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18 April 2015 @ 05:41 pm
Is it good to lie to children?  
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http://www.paulgraham.com/lies.html
Adults lie constantly to kids.
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One of the most remarkable things about the way we lie to kids is how broad the conspiracy is.
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If you ask adults why they lie to kids, the most common reason they give is to protect them.
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As the roast turkey appeared on the table, his alarmingly perceptive 5 year old son suddenly asked if the turkey had wanted to die. Foreseeing disaster, my friend and his wife rapidly improvised: yes, the turkey had wanted to die, and in fact had lived its whole life with the aim of being their Thanksgiving dinner. And that (phew) was the end of that.

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We arrive at adulthood with a kind of truth debt. We were told a lot of lies to get us (and our parents) through our childhood. Some may have been necessary. Some probably weren't. But we all arrive at adulthood with heads full of lies.

There's never a point where the adults sit you down and explain all the lies they told you. They've forgotten most of them. So if you're going to clear these lies out of your head, you're going to have to do it yourself.

Few do. Most people go through life with bits of packing material adhering to their minds and never know it. You probably never can completely undo the effects of lies you were told as a kid, but it's worth trying. I've found that whenever I've been able to undo a lie I was told, a lot of other things fell into place.

Fortunately, once you arrive at adulthood you get a valuable new resource you can use to figure out what lies you were told. You're now one of the liars. You get to watch behind the scenes as adults spin the world for the next generation of kids.

The first step in clearing your head is to realize how far you are from a neutral observer. When I left high school I was, I thought, a complete skeptic. I'd realized high school was crap. I thought I was ready to question everything I knew. But among the many other things I was ignorant of was how much debris there already was in my head. It's not enough to consider your mind a blank slate. You have to consciously erase it.
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Биологalleukemist on April 19th, 2015 02:15 am (UTC)
I thought you remembered what we talked about in my journal before.
In general, an adult will not have a significantly distorted picture of the world because you lied, but a kid may.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 19th, 2015 04:00 am (UTC)
I remember is somewhat but the answer was not clear enough.
It's not clear yet anyway:
if some behavior is bad and you do not want to make a big bad thing, then you probably would not want to make a small bad thing either, right?
Биологalleukemist on April 20th, 2015 04:23 pm (UTC)
Well, ideally yes, but I am not a saint so in practice I would definitely try to avoid big bad things while more or less condoning smaller ones. And no, there is no red line or anything quantitative. As most human beings, I try to juggle conflicting motivations.