Jumping and swimming

Alec made a breakthrough today swimming in the pool. There was another kid who showed up with his father, and they went over to the blue cabinets and put on a snug fitting flotation vest. The kid then started jumping into the pool from the side, and swimming around. I think Alec was intrigued. I put a vest on him, and we went over and started jumping in the pool too. It was the 1 foot mark. Kim took him over to the two foot mark, and he jumped in over and over again. He also held on the side of the pool and practiced kicking with his body floating. This is something I had tried to teach him before, but the vest really made a difference. The best part for me was that he started paddling and kicking, and this swimming with the help of the vest, all on his own. He would jump in, laugh, and then pitch himself forward, holding his breath as his mouth dipped just under the water for a brief second, before he stabilized and could kick and paddle for a bit. It was jilarious watching him jump in. There were two white tiles in the cement at the two foot mark. One had the number 2, the other had a “no diving” symbol. He would go up to them, and cover each with a foot. Then he would bend over and do some pointing at the tiles while he talked to himself about how his feet were aligned or something. Then he would step off the tiles and jump in. Eventually we got him to jump in at the 3 foot mark. I was so happy that other kid was there to spur him on.

economics of skepticism

While listening to a radio report on the South Korean reaction to the death of Kim Jong Il, I heard an interview of an old man saying something about how he believed that some spirits in the hills were going to cause some bad event to happen. The interviewer took it in stride as if the man were describing what he ate for breakfast. Some people believe in spirits, there’s nothing to react to. Many people believe in things that can’t be proven, or even explained very well. But I was struck. Why did this man believe such things? No sooner has I asked myself the question, when the answer came to me: because he could. It was as if everyone has a budget for how much thought or time they can devote to belief in things they can’t possibly prove to anyone else, or provide evidence for. Some people have more room in their budget for nonsense than others. In my own life, I make a living trying to drill down into “objective reality”, which I’ll admit, is a slippery problematic statement that neds more qualificatio, more on that later. But let’s just say it’s the kind of stuff that only exists if everyone agrees it exists under critical scrutiny and experimentation via the scientific method. I can’t depend on spirits, or invoke theories unless they can survive immense scrutiny by people that are much smarter than me. On the other hand, I know people who make a living being slippery with tantalizing but impossible to prove explanations for how the world works. What is the cost for believing in things that are impossible to prove?