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Frightened Children Won’t Solve the World’s Problems

Frightened Children Won’t Solve the World’s Problems

3 Mins
April 15, 2019

Bjorn Lomborg’s diagnosis:

Decades of climate-change exaggeration in the West have produced frightened children, febrile headlines, and unrealistic political promises. The world needs a cooler approach that addresses climate change smartly without scaring us needlessly and that pays heed to the many other challenges facing the planet.

Decades indeed. Ten years ago: “One in Three Children Fear Earth Apocalypse.”

And before that, my 1991 (!) The Wall Street Journal article, “Global Problems Are Too Big for Little Kids,” on widespread reports of children coming home from school scared that the world is ending soon. The conclusion:

Frightened or apathetic children are not going to grow into the adults who will be able to solve the world’s problems. Problem-solving requires confidence that solutions can be discovered and a healthy self-esteem about one’s ability to find them. These attitudes require nurturing over a long period of time, on countless small, day-to-day issues. Too much too fast can only destroy them.

Education is about helping children grow into knowledgeable, creative thinkers with emotional resilience and a can-do spirit. The opposite of that is indoctrination that results in young adults oscillating between angry dogmatism and stunted apathy.

The WSJ piece is online in text [pdf] and audio [mp3].

Postmodernism’s contribution: “Why Postmoderns Train—Not Educate—Activists.” Also at The Atlas Society and in Spanish and Portuguese translations.

This article was originally published at Stephen Hicks.org.

Stephen Hicks Ph.D


Stephen Hicks Ph.D

Stephen R. C. Hicks PH.D. is the Senior Scholar for the Atlas Society, Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University, and the director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford University. In 2010, he won his university's Excellence in Teaching Award. Professor Hicks has written four books; Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, Nietzsche and the Nazis, Entrepreneurial Living, and The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis.

Stephen Hicks Ph.D.
About the author:
Stephen Hicks Ph.D.

Stephen R. C. Hicks, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University, Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship, and Senior Scholar at The Atlas Society.

He is author of The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis (W. W. Norton & Co., 1998), Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy, 2004), Nietzsche and the Nazis (Ockham’s Razor, 2010),  Entrepreneurial Living (CEEF, 2016), Liberalism Pro and Con (Connor Court, 2020), Art: Modern, Postmodern, and Beyond (with Michael Newberry, 2021) and Eight Philosophies of Education (2022). He has published in Business Ethics Quarterly, Review of Metaphysics, and The Wall Street Journal. His writings have been translated into 20 languages.

He has been Visiting Professor of Business Ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Visiting Fellow at the Social Philosophy & Policy Center in Bowling Green, Ohio, Visiting Professor at the University of Kasimir the Great, Poland, Visiting Fellow at Harris Manchester College of Oxford University, England, and Visiting Professor at Jagiellonian University, Poland.

His B.A. and M.A. degrees are from the University of Guelph, Canada. His Ph.D. in Philosophy is from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.

In 2010, he won his university’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

His Open College podcast series is published by Possibly Correct Productions, Toronto. His video lectures and interviews are online at CEE Video Channel, and his website is StephenHicks.org.  

Instagram Takeover Questions:

Every week we solicit questions from our 100K followers on Instagram (a social media platform popular with young people. Once a month we feature Stephen Hicks' answers to select questions, transcripts below:

Also several articles, selected for likely interest to Objectivist audiences: