Richard Dawkins

What sort of grumpy academic would pick a fight with Santa Claus? Well, actually, not Richard Dawkins. The prominent zoologist, atheist and skeptic is no stranger to controversy, but his recent, widely quoted comments at a UK science festival run much deeper than just hating on one specific fairy-tale character. Rather, he's worried about the entire tradition of promoting make-believe to children, and he makes a decent argument. His real concern is that kids are being guided away from a scientific way of thinking before they've had much of a chance to look at the world for themselves. "It's pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism," he says, because they already "get enough of that anyway." Dawkins suggests that rather than going along with "magical fantasies," adults should be "fostering a spirit of skepticism" instead. Check out fuller coverage at the Daily Telegraph if you think you can handle some of the other negative things he says about frogs and princesses.