Wednesday, April 27

TV makes you smarter - and fat people live longer

"If watching TV really makes you smarter, as Steven Johnson argued in an article in yesterday's New York Times Magazine (an excerpt from his forthcoming book) then I guess I need to watch a lot more of it, because try as I might, I could make no sense of Johnson's piece. As far as I can tell, his thesis is that television shows have slowly grown more and more complicated over the last two decades (this paradigm shift apparently having begun with Hill Street Blues, the Gutenberg Bible of the smart-TV era), so that now, like rats in a behaviorist's maze, trained viewers can differentiate among up to 12 distinct plotlines in shows like The Sopranos. (The technical term for this great leap forward in human cognition: "multi-threading.") In other words, if I understand correctly, watching TV teaches you to watch more TV—a truth already grasped by the makers of children's programming like Teletubbies, which is essentially a tutorial instructing toddlers in the basics of vegging out."

I'm still waiting for someone to bust the ridiculously self-serving "fat people live longer" meme going around...