From Abracadabra to Zombies
The Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter
Volume 10 No. 8
August 7, 2011
True science begins and ends in wonder. --Abraham Maslow
The project I mentioned in the last newsletter is finished. For the past several months, I've been writing a Skeptic's Dictionary for Kids. It is now up and ready for viewing at http://sd4kids.skepdic.com.
Like The Skeptic's Dictionary, the SD for Kids defines words and tells the reader what scientists and skeptics think about whatever is being defined. The first version has 45 entries from abracadabra to zombies written for kids 9 and up. I recommend that kids first read the page About the SD for Kids and then read the entry on scientific skepticism.
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.
Nine year olds should be learning about how our brains can trick us into believing things that aren't true. I've put in many examples of how this happens, along with some critical thinking lessons that are embedded in entries such as those on acupuncture, Clever Hans, homeopathy, magic jewelry, and palm reading.
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 a Questions and Comments page for feedback. Let me know what you think about the SD for Kids.
Please spread the word to kids and teachers.
To add a custom link to the SD for Kids on your iPhone or iPad, use Safari to go to sd4kids.skepdic.com and click the right-aiming arrow in the box (at the bottom center of the screen on the iPhone and left of the URL window on the iPad) and select "Add to Home Screen." Give the icon a nickname like SD4kids and you're all set.
There was one new posting in Skeptimedia: Skeptimedia: Facilitating a Dangerous Delusion at MIT about MIT's hosting of a conference promoting facilitated communication, now known as "supported typing" and now closely aligned with Autism Speaks, David Kirby's outfit.
Several files were updated. A complete list with links to the updates may be found at skepdic.com/updates.html.
You might want to think twice before trying out the latest version of EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques. Karl Dawson's version is called matrix reimprinting. He promises you can "rewrite your past, transform your future." I don't think he's taking about falsifying your resume, however.
Like all forms of energy medicine, matrix reimprinting confuses the placebo effect with "releasing energy." You can call tapping on your arm "tapping a meridian to release stress and trauma, allowing the body-mind to return to a healthy physical and emotional state," but it's still just tapping on your arm. Saying out loud what you want won't make it happen, but it might make you work harder to make it happen.
Dawson's contribution to EFT is to claim that "you can go into any past memory, say and do what you wished you’d said and done, bring in new resources, and create and transform the picture you have of that memory." This, he says, transforms your memory. His idea of what memory is and how memory works, however, differs a bit from what mere brain scientists have discovered. According to Dawson, "these past negative memories are being held as pictures or holograms in your body-field. Until you transform them you keep tuning into them on a subconscious level and they affect your health, your well being and your point of attraction. Changing the pictures creates both physical and emotional healing, and enables you to attract more positive experiences into your life. And by tapping on the meridians of the body at the same time, the process is accelerated." The evidence for these claims is kept secret by Dawson, for obvious reasons. The icing on the cake is that Dawson brings in quantum physics, which I am sure he is an expert on, to gibberish up his matrix:
From a quantum physics point of view we have any number of possible pasts or futures, and it is simply tuning us into one that is more resourceful, whilst releasing the stress and trauma that we hold in our body-mind and body-field, due to traumatic life events.
Among the wonderful things that matrix reimprinting allows you to do is cure your addiction to nonsense and cure any phobia you have of New Age psycho theories. Plus, you can "work with past-lives and future selves, and also enhance your work with the Law of Attraction." You'd think that would be enough, wouldn't you? But wait, there's more.
The best thing about matrix reimprinting is that you can become a trainer yourself in three days for a mere £325 + £118 (full board sharing twin room). Then, you could start your own business. What other quantum-physics based therapy lets you get your degree in just three days for a few hundred pounds or dollars?
If you do go to the Matrix Reimprinting website be sure to watch the video of treating somebody with a severe case of frog phobia. It's worth the wasted time.
Amazon.com has fired all its California associates, including me, so I no longer earn the commission that used to help pay for the maintenance of this site. Buy your books from your local book shop.
* AmeriCares *