I agree with everyone above that having students invent their own pseudoscience is simply a wonderful teaching tool.
What could better prepare a young person for evaluating nonsense as well as to help them remember the things that should raise red flags and their eyebrows?
But the reason I wanted to post is to thank Mr. Carroll for mentioning humility as being a key component of healthy skepticism and critical thinking. To me, that virtue and element of wisdom is almost the very foundation of true critical thinking and of skillfully living in the world.
If we fail to appreciate how we, that is “I,” can be and not infrequently are, fooled by others and even more importantly, how we can fool ourselves, we’re not fundamentally more rational than those whom we criticize for their deities and other forms of credulity.
In my view, a key project for skeptics and humanists is to “take back,” so to speak, the mantle of humility from religionists - particularly Christians and Muslims, who make much of their “humility.”
But the humility of a true critical thinker stands in stark contrast to the faux humility of religionists, who are really only “humble before God” - a stance which allows them to be utterly pious, certain, and self-righteous regarding their unjustifiable supernatural beliefs, dangerous dogmas, and consequent behaviors.
In other words, for one very clear example, “humble believers” can become suicide bombers and the like - people whose certainty in their beliefs justifies for them the murder and suffering of others.