Fairy tale peril & real world impact

So, Richard Dawkins thinks it’s worthwhile to study the effects of fictional witchcraft and wizardry on children. His main interest will be in terms the ones who grow up in homes where the parents indoctrinate them into believing many religiously-inspired tales of the supernatural are literal truth.

“I think it is anti-scientific – whether that has a pernicious effect, I don’t know,” he told More4 News.

“I think looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.”

But Prof Dawkins, the bestselling author of The God Delusion who this week agreed to fund a series of atheist adverts on London buses, added that his new book will also set out to demolish the “Judeo-Christian myth”.

He went on: “I plan to look at mythical accounts of various things and also the scientific account of the same thing. And the mythical account that I look at will be several different myths, of which the Judeo-Christian one will just be one of many.

“And the scientific one will be substantiated, but appeal to children to think for themselves; to look at the evidence. Always look at the evidence.”

Laura F. Kready’s 1916 book A Study of Fairy Tales is available to read in its entirety here. I don’t know if she was the first to deconstruct them or not. SurLaLune is a good site for that, too. Some who study fairy tales focus on the prevalence of beautiful good girls, ugly villains, evil old crones, and how many ways sexuality was part of the thematic construction. Red Riding Hood becomes quite a different story, that’s for sure.

As to what Dawkins proposes as his potential theme, I think it is alarming how many people seem to see witchcraft, demon stuff and other bible stories as true dangers, real things to protect themselves and their children from. What era are we living in, anyway? Of all the things to get a-feared over, they pick Harry Potter.

Do people still worry that elves will switch their babies for changelings? Maybe not, but it turns out you can still find people who believe in elves in Iceland:

Recently, the planning committee considered a resident’s application to build a garage. “One member said, ‘I hope it’s O.K. with the elves,’ ” Ms. Erlingsdottir related. Should the council determine that it is, in fact, not O.K. – usually this happens when a local mystic hears from the elf population, directly or through a vision – the town would consider moving the project, or getting the mystic to ask the elves to move away, she said.

Such occurrences are not unusual. In nearby Kopavogur, a section of Elfhill Road was narrowed from two lanes to one in the 1970’s, when repeated efforts to destroy a large rock that was believed to house elves were thwarted by equipment breakdowns. The rock is still there, jutting awkwardly into the road, but it is unclear whether the tenants are.

It seems silly in this day and age to still attribute inexplicable things like misplacing one’s keys on elf trickery, but at least it helps the country get some added tourist dollars. The elves haven’t been able to stop the topsy-turvy economic roller-coaster from crashing there, unfortunately.

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Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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