Crackpot Theories: Indoctrinating Kids is Kind of Weird

Morgan Spurlock (the guy from the movie Super Size Me) used to have this TV show called 30 Days. The premise was that each week, a participant had to live a life very dissimilar to his or her own for a month. It was pretty decent. One episode in particular stands out to me though:

They had an episode in the 2nd season called "Religious Perception" wherein an atheist woman lived with a devout Christian family. In the early part of the episode, where they show what everyone is like before the process begins there was a fascinating exchange between this woman (Brenda Frei, according to IMDB) and her young (6 or 8 ish?) son. It went something like...

Brenda: Who controls your life?
Son: You do.
Everyone: *laughter*
Son: I don't mean you do; I mean that you're in control of your own life.

This impressed me to see this. I grew up in a Christian home, so I had many conversations where concepts such as "Jesus died for your sins" and "God created the world" were taught, rehearsed, and reinforced. It was fascinating to see this exact same process occurring from a completely different perspective
This child is happily parroting atheist dogma because he trusts his mother to know what she's talking about in the same way that I happily parroted Christian dogma because I trusted my parents.

This got me thinking: Indoctrinating kids is kind of weird. We've got all these rules that say that good parents essentially brainwash their children to believe an arbitrary set of things. Add to this the fact that different "good parents" (whatever that means) teach their kids completely different, mutually exclusive ideologies. But why? I mean, obviously, children need to learn a certain set of skills and concepts in order to function in society, but why any specific set of ideologies? 

That's a lot of responsibility for one or two people! "Here you go sir and/or maam. You are responsible for teaching this tiny human how the universe works, and for a long period they will believe absolutely every word of it, regardless of how wrong you may be."

"But wait!" the parents say, "I haven't even figured out how half of this stuff works!"

"Too bad," this strange narrator (doctor? guide? who is this character? I'm a terrible story teller!) responds. "You'll just have to do your best."

Yet somehow, this wildly unqualified group of people spouting vastly conflicting and mostly wrong data succeed in raising generation after generation of people who, besides doing a terrible job of raising their own kids, seem to do alright.

We are a weird species, and I'm surprised at the fact that we haven't completely annihilated ourselves in some ridiculous way yet. I just hope we can build robots to make our decisions (and raise our kids!) for us before that happens.

I like to think that your 20s are for undoing all the well intended damage your parents did to you, and that this process in and of itself is important and formative. If that's at all true, then really the most important stuff your parents do for you is release you at 18 a relatively happy, healthy, and thoughtful person capable of surviving and developing. So even though I disagree wildly with my parents' ideologies, I think they did a great job of raising me.

Also, it's funny to see "atheist dogma." I don't think that quite works because dogma requires an authority, and a taboo against challenging that authority. Atheists typically would say, "I don't believe in an un-challenged authority in the first place. You may challenge any conception you want as long as you have verifiable evidence." Maybe you would argue about "dogmatic adherence to requirements of evidence and reason," but that's more of a self correcting algorithm, not the kind of authority dogma means. A dogmatic authority is typically a religious text and/or a religious or political class.

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