Facebook is the new vaccines

11 Mar

I thought I’d maybe travelled a couple of weeks forward in time and was reading a particularly stupid April Fools joke news report when I saw the Daily Mail were reporting:

Of course, we do not know whether the current increase in autism is due more to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism, or whether it can – if there is a true increase – be in any way linked to an increased prevalence among people of spending time in screen relationships. Surely it is a point worth considering,’ she added.

‘She’ in this instance is Professor Susan Greenfield of Oxford University, which just goes to show that even a massively intelligent person can also be a monumental idiot on occasion too. Some other gems of wisdom include:

‘My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.’

Buzzing noises and bright lights. I think these opinions reflect the lack of experience Professor Greenfield has with computers rather than any accurate reflection of how a PC or Mac actually works.

Note something about this totally ridiculous piece of journalism. They use buzzwords like Twitter and Facebook that the average uninformed Daily Mail reader might’ve seen but have no real idea about. They also clearly are talking about the opinions of one woman. At no point is any study or science referenced to support this Professors opinions.

In the eighties the Daily Mail was one of those newspapers convinced that ‘video nasties’ (straight to video low budget horror movies) would bring about the end of civilisation. In the nineties they were of course standard bearers for antivaccination beliefs. In the noughties they’ve published a few pieces on the evils of the nasty Intraweb.

But of course what really annoys me about this is the fastening on to autism. Its explained how naturally autistic people function online is a possible example of how the online environment (Facebook, Bebo, Twitter etc) are (oh dear god!) rewiring the brains of our children and making them autistic.

Never mind the fact that most new cases of autism are diagnosed in kids under three whos only interaction with a PC up to that point would be to try and push a rusk into the DVD tray. Never mind the fact that adult autistics are pretty wary of social networks at first. Lets just find another way to demonise autism and blame it on something else for which there is no supporting science whatsoever.

9 Responses to “Facebook is the new vaccines”

  1. Jen March 11, 2009 at 11:16 #

    There are days when I think that Western civilization may just explode in one giant flaming ball of stupidity. The media seems to become less intelligent every day.

  2. Joseph March 11, 2009 at 13:48 #

    I thought it was some kind of a joke too.

    First off, social networking sites are a fairly new thing.

    I don’t know about autistic people in general, but I don’t even use social networking sites. I don’t get how they might be useful or interesting.

    It’s true that the way people communicate will probably change post-internet.

    ‘I often wonder whether real conversation in real time may eventually give way to these sanitised and easier screen dialogues, in much the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf,’ she said.

    So? Is that bad?

  3. Bunny March 11, 2009 at 14:57 #

    Is she implying that babies are spending too much time on Facebook, or is this some new kind of adult-onset autism? Maybe it’s all about prenatal exposure to Facebook–if a pregnant woman spends too much time online, the “buzzing noises and bright lights” abracadabra the fetus into autism.

  4. Niksmom March 11, 2009 at 15:18 #

    Um, I think I’ll have to come back and comment after I pick my jaw up off the floor. This has to be the most asinine thing I’ve read in a long time. Um, not your post Kev, I mean the article and the swill spewing forth in it. OMFG.

    Um, my child hasn’t ever even used a computer. Wonder what she’d blame for his autism? Oy.

  5. HolfordWatch March 11, 2009 at 17:42 #

    The timorous and ‘bruised’ Baronness Greenfield has made a heart-rending plea that people should stop misunderstanding her and respond to her invitation to a debate – via Andrew Keen.

  6. Sharon March 11, 2009 at 20:33 #

    This is just nuts, and I like your point about the DM’s changing enemy target.
    I wrote a bit about it too, including a video of Ben Goldacre arguing againts such asinine ideas on Newsnight.

  7. Another Voice March 11, 2009 at 22:20 #

    The Baroness Greenfield writes absolute nonsense and then wants people to debate her nonsense???

    Her heart-rending plea that people should stop misunderstanding her is not nearly as fervent as the plea for her to use a little common sense.

  8. Joeymom March 12, 2009 at 04:16 #

    Wow, I thought you were kidding on Twitter. This is insane.

  9. Billy Cresp March 12, 2009 at 06:18 #

    I’ve had it with these perverts who work in journalism publicizing the thoughts of psychotics who have little experience with the outside world themselves.

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