“Late believers”: more rational than you think

It's from The Washington Post, but for a moment I thought I was reading Robin Hanson:

Santa's spell hasn't been broken for Fiona Penn, either. A 12-year-old student at Carl Sandburg Middle School in the Alexandria part of Fairfax, Fiona is aware of the ubiquitous shopping mall Santas and the fact that some presents arrive via a UPS truck, not from the sky. But she chooses to believe that her Santa is different.

"The mall Santas, they change. They get hired and fired. But he's the real one," she said.

The full story is here.

Addendum: Fiona responds to critics in the comments section.


Hmmm--doesn't everybody tell their slightly older kids that the shopping mall Santas are just hired to play the part because the real one obviously couldn't appear at all the malls?

But a 12-year-old? I think my kids pretended to believe in Santa at that age because they were afraid that expressing Santa atheism openly would be rude (and, worse, might affect the gift supply...)

Of course Santa's real and can visit every home tonight. Here's how it's done:

@ Rich: furthering your point, a child's peer group is comprised of 99.9% believers in santa, and only a very small fraction of those would be believers in JC. As much as norms create belief, santa pwnz christianity.

I thought 7.5 was the over/under on figuring out the santa lie. My 4 year old seems to be picking up on it...our country is fucked if 12 year olds are believing in santa now...kinda like adults voting for "hope" and "shock and awe".

One thing I've always wondered about Santa Claus--why to so many religious people participate? It sets up children to discover that one of the two magical, powerful beings associated with Christmas is a charade. What effect does this have on religious belief and observance? I wonder if the effect is negative on belief but positive on observance--the message being that it doesn't really matter whether you believe or not as long as you go along with everybody else (who either actually believes or, like you, is just pretending to go along with the crowd). If what is really wanted is observance rather than belief, perhaps Santa really is good preparation.

Hi. It's fiona. the one from the arcticle. i woke up this morning and looked in the paper and saw this great arcticle about santa. i kept on reading and saw that i was quoted in it! front page of the washington post!!!! i was sooo happy! i then went to christmas eve church and was practically bouncing off the walls. as i was driving hoem my mom told me to look my name up on google and that i might come up because of the arcticle. i was happy to see that i came up when i looked up my name! my happiness dwindled as i saw the precursor to the arcticle. and then i read the comments. thanks you guys. thanks a lot. and on christmas eve too...how could you stoop so low. i'll think twice before googling myself next time.
ps. read the full article. he has remembered people after 20 years and he even traveled to a girls house when she had luekemia.

So, after reading the WPost article, the Fiona who blogs as one of the most conservative readers on this website--is a 12 year old.

Keep it up Fiona.

Only in America.

When my kids were small, we lived in Merrifield, and we have great memories of Santa too, Fiona. Thanks for helping the Washington Post rekindle them for me.


I hope that you weren't wishing for a better class of commenters for Christmas. Oh well, at least you got one scriptural reference reenacted;

"out of the mouths of babes..."

Merry Christmas.

Apparently for some people, "rational" and "the ability to launch f-bombs" are much the same. I lament the loss in civility.

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