When I was ten no one could prove anything. We knew things, but there was rarely a means of verification. The  library nearest to my house was a two hour walk and our encyclopedias were decades out of date and missing several volumes of alphabetic importance. I knew there had been a Civil war, but the finer details of  SLavery and SMallpox remained maddeningly out of reach.

Arguments on the simplest objective matters could last for days and bring friendships to ruin. If you could get the first three people in your immediate vicinity to back up a claim it was entered into the record as fact, five and it became  immutable natural law. Part of me still believes that Canada won the Vietnam war because “Who’s the toughest Chinese guy you know”. The system was not without flaw.

On the plus side it taught us the worth of rhetoric and a healthy cynicism for those claiming authoritative certainty. The first time you uncritically buy into a “An umbrella will negate the impact of a terminal velocity fall from the slide” postulate you begin to value testing ideas before adopting them. If you wanted to be heard you had to convince, filling innumerable narrative and factual gaps in the process. We weren’t liars, we were just under sourced and over helpful, and as inaccurate as our beliefs turned out to be they were the product of a defiant curiosity that I rarely see as an adult. It wasn’t about being right, it was about understanding.