Thursday, July 28, 2005

...I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child...

Over at Poliblog, Steven Taylor has a post about the beliefs of children, responding to a post elsewhere.

Dr. Taylor writes:

"When I was little I believed that the world actually existed in black and white, and that it only became color a few years before my birth. My reasoning was pretty straight-forward: all the evidence I had (photographic and movies) were black and white, hence the world itself must’ve been black and white, right?"

I believed exactly the same thing. Furthermore, since the earliest color photos in my home had faded into sepia tones, I reasoned that color had come into the world gradually, first in black-and-white, then sepia tones, then the full color of my own lifetime.

Also, growing up in northern Indiana (Amish country), one day I asked my mother why the Amish didn't use cars and lights and whatnot. She responded, "Because they don't believe in electricity." To my young ears, though, I thought that what she meant was that they didn't believe in the existence of electricity, rather than simply believing in using it. I asked her, "What do they think when they see cars and electric lights and stuff?" She misunderstood what I was asking -- assuming that I was asking what they thought about those of us "English" who use them, rather than my actual question, which was about how they reasoned away the efficacy of these devices -- and responded after a moment's thought, "I just don't know."

I was probably ten or twelve years old before I realized my error. Up until then, I thought the Amish must be the stupidest people alive, unable to reason out the effectiveness of electricity by seeing the workings of a television or lightbulb.

1 comment:

  1. This post made me laugh. I believed and experienced all kinds of very interesting things when I was a youngster.

    When I was in the second grade, I developed an acute phobia of magnets. The fear subsided after a couple of months, but they still gave me the creeps for years afterwards.

    During the acute phase, I actually felt electric shocks from magnets and from metal objects that had some of the features of magnets.