Monday, July 9, 2012

How to Explain to an 8 year-old Heretic, the Flaw in his Reasoning

Me: "Go get yourself some breakfast"

8 yr-old: "I don't know what I want. "

Me: "OK so you do this every morning and I think I understand what is going wrong. You are a logical person so let me draw a picture of your logic:"
"The rectangle represents all the breakfast food in our house. On the left are the things you know about and to the right of the squiggly line are the things you don't know about. Outside of the box is something that you want that we don't have."

"Now let's put in numbers that represent how much you like these items. Inside the box, there's one at just +1, then there's a minus 8, minus four, and minus infinity. You really hate that one. Lets say the thing you really want is, oh I don't know, how about chocolate chip ice-cream and you like that at +200."

"OK, here's the problem: if you compare the thing you want to what is available, it's no contest. Why settle for +1 when you want +200. But the thing is, that food that you want does not exist in this house, so it doesn't count. When you compare the +1 to the other available options it starts looking a whole lot better."

"Once you stop thinking about the thing you don't have, you might even consider looking around for things you may like that you didn't even know we had?"

There was silence and I figured my kids saw this as further evidence that their father is nuts. Then suddenly they all said:

"Dad, that was the best explanation ever."

The next day, the 8 year old heretic made his own breakfast without a peep. We'll see how that goes.

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