There is a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the father, played by Sean Connery, says to his son, “You left just when you were beginning to get interesting.”
That’s a cruel statement from an arrogant and self-absorbed man. Children are always interesting on a multitude of levels. What is truly amazing as a parent is that the way they are interesting and surprising fluctuations and changes over the years.
I remember being amazed when my 4-year old daughter told me a joke I never heard before and belly laughed for minutes. I also remember the deep love and admiration for the sparkle in her eyes. She made dad laugh, for real.
Moo4-year old kiddo
Since then, I’ve seen a similar joke on the Big Bang Theory (interrupting physicist, of course).
New History From High School
There is a long period of time where you know more than your child, pretty much always. The only exception being events that you were not there to witness. She knows what happened at preschool and I don’t. However, when it comes to knowledge, you already know the math, and the clever facts, and the pranks, and magic tricks.
But, day by day, that becomes less true. First, they come home and tell you that hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards, and you think, “That doesn’t sound right.” Thank goodness for Google. (It’s true.) Later, you can’t help with their math homework without reading the whole chapter and groping around in your brain for what you used to know. Eventually, there are whole swaths of information and data that you not only don’t know, you’ve never considered knowing it.
One of the things I love about real, well-implemented, gifted education is that those days go by faster and faster, the result of deeper learning, and a wider look at all topics.
Carrots Don’t Give You Better Night Vision
The science is clear. Vitamin A may give you better eyesight, especially if you have a Vitamin A deficiency. If you don’t have a Vitamin A deficiency, then more Vitamin A may not help, or the improvements may be very minimal.
So, why then, do millions of Americans, and their children believe that Vitamin A gives them better eyesight, as well as better night vision?
The answer may be World War II.
You Believe Vitamin A Give Better Night Vision Because of World War II
It was the British!
During World War II, the Germans bombed London during the London Blitz. When enemy bombers were detected, London would shut down all the lights and go dark. The reason, as far as the public, and the Germans knew was to make it hard for German bombers to see the target in the dark.
This worked, in so much as you can “miss” a city as large as London. Assuming enough bombers made it to London the first ones dropped there bombs where they thought London should be based on time and direction. The following bombers dropped their bombs where they saw fires, and maybe, if they got lucky their actual targets illuminated in flames.
What the British public and the Germans did not know was that British fighters had an early version of radar that allowed them to see the German bombers in the dark, while the German pilots could not see the British fighters. The story was that British fighter pilots ate so many carrots they could see better in the dark.
Whether the Germans really believed that was irrelevant. Whether they insisted there was no difference between British eyesight and German eyesight, or if they spent time testing it to see if it was true, what they were not doing was trying to find out what technology was giving the British an advantage.
According to 15, another purpose was served. If you needed a population to willingly eat some of the few foods you had plenty of, while also making them feel better about being able to see in the dark, then carrots improve night vision is literally the perfect story to tell. Your population ends up both less hungry (and restless) AND they feel better about having to move around in the dark after the warning sirens sounded.
Good propaganda isn’t a trick that people figure out. It becomes fact. This was good propaganda.