And a Child Shall Lead Them
By Bryan Caplan
Over vacation, we stayed with my brother’s family at his cabin in Lake Arrowhead. In this slightly cramped space, my brother and I kept trying to watch the extended cut of Gladiator. Unfortunately, my four-year-old sons kept trying to watch too, and mom did not approve. So we’d watch a minute, pause it, shoo my kids away, and repeat.
Before long, though, one of my kids independently created two extremely convincing arguments for why he should be allowed to watch:
1. “If mommy doesn’t like it, she can go to the kitchen.” In other words, he rediscovered the classic “If you don’t like it, don’t watch” argument.
2. When told the movie was too scary, he responded: “Then I need to watch it, so it won’t scare me anymore.” In other words, he rediscovered the principle of hedonic adaptation.
Together, these arguments filled me with paternal pride, and convinced me that my son was right.
But he still didn’t get to watch. As is so often the case in this world, convincing me was not enough to make a good idea a reality.