Swan Tower - Richard Dawkins goes off in the deep end
Dec. 16th, 2008
12:37 pm - Richard Dawkins goes off in the deep end
Dawkins has always been a little bit strident for my taste. Now he's gone after something near and dear to my heart, which means whatever patience I had for him is pretty much gone.
Namely, he's going to write a book about whether fantasy is bad for children because it "has an insidious effect on rationality."
Now, let me attempt to be fair. The Telegraph article contains some quotes that make Dawkins sound like an idiot. Example:
"I think looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's something for research."
In other words, he read fantastical stories as a kid, and CLEARLY it damaged his ability to think scientifically, so . . . so maybe the Telegraph
is contextualizing what Dawkins said in a manner that is less than fair to him. Reading between the lines, it sounds a bit more like he's poking around to discover whether there's a there there, rather than already embarking on a crusade against an effect he believes in. Me, I don't
think any such "there" exists; I think it's valuable for children both to experiment imaginatively and to learn how to distinguish reality from fiction. Then again, I also don't agree with Dawkins on the invariably terrible horrible no-good very bad effects of non-scientific thinking, so take my opinion for what it's worth.
And take his for the same. Like later on in the article, where no amount of reading between the lines can help me put a better spin on his declaration that it's "child abuse" to call a kid Christian or Muslim. I'm all for letting kids form their own opinions on spirituality, but child abuse? I think not.
Ah, Richard Dawkins. I'm never quite sure whether to tak you seriously or not.