Richard Dawkins Is Right, Fairy Tales Are Ridiculous And Kids Should Be Skeptical
If you look up the definition of “unlikely adversaries” in my imaginary dictionary you’ll find a picture of Angelina Jolie and Richard Dawkins having a pissing contest (which actually sounds pretty awesome, but I digress), which is exactly what’s happening right now. Apparently Jolie is butt hurt about some comments Dawkins made about teaching children fairy tales, but I think he has a pretty damn good point. Skepticism is a virtue that should be taught young, and teaching fairy stories with no context or guidance can get in the way of that.
According to The Daily Mail, Dawkins made the controversial comments this week at the Cheltenham Science Festival, calling fairy tales “pernicious.” and warning that they can be damaging, causing Labour party MP Tom Watson to call him a “soulless bore.” Because nothing upsets a sworn Atheist like calling them soulless. BURN. Dawkin’s exact words were:
“Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of skepticism? I think itâ€™s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism â€“ we get enough of that anyway.”
Obviously Angelina Jolie, who recently bad a mega ton of money playing the title character in Disney‘s Maleficent, disagrees. According to Jolie fairy tales play a vital role in her parenting, and she sees nothing wrong with using “a little magic” to teach moral lessons. Which I certainly don’t disagree with, within reason:
“There are morals in these stories and you want a little magic â€“ itâ€™s important to have something that weâ€™re a little bit in awe of.Â The other day, one of the kids lost a tooth and I talked about the tooth fairy. Half of them are old enough to think: â€œWhat are you talking about,â€ yet theyâ€™re still not sure there isnâ€™t something.”
Considering the fact that Maddox is freaking dating, I think she’s exaggerating but I get her point. She loses me, however, with this:
“And Iâ€™m not lying to them. I say, â€œI really canâ€™t tell you. I donâ€™t really know. Mothers are sworn to secrecy.â€
Um, that sounds like a lie to me. Tell all the fairy stories you like, but let’s not pretend it isn’t lying. I don’t even think lying to your kids about this stuff is wrong. I did the whole Santa, Tooth Fairy spiel with my brood. But in addition to these fun stories, we need to instill in our children a spirit of skepticism. The fairy tales are nice, but it’s the skepticism that will help them later in life.
To be fair, Dawkins later clarified his views, saying:
“I did not and will not condemn fairy tales. My whole life has been given over to simulating the imagination, and in childhood years, fairy stories can do that.”
I think it’s silly that Dawkins even had to say this. To me it was obvious that he wasn’t knocking fairy tales per se, but rather the peculiar human habit of actually believing these far-fetched stories.