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Lying to children

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davidivad
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Re: Lying to children

Post by davidivad » March 31st, 2019, 12:20 pm

chewybrian wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 7:17 am
There is no question this practice is widespread. We tell fables, withhold unpleasant truths, and tell outright lies for many different reasons.

How do we justify these lies? Don't we owe them the truth, so they can make an accurate assessment of their situation and their options, and learn as much as possible? How could we expect them to become the best they can be if everything begins with lies? How can we expect them to honor and respect the truth when they grow up if they realize that people have routinely lied to them? When we feel justified in these lies, aren't we giving them the message that the end justifies the means? Shouldn't the default position be to tell them the straight truth, right down the line? If so, then strong justifications must be needed to make lying to them the ethical choice in certain situations.

So, please explain why lying to children might be correct and when it is correct (if it ever is).

Since definitions always seem to be necessary here, let's define lying as any intentional misrepresentation, in whole or in part, including but not limited to fables, euphemistic stories, partial truths, withholding essential information with the intention of leading them to false conclusions, or any outright lies, no matter their intended effects. We could exclude fiction if it is clear to the child that it is fiction.

So, for the purpose of this discussion, my assertion is that anything but full disclosure of the truth to children is a lie, and immoral, and I am asking you to prove or assert otherwise if you think this is not so. What justification do you or others have which makes this ethical behavior?
you could call them lies. but maybe another way to think about it is by using the phrase 'metaphorical truth'? not sure if i'm using it correctly, i just heard someone use that phrase before. i'll give an example:

'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'

this statement is not necessarily true. however, there is a nested truth which is the fact that eating apples is good for your health. surely there is something valuable here. if you believe that an apple a day will keep a doctor away, you will end up healthier than if you did not believe it was true. there are many concepts which are too complicated to explain to children, so simplifications are necessary. as we grow up, we intuitively realise that some things are not true, or we are told that they aren't true. for example, i assume you do not believe in santa claus or the tooth fairy anymore. kids cant be expected to 'make an accurate assessment of their situation', since at an early age they lack the cognitive faculty to do so.

in summary,
1. some 'lies' hold a metaphorical truth that leads you to be in a better position than if you didn't believe them.
2. kids cannot understand many complex concepts, meaning that simplifications are necessary.
3. people don't really respond to facts. the best way to compel someone to do something is by appealing to their emotions.
3. kids grow out of the 'stories' they are told, and as far as i know there are no major negative consequences.

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chewybrian
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Re: Lying to children

Post by chewybrian » April 3rd, 2019, 10:30 am

davidivad wrote:
March 31st, 2019, 12:20 pm
in summary,
1. some 'lies' hold a metaphorical truth that leads you to be in a better position than if you didn't believe them.
2. kids cannot understand many complex concepts, meaning that simplifications are necessary.
3. people don't really respond to facts. the best way to compel someone to do something is by appealing to their emotions.
4. kids grow out of the 'stories' they are told, and as far as i know there are no major negative consequences.
Playing devil's advocate...
1-The whole truth should be more useful than a fable.
2-We don't always give kids enough credit for the amount they can handle.
3-Irrational people don't respond well to facts (although that may include the great majority of people). If we taught the kids to be rational, then they would be likely to respond better to facts than to emotional appeals.
4-Here is what I see as the problem, and the solution;

False hope leads to bad habits and poor appraisals of reality, leading to poor choices. We fill kids with 'happily ever after' thoughts, which leads them to wishing in place of dealing with reality. For example, the first step to proper anger management is admitting and understanding that most of reality is outside your control. Rather than sensing injustice when things don't go your way, and reacting with anger, you need to understand that the world is not out to get you, people mostly don't care what happens to you, and the proper response from you is often indifference, leaving your energy free to focus on those few things you can control. For another example, if you go on wishing that your friends and family would never die, it will hit you extra hard when they do.

So, most of the lies we tell children amount to false hope, which leaves them lacking in emotional intelligence, unable to properly deal with the harsh realities of life, and possibly leading to anger problems, or denial, resulting in alcohol or drug problems or other issues. If we taught them instead about reality as it is, and that there is no percentage in wishing or trying to avoid it, and no reason to fear what is outside their control, I contend they would be happier people and better citizens in the end.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Karpel Tunnel » April 4th, 2019, 6:12 am

chewybrian wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 10:30 am

Playing devil's advocate...
and then me, devil's advocate to that.....
1-The whole truth should be more useful than a fable.
I think it is a little binary and also judges things based on 'use' alone. I don't share the whole truth with most adults. I don't want a doctor to share the whole truth - much of it I might not understand, but the parts that affect my decisions and anticipation of upcoming experience. I realize that is not quite the situation addressed in your point number one. But there is a huge range of options in between fables and the whole truth. Further, I don't assume I know all that is a fable or not. Do we bring determinism into discussions of responsibility, for example about a bullying incident in school. Is free will a fable and in what sense? Should I bring up ship of thebes issues with a child? Well, that won't be you going to college, it'll be a batch of molecules with many similarities to the ones present in front of me now, with many differences, but overall different matter and perhaps not the same person. Do I say to my six year old that the US is not really a democracy but an oligarchy and explain why, or do I let the mythical elements stand until the kid is older? Do I tell my kid that I don't want him to eat gm foods and leave out an explanation, just saying I don't trust them, or must I whip out ALTERED GENES, TWISTED TRUTH: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public and dig in there? Or do I guess that it might be ok on occasion and not say anything until the kid is 17?

Above I chose some fables or potential fables that many people seem to think are the truth. IOW they believe in free will, that the US is a democracy and that gm foods are simply just like other kinds of breeding we have done with plants and animals and as likely to be safe. Etc.

Do we really know which of our metaphors and stories are true or fables or useful?

Then the answer could be: well, if I know it is just a fable, I shouldn't? But I think that cuts out all sorts of fun and magic in childhood. And Grimm's Fairy tales, for example, would not lead a child to think everything is going to work out nicely. Almost the opposite.

do I tell my kid that he deserves the college he got into? Or should I make sure he understands that his class background and the educations and connections of his parents were a huge part of why he got there? And how the hell do I balance those two potential fables?

When do I raise the issue of the problems with physicalism/materialism? After the doctors visit when the doctor says something in veryphysicalist terms and I know more about the metaphysics of physicalism and the problems in there.

People often think that current secular modes of discussing things are not filled with metaphors and models and folk psychology myths and this includes the stories scientific people tell.

2-We don't always give kids enough credit for the amount they can handle
This is true, though for me it's a strawman - though likely not for the person you re responding to. I don't think it's about handle, but confuse, mystify, go past my own boundaries and other issues seem more important. And then also to take joy in life.
-Irrational people don't respond well to facts (although that may include the great majority of people). If we taught the kids to be rational, then they would be likely to respond better to facts than to emotional appeals.
The idea that there is a clean line between emotions and rationality is a myth.
4-Here is what I see as the problem, and the solution;
False hope leads to bad habits and poor appraisals of reality, leading to poor choices. We fill kids with 'happily ever after' tho ughts, which leads them to wishing in place of dealing with reality. For example, the first step to proper anger management is admitting and understanding that most of reality is outside your control. Rather than sensing injustice when things don't go your way, and reacting with anger, you need to understand that the world is not out to get you, people mostly don't care what happens to you, and the proper response from you is often indifference, leaving your energy free to focus on those few things you can control. For another example, if you go on wishing that your friends and family would never die, it will hit you extra hard when they do.
Is there actual research showing that these emotional attitudes lead to better lives than others and/or that if parents intend to create these attitudes in their children it a)works and b) improves their lives; or does it seems like it would, but might this not be just another folk psychology, with its own emotional bases, and one not yet proven. And before going off to find research, was it actually research that led to your suggestion or was it intuition?
So, most of the lies we tell children amount to false hope, which leaves them lacking in emotional intelligence, unable to properly deal with the harsh realities of life, and possibly leading to anger problems, or denial, resulting in alcohol or drug problems or other issues. If we taught them instead about reality as it is, and that there is no percentage in wishing or trying to avoid it, and no reason to fear what is outside their control, I contend they would be happier people and better citizens in the end.
I think there are nuances between and laterally that are left out in the dichotomy lies vs. whole truth.

If I have a class of 8 years olds, I am going to answer questions about the birds and the bees very differently that with a class of 16 year olds. This does not mean I am lying to the 8 year olds.

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Re: Lying to children

Post by Karpel Tunnel » April 4th, 2019, 6:14 am

3-Irrational people don't respond well to facts (although that may include the great majority of people). If we taught the kids to be rational, then they would be likely to respond better to facts than to emotional appeals.
I see rational people endlessly arguing also and often those who identify as rational, since they find emotions a problem, often do not realize how much emotions they are not paying attention to affect what they consider rational.

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