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A term invented by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, co-authors of The Collapse of Chaos, Figments of Reality and, with Terry Pratchett, The Science of Discworld. Lies-to-children are the necessary half-truths told to children, students and non-specialists when the real explanations are too difficult to comprehend.

For example, most people picture an atom as a clump of nucleons with electrons orbiting like planets around the sun. This is completely out of line with modern knowledge, but few would contemplate introducing quantum mechanics into a high school science class.

The main problem with lies-to-children comes about when the inquisitive student attempts to apply the lies as if they were exactly correct. This often leads to wildly inaccurate assertions from the student or else disillusionment that their independent thinking lead them to the wrong answer.

I believe that lies-to-children are at least partly responsible for teenagers-who-know-everything...

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