Socrates (In The Form Of A 9-Year-Old) Shows Up In A Suburban Backyard In Washington

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When he rang the doorbell, Zia hadn't planned to step inside. He was there to pick up his fiancee who was babysitting, but she couldn't leave (the parents were running late) so Zia agreed to hang out for a bit. His fiancee said, "Let me introduce you to the kids" — the 2-year-old girl, the 7-year-old boy and, most important, squatting, with no shoes on, surrounded by ants on the back patio, the oldest — the 9-year-old — the one he would make world-famous on YouTube.


This is the boy he now calls "The Philosopher."

Nine is what fourth-graders are. You don't expect them to be wise; they're still boys. When the two started talking, there was no hint of what was about to happen, except for the slightly odd introduction. His girlfriend said he "is interested in cosmology." "Really?" Zia thought, "cosmology?" So he leaned in and asked — just to be a badass — "What do you think about dark matter? Any ideas?"

Wait! I Need To Film This

The boy looked up, started to answer, and almost immediately Zia thought, "Wait!" Zia Hassan is a Washington, D.C.-based musician, blogger, teacher-in-training and video cameraman and he's learned to act on instinct, and his instincts were telling him, "I need to film this." He said to the boy, "Uh, can I film this? Is that all right with you?"

The boy didn't mind. And here, a million-and-a-half views later, is what the boy told him about the universe. I don't know the right words to describe what I feel watching this. Quiet surprise? Joy? Mystery? You should just look for yourself …

Written By: Robert Krulwich
continue to source article at npr.org

17 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to now about the parents, because, without wishing in any way to question his manifest native intelligence, his metaphors sound a tad derivative.

    However, without knowing anything about his family, my guess would be that they are not of a religious persuasion!

    • In reply to #2 by Nodhimmi:

      Outstanding parenting, I’d say. Yes, he’s been ‘coached’ but what a level of lucidity and fluency; slightly better result than “I love Jesus”

      Agreed.

      S G

  2. His parents are almost certainly well educated and this bright child has absorbed many of their ideas and probably even their favorite expressions. That is not to say he’s not extraordinarily articulate and able to make sense of those ideas himself, rather than just parrot them. Interesting that they have not given him specifically atheistic ideas, only a questioning position. Bravo to them and bravo to him. Barring unforeseen (“unscheduled”?) damaging events, he looks like a good candidate for a career in science, and he will certainly succeed in school.

  3. He reminds me of my good old friend whom I started school together with. My friend was telling similar stories and I remember just listening to him in awe. My friend is a very bright person and is pursuing a doctorate now. And I do have a little friend right now who’s fascinated by how things work… They both have educated parents who let their children explore and don’t assume limits to their interests and understanding.

    To me the kid in the video is not simply parroting what he has heard he seems to have an understanding of these ideas and obviously enjoys contemplating on them. I bet he can come up with his own analogues and metaphors and connections.

  4. You see here evidence of parents who discuss with their kids ideas and allow them to pursue their interests. It doesn’t matter if the kid is getting his ideas from others, look how often he stated he wasn’t sure or could be wrong. That was the most impressive bit.

  5. Knowing what we now know about the unreliability of distant memories, I’ll retell a 4th grade experience anyway. I was at a table with all the other kids listening to a nun, also seated, teaching. To this day I remember having an internal conversation about why that nun had authority and power over me. I wondered what would happen if I got up and walked away (amongst other things).

    Granted, lots of kids are rebellious and/or don’t play by the rules. I ended up playing by the rules, but it is my first memory of consciously weighing the pros and cons in my mind, silently, while everyone else was seemingly just mindlessly obeying the nun.

    At nine, I’m not sure how I would have answered the questions posed to this nine year old. I think it would have been a lot of “I don’t knows.”

    Neat kid. I’d like to see him square off with the battalian of so-called Good News soldiers (evangelical children) entering the school system!

    Mike

  6. I have to wonder about the intention of this Zia guy filming the boy and the other two siblings and putting himself in at the end playing the guitar instead of allowing the interview/s to stand on its own. After the boy with a bat commented “you can hear a sense of color…when you listen.” He also led the boy to agree with his comment that he could “see the color red” listening to music. Sensing color and seeing it instead of sound are two different things. I believe this Zia guy led the boy down the “seeing” path which has some heavy implications. We can only guess at guitar guy’s intention since he left it open-ended. I can take some pretty good guesses though.

    When the middle boy (the one with a bat) commented that it was” necessary for the entertainment and suspense….” “we do not have that type of suspense in our lives” sounded very awkward and inauthentic for a child. It seems clear to me that the kids have highly intelligent parents who expose their naturally intelligent children to various ideas and thought. Children are great parrots and learn especially well through repetition. Only time will tell if they pursue higher thought on their own. If the parents are highly educated professionals of at least middle classed backgrounds, they kids will probably follow.

    Yes, the older boy is clearly intelligent; he learned his “lessons” well. He will probably have a brilliant career ahead of him. Children develop at different rates. Yes, there are intelligent and talented kids in the world. I think it takes adults to finally realize this. Maybe it also take a million hits and a post here because some adults view this as some sort of amazing occurrence. Unfortunately, some parents/people then label their child’s abilities as supernatural (when the kid talks philosophically) (I hope this doesn’t happen here.) I have seen films of kids spouting off any capital of any state or country around the world as toddlers. I knew a boy (four) who understood multiplication, division and square roots. I decided to test his skills; I was amazed. Yes everyone, articulate children of higher than average intelligence are all around us and have always been around us probably since the beginning of humanity. Their success, mostly depends on the parents’ views and attitudes and whether or not they pay for his post graduate studies or support/foster his intellectual growth in some way.

    Now can we meet the parents and get confirmation that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  7. Saw this a couple of days ago. The kid is adorable. Sounds like he’s read plenty of Carl Sagan. Can you imagine how great the world would be if all parents allowed their children’s minds to run free?

  8. I think this kid could easily win the 10 thousand dollars that is “up for grabs” on the other thread. Anyone think that the guy offering the money would stand a chance against this???

  9. Could this “child genius” actually be a child actor; a put-up job by the religious to see how gullible we are; a dastardly trap to see if we self proclaimed “reason” lovers actually fall for a cheap trick that strokes at our egos? I hope not, but I’m suspicious. Hopefully he really is that intelligent.

    • In reply to #11 by RDfan:

      Could this “child genius” actually be a child actor; a put-up job by the religious to see how gullible we are; a dastardly trap to see if we self proclaimed “reason” lovers actually fall for a cheap trick that strokes at our egos? I hope not, but I’m suspicious. Hopefully he really is that intelligent.

      Our “opponents” are not smart enough for something like that.

      • In reply to #12 by Serdan:

        In reply to #11 by RDfan:

        Our “opponents” are not smart enough for something like that.

        The ones who believe in and are bound by the infectious stories aren’t, sure. Their minds are damaged by the parasite’s mechanism. But that’s only most of them. The others are crippled by having to pretend to believe it, but that’s a less severe restriction.

    • In reply to #11 by RDfan:

      Could this “child genius” actually be a child actor; a put-up job by the religious to see how gullible we are; a dastardly trap to see if we self proclaimed “reason” lovers actually fall for a cheap trick that strokes at our egos? I hope not, but I’m suspicious. Hopefully he really is that intelligent.

      I don’t suppose it’s out of the realms of possibility. After all, that was what we did with ‘Sarah Palin’ back in… oops, sorry, I’ve said too much.

  10. It’s often a matter of meeting the right people at the right time in your life. When I was about this boys age I met a scientist who worked at a museum (where my dad used to work) and worked with fossils. I was a nut on the subject and kept telling him of all the things we “knew” about ancient life. He kept correcting me that a lot of things we don’t “know” but that a lot of things are just very plausible because of the evidence we have gathered so far. At first I thought he was kinda irritating until I grasped what he meant. Ever since I have approached pretty much every sample of data in the same manner. Therefor you will never hear me say that I believe in evolution. I will say that at this time, with the current state of knowledge the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the biological variety we see around us. This boy obviously met the right people.

    • In reply to #14 by Klaasjansch:

      It’s often a matter of meeting the right people at the right time in your life. When I was about this boys age I met a scientist who worked at a museum (where my dad used to work) and worked with fossils. I was a nut on the subject and kept telling him of all the things we “knew” about ancient life. He kept correcting me that a lot of things we don’t “know” but that a lot of things are just very plausible because of the evidence we have gathered so far. At first I thought he was kinda irritating until I grasped what he meant. Ever since I have approached pretty much every sample of data in the same manner. Therefor you will never hear me say that I believe in evolution. I will say that at this time, with the current state of knowledge the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the biological variety we see around us. This boy obviously met the right people.
      I agree with science, so far so go but maybe not.

  11. We could say that if children are parrots their parents are big parrots. Children take in big ideas about the world from their parents and try to adjust to them.
    If this child had been in a religiious community he would have been lauded for reciting the Koran or the catechism. We could ask whether that is the best use of the time of a child’s life when they playing and growing and learning.

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