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Deception controversy 2008


The belief in Santa Claus by children is widespread. In an AP-AOL News poll, 86% of American adults believed in Santa as children, with the age of 8 being the average for stopping to believe he is real, although 15% still believed after the age of 10.[39] In New Zealand, 85 percent of 4-year-old children and 65 percent of 6-year-olds believe in Santa Claus.[40]

Parental and societal encouragement of this belief is not without controversy. The editors of Netscape framed one complaint about the Santa Claus myth: “Parents who encourage a belief in Santa are foisting a grand deception on their children, who inevitably will be disappointed and disillusioned.”[41] University of Texas at Austin psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley contradicts the notion that a belief in Santa is evidence of the gullibility of children, but evidence that they believe what their parents tell them and society reinforces. According to Woolley:

The adults they count on to provide reliable information about the world introduce them to Santa. Then his existence is affirmed by friends, books, TV and movies. It is also validated by hard evidence: the half-eaten cookies and empty milk glasses by the tree on Christmas morning. In other words, children do a great job of scientifically evaluating Santa. And adults do a great job of duping them.[42]

Woolley posits that it is perhaps “kinship with the adult world” that causes children not to be angry that they were lied to for so long. The criticism about this deception is not that it is a simple lie, but a complicated series of very large lies.[6] The objections to the lie are that it is unethical for parents to lie to children without good cause, and that it discourages healthy skepticism in children.[6] With no greater good at the heart of the lie, it is charged that it is more about the parents than it is about the children. Writer Austin Cline posed the question: “Is it not possible that kids would find at least as much pleasure in knowing that parents are responsible for Christmas, not a supernatural stranger?”[6]

Others, however, see no harm in the belief in Santa Claus. Psychologist Tamar Murachver said in that it was a cultural, not parental, lie; thus, it does not undermine parental trust.[43] The New Zealand Skeptics also see no harm in parents telling their children that Santa is real. Spokesperson Vicki Hyde said, “It would be a hard-hearted parent indeed who frowned upon the innocent joys of our children’s cultural heritage. We save our bah humbugs for the things that exploit the vulnerable.”[43]

Dr. John Condry of Cornell University interviewed more than 500 children for a study of the issue and found that not a single child was angry at his or her parents for telling them Santa Claus was real. According to Dr. Condry, “The most common response to finding out the truth was that they felt older and more mature. They now knew something that the younger kids didn’t.”[44]

Islamic opposition in Bosnia

Santa Claus has been banned by the director of pre-school education in predominantly Muslim Sarajevo on 21 December 2008 on the grounds that he plays no part in Bosniak tradition.[45]

The controversial attack is the culmination of a long history of unsuccessful efforts by nationalists with Islamic leanings to ban him out the country.[45] The struggle first emerged in the aftermath of the Bosnian war when the wartime president, Alija Izetbegović, attempted to declare Santa Claus a communist-era ‘fabrication’.[45] Although at the time Izetbegović’s efforts were blocked after a public outcry, this time it was done by Arzija Mahmutović, director of the Children of Sarajevo group of public nurseries, apparently successfully.

1 Comment»

  Amy wrote @

I think it is fine for parents to tell their children about Santa Clause, but when they tell the kids, the parents need to also include “hints” to the kids early on. Such as “Santa Clause is coming down the chimney to get you your gifts” and then include body language to the child, like rolling eyes, winks, or occasional “ya right” under their breaths as they lie to the kids. That way, early on, the child starts to realize slowly that something sounds like bullshit, and then the kids aren’t so traumatized when the are told or find out quickly Santa is not real.
Does this all make sense?
And as for the other countries and their weirdness, they all just seem to whacky to me, many of these muslim groups..
Well, happy holidays everyone,


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