“Why doesn’t the moon fall out of the sky?” asked Jose.
I felt like yelling, “GOOOOOAL” and running around the classroom waving my arms in triumph, but a teacher must maintain a sense of decorum in order to model appropriate behavior in front of her students…who were, unfortunately, spoiling my feeling of success by laughing like little hyenas. Jose sank down in his seat in a vain attempt to disappear. Not good.
“Funny you should ask, Jose,” I replied. “Because Isaac Newton asked that very same question.”
“Who’s Isaac Newton?” someone called out.
“Just one of the greatest scientists of all time!” I replied. “Which reminds me of a story…”
“One summer evening, Isaac was sitting under an apple tree and suddenly…BAM! An apple fell on his head!
“Isaac looked up at the apples hanging from that tree, and he asked himself (because he was always asking questions), “Why did that apple fall straight down onto my head?”
“Then, the very next moment, he caught sight of the moon and asked himself, “Why doesn’t the moon fall to the ground like apples do?”
“And that’s the story of how Isaac Newton asked the same question that Jose just did.”
“So what’s the answer?” someone asked.
“Funny you should ask….”
…If you, like my students, want to know (or be reminded of) the answer to Jose’s question, you will find a list of helpful YouTube videos at the end of this post. However, you won’t find the answer in this post. That is because I am no longer a science teacher in the New York City Board of Education. I am retired, and am now reborn–or repurposed–as Control Savvy. Control savviness involves asking your own questions and then searching for the answers yourself. It also involves recognizing control systems.
I just told you a story.
Stories are Systems of Control.
Storytellers want to control your mind and your behavior.
The title of “Storyteller” is so much nicer than “Mind Controller”. The first evokes visions of little children sitting in a circle around a kindly grandmother, while the other elicits images of evil scientists wielding syringes and electrodes–definitely not the same, right? Wrong. The difference lies in their motives, but the intention is the same. Control.
The story I just told you is true. It is an example of how I consciously used storytelling as a mind control technique—with good intentions, of course–in order to encourage inquiry and discourage teasing.
Let’s scroll back to the beginning and look at my story from the point of view of mind and behavior control.
The story begins with Jose’s question: “Why doesn’t the moon fall out of the sky?”
When was the last time you heard this question? Perhaps never, unless you hang out with three-year-olds.
“Why is the sky blue?” “Why is it cold in winter?” “Why can birds fly?”
These are what I call little-kid questions. Unfortunately, at that age, a child doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand the answers. By the age of thirteen, his brain has grown receptive to the answers, but somehow he has lost the inclination to ask the questions.
Asking questions about the world is, in my opinion, one of the primary skills of a scientist, but it doesn’t belong to science alone. It belongs to every human being who has the ability to speak and understand language.
Why does the question-asking skill come so easily to three-year-olds? Why does it all but disappear by the age of twelve or thirteen? Oh sure, I heard questions like “Will that be on the test?” But I never heard the genius questions of the very young. I set out to change that.
The first step was to teach my students to simply turn textbook facts into questions.
Here’s an example.
TEXTBOOK FACT: “ Blood vessels carry blood to every part of your body." STUDENT QUESTION: Do blood vessels carry blood to every part of the body? STUDENT QUESTION: Where do blood vessels carry the blood? STUDENT QUESTION: How does blood reach every part of the body?
Little by little their questions became more inventive. By the end of the year, encouraged by promises of extra credit, my students were able to come up with some fascinating “little-kid” questions without laughing at each other…much. They were even able to think of questions whose answers hadn’t been discovered yet.
I have nothing against memorization. It is a useful skill. As a matter of fact, the question-asking technique I just described is a great mnemonic device. Facts and ideas seem to stick better when you turn them into questions. Don’t ask me why.
Today I wonder if my students have remembered to apply this technique in their everyday adult lives. The oldest of them would be in their forties by now, the youngest in their twenties. Have they asked questions about SARS-COV-2, COVID-19, and government mandates or have they just obeyed without thinking?
Let’s use the fact-turned-question technique on declarations made by Anthony Fauci about COVID-19 vaccines. https://www.cspinet.org/daily/immunity/covid-19-vaccines-an-interview-with-dr-anthony-fauci
FAUCI FACT – “So when people express skepticism or concern about getting vaccinated because they feel it was done too quickly, it is important to explain that speed did not compromise safety or scientific integrity.”
QUESTION: Did speed compromise safety or scientific integrity?
FAUCI FACT – “The data from the trials were given to a data and safety monitoring board, which is completely independent of the government, the drug company, and the FDA.”
QUESTION: Was the monitoring board completely independent of the government, the drug company, and the FDA?
FAUCI FACT: “The bottom line is that, apart from a couple of allergic reactions in people who had a strong history of allergic reactions, the safety profile looks very good.”
QUESTION: Is the vaccine safe for everyone except for those who have had a strong history of allergic reactions?
Feel free to continue on your own.
I will leave you now with a well-know quote by Isaac Newton.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Question: Did Isaac Newton stand on the shoulders of Giants?
Question: What were the Giants’ names?
Question: What did Isaac Newton see?
If you want an answer to Jose’s question, it will only take one minute and fifty seconds of your time to get it by watching the following YouTube video:
Newton’s Gravitation Universelle 1
If you have more questions about gravity, and time to spend answering them, here are a couple of videos that will help you “see further”.
The Fascinating Truth About Gravity | Jim Al-Khalili: Gravity and Me | Spark
Mar 6, 2018
The Truth About Gravity With Professor Jim Al-Khalili | Gravity And Me | Spark
Mar 13, 2018
If you are interested in Isaac Newton, these videos might satisfy some of your questions.
Isaac Newton. Gravity Part 1 of 2
Isaac Newton. Gravity Part 2 of 2
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