So, Richard Dawkins is helping to start a new atheist summer camp.
It’s more than just an atheist summer camp — it’s a skeptic indoctrination summer camp: "Camp-goers aged eight to 17 will also be taught how to disprove phenomena such as crop circles and telepathy. In the Invisible Unicorn Challenge, any child who can prove that unicorns do not exist will win a £10 note"
Somehow that makes the whole enterprise sound so utterly joyless. I imagine it turning out legions of prim and literal-minded little pendants, children who adjust their glasses before informing you that, actually, they are not interested in telling ghost stories around the campfire because ghosts don’t exist.
Many summer camps are run by various religions and feature heavy indoctrination. In fact, I went to one when I was fourteen or fifteen where there was an official attempt to indoctrinate me into being anti-abortion, and there were many slightly less official attempts to indoctrinate me into things like young-earth creationism and the evils of rock music.
Let me tell you, as a teenager, there is nothing that will turn you on to skepticism faster than a really incompetent indoctrination attempt.
And I certainly don’t think the answer is equal and opposite indoctrination.
Why does it have to be specifically a skeptics camp, designed to get kids interested in disproving various unlikely things? Why not a science camp, designed to teach kids about nature and the scientific method? I mean, you learn the scientific method, and the skepticism pretty much takes care of itself, right?
Anyway, I imagine that proving the existence of invisible (to the naked eye) tiny organisms in pond water would be a lot more exciting to a bunch of kids than proving the non-existence of invisible unicorns.