The BBC’s flagship news analysis programme Newsnight featured a hefty segment on the ‘Facebook causes cancer / the end of the world as we know it’ nonsense that recently hit the headlines. The Beeb invited alarmist psychologist Aric Sigman on the show but, God bless ’em, they also invited Bad Science author Ben Goldacre who did a great job of countering the drivel. And due to wonders of the internet you can see the whole interview on YouTube.
The segment also features neuroscientist Susan Greenfield who has recently taken to warning everybody (including in the House of Lords believe it or not) about the ‘neurological dangers’ of children using the internet – based entirely on her own prejudices and in the absence of any good evidence.
She is featured in the TV report where, rather bizarrely, she admits there is no evidence but then goes on to warn of the dangers.
The debate between Goldacre and Sigman is pure TV gold, not least for watching Goldacre’s facial expressions.
Ben has also written-up the episode and put load of links and background material on Bad Science.
Link to Newsnight interview and debate.
Link to Bad Science with more on the debate.
One thought on “Think of the children, not the evidence”
To add a thoughtful, practical and scientific component to this always growing thread of debate, readers may want to try Proust and the Squid, by Maryanne Wolf. She discusses the “story of the reading brain, in the context of our unfolding intellectual evolution. The story is changing before our eyes and under our fingers… Knowing what reading demands of our brain and knowing how it contributes to our capacity to think, to feel, to infer, and to understand other human beings… as we make the transition from a reading brain to an increasingly digital one.”
She covers a short history of reading and various cultural components which compelled language forward. Though, the book is actually more biological and cognitive, putting most of her findings and insights in the context of what we stand to learn from how a dyslexic brain acquires the ability to read. From here you will find specifics, to apply with wide and novel reach.