Monday, March 14, 2016


In the manner of all smart kids when young and as-yet-un-smacked-down, J regularly graces us with his epigrammic declarations about the world. Often they are reasonable, given his point of view, and are only fallacious in the light of some information he could not have; other times they may or may not be correct, but pertain to some world I do not care about, such as Minecraft walkthroughs on YouTube. Mostly the declarations are not worth responding to, unless he transgresses on information he could easily learn, but doesn't, and which I (having acquired a high-quality education at no small time, effort, and expense) am able to troll him about.

Over the weekend he got around to scientific theories.

As with so much in our family, he knows the churn of scientific knowledge from They Might Be Giants, who covered the 1965 classic "Why Does The Sun Shine?":

But later, feeling compelled to update the science, they wrote "Why Does The Sun Really Shine?" for their 2009 kids' album, Here Comes Science!.

[TMBG has a gift for finding songs to cover that are completely consonant with the rest of their work: for example, it was only recently that I learned that "Istanbul Not Constantinople" only dates from 1953 (and that the official renaming of Constantinople was in 1930). Like that cover, the original "Why Does The Sun Shine?" is not so wildly different from the original.]

The boy gets a certain rantiness from his biological father, and was going on about how they teach a scientific theory, and then later someone disproves it, and they start teaching something else, and gee whiz it just seems silly to depend on any of it. All well and good, until he said "Eventually someone's going to disprove evolution": a misconception up with which I will not put.


"I mean, they'll have some other theory, because it just seems impossible that--"



"Not gonna happen."

The boy is rarely completely wrong, and on top of that I'm a nice parent, and also my epitaph could legitimately be "Well, it's complicated...", so I almost never flatly contradict him, and it really got his attention.

"If you read more nonfiction books full of facts"--a stock phrase in our house, coined by J years ago when he was annoyed about his available bedtime reading that evening being limited in genre--"you would know that evolution is probably the best-supported scientific theory the world has ever seen, and that since it appeared in 1859, lots of people have really, really hated it, but no one has ever found a better theory to fit all the evidence."

His version of "Huh, I had no idea" is to stare at you for a second while the gears turn and he stores the conversation verbatim for all time, then turn around to go back to eating his lunch.

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