By Katherine Wright

In seventh grade, my science teacher showed us a documentary that convinced me that dragons were real. 

In the documentary, there were interviews with scientists, historians and paleontologists who showed fossilized remnants of wings and proof of a body part that may have had the ability to generate fire. They compared dragons to dinosaurs in such an eloquent way that dragons seemed to fit perfectly into the historical picture. 

The realistic animations, powerful descriptions and detailed vocabulary they used were captivating and convincing. They blew all of my preconceived notions completely out of the water and replaced them with a wholehearted belief that dragons had once flown around breathing fire and causing chaos. 

At the end of the documentary, these so-called scientists informed their confused audience that all of the “evidence” they had discussed was entirely fictional and the video was actually just a mockumentary.

To this day, I have no idea why my teacher showed this film. All I know is that I fell right into the trap, ignoring everything else I had ever learned about dragons and diving full-force into a belief of their former existence. 

There are two different paths you can take to try and figure out why I fell for the trick my seventh grade teacher presented.

 

The Santa Principle: 

In the same way that children fully trust the authority of their parents when they say Santa is real, perhaps I fell for the dragon documentary because of the trust I had for the professionals in the video. Considering the so-called scientists and historians had official titles and used fancy words, it was easy for me to follow their logic. If they talked about new evidence, showed new diagrams or created convincing animations, I was going to believe it. 

 

The Little Red Riding Hood Theory: 

On the other hand, maybe the element of authority wasn’t the only reason I fell for the claims of this mockumentary. Maybe I was just naive and wanted to believe that what they were saying was true. It didn’t matter that they were scientists, it mattered that they were saying something amazing, mind-blowing and different. A wolf in your grandmother’s clothes might not look anything like your grandma, but you can still believe it does if that’s what you really wanted to see. 

Whether I was submissive to authority or naive to the truth, there is one thing to keep in mind here: Check your facts and don’t trust every person wearing a lab coat. Especially not your seventh grade teacher.