Sunday, January 13, 2013

Give your kids a bullshit detector

I was watching the the Joe Rogan Experience and Neil DeGrasse Tyson was his guest. I will admit that I did not watch the entire thing but the little bit I did watch got me thinking.  They were discussing Conspiracy theories and how people tend to believe what others tell them. I see evidence of this in my own life. If you state a fact with complete and utter confidence people tend to believe you.

This is how I convinced my 19 year old brother that eating neon birthday candles would give him brightly colored poop, like an Easter egg.

The more we hear different voices saying the same thing the more likely we are to believe it. Take the whole moon landing conspiracy theory. It has been repeated so loudly for so long that to many it sounds like facts. When you ask people to explain why they think the way they do they just repeat the garbage others have filled their heads with.

So bringing this back to parenting, because this is a parenting blog, we do the same to our children. We tell them the way the world works. A millions whys follow and we try to answer them all. Usually arriving at the destined conclusion of :it just is"

Instead try asking them why, what they think. Sure they will probably be wrong a lot but that is ok. Let them be wrong and make mistakes. The important thing is teaching them to question and to use their own deductive reasoning.

Children are the masters at scientific method. For example they may think that feeding the dogs pop rocks would be funny. So they test their hypothesis by finding some pop rocks and the family pet. Or maybe they want to see how high they can make waves go by sliding back and forth in the bath tub. So they immediately start an experiment to find the answer. At this point mom or dad generally ruins the experiment by demanding they stop splashing and making a mess.

k- why
p - because you are getting my floor all wet
k - No I'm not
p -Yes you are. Just stop or you are getting out of the tub

Yeah we have had that exchange in my home and in most other homes that have small children. It is easy to demand our kids just shut up and listen for once in their lives. Just once believe what I tell you and trust me that I have a good reason for saying and doing what I do. Someday that will  happen, and that day is always sad. The day they start taking knowledge at face value is the day their curiosity starts to atrophy. It is the day the weakening of their bullshit detectors begins.

Take heart when you kids demand answers, and want to know why. When they test your answers against  the laws of physics. The goal of parenting is not well behaved children, it is self sufficient adults. I want my kids to question everything, even mom. After all I am still human and I do screw up

No comments:

Post a Comment