On fairy tales

Dawkin’s believes that fairy tells hurt kids.  Update:  It sounds like I have been unfair, here are the reported comments.  It still makes a cool conversation, so I will leave this up for comments about the ideas 🙂

From the article:

The British scientist, known for his assaults on religion in books such as The God Delusion, has told a science festival audience that parents should ditch fairy tales in order to “foster a spirit of scepticism” in their children.

“I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism,” The Times reports him saying.

I find this troubling, as I have a different view on what fairy tales are:

You may note some similarities in this to how I have broadly discussed economics.

However, I’m interested in your thoughts.  Is the framework I’m using “right”, if not why, if so how can we use that to analyse the efficacy of fairy tales for helping give children knowledge (vs misleading them).  Given all this, what lessons can we take for economics!

6 replies
  1. Mark Hubbard
    Mark Hubbard says:

    He should skeptically read a bit of Stephen Hawking from
    time to time, a bit of poetry plus a good English lit novel, and turn off the inner-robot.

    Probably a French word to describe the whole phenomenon.

  2. dragonfly
    dragonfly says:

    Here are a couple of statements that Dawkins makes:

    “So a child can learn from fairy stories how to judge plausibility” and “Fairy stories might equip the child to reject supernaturalism when the time comes”.

    What’s interesting to me about this is that I was raised as a Catholic but when I was around 11 years old I stopped believing, even though up until that time I had always gone to Catholic schools (replete with veiled nuns, pleated gym tunics, sex education provided by a homosexual paedophile priest and shock, horror – a divorced lay teacher!) and my home was not one where any doubts could ever be expressed. One of the reasons I stopped believing was the hypocrisy I saw everywhere, the other was that I made the connection between religious stories and the fairy tales I had loved at 7 years old.

    But I also think Dawkins is wrong. What he said happens to be true in my case, but I would say it is true for very few people. Fairy tales are metaphorical accounts of human nature, not of supernature. They warn us about fools and the fools who follow fools (The Emperors Clothes), that there are bad people wearing masks out there (Little Red Riding Hood) and of the experience of psychological distress and not finding it easy to live in the regular world (The Little Mermaid – Hans Christian Andersen was a pretty screwed-up guy). Perhaps they were always a way of teaching children about these things which are essential truths, rather than fantastical untruths.

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