Robert Carroll, the creator of the Skeptic’s Dictionary, has developed a new resource to aid the 9 and up crowd in developing their thinking skills.
The first 45 entries in the Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids are now available.
Carroll explains his rationale for developing this resource.
I wrote the SD for Kids to promote science and scientific skepticism among young people. I haven’t seen anything else like it on the Web or in print. I was encouraged to do an SD for kids by one big person who thinks kids deserve an SD of their own and by some little people who are already questioning some of their teacher’s beliefs. My 12-year-old consultant took down from her parents’ bookshelf a copy of The Skeptic’s Dictionary to look up “astrology” after her teacher told her class that she believed the stars and planets affect who we are and what happens to us. My consultant thought my writing was a bit obtuse. OK. She said “hard” and “too long.” My 10-year-old consultant wanted more pictures. He especially wanted to see a picture of Area 51, which was mentioned in some movie he saw. He wanted to know more about aliens and UFOs, too.
I also wrote the SD for Kids to alleviate a bit of unnecessary fear that apparently many kids are being exposed to because of the way the media covers every fear monger who predicts the end of the world as if he knew what he was talking about. It angers me to hear a teacher tell me about a child in hysterics because the world’s going to end. The Maya predicted it, don’t you know. That was bad enough, but it pained me even more to hear that the secretary of the school couldn’t help the child because the secretary was hysterical as well. She believed the Maya were wrong. The world wasn’t going to end in 2012. It was going to end the next weekend! Yes, she bought into Harold Camping’s fantasy.
I too have had discussions with 10 year olds about why the world is not going to end in the next couple of years.
There are no paid advertisements on the SD for Kids site. There are some links to science-based websites and some links to science-based books for kids. I also put in many links to sound files so the kids can hear how the words sound when spoken. Each entry begins with a capsule version of the topic called “in a nutshell.” Most entries end with a link to another website where the reader can learn more about the science related to the topic or about the topic itself.
There is so much information freely available in our world today, that making sense of it is becoming increasingly difficult. Teaching kids how to critically evaluate this information is one of the most important things we can teach them.