Advice
Posted: 25 February 2007 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi I am looking for some suggestions/advice on how to handle something that happened at my daughters school a couple of months ago.  First of all let me tell you that she is in 9th grade and goes to a charter shcool that actually encourages freethinking. Unfortunately, the "freethinking" that has been encouraged by volunteer parents has been in a "club" atmosphere and has centered around mysticism. Mostly of a new-age variety.  Recently the instructor had the kids watch a dvd called "The Secret". It explains how anyone can you use their positive energy to make the things they want happen.  Here is the link:  http://whatisthesecret.tv/  .  My daughter, much to her credit sees it for the silliness that it is, but there are some students that seem to take it at face value. The long and the short of it is that I want to combat this stuff with reason and skepticism.  I am not a public speaker and have no credentials to expound on the wonders of reason and skepticism.  If push came to shove, I might acutally try to do my best Carl Sagan, but let’s face it, it would be a pale, sad facsimile. I want to engage their critical thinking, is this impossible?  By the way, the Director of the school sees it as I do and said that I can conduct any seminar I wish. What’s next?
Thanks for any help.    :?:
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Posted: 26 February 2007 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Forst, I would check with CFI directly. I know they run Camp Inquiry, which is the sort of educational slant you’re looking for, and I suspect they have materials and resources that might help you construct a seminar. Another idea would be to get someone from the magic community involved. Maybe not the “Big Guns” like Randi or Penn&Teller;, but someone with a similar mindset. Nothing disabuses people of their belief in mystical nonsense like being fooled by an apparent psychic or whatnot and they shown how they were fooled.
My daughter also goes to a charter school (she’s 6), and I am interested in working up a similar critical thinking seminar, but I haven’t yet gotten together specifci resources, so I’d love to hear what you find!

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Posted: 26 February 2007 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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From what I have heard of it, “The Secret” is very similar to the cult classic “What the Bleep Do We Know,” a psuedo-documentary about quantum physics which was produced by the Cult of Ramtha and new-agers (the film intersparsed testimony from PhD’s in astrophysics with chiropractors).  The latter film referenced a study in which a researcher pasted different words on bottles of water, like “love,” “hate,” “greed,” etc, and found that the molecular structure of the water changed accordingly…  yeah.

The ultimate thesis of both films seems to be that you can alter reality through your own will, because reality is only a manifestation of your perception. 

Not sure what you can do, other than be open with your skepticism, and encourage the teacher to emphasize the flimsiness of such claims…

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Posted: 26 February 2007 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Re: Advice

[quote author=“Georgeac”]It explains how anyone can you use their positive energy to make the things they want happen.

Simple experiment, you could do in class:

Roll some dice in a closed box. Have everyone “use their positive energy” to make them come up double sixes. See if it happens.

Should happen roughly one in every thirty six rolls.

:wink:

You could use this as an intro to statistics if you want. You could do two experiments, one where people are wishing and another where they are not. But NB the chances are 50/50 that the one where they are wishing will come up better.

The lesson should be obvious, however: if wishing made it so, nobody would ever lose in Vegas.

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Posted: 01 March 2007 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks for all of the good ideas.  I like the Vegas angle.  Does anyone know if there is some materials that CFI might have that would help the cause? Who I would talk to? I am going to send an email to D.J.Grothe. Maybe he would be interested in a trip to Minnesota in March. ( It is a blizzard here as I write). It seems like I heard it was hard to organize the campus inquiry at a High School level.  Perhaps it may not be the way to go. Maybe a speaker or multi-part seminar.  I am also trying to find a magician locally that might care to help.  It’s funny, I just picked up a Newsweek and it had a large piece more or less downing “The Secret” . Apparently Oprah has done a 2hour show on ” the secret” and is a real disciple. Ellen Degeneres did a little blurb on it as well.  Can you imagine the money this lady is going to make from Oprah, Newsweek and Ellen Degenres?  It really is a flash in the pan and will most likely be forgotten. It’s just the idea of these young minds being pointed in that direction instead of direction of reason and critical thinking sets our movement back.  We should be teaching these young minds HOW to think not WHAT to think. Please keep the suggestions coming. Thanks.GA

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Posted: 01 March 2007 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“Georgeac”] We should be teaching these young minds HOW to think not WHAT to think.

Absolutely. Mental training.

Try emailing DJ or Thomas. Be patient since they are pretty busy ...

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