Possibly True. Necessarily Entertaining.

Children’s philosophy book series cancelled

with 18 comments

Jimmy Becker’s parents say he hasn’t been the same since he started reading Random House’s Philosophy for Kids series.

Jimmy Becker is a curious and determined eight-year-old.  That determination, however, is getting him into trouble.  “What’s the point of life if everything I do is already fixed by the laws of nature and prior conditions?”  His mother lets out a sigh.

“He’s been talking like this ever since he read that book,” says Ms. Becker.  “That book” is Billiards, Bugs and Brains, part of the Philosophy for Kids series from Random House.  With brightly colored pictures and monosyllabic words, Billiards explores the deterministic behavior of the natural world, including the world of human thought and action.

“And it’s not just talk,” adds Jimmy’s father. “He’s acting out in class, fighting with his sister — even stealing money from my wallet.”  Jimmy shakes his head.  “My parents say I’m becoming irresponsible, but I think I’m just coming to understand that I was never really responsible to begin with.”

For her part, Claire Becker hasn’t been sleeping well since her brother brought home David Has a Problem from the school library.  “I’m afraid zombies are metaphysically possible,” says Claire.  Mr. Becker nods knowingly.  “When I was a kid I was afraid of monsters, too.”

The problem at the Becker house isn’t an isolated incident.  In fact, their neighbors across the street are dealing with a similar issue after purchasing Donald and the Swampman, another book from the series.  “How can I believe that my thoughts are meaningful if I don’t have a plausible theory of mental content?” asks a distressed Jill Eisen, age twelve.  “One day at dinner I asked her what she was thinking about, and she said ‘I don’t know!’ and burst into tears,” explains Jill’s mother.  “I should have known not to buy her a book with such a scary-sounding title.”

Facing lagging sales and an increasing number of angry parents, Random House has announced that the series won’t be continued.  While titles already published won’t be pulled from the shelves, there will be no additional printings and production will be halted on several books in progress.

The news comes as a shock to Rita Alvarez, one of the series’ main authors. “I was very careful not to include anything that might frighten children: no evil demons, no involuntary organ transplants, no Pascal’s Wager. We even decided not to go ahead with Schrödinger’s Cat in the Hat just to be safe,” explains Alvarez, referencing what would have been the latest in the Classic Remakes line of Philosophy for Kids.  The remakes, which have been particularly controversial, include Goodnight Moon: Nuclear Winter and War in the 21st Century, Alice in Wonderland: Cognitive Liberty and Psychedelics, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Cannibalism and Disaster Ethics.


Written by fauxphilnews

May 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm

18 Responses

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  1. Very funny. and very well done….. my 12 year old has already come up with her own version of the “how do we know that we’re not all just heads in jars” existential angst. Her’s is “how do we know that we’re not all just like Simm’s characters and someone out there is just playing a game with us?


    May 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    • Yes, I was just about to post that discontinuing the series won’t help because some kids will end up thinking about philosophy whether they’re given a book about it or not. 🙂

      Carl M. Johnson

      May 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      • Yes, the little tinkers will keep thinking! Although, if they keep thinking and others don’t, all is well, yes?

        Phil Workman

        May 11, 2012 at 11:52 am

  2. Dang, I was gonna buy my little brother the forthcoming “Possible Lego Worlds” and “Twin Earth: The Adventures of Twater and Tharthritis”


    May 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

  3. Hilarious!


    May 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  4. That settles it: I’ll never have children…
    They’re just not compatible with living the examined life.

    David Zimmerman

    May 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

  5. It only shows how disconnected parents are from their children. Parents are not reinforcing the uniqueness of their children so when confronted with big questions, the children are lost.


    May 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    • What part of “faux” do you not understand?

      David Zimmerman

      May 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

      • Ah, I connected through FB didn’t get that part! Ooop!


        May 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm

        • An understandable oversight. Please forgive the sharpness of my original reply.

          David Zimmerman

          May 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        • Wait: you thought ANY of this was ‘real’?


          May 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm

  6. No prob. You delete all of this if you want.


    May 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm

  7. Love it! Thanks.


    June 11, 2012 at 8:25 am

  8. […] Here’s a humorous look at the dangers of teaching kids philosophy – https://fauxphilnews.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/childrens-philosophy-book-series-cancelled/#more-710 […]

  9. Thank you, that was very entertaining.


    July 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

  10. For a second I thought this was real. Then about halfway through the second paragraph I went “Ohhhh…that’s what this is…”

    XD It was a really fun read. Keep ’em coming!


    August 31, 2012 at 10:24 am

  11. ”One day at dinner I asked her what she was thinking about, and she said ‘I don’t know!’ and burst into tears,” explains Jill’s mother. ”I should have known not to buy her a book with such a scary-sounding title.”

    I’m going to just. die. of. laughter.now.lksdnf,gmnkjfam

    Christina Dietz

    September 7, 2012 at 12:48 am

  12. I’m having giggle fits… Tried telling my husband about it, but he was like… oh, so you have to get philosophy… Uhhh.. duh… then start laughing again.

    Rebecca Glasencnik

    September 7, 2012 at 4:56 am

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