As an example, a few days ago we were driving down the freeway and passed an accident with police on scene. Because we were crawling by very slowly, the kids had plenty of time to observe and comment on the scene. They started to wonder how the police officer would decide who was at fault for the accident. I explained that he would talk to both drivers and maybe a witness and examine the evidence.
"But what if someone lies to the police?" they wanted to know. Before I could add anymore, they started a whole side conversation about how they were sure criminals lied to the police all the time because they don't want to be caught - and discussed which types of criminals were most likely to be liars. The consensus was that killers and drug sellers were the worst liars.
Then Haley had a bright idea. "When I grow up I will invent a machine that will tell the police when people are lying!"
I told her that they do have a machine called a lie detector. They wanted to know how it worked, so I explained a little about how it measures heartbeat, breathing, and other things that change when someone is nervous, as they presumably are when they are lying.
My kids immediately saw the fault in this system.
PRESTON: "What if someone was telling the truth but they were just nervous because they were talking to the police? Then the machine wouldn't be able to tell if they were true or lying."
HALEY: "And if they were really good at lying maybe they wouldn't be nervous so the machine would think they were telling the truth."
BREKKEN: "I like bologna. If I was a police I would get to eat bologna sandwiches every day. And I would tell the bad guys - Just tell me the truth, you bad guy! Or no bologna for you!" (Note: He ALREADY eats bologna sandwiches almost every day.)
Haley and Preston decided to bypass the Bologna Blackmail system and proceeded to start brainstorming how to make a better lie detector. They had all sorts of ideas including monitoring brain waves, checking blood tests to see if there are chemicals changes when you lie, and using computers to watch people very closely and figure out when they're lying. I was pretty impressed with their thinking!
I have to say, I was also impressed by the fact that they are very practical about these plans. They have agreed that they will work on this project together in their spare time. After all, they plan to be quite busy in their chosen careers. As Haley put it - "We still have to make money for the bills, you know!" :)
Just in case you're wondering about those chosen careers? Also very practical. They have thought about things like their interests, how much schooling is required, and how much money they think they can make. So far the plans are:
- Haley: Plumber. (Synopsis of her reasoning: Because everyone always needs plumbers and you can charge plenty of money. Plus there are more boy plumbers than girl plumbers so she can probably find a good plumber husband and they can have their own business.)
- Preston: Boat Mechanic. (Because people need mechanics all the time - he may be influenced by our van's constant trips to the mechanic. But he has decided specifically on a boat mechanic because if they have enough money for a boat, they have enough money to pay a mechanic. He also has plans for a sliding fee scale where he will charge poor people a little bit and rich people a lot. :) )
- Brekken: Police. (Not a policeman or a police officer. He insists he will be a police. Apparently because he can have bologna sandwiches every day.)