Richard Dawkins, a man who's perpetually only one tweet away from becoming the next David Icke, has kicked off a new war of words, suggesting we should think hard before telling our children fantasy stories lest they warp their impressionable minds.
Dawkins was widely quoted by the media as going on a massive anti-fairies rant, but he set the record straight a little on Twitter earlier today, saying: "It IS pernicious to inculcate supernaturalism into a child. But DO fairytales do that?"
He'd actually answered that question himself a little earlier, in a comment that read: "Might foster supernaturalism. On balance more likely to help critical thinking."
So is it wrong to lead children to believe things that aren't true? After all, telling them Father Christmas exists means you are literally lying to your kid about where that DVD came from, so he or she is therefore less likely to trust you when you insist drink driving is wrong in later life.
Would you let your child think witches exist? Is the tooth fairy a dangerous metaphor for the evils of the health and banking industries? Are mermaids a useful allegory for the dangers of plastic pollution? Or do fairy tales simply offer harmful and quite useful methods of making your kid too scared to go in the woods because of all the big-toothed murderers that would happily eat them all up? [Independent]
Image credit: Fairy tales from Shutterstock