Skepchick Quickies, 6.27

  • How belief in the Tooth Fairy can engender false memories: “These findings suggest that children’s beliefs in the reality of fantastic phenomena can give rise to genuine constructive memory errors in line with their fantasies.”
  • A field guide to bullshit: “There’s a belief system about water to which we all sign up: it freezes at 0 °C and boils at 100 °C. We are powerfully wedded to this but that doesn’t make it an intellectual black hole. That’s because these beliefs are genuinely reasonable. Beliefs at the core of intellectual black holes, however, aren’t reasonable. They merely appear so to those trapped inside.”
  • N.C. considers paying forced sterilization victims: “Barely 40 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.”
  • Life before the dinosaurs, a blog by a really smart kid.


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I always believed that you learn something new everyday, mine today came from the blog of a 7yo.

  2. From my time in the mountains, I remember that water freezes when it gets cold enough, and boils when it gets hot enough.

  3. I didn’t understand the tooth fairy study (perhaps because I don’t understand their use of “equivocal”, despite looking it up in the dictionary!).
    Was it saying that children who had been taught that the tooth fairy is a fantasy were better able to tell the difference between truth and fantasy? While children who genuinely believed in the tooth fairy couldn’t tell the difference between truth and fantasy?

  4. “…it freezes at 0 °C and boils at 100 °C…” at 1 atm of pressure and only if there is nothing dissolved in the water (little disclaimer ._.).

    That kid is so cool :o

  5. The tooth fairy thing is interesting although I have to worry that it doesn’t look like they did much in the way of accounting for correlation v. causation issues since it may be that the kids who don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy are more rational and less fantasy prone to start with and that’s why they don’t believe in it. It might make more sense to instead look at what kids say as a function of what their parents have told them.

  6. I really like Stephen Laws, his book(s) The Philosophy Files led 12-ish-year-old me down the path towards atheism initially. Plus pseudo-profundity is such a great word.

    WOW is that kid cool.

  7. I’m curious about the North Carolina compensation thing…did they actually FORCE women to get them, or was it “simply” a matter of telling them they would get no public assistance if they didn’t? Although the latter is a form of coercion, I think it is nowhere near as bad as if they did just force it, however, the example they cite even shows how the grandmother consented…

    Though, I will say that it seems like the board only considered sterilizing women, which is stupid and sexist.

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