View Poll Results: Should I teach my kids to believe in Santa?
No (And don't give them presents) 1 2.22%
No (They still get presents) 20 44.44%
Yes 14 31.11%
You should drown your children to stop them polluting the gene pool 10 22.22%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-30-2010, 01:59 PM   #211
thomastwo
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I'm just impressed how patient a fisherman Anthony was. That worm must have been a tiny shrivelled lump by the time Thomas ate it. Also kudos everyone else who resisted queering the pitch.
What ajf has done is merely demonstrate the futility of pedantry.
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:19 PM   #212
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What ajf has done is merely demonstrate the futility of pedantry.
How did he do that? AJF readily conceded that the correct attribution of the quote is in dispute. Are you now claiming to have settled the dispute? If so, how'd you do it?

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Old 12-30-2010, 05:26 PM   #213
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Tē won't be satisfied with anything short of me declaring that there is absolutely no way that Giovanni de' Medici could possibly have said those words and begging him for his forgiveness.

But I don't know that de' Medici didn't say it, and neither does thomas, whose insistence that Bale is an unreliable journalist, like his own faith, utterly lacks foundation.

Incidentally: I have updated the quote, so thomas can no longer question its accuracy.

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:05 PM   #214
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It would have been enough for you to answer my question about accuracy with a simple "I don't know if it's accurate". Instead of that we just got a tap-dance.
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:46 PM   #215
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It would have been enough for you to answer my question about accuracy with a simple "I don't know if it's accurate".
That would not have been an accurate answer.

The best I can offer is that I should have corrected your question by identifying the phrase as a paraphrase and not a quote.

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:55 PM   #216
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It would have been enough for you to answer my question about accuracy with a simple "I don't know if it's accurate". Instead of that we just got a tap-dance.
Who's "we?"

You were the only one here questioning the "accuracy" of the quote. And since you already knew that the attribution has long been in dispute, you could have made that point and posted a link supporting the claim that it is in dispute instead of initiating a protracted, negative engagement on the question.

In other words, don't ask questions to which you already know the answer. Just make your point.

"So many gods, so many creeds! So many paths that wind and wind, when just the art of being kind is all this sad world needs."
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:10 PM   #217
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Did you even weigh in on the thread topic, thomas?

What's your opinion on telling children, with the intention of having those children actually believe as factual, that a jolly fat white man camps out at the North Pole running an elvish sweatshop to make toys that he then delivers annually to all the good gentile boys and girls on the evening of December 24th by flying around the world in a magic red rickshaw drawn by flying caribou?

Something you know to be untrue is a lie, but is a lie okay when it lacks harmful intention?

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:12 PM   #218
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Who's "we?"
Me and my imaginary friends

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You were the only one here questioning the "accuracy" of the quote. And since you already knew that the attribution has long been in dispute, you could have made that point and posted a link supporting the claim that it is in dispute instead of initiating a protracted, negative engagement on the question.

In other words, don't ask questions to which you already know the answer. Just make your point.
I didn't know if ajf had some source that had convinced him it really was a quote of Pope Leo X. Hence the question. I wouldn't want to jump to conclusions.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:22 PM   #219
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Did you even weigh in on the thread topic, thomas?

What's your opinion on telling children, with the intention of having those children actually believe as factual, that a jolly fat white man camps out at the North Pole running an elvish sweatshop to make toys that he then delivers annually to all the good gentile boys and girls on the evening of December 24th by flying around the world in a magic red rickshaw drawn by flying caribou?

Something you know to be untrue is a lie, but is a lie okay when it lacks harmful intention?
I think it's a beautiful piece of theater that creates wonderful experiences for young boys and girls. Lots of fiction is indistinguishable from fact for children at a young age. It's a stretch to call that fiction a lie.

My personal experience was that I allowed myself to enjoy the fiction as real for a few years after I knew it wasn't real. I think that the sense of excitement and anticipation out-weighed the benefits of skepticism. No atheists in foxholes and no skeptic children on Christmas Eve?

I've never directly lied to my children when asked about santa, although I did avoid answering questions directly when they were on the edge of realization.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:11 AM   #220
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I think it's a beautiful piece of theater that creates wonderful experiences for young boys and girls. Lots of fiction is indistinguishable from fact for children at a young age.
There is, I think, a delicate yet clear distinction between what we would call fiction and what we could call a lie. The audience knows that fiction is not real, and consents to that unreality. We read a novel by Cormac McCarthy or Stephen King, or see a play by Edward Albee, and we know that the events we're reading or seeing didn't happen, but we allow ourselves to suspend our disbelief. We choose to play along with what we know to be a beautiful piece of theater.

A lie removes that choice. The audience is denied the knowledge that the play is not real, and thus is unable to consent to its unreality. They are forced to accept that unreality as reality. Children aren't playing along with a beautiful piece of mind-theater (until a certain age). They literally think that a rotund man flies around the world in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer.

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It's a stretch to call that fiction a lie.
You and I know that it is not true. It's a wonderful story, and has made for many entertaining claymation specials, but it has never happened in the real world. If I tell my daughter that the story is objectively true and real -- that said rotund man is going to land his magical sleigh on our roof before sliding down the chimney to put presents under the Saturnalia tree -- then how is that not a lie?

I am not calling the myth of Santa Claus a lie. The story is, after all, just a story. It is the presentation that is or is not a lie. Because it is not the untruth of the story that makes a lie. The same false story can be treated as either fiction or as a lie, depending on how it is presented to the audience. When the audience is given the choice of consenting to the story's unreality, then it is fiction. When the audience is denied the choice of consenting, then it is a lie.

How can it not be? Has the definition of a lie changed? This is the only case I've ever encountered in which otherwise mature adults will bend over backwards to insist that intentionally giving false information is not a lie.

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thomastwo wrote
My personal experience was that I allowed myself to enjoy the fiction as real for a few years after I knew it wasn't real.
Which more or less demonstrates my point about consenting to its unreality.

By choosing to indulge in the story after you knew that it wasn't actually true (and I won't pretend that I didn't do the same into my middle teen years), you turned a lie into a fiction.

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thomastwo wrote
I think that the sense of excitement and anticipation out-weighed the benefits of skepticism.
I think the two became mutually exclusive. You didn't need to be skeptical because you already knew that the story was false. But you choose to indulge in the story -- you consented to its unreality -- and thereby enjoyed that sense of excitement and anticipation.

You can only really be skeptical when you're not sure.

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No atheists in foxholes and no skeptic children on Christmas Eve?
I'd agree to there being no skeptical children on Christmas Eve, but only in so far as my previous point. They're not skeptical because they know. They're in on the joke. They're playing along.

As to the absence of atheists in foxholes, all the atheists in foxholes would disagree.

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thomastwo wrote
I've never directly lied to my children when asked about santa, although I did avoid answering questions directly when they were on the edge of realization.
And there, again, is a delicate yet clear distinction between telling a lie and allowing a child to exercise her own imagination.

In a roundabout way, it comes back to fiction again. When my daughter tells me about her awesome new pet dragon named Horatio, I will probably play along. I know that she doesn't have a pet dragon, but as a member of the audience, I will undoubtedly consent to the unreality of her story anyway. Horatio sounds like a fine fellow, and really: who wouldn't want a dragon on her side in a schoolyard scrap?

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:53 AM   #221
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I remember when my son was about 4 years old he had a Thomas the Tank Engine obsession. I'm convinced at that age he had limited ability to distinguish the stories as fiction. After all the Fat Controller is particularly convincing.

We even went to a steam train event where some of the trains were wearing the Thomas and Friends faces. It was populated by a whole host of little boys almost wetting themselves with excitement. I believe all of them in that moment were experiencing what for them was a reality and not a fiction.

Not sure this adds much to the conversation other than to say that I think these experiences are a good part of childhood and not harmful.

I think an argument that children will not learn to distinguish fact from fiction if they are fed fiction as fact is not supported by the evidence. I don't know of a single adult who didn't work out what was going on with the santa story. At least in this sense it is different from the god belief.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:58 PM   #222
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I think that the sense of excitement and anticipation out-weighed the benefits of skepticism.
Doesn't that describe most theists?

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:09 PM   #223
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I think an argument that children will not learn to distinguish fact from fiction if they are fed fiction as fact is not supported by the evidence. I don't know of a single adult who didn't work out what was going on with the santa story.
My argument hasn't been that kids won't learn to distinguish fact from fiction, but that the inherent trust that kids have in their parents is undermined when they find out they've been intentionally misled.

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:21 PM   #224
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... I wouldn't want to jump to conclusions.
What is this supposed to be? Bait?

"So many gods, so many creeds! So many paths that wind and wind, when just the art of being kind is all this sad world needs."
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:02 PM   #225
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... I don't know of a single adult who didn't work out what was going on with the santa story. At least in this sense it is different from the god belief.
Of course we all work it out. Society won't allow children-- and certainly not adults-- to go on believing in Santa past a certain age. But having been fooled in this way can have lasting effects. The effects will vary and are very much dependant on the sensibilities of the kid.

My memory of learning the truth about the Santa story is still vivid. More than 4 1/2 decades later, I remember feeling foolish, if not actually betrayed, by having succumbed to what I instantly recognized as an obvious lie. I suspect it was that experience that primed me to be skeptical about stories involving allegations of unseen magic, and why I never could fall for the white man-in-the-sky story. Oddly, I recall being introduced to that story after I was duped by the white man-in-the-red suit coming down my nonexistent chimney bearing gifts story.

The stories seemed to have a lot in common to me.

"So many gods, so many creeds! So many paths that wind and wind, when just the art of being kind is all this sad world needs."
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