I wanted to share a couple of interesting articles about children, science, and belief. Both are from NPR.
The first is from Halloween, called “How Real is the Candy Witch?”, by Tania Lombrozo. It explores the gullibility of children, concluding in the end that they’re not really so easily fooled as we might think, and that a readiness to believe in what seems unlikely doesn’t conflict with an appreciation of evidence. The second is called “Every Child is Born a Scientist”, by Marcelo Gleiser. This one is a brief look at the radical openness of a child’s mind, where science can become “a magical portal to them, a place of wonderment and discovery.”
My response to these articles is that these attitudes are related – our ability to enjoy stories and myths is tied to our scientific openness. We have different spaces we have in our minds for “truth” and “fact”. Children in particular have a really strong ability to occupy that space between fact and fiction where “truth” can be something else, something wondrous and indeterminate. I’d love to put this together into a whole essay, but, you know – NaNoWriMo. If you find these articles interesting, I’d also suggest taking a look at Tolkien’s essay “On Fairie-Stories”, Martin Donougho’s work on what he calls the “double semantic register” of myth, and several of Richard Feynman’s essays in the collection, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.
For me now, these are just going to have to remain random thoughts.