Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Land of Unbelieve...

Remember when summer camp meant ghost stories by a campfire, swimming, games, and group hikes?

Better toss those archaic notions out the window, you narrow-minded fools.

Camp Inquiry is a new, different sort of summer camp. Sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, is an environment void of the supernatural and religion. Skepticism and critical thinking are encouraged. Aliens, bigfoot, and urban legends are debunked by experts and the kids, ranging from 7 to 16 years old, are taught to demand proof.

While religion isn't openly discussed, it seems to be a topic left for free time. The majority of the children are either atheist or secular humanist. The camp provides a stark contrast to Bible study programs, allowing them to discuss their disbelief without fear of ridicule.

Austin and Jordan Fischer, brothers from New York City, learned of the camp from an advertisement in Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry (magazines coincidentally published by the Center for Inquiry). "All the other [camps] are team building, physical stuff, a lot of playing," said Jordan. "This is more intellectual."

Thankfully, cooperation, exercise, and imaginative fun won't be ruining the summer months for these kids.

While I'm all for encouraging children to make up their own mind on many philosophical matters of life, this just doesn't seem "unbiased" to me. Teaching children thought, reason, and science is a wonderful thing, but what lines do you draw? Do you tell the seven-year-old that he's a moron for believing in Santa Claus? If a child wears a cross, is he or she shunned by the counselors or deprogrammed? Does the child who believes she saw a ghost have to go in for a brain scan?

What's so wrong with leaving a little mystery and imagination in the world? And does science really have the answer to every, single, solitary question possible in the universe at this moment in time?


Buck said...

It would seem that they have turned atheism into a religion complete with dogma and catechism. How ironic when you think about it.

It's also sad that they stifle creativity and imagination as much as any religion attempts to do.

But, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so as long as we have fundamentalist Christians we'll have fundamentalist Atheists I guess.

I just feel sorry for these kids - can you imagine being a natural born fiction writer in that environment!? OW!

Cullan Hudson said...

I'm saddened by the fact that this sounds like the suckiest summer camp EVER! Not only are you stuck inside a stifling bunkhouse filled to the brim with stinky, pre-adolescent and adolescent boys (I can only imagine the smell) but one is actually discouraged from indulging in a bit of fantasy. Tsk, tsk. I'm all for critical thinking, God knows, but it's summer camp for crying out loud.

Jeanne said...

No extreme of anything is a good thing!

Anonymous said...

I would think a camp like this would be extremely boring for a kid. The amazing thing that you want to enhance, not get rid of is the imagination of a kid. This is just another way of forcing kids to grow up to fast.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the point is to prepare children for a life where the name of the game is "don't get tricked." Imagination is important, as is fantasy and fiction. This is where art comes from, and storytelling--both valuable assets in society, and both encouraged at the camp, if you looked into it at all. But imagination needs to be recognized as coming from within, and not based in reality. Problems arise, then, when adults can no longer tell the two apart. At that point, they are ripe for victimhood at the hands of psychics, homeopothists, faith healers, creationists, and other unscrupulous dealers of snake oil.

A child unvaccinated against irrational claims is far more likely to end up ripped off, misled, sick, injured, dead, or a "paranormal investigator."

Imagination is good; letting imagined entities influence your life is bad.

Ken said...

Thank goodness I'm an Atheist who was raised to question everything, else I might believe in such "mythical beings"...

Paranormal investigators have not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that ghosts and other supernatural entities do, in fact, exist. On the other hand, science has yet to prove that they do not exist beyond all doubt. Both sides simply hypothesize and experiment. From string theory to the causes of homosexuality, there is much conjecture still in the realm of science.

To dub anyone with beliefs and practices involving the paranormal a "charlatan" is a hasty generalization. The use of "trickery" is not a tool of every believer or investigator. Logic and reason actually do exist in the paranormal community.

As Socrates once said, "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."

And thank you, "anonymous", for proving there are human beings void of a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

"...science has yet to prove that they do not exist beyond all doubt"

Right. That's called "proving a negative" and can't be done. Any honest or knowlegeable "paranormal investigator" would not use that argument past their third week on the job.

And since you claim 12 years in this paranormal business, I find it difficult to believe that you never ran across this fact. So, the logical (since you tout logic, so) conclusion is that you are counting on your readers to be uneducated fools who still think that "you can't prove it DOESN'T exist" is a real argument.

Thanks for outing yourself--there are plenty of honest (blissfully unaware or self-deluded) paranormal investigators, and plenty of honest (skeptical) investigators out there, but I'm calling "charlatan" on YOU.

Perhaps that's why your back is turned in your avatar. Guilt and cowardice--the hallmarks of someone living in fear of supernatural creepies.

And Socrates was an atheist, by the way, if you choose to draw on his wisdom.

Ken said...

There is a difference between using something as an argument and using something as an example. you assume I'm unaware of "proving a negative"... assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.

To call someone a "charlatan", you really should have the foggiest idea about the individual you address. As for my avatar, if you had bothered to visit my blog before spilling out your bitterness you would have known I have shown my face many times. I do not "lurk in the darkness" and am far from being ashamed for the person I am. And you, being the noble crusader, chose to reveal nothing of who you are.

Alas, I'm the coward. Good logic.

Again, thanks for missing the point of this blog (to find a little humor in the mundane and supernatural) and failing to grasp the point of Socrates' quote in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see your previous reader chose to read a blog he clearly doesn’t understand and pick fights like a school child. I thought it was amusing to see him say you were hiding when he calls himself “anonymous”. The pot calling the kettle black.

Buck said...

Too bad this fundamentalist truly is cowardly and doesn't understand a logical argument or the rules of debate.

Since he can't stubstantiate anything he/she says with facts or figures he resorts to ad hominem attacks which is the last resort of a loser.

As dragon says, a true coward since he's afraid to even attach his/her name to his/her attacks and vitriol.

Opinions are like assholes and some assholes believe in announcing their opinions.

Like so much wind I suggest this idiot be ignored until he/she grows to maturity and decides to come out of the closet.