Study: Kids Who Read Harry Potter Grow Up to Be Better People

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

What can a book about a boy wizard fighting a bad guy who drinks unicorn blood teach kids about the real world? A whole lot, according to a study conducted by researchers in Italy. As Pacific Standard reports, kids who read Harry Potter hold more accepting views toward marginalized groups.

For the study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2015, the team of researchers looked at three groups of readers. The first consisted of 34 Italian fifth graders. Students were asked to answer questions dealing with their attitudes toward immigrants before breaking into groups to discuss passages from the Harry Potter books over a six-week period. Kids from groups that focused on sections dealing with prejudice specifically showed “improved attitudes towards immigrants”—but only if they reported identifying with the main character.

For the second part of the study, the researchers surveyed 117 Italian high schoolers. The respondents who read the most Harry Potter books and related to Harry exhibited a more open attitude toward gay individuals.

Finally, they collected data from 71 undergraduate students in the UK. This time they wanted to know how Harry Potter would influence readers’ perspectives on refugees. Unlike the previous participants, the college students who identified with Harry weren’t any more likely to be accepting of the disenfranchised group (maybe because the older readers are less likely to relate to a younger character no matter their personality). But if they also reported not feeling any connection to Voldemort, then their attitude toward refugees had a greater chance of being positive.

It’s not hard to find metaphors for racial politics in the Harry Potter books as an adult. The words Voldemort and the Death Eaters use to describe “pure blood” wizards and muggle-born “mudbloods” aren’t too far-removed from actual Nazi terminology. But as the research suggests, young readers don’t need to be familiar with the real-world parallels to grasp the message.

[h/t Pacific Standard]

South Dakota’s Flintstones Theme Park Has Been Demolished

Tbennert, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)
Tbennert, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)

Fans of The Flintstones have said their final goodbyes to Bamm-Bamm, Fred, Pebbles, and other longtime residents of South Dakota's Bedrock City. As the local NewsCenter1 station reports, the quirky roadside attraction in the city of Custer—which closed down in 2015—has now been bulldozed.

Located about 40 miles from Rapid City in South Dakota's Black Hills, the attraction was the first Flintstones-themed park to open, in 1966. It featured a "Mt. Rockmore" structure, a 20-foot Dino statue, Fred's Flintmobile car, and other replicas of the houses and characters made famous by the cartoon. Now, all that remains are the memories shared by the many families who visited the roadside attraction over the years.

There's some good news, though. Visitors will have one last chance to visit Bedrock City's sister location in Arizona, located along Route 64 near the Grand Canyon. "We have been making needed repairs and will open the campground soon," a representative of Raptor Ranch, a new attraction slated to take over the Bedrock City site, tells Mental Floss. "We are closed now, but will open soon. This will likely be the last year to see the Bedrock buildings before the remodel."

The Arizona Bedrock City shut down in January after 47 years of operations. The new owner, Troy Morris, announced plans to convert the property into a park where visitors can learn about birds of prey and watch flight demonstrations. The upcoming attraction's Facebook page shared photos of the progress, while also attempting to find future homes for the Flintstones crew.

The date of the Bedrock City campground's reopening is yet to be announced, but keep checking the Raptor Ranch Facebook page for updates.

[h/t NewsCenter1]

Bran Reveals Meaning of the Three-Eyed Raven and How That Impacts Future of Westeros

Helen Sloan/HBO
Helen Sloan/HBO

Earlier this year, Night King actor Vladimir Furdik confirmed that his Game of Thrones character "has a target he wants to kill," and it appears that last night's episode, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms," may have revealed who that person is: Bran Stark, who is now the Three-Eyed Raven. In a meeting before the dead march on Winterfell, Bran says, “He’ll come for me. He’s tried before. Many times, with many Three-eyed Ravens.”

When explaining why it's him the Night King wants, Bran revealed what the Three-Eyed Raven does, and what his death would mean for Westeros.

According to Bran, the Night King's goal is "An endless night. He wants to erase this world." Bran goes on to say, "I am its memory," referring to the fact that he, as the Three-Eyed Raven, knows everything that has happened in the history of Westeros. To this, Sam Tarly replies, "Memories don’t come from books. And your stories aren’t just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men, I’d start with you.”

The Night King was able to get his hands on Bran in a vision, and Bran is permanently marked from the encounter, which means the Night King always knows where he is. Now, Bran—guarded by Theon—will serve as bait to lure the Night King into Winterfell.

Could this be foreshadowing the fact that Bran won't see the end of the season? We'll just have to wait and see what's coming in episode three and beyond.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER