Bruno Bettelheim on the “Truth” of Fairytales

Fantasy of all sorts give us space to play at what if? So are a sort of social laboratory. They are hugely important

On Art and Aesthetics

“…statistically too improbable…” (Photo: Pixabay)

Two years ago, at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Richard Dawkins – evolutionary biologist and New Atheist – famously (or rather infamously) denounced fairytales while maintaining his position as a forceful proponent of the scientific method. His comments, according to the Independent, went as follows:

Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism? I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism – we get enough of that anyway. Even fairy tales, the ones we all love, with wizards or princesses turning into frogs or whatever it was. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it’s statistically too improbable.

After a backlash, Professor Dawkins clarified on Twitter: “It IS pernicious to inculcate supernaturalism into a…

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