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?