Anti-ScienceScience

A Tale of Two Binkies

Okay, I talked about this a bit on the podcast recorded last night (which will probably hit iTunes in a few days), but I can’t resist.

The bunny you see to the right is not just any bunny – it is Binky the Bunny. My dear mom (I believe) purchased Binky for me before I was old enough to realize that bunnies generally have furry spherical bodies and not flat, pink plaid blankies attached to their heads. That’s probably for the best, as otherwise I may have been horrified to see this Dr. Moreau-esque amalgam of creature and inanimate object.

I adored Binky, and gazing into his round, blue vinyl eyeballs I know that he adored me, too.

By the time I was approximately four years old, Binky was pretty much in the state you see him now. Tattered and a little torn at the edges, and probably very, very smelly. Because I carried him everywhere, my mother came upon a brilliant solution for me to improve hygiene and not embarass her when I carry Binky around — she bought another Binky.

BinkyClone looked just like original Binky, only he (it?) was fluffier, cleaner. His whites were whiter and his pinks pinker. But he was different in another way, too. An evil way? Perhaps.

I bawled my eyes out until Original Formula Binky was retrieved from the trashcan and restored to my arms. BinkyClone was banished to the bottom of the toy box where its eyes couldn’t delve into my soul.

I didn’t realize it until I read about a recent study, but this was a very basic form of the superstition I fight against today. Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, has illustrated how even the most rational people imbue inanimate objects with personalities. For instance, he gave a group of people a sweater said to have been once worn by a serial killer. No one was really jumping out of their seats to try it on, despite being offered some monetary compensation. It’s just a sweater, but we view it very differently depending upon what we know of its history.

The trick Hood tried that reminded me of Binky involved taking a child’s favorite toy, informing him that the toy would be perfectly recreated in every way, and giving it back to the kid. Of course, the kids all balked when handed their toy, which they thought was an evil clone. I don’t blame them.

I quickly found Original Formula Binky in the box under my bed, where he has been for at least the past six years since I rescued him from my parents’ yard sale. As for the BinkyClone, God only knows what happened to it.

God, or maybe Satan.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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7 Comments

  1. Similarly I too have a box full of the thee or four stuffed animal I had when growing up. This includes a stuffed Bert (from Sesame Street) which I too refused to relinquish for replacement. I'm happy to say however that my parents never tired to put him in a yard sale. They boxed him and his friends up and kept it safe. I'm pretty sure I don't plan on having any children but I hang on to them none the less. The box has followed me around and probably will continute to do so.

  2. When I moved away to uni I packed a lot of stuff that had affectionate value, but would be of no use to me otherwise, into a big cardboard box. Among them were my stuffed animals. Except I couldn't condemn the most important ones to the darkness, so I think I brought my teddy bear, and my rabbit, to sit on shelves and be decorations.

    The rabbit is now in darkness, with the handmade yellow and green elephant my mom made, and the brown snake I knitted, but my teddy bear sleeps in bed with me, right next to my pillow.

  3. This reminds me of the tale of artificial Sapphires. At one point, Auguste Daubree (I believe) figured out how to create them artificially, yet no one wanted them. They weren't "real" Sapphires if they formed in the lab instead of in a cave somewhere. Chemically it's exactly the same, yet people still nitpick over non-physical properties.

  4. Well, Pringles aren't "real" potato chips, I think it must be some sort of potato-pulp pressed into a potato-chip-shape, so they're all the same size. Yet apparently that doesn't deter people from liking them.

  5. I have a similar personality where rationality paid out. Late after WW-II my grandparents bought a house for an incredibly cheap price because there was a horrific murder in it a couple of years before. Guess what? No haunting, no bad vibes, no problem. Their rationality paid off big-time, and my little old grandmother lives in that house today.

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