Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DECEMBER 15th [Science Comedy Advent Calendar]

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December 15th: Susan Greenfield

You get a lot of fictional pop culture stories about Christmas. Some are good, some are crap, some are surprisingly violent, but the common factor that unites a lot of them is that there is often a character or some sort of body that, whether by design or by consequence, seems hell-bent on ruining Christmas for everyone involved.

Scrooge, the Grinch, King Herod, all fictional characters (apart from Herod) who's selfish desires mean they are at best nonplussed, at worst pleased about the fact that their actions ruin Christmas for innocent people. King Herod could, arguably, plead ignorance given the context, and also given the fact that it's unlikely that he did any of that stuff in the Bible, but that's by the by.

Of course, in the real world, we don't have people who would be so honest about their festive-cheer-destroying actions. Ruining Christmas is frowned upon. But then, some people still do their best.

We can't eat too many of those treaty things, that's bad for you. Don't undercook the Turkey, that's probably poisonous.  Drinking too much? Don't do that, you'll probably die. Have you not spent enough on gifts? then you're ruining the economy. Have you spent too much on gifts? Then you're stupid for not having enough money saved for the months ahead. Are you a Christian? Then how dare you not appreciate Jesus enough at this time of year. Are you not a Christian? Then how dare you not appreciate Jesus enough at this time of year. And on it goes.

But at least, once all the health and morality concerns have weighed down on you with their guilty burdens, you can enjoy some time playing with your gifts (if you're a child), or playing with the children's gifts (if you're not). Nothing wrong with that, surely? With all the other guilt-inducing health-destroying elements of Christmas, a bit of harmless play is fine, right?

No. It's not. So say's Baroness Susan Greenfield, previously celebrated Neuroscientist, tabloid darling and apparent nemesis of all things technological and fun.  In this society, most entertainment items are a lot more high tech than they used to be. But that's bad! Anything that over stimulates you, anything that might be enjoyable that comes with a plug or battery (within reason, pervs) is bad for young minds, because it might corrupt them in some ill-defined way.

Susan Greenfield is seemingly opposed to anything which needs a screen to work. Be it video games (except the ones she makes money from, presumably), the internet, or even porch doors (possibly). That last one might seem like a wild accusation based on nothing, but that seems to be the way she does business. I've made my opinions on Greenfield's views quite clear before now, so please see that if you want a thorough critique of why her views are so much hot air. But it bears repeating here as it's a Christmas, and you might possibly end up letting kids enjoy their new games worry free, and we can't have that now can we?

So keep it in mind, if you see a child enjoying themselves with something electronic this Christmas, be sure to wrench it from their gasp, berate them for befouling their young minds with too much stimulation, and kick them outdoors to play, where it's clearly just as stimulating, but colder and with more dog crap, so it doesn't count for some reason.

Next time, Andrew Wakefield explains to us how coloured fairy lights lead to diabetes and premature balding (in men and women)

Twitter: @garwboy


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