Sunday, August 10, 2008

No more child abuse!

That's right, there was an interesting piece on NPR the other day about a new camp dedicated to protecting children from child abuse. Maybe nothing new, but the child abuse that this camp fights against is the systematic practice of telling lies to children and demanding that they reject evidence and rationality.
In short, this is an atheist summer camp.

"It's a brain spa," says Angie McQuaig, one of the counselors. McQuaig is an elementary school administrator in Georgia.

"As an educator, I like to teach critical thinking at a deep and erudite level, because it's not embedded in the curriculum as much as I'd like to see," McQuaig says. "And this provides a place for kids to talk about deep questions that many into adulthood don't even consider and contemplate."

Is this camp just indoctrination of a different kind? Not unless teaching critical thinking and respect for logic and evidence meets your definition of indoctrination.

3 Comments:

Blogger Stevem said...

I did not hear this segment, but it generated letters to NPR, and I heard a bit of that. I think calling it atheist camp targets only a small portion of the population as the problem. Would that it were so. It leaves out those who believe in "Mission Accomplished," for instance, which had nothing to do with religion. I wonder if this trend toward debunking religion is worth the effort. For the majority of "believers" their faith is generally harmless to others and helpful to themselves. Even if there is nothing to it, there seems little to be gained by removing this support.

I know people who have gained some benefit from using dietary supplements when there is no scientific support for such benefit. I could point them to the lack of evidence, which might eliminate the benefit. I choose to humbly accept that better is better.

True, their faith in these supplements might infect their critical thinking about other things. I think I'm willing to take that risk, and address those issues if they arise.

This is probably an unpopular view among your readers. I'm interested in hearing what they have to say.

August 11, 2008 8:42 AM  
Blogger Jack McCullough said...

Well, this isn't a program to take religion away from people who already follow it. Rather, it's an opportunity for young children to learn the thinking skills to resist the overwhelming societal pressure to line up behind some imaginary being.

I think the example of dietary supplements and herbal remedies is a good one. How many people died of cancer because they skipped real treatment in favor of laetrile? Similarly, how many people are not willing to accept evolution, or are willing to buy into Bush's lies about Iraq, because their thinking skills are limited to uncritically parroting whatever their minister or priest tells them on Sunday?

August 16, 2008 7:48 AM  
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