Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Scientists are so unreliable. I put Nature Network in The Sunday Times list of 100 Best Blogs on the basis of some very good, lucid material I'd come across. Unfortunately, since then I seem to have been reading nothing but lumpen humour and fey, self-involved whimsy. Contrary to rumour, I'm all for science, I really am, but I may have to cut his particular feed. I'm also all for Ben Goldacre on The Guardian, who spends his days pointing out that most of what passes as science in the media is just junk. Go, Ben. I was, however, taken aback to see him on Newsnight. It turns out he looks and dresses like that fuzzy-haired guy from Magpie. This, Ben, is bad science. He was there to pour cold water, and, I fear, dandruff, on the idea of Susan Greenfield and Aric Sigman, who was also in the studio, that social networking is rotting our children's brains. Goldacre rightly pointed out the research did not stand up this idea. But the debate was wrongly framed. I don't know what these things are doing to children's brains but I know what connectivity in general is doing too mine - shortening my attention span, distracting me etc.. What they should have been discussing was me, not that nebulous, guilt laden entity we call 'kids'. Sigman, in particular, seems to be trying to launch a moral panic and Goldcare plainly hates moral panics unless they are peer-reviewed. This was, as a result, an arid confrontation. The truth is that hyper-connectivity has done something to me, something not altogether to my liking. Not to be able to discuss this in terms other than moral panics or learned papers is absurd.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:49 am