Baby Geniuses

| 8 Comments

Most parents want what's best for their kids, which may mean putting in the effort to see them succeed in school. So why not just turn on some Mozart and make your kid smarter?
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In 1993, the prestigious journal "Nature" reported that college students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart showed significant improvement on a task compared to students who listened to a relaxation tape.
This started an obsession of the "Mozart Effect" by companies and parents alike. There was a rush of CDs and cassettes targeted towards babies that claimed to boost intelligence. In theory, a new generation of super smart babies was being formed! It was too good to be true...
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But seriously, it was too good to be true. Like getting that jacked body so many people strive for, there is no easy quick fix to achieve such a goal.
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Other researchers had a difficult time duplicating the results (an issue of replicability). The results could have been due to a simpler explanation (Occam's razor). Anything that boosts alertness is probably going to increase performance for a short time on mentally demanding tasks.
Products are still out there and in demand that supposedly increase intelligence. Toys and videos such as "Baby Einstein" are a $100 million a year industry even though there's no solid evidence that these products work, either.
So while easy fixes in life may seem tempting, they usually aren't effective in achieving a goal. Diet pills to lose weight or self-help books that will fix your problems for you may seem like an easy way out, but can these claims be proved, or does a simpler explanation fit the claims just as well?

8 Comments

I agree that things such as baby Einstein aren't usually effective and too good to be true. The Mozart Effect can also be ruled as an extraordinary claim because it sounds pretty absurd to say that having a baby repetitively watch a video will make him or her a genius.

I agree that things like Baby Einstein music CDs won't make for a super smart baby - however, I do find that as an adult that I focus more with it. Is that just a bias about it since a fade was once that I would?
On the other hand, I really do think today's teens are smarter than when I was in high school 10+ years ago. I feel that more is pushed at you and expected out of you that you really are pushed to be an adult sooner in your life. If that makes sense. We have a lot of expectations out of our youth today - is that because they are a smarter generation? That we need more from our youth as baby boomers retire? Or is this driven by technology? Makes you think!

I definitely agree that the Baby Einstein CDs and other examples you mentioned are too good to be true. I think a lot of people would like to believe they are, however, so they search out and choose to believe studies that support these views. This form of confirmation bias is what keeps these companies thriving.

There is evidence that listening to classical music during repetitive tasks improves performance in areas such as consistency and precision. However, there is no way to increase one's overall intelligence passively (listening to a CD).

It's interesting that listening to those Baby Einstein CDs doesn't necessarily work. My aunts and uncles used to have my baby cousins listen to these cassettes in hopes that it would make them smarter. You made a good point though, when you said that it does increase alertness and help short term improvement. However, like you said, it does not have long term and replicable results.

I think it's interesting how willing people are to accept something that seems a bit absurd as a legitimate answer to their problems. I think one thing we can agree we have learned as a society is that there is no "quick fix" to anything, and that if you want to see results, you need to put in hard work. However, also as a society, we seem unwilling to accept this, and continue to hop on the bandwagon for anything that can easily solve our problems.

I think it is interesting that Mozart was a baby genius, and had some latent success due to out-staging people that were considered the best in the world as a child. I wonder if Mozart being a baby genius led to the experimenter doing the study?

I agree with the fact that things like playing Mozart while the baby is in the womb, and trying to get little children smarter faster, are just dumb. In my personal experience, those are a waste of time. Not to sound arrogant, but I am an avid reader and I can read very, very quickly. When I was little, however, I'd always go to my older sister to have her read things to me, even though I could. Just because I acted one way when I was little, it doesn't mean that it'll last over my whole life. Society gets too caught up with appearances and the need to be the best, and as a result push children to be the best before they're ready.

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This page contains a single entry by theis333 published on April 3, 2012 11:23 PM.

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