There is a picture I have in my mind that captures an important facet of childhood. Its caption reads: “Small Human With Marble In Nose.” We trot this image out at family gatherings—there is surely a relative on hand who was once such a Small Human—to illustrate the pleasant idea that children, at their most endearing and most exasperating, are explorers/inventors/geniuses in miniature. By this school of thought, jamming a small object up one’s nose is just a foray into The Scientific Method gone a bit awry.
But imagine this picture as a cartoon. Get rid of baby Einstein’s precocious smile, add in a runny nostril (the unobstructed one), and rewrite the caption: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST?