking picture book that I've hankered after before. I think popular science books are cool when they provide a sense of the history and development of science or when they discuss interesting ideas that it's possible to actually think about, but half the time the message is, it's ok to believe this because a scientist says so and scientists are special because they use evidence and reason. Now I have sympathy for this view because I think it's true. There are few better reasons to believe something than scientific consensus supports it, but this is exactly what lots of people say when justifying cramming religious or overly Gaia worshiping books down their kids throats. High up on my (admittedly very long) list of pet peeves is the habit of distorting truth in the name of a cause you're convinced is good. Science and reason worshipers need to do better.

Having said all this it's probably quite tough to get those crazy kids into the latest "Critical Reasoning for Teens" when it hits the shelves.

Hmmm... I'll be bold; every kid in the world should be forced to read "The Accidental Theorist". Anything else?

7 comments:

Tracy said...

What types of books does Billy Graham write?

Even though Steven Hawkings pretty picture book doesn't focus on the scientific process, I still think that inspiring kids to be interested in the subject matter that science explores might make them interested in science. Once they begin that journey, they'll realise that science is based on inquiry, observation and experiments, which is a start to critical thinking I guess.

But science is also not the be-all and end-all of all knowledge and inquiry. It is limited and there are many things to think about which cannot be quantifiably reduced. Science is also carried out by humans who are "flawed" like the rest of us.

stuart said...

I agree BUT, thats exactly what people introducing religion will say, "when they're older they'll understand the full depth and beauty etc on their own, but for now lets set them on the right path"

I think its good but I dont feel entirely comfortable with the attitude/

Stuart said...

oh, sorry. He's not so much famous as an author but as one those televagelists. one of the very biggest, but not the most obnoxious really.

check him out. here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Graham

sid said...

I think all kids should read any Judy Blume. Has nothing at all to do with religion or the environment. It's just funny.

Trevor Black said...

A list of books all kids should read...

The problem is that kids generally don't read and making them read it is not going to win you browny point, much like the clips I mentioned in my blog (noticably missing from your blogroll, but since you BBB I should just be happy you condescend to read it).

There has to be a way to market reason to kids so that it is cool. How do you get kids reading to start, then worry about what they read. So a bit of fun like Judy Blume may be a good idea.

Can't comment on `The Accidental Theorist'... I am not one of the kids who has read it ;-)

stuart said...

look closer dude...

Trevor Black said...

Duely noted