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Teaching Kids About Science: Teach Wrong Theories Too

One reason I love skepticism is that we rejoice in being wrong. Adam Savage has a saying that he prints on t-shirts worn by the Mythbusters staff… “Failure is ALWAYS an option”.

Yes! Absolutely right! We can’t help but have biased expectations based on our individual experiences, flawed perception, attitudes, or even just what we think we know, but good skeptics must be prepared to admit when the data proves them wrong.

That’s why I loved finding the children’s book “Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System” at the local public library.

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Boy Were We Wrong About the Solar System” by Kathleen Kudlinski is a great trip through time that takes the reader through all the things people misunderstood about the solar system. It’s beautifully illustrated by John Rocco. I love the idea of using the solar system to explain how facts are provisional… The Sun does not revolve around the Earth, despite what the church’s holy book said; it’s the other way around. Saturn isn’t bumpy; that’s a ring around it. Pluto is not a planet; it’s actually no bigger than other planet like objects that we now call “dwarf planets”.

It’s awesome that this book celebrates the idea that scientific knowledge is constantly updated, and that this is a good thing. It’s not a flaw of science that we were wrong before – it’s an asset. The book ends with the idea that there will be more things that will soon be discovered that we’re currently wrong about. And, I’d love for my kids to know that it’s perfectly fine to be wrong, and that it’s even better to strive to be right.


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