It’s Not Robots, It’s You!

The above words were said by my not-quite-three-year-old son to his slightly bemused mother this morning.

This exchange followed a conversation I had had with my son earlier while getting him dressed which went something like this:

[a noise outside very much like a car door slamming]

Son: What was that noise?

Me: Sounds like mum putting something in the car.

Son: No.

Me: ok, what do you think it was?

Son: Robots.

Me: ah…… Where did the robots come from?

Son: Outside.  [so much for the imagination of the young...]

Me:  What where the robots doing?

Son:  Something with mum’s car.

Me: ok…. Have you seen any robots?

Son: No.

Me: Have you seen mum?

Son: Yes.

Me: What do you think made the noise outside?

Son: Not robots.

At which point said mum returns from outside and receives the triumphant exclamation which titles this post.

Proud at having determined we were not being invaded by robots my son wanted to share his conclusion with his mum.

What exactly is my point with this? Well, other than an amusing story I thought is was illustrative of something I want to teach my son as well as convey to others. We should think about what we see and hear, as well as examine our own narrative about how the world works.

When faced with new information and new explanations we should consider them carefully and ask questions like: How do new facts/hypotheses fit into our existing knowledge? Is it reasonable to posit new entities/explanations for things when existing ones will do?

Future episodes like this will provide ever more opportunities to help my son examine the world around him and come to thoughtful conclusions – which are themselves open to revision with new information. Lessons which are appropriate no matter what age you learn them.

    • nrg4vr
    • June 13th, 2013

    This for some reason reminds me if anti vaxers, except they will ignore the proof in front of them, (mom in this case), and assume that robots are actually attacking for the purpose of screwing with your car.

    • Well, it could be that Mum is covering up the existence of the robots….or, she is a robot!

    • lolitas brother
    • November 3rd, 2013

    cruel parent, stopped your child believing in Robots, suppose you better upgrade him about easter bunny soon, its tough for kids but it has to be done

    • No, I help him come to his own conclusions. If that makes me creel then I guess we have different definitions of that word.
      I suppose actively fostering false beliefs would be better?

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