Saturday, December 8, 2012
What Effect Does Santa Have On Credulity?
Santa makes you more gullible.
The myth of Kris Kringle is a more compelling story in the imaginative eyes of a child than, say, Jesus. It’s a case of presents, snow and elves versus preaching, desert and crucifixion. No contest. In terms of believability, the two competing Christmas stories are on par. A man who hardly looks spry traveling to every home on earth within a 24 hour period is roughly equivalent to every human having a simultaneous personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Airborne caribou is about as likely as walking on water. Santa, like Christ, allegedly sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake. Simply put, Santa is crazy talk that kids love which prepares them to accept crazy talk that parents want to teach. It’s Indoctrination 101.
Santa makes you more skeptical.
After the well intentioned lies have run their course, all but the most mentally challenged youth eventually outgrown Santa. In most cases, their own questions expose the cracks in their parents’ story until, finally, mom and dad have no choice but the come clean. This isn’t Indoctrination 101, it’s Intro to Critical Thinking. The experience should teach kids the value of open inquiry and to never accept stories at face value--regardless of the authority of the source.
Before opening up to comments, my last thought is that the affect of Santa probably depends largely on the reveal. For me, discovering Santa wasn’t real was both disappointing and rewarding. The disappointment may be unavoidable. Learning the world has a little less magic is never good news for a kid. The reward came from figuring out the truth on my own. The knowledge that my conclusion had to be more correct then what I previously thought made me feel smart. If a sibling broke the news that Santa is bunk, I may not have gotten as much out of the ordeal.
*A group of reindeer is actually a herd, but once they’re in flight I like to think of them as a flock.