What We Have Here is a Failure to Think Critically!

I once came across an article that stated how the smell of crayons has actually been observed to momentarily reduce blood pressure in adults by several points. Many other smells which were associated with our early childhood experiences, the article said, can have the same noticeable effects. And I don't think there are many of us who would deny that those cosy feelings that come over us when we think back to the good old times make us feel better. The days before car payments, electric bills, and eviction notices certainly bring back some excellent memories for me!

I was never a deprived child. I had my share of good things and great times. One such time was my eighth birthday when I decided to celebrate at Chucky Cheese and watch the singing, dancing puppets, along with every other grade-schooler pal I brought with me. That year I received a special toy. It came right on top of my birthday cake. It was a little action figure, an alien robot with two great big claws for hands and two small yellow eyes. It came to be my favorite toy. Clawbot, I called him!

As I played it out, Clawbot was from a far away world and had powers beyond the imagination. He came from a race of the most technologically advanced beings anywhere. His metal was invincible. He could walk around in the sun and it wouldn't even come close to damaging him. He could be standing on the moon and reach down and rip it apart with his mighty claw hands. He was invulnerable to all manner of attacks...sound, heat, mental, magical, electrical, you name it, Clawbot could not be stopped! My little friends and I would get into spats over how unfair I was being because I would never let clawbot lose any battle to their own made-up superheros. Ah, precious memories!

You know, I think if I looked hard enough, I'd find clawbot stashed away in some box in my attic. Perhaps I'll have to take a look one day.

Clawbot may have had a big place in my heart, but as I got older, he kind of seemed a little silly to me. I mean, first off, if clawbot was the product of a technologically advanced alien race, more advanced than humans with the ability to manipulate their environment, why would Clawbot have been constructed with claws - very awkward and clumsy appendages to manipulate anything - much less be able to use buttons, controls, tools, or weapons, things an advanced species would no doubt use? How would Clawbot, who stood six feet tall, pull apart a planet or a moon? Wouldn't the ground just give way around him where he was trying to pull? How would he even have the reach to pull such a large object apart? And then, why and how would the creators of clawbot make him invincible? Since he was a robot, he required software of some kind to be operational. What happens if clawbot malfunctions and goes haywire? How will his creators keep control over him? How will they get in his head and modify the program to correct the problem? And if they can correct a faulty clawbot, doesn't logic dictate that clawbot could be "hacked" by those who are smart enough to figure out his program codes and manipulate him for evil purposes? And what about clawbot's invincible metal? How is metal invincible seeing as how the elements that make the different metals are themselves created in stars? All metals can be superheated and are destructible, otherwise there would have been no way for them to soften up clawbot's metal and get it on him in the first place. Why didn't I realize these things? Why didn't I catch these oddities as a child? Perhaps it was for the same reason I didn't catch the logistical oddities of the Santa Claus story.

For a while there, I never wondered why, but then matured enough to begin asking why Santa Claus never visited Jewish children, even though many of them were obviously very good like those of any other race. Could Santa be racist? I often wondered why Santa's handwriting so closely resembled dad's on the neatly wrapped presents we got -- amazingly, packaged in the same casings you see them in when you buy them at your local toy store! I also had plenty of questions as to how a fat man fits down houses with chimneys with fires still burning in them, and houses with very small chimneys that only a squirrel could fit through. And what about those houses with no chimneys at all, or what about my friend Brian's house with two big Doberman guard dogs who could hear the slightest peep of an intruder? How could he get in? And how could he hit all those houses inside of one night anyway? The unsatisfying, catch-all answer to these questions was, "He's magic!" But as a little kid, it was good enough for me!

The older I got, the more problems I began to see. As I matured, my critical thinking skills developed. Objections that never occurred to me before were now impassible barriers to belief. I could no longer believe in those things anymore. They were far too infantile to even be considered by rational adults.

Now how would you react if you met a grown man or woman today who still believed in Santa, or their own version of Clawbot? You would not only be shocked, but you would feel downright sorry for them, knowing they didn't mentally develop like they should have.

Well, you've met not one such person, but scores of them. Chances are, your neighbors and most of your friends believe in God, the grown up's version of Santa. This adult version of Saint Nick has just as many, if not more logical problems than the original child's version, and just as unsatisfying an answer as to how this "Santa" has his powers--God is magic too! Miraculous, magical, call it what you want. Even as adults, believers in this Santa, just like their children, are admonished not to think too much or ask too many questions. Come to think of it, a "miracle" is just a word that means, "Don't think, quit trying to explain how it happened, and just accept that it did!" So in case you were wondering why neither Santa Claus in the North Pole, or God in heaven can be detected by radar and located to be bugged to death with questions from the media and their fans, don't ask! You already know you'll get an answer like, "He's magic!"

Some world we live in where we find fully grown adults, sometimes genuinely smart, successful people who still seek the comforts of childhood fantasy. They remain ignorant and uninformed, believing in a position just as unbelievable as that of Santa Claus. And just like small, elated little children, awaiting a fat man in a red suit to come and drink milk and cookies after leaving lots of great stuff, these adults refuse to think critically, not because they can't but because they won't. They refuse to scrutinize the world. It does not occur to them that life demands caution against ignorance and misinformation, and that being ill-informed allows us to see that much less of the real world and prevents us from standing in awe of what really deserves our veneration -- the natural order with it's incredible complexity and splendor. These people have chosen not to see the world as it really is. They would rather have the more flattering delusion of self importance to the cold, hard truth of an indifferent existence. Yes, the old adage is proven true, Ignorance is bliss!

Funny how life turns the tables on us though. Years passed, and sure enough, I found myself on the receiving end of the ignorance, now that Clawbot's legacy has long since ended.

As I found myself watching a little cousin of mine play the Hulk, I mockingly squared off against him as a genie. I quickly turned the hulk into a light-bulb. My cousin confidently said, "But he can break out!" I then tried to get him to understand that if you are the light-bulb, you cannot break out of yourself! But my efforts were to no avail! I had to have my genie lose that fight! Clawbot was back, just in a different form, this time fighting against me, no doubt because I had eaten the forbidden fruit of knowledge!