Observation followed by deduction is standard practice in science. But it's not foolproof, because, as has often been noted, fools can be so ingenious. Small children, though no fools, can likewise be exceptionally clever. I was recently reminded just how nimble their little minds can be when I listened to an old episode of the excellent radio program This American Life. The show in question (see www. thislife.org, June 22, 2001) was entitled "Kid Logic" and dealt with what happens when the scientific method is employed by those whose hands aren't quite big enough to hold it.
For example, a woman named Rebecca recalled a conversation with her friend Rachel from when they were both little kids. Rachel told her that she had lost a tooth and, following the usual procedure, put it under her pillow. She happened to wake up while the tooth was being exchanged for money and saw exactly who was making the switch: her father.
This article was originally published with the title Quod Error Demonstrandum.