Maybe this is just my own experience, but I grew up in a world where, some strangers and maybe the soviet union notwithstanding, I could trust adults. Teachers, priests and other authority figures tended to know what they were talking about. It wasn't until I started unraveling little lies like the SC one that the picture started to become in question. I would suggest many children are in similar situations, where the default is to trust their surrounding -- if they cannot trust their mother, or some kind of provider, they're going to have issues with basic survival and language acquisition, so some degree of trust is required even just to get that far.

Children might be seen as having big imaginations, but in fact their imaginations are truly and utterly limited by the narratives and experiences that they have available to them. They may be able to crystalize into new narratives and find new patterns with which to measure the world around them very easily but they are still only using what they have to work with, and I would argue that for the vast majority of normal children this does not include the kind of wide-ranging conspiracies that actually exist. You need practice in seeing lies, in seeing well-meaning mistakes, in seeing and interacting with social situations that usually only experience can give, especially experience where you have skin in the game. Sometimes you get lucky by seeing an internal inconsistency and recognizing it for what it is, but more often children rationalize it away as being a mistake that *they* made in interpreting the situation, something they are typically still doing a lot of as they experiment and grow.

So it's not necessarily that they don't *want* to see the truth, it's that they are not expecting a truth to be where they need to look in order to find it. Conspiracies are often "unknown unknowns" to children.

Sometimes though they'll choose to ignore the situation, if it's uncomfortable in the right way. In those cases then yes, they do 'want' to not know. I tried to ignore the sex subgame of life and everything involved with it for a long time. And to some extent this propensity to seek or ignore conflicting information might depend on a cultural value on truth -- if your culture does not support truth seeking your children may not care to look as much. But as others in this thread have pointed out -- children are practically by default curious, and will look at evidence presented to them in the right way, then quickly take it for granted that "everyone knows" that there is a conspiracy in this topic and move on to the next thing.

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He originally was real person who got 'generalized'/'abstracted' into being a myth. But once he was a myth, Coca-Cola turned him into a way to market their product.

Wikipedia bears this much: claims Nikolaos of Myra, of the 3rd century was a real person, who did give gifts. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... ).

However the latter half of this is disputed by Snopes:http://www.snopes.com/holid... -- they claim that everything about Santa Claus was present before Coca-cola got their maws on it, and that they just used the meme successfully.

Regardless of how much was consciously cultivated, It's a microcosm of the broader picture of how gods are created -- someone does something worthy of being remembered, so worthy that it seems bigger than human in retrospect -- and in effort to remember him, the myth grows with every passing generation.

But one thing that definitely affects myths is when you can have one official version of the myth that everyone is exposed to:http://www.coca-colacompany...

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wut?I'm pretty certain I could tell my local lager from a guinness, or even a stella. That's a really odd thing to say and I'm not going to believe you until you've cited your reference

Also, when I decide not to do some "romantic" type thing that my girlfriend suggests she becomes unhappy rather than showing greater respect for my intelligence. I admit she may just be playing on one more level than me, but that seems unlikely. Again, give me evidence rather than flat assertions.

The last one I have no special experience with, but it does seem odd. I certainly expect that if I just grabbed a bunch of merchandise and walked out of a shop without paying the staff would attempt to stop me. Evidence, please.

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I tend to fall on the side of transparency.

I don't believe at all that the smartest people I know are the ones who are aloof about evil. Those might be the academics, but in that regard they're ignorant about what really makes the work tick. In fact, they often throw their weight behind evil people because they don't know any better.

I do however think there is a prisoner's dilemma involved. When you cross the line and tell the truth, people turn on you. I've been there and it can get vicious.

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I remember believing in Santa Claus, but don't recall how or when I discovered the truth. Nor was there any "moment of truth" about the Christian beliefs I was brought up with; it all just leached out of me like dye that was never colour-fast.

Reading people's different reactions to the Santa myth, I get the impression that some people have something like a digital on-off switch for belief-disbelief, while others have more of an analogue doubt dial.

P.S. I'm not sure the Jesus myth qualifies as a lie, since the people passing it on fully believe in it themselves. Untruth + deliberate deceit = lie.

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How did the Santa Claus deception get started, does anyone know? Paul Graham's article explains the rationales behind many of the lies we tell children, but not this one. The amount of of coordination involved in creating such a conspiracy would be extremely costly if someone were to attempt it today. So how did Santa Claus get started in the first place? And why?

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Caledonian writes:

"Lesson taught [from Santa Claus gift-giving]: fall for the lies that society wants you to and you will be rewarded.

I suppose that is a valuable lesson for the sorts of societies people like you create. But it's not a society I wish to live in."

I'll let the insult pass, since you were so hurt by the SC lie and I am sorry to have touched a topic that is so sensitive for you. But your rage seems to be obfuscating your judgment.

The gift-giving is not a way to reward believing a lie - in fact it continues even after the lie is discovered. Or did your parents stop giving you gifts after you learned the truth about SC? That, I agree, would be counterproductive - and downright mean.

The gift-giving is a way to sugar the pill of the SC prank, which (as you felt) may be taste bitter. I think the prank is useful as a life-lesson (don't believe everything you hear, not matter how many times you hear it) and it probably has to hurt a bit to sink in. But I insist: it is a gentle prank and should be taken with a sense of humor.

(I wonder at what age you learned the SC truth; if the prank continues for too long - say, until age 10 - then it is not longer a gentle one. I guess that if the kid still buys the story after age 7 or 8 parents should worry a bit and start giving better hints.)

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I don't even remember ever believing in Santa Claus, but one thing that did have a huge impact on me was death.My parents never outright deceived me about death but it was never really talked about with them, school, books, or television. When talked about it was usually religious (heaven/far far away/ghosts/etc.). The emotional impact never really hit me until high-school where, one day, it hit hard and fast.

Another (slightly off-topic) one is lies in school. I can't remember any from elementary so here's a couple from university:The Coriolis effect determines drainage direction.George Washington was not the first president of the united states. (psych 101, not kidding, we were tested on it).I don't think most of the class took the second one to heart but the first one is a lot more subtle and widespread; this goes to show that just because we're adults also doesn't mean we're now safe from their lies.(Insert reference to "One Lie" post here)

BTW: Hi everyone! hope this wasn't too terrible for a first post...

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I was raised with and never starkly broke from a vague "god is whatever you want it to be" non-theology which shaded cleanly into continuing efforts to really understand first cause, so for me the surprises went in the other direction. At about age ten I was frankly disbelieving, and was eventually shocked and horrified, when a six year old convinced me that yes some kids actually believed in Santa. Then at age 14 I had similar experiences with Jesus and people who were of my socio-economic status (I had known vaguely about fundamentalists and TV preachers as something primitive and far away).

I had noticed that most adults were foolish in many ways previously, but Jesus etc seemed to just be another level of insanity and I wasted MANY hours arguing about it over the next four or five years.

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And when did you come to realize these are not lies at all, only metaphors of truth? Or did you not?

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"but they really do taste completely different"

Peeps, I don't know about some wines by pure price, but certainly you can tell a Sauternes from a Cab Sauv tasting blind, yes certainly. I personally find coffees easier - but that may because I have trained a lot on coffee with my Lenoir. It's important to recognize that if you are a taster, you can train yourself. You'd be surprised at how much these senses can be taught!

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Depends on the kind of wine, but expensive wines are generally made in such a way that they taste different. When young, they are highly tanic, almost undrinkable. This is so they can age. If you taste an expensive aged wine, it will still have some fruitiness, as well as the obvious sign of aging which totally changes the texture and flavor (if you've ever had an aged wine, you know I'm not BSing, aged wines are weirdly mushroomy, and silky in your mouth.) On the other hand, if you try to age an inexpensive wine, it will have no fruitiness left. If will just kind of taste sour.

The concentration of flavor is another factor.

If, for example, you taste a boutique Napa Valley Cabernet is will be MUCH intensely flavored than the $8 version. I'm not even saying that the $300 version tastes any better. All the stuff about nuance and character may be overblown, but they really do taste completely different. There is really no way you could mistake one for the other.

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josh writes: "...as people can't distinguish alcoholic beverages in double blind tests"

I'm very suspicious of this claim. Which people? I can't find any study to this effect, and there are several studies to the contrary when I search "wine tasting" on ScienceDirect (i.e., people really can distinguish between different wines).

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I'm extremely curious -- exactly how does a $300 bottle of wine taste different from $8 wine? Are you very confident that if I bought a bottle of wine for $300 and one for $8, that you could tell which was which?

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"Society strikes early when the individual is helpless"

--B.F. Skinner

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