Archive for September 14th, 2010

Intelligent But Hilarious Children And Critical Thinking

September 14th, 2010

Today has been one of those day where the slightest thing has tried my patience. A normally even-tempered Jules had to avoid much of the internet today. Things that normally would cause me to say, OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”, had me yelling, “OH FOR FUCK OFF!” to my monitor. This is not good. So I spent a lot of my day avoiding blogs, which I normally love to read, and avoiding reading my Facebook news feed. I was in such a mood that I would have not felt any remorse at all when I inevitably stopped biting my tongue, so to speak, and lashed out.

In an attempt to calm the raging monster lurking inside of me, waiting for a moment to devour the first of many unsuspecting but deserving victims, I decided to listen to the one time that I was interviewed. Kid2 decided to join me for the last few minutes of the interview. And am I ever glad that he did. The conversations that occurred as a result managed to not only calm this savage beast but also subdue it into fits of roaring laughter.

Near the end of this interview, I was asked who I liked better, Wil Wheaton or Phil Plait. He came in just to hear the end of the conversation, where I say, “That is like asking me who I like better, Kirk or Picard” and some banter on that subject. Kid2 asked me, “Did Joe just ask you who you like better, Kirk or Picard?” I replied, “No. He asked who I like better, Wil or Phil.” His eyes became wide as saucers as he said, “OUCH! That is even more difficult to choose between! How could he ask you to choose?!” I howled and said, “You’re awesome! Yes, it is a more difficult choice.”

He sat with me for the remaining 10 minutes of the interview. We laughed together over the ridiculousness of it and other things; such as having Joe and Sammy team up on me being just as bad as if it were him and a myriad of other people, who are very good at teasing me, team up on me. Once it was done, I told him it was time for his shower.  Still laughing, he went to the shower and I checked Twitter. That is when I saw the following tweet from my friend Travis, “Just saw a good-looking woman I’ve never heard of accepting some kind of important Republican nomination on CNN. Most unpleasant deja vu.”

I HOWLED! I giggled and snorted for a good few minutes. I was still giggling when Kid2 got out of the shower. He asked me if I was still laughing from our discussion prior to his shower. I said, “No. I’m laughing at something a friend said on Twitter.” He asked me to tell him what it was. I told him he wouldn’t understand. He gave me that puppy dog look, which only children can give their parents, so I told him what it said.

Wanting to be part of the conversation, he laughed. I smiled at him and said, “You don’t get it, do you?” He shook his head, “No.” So, that is when I explained to him that it was a reference to Sarah Palin. He cocked his head and said, “That name sounds familiar, but I don’t know who she is.” I then explained to him that she was a candidate for the Vice President of the USA, she is pretty but she is not that smart. She believes that the earth is 6000 years old and that she can see Russia from her house in Alaska, among other things.

The look on his face and the ensuing conversation was priceless!

Kid2: Wait a minute. She thinks she can see Russia from her house?

Me: Well, that is what she said.

Kid2: Okay, well… that seems a little ridiculous to me. But what I have more issue with is, SHE THINKS THE WORLD IS 6000 YEARS OLD! REALLY? Has she ever heard of Science, mom?!?”

I smiled and said, “About 50% of Americans are what is known as “Young Earth Creationists”. Meaning, they believe that the Bible is literal, therefor the Earth is only 6000 years old and people and dinosaurs inhabited the planet together.

Kid2: Seriously?!? Again, have they not heard of Science??? Do they not go to school? How can they believe this?

It was then he gave me a demonstration of the history of the Universe using his arms. He held his arms as wide apart as they could go, told me to imagine this was the entire time line of the Universe and then showed me the minuscule portion of when the Earth formed, the even smaller portion of when dinosaurs inhabited the planet and the yet even smaller portion of human existence.

Kid2: It’s more complicated than that, mom. But that is basically it. That is SCIENCE! How can they rationally believe anything else?

Me: I didn’t say it was rational. I said that is what Young Earth Creationists believe. They believe that people rode dinosaurs, etc.

Kid2: Honestly!? You mean to tell me, what? That they think the time that the earth was all molten rock and stuff… and what about the ice ages, mom?!? What about those? So they think the earth being a molten lava pit and the ice ages, happened in like what? Minutes from each other?!?

Me: Pretty much. Well, you see, love. They have their own “scientists” who, with their own “science”, “prove” Science wrong.

Kid2: Well, isn’t that just stupid! That isn’t how you do Science! They are purposely going to find the answers they are looking for! That isn’t how it’s done! It’s like…  ummm… okay… as an example, if I go out searching for proof that God doesn’t exist, of course I’m going to find proof to suit my own beliefs because I’ve made my mind up on what the answer is. The same is if I go search for proof that God does exist! Of course I’m going to find “proof”. That isn’t finding answers or proof! That’s just trying to find things to support the ideas you already have! That isn’t how you are suppose to do it! And they call that science?!?

Me: Yes, hun. And you are exactly right. When you have an idea about something, you are not suppose to make up your mind first regarding the results but just test your theory and go from there. You gather the data, apply the math and let it give you the answers, not the other way around.

Kid2: I still can’t believe in this day and age people still think the Earth is only 6000 years old! That is just insane!

And with that, he went to bed.

I smiled. I am still smiling. I have some of the best conversations with my children. It makes me happy that I’m teaching them how to think critically and be skeptical about the world around them. I worry sometimes because Kid2 will see something on YouTube or elsewhere (2012 being a big one lately) and we have to have long discussions about the faulty science behind it. But then he will have a rant of Jules Epic Proportions or we will laugh and geek out about things together, and I can be content.

Aside from being able to laugh with my child tonight, chasing away the monster within, I had the opportunity to have a very good discussion about the world in which we live and the people we share it with. And to think, those comments came out of the mouth of an 11 year old child.

It is too bad that many adults still do not know how to apply such logic to the world around them.