A research group in Brighton is looking for healthy participants to test technology that allows the blind to see using a form of echolocation. The device effectively converts video in to sound waves in real time allowing the individual to form an image in their mind of what is around them. Check out their site here! There’s a fascinating explanation of how it works as well as some jaw dropping youtube videos. Damn, I’m so gutted I’m not in Brighton right now.

seeing with ears Seeing With Your Ears

The Voice1 Seeing With Your Ears

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Update (27/11/2011): Another study has since shown a similar finding, that respondents who watch Fox news are “less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all”.

Last month I reported on a study which demonstrated a strong link between (poor) knowledge and time spent watching FOX news. I was forced to conclude that the evidence as it stands did not prove a causal link. It may well be possible that “stupid people watch fox news” rather than “fox news makes you stupid”. I’ve just stumbled across some undeniable evidence for a causal link. A Fox News report which incorrectly places Egypt as between Iran and Syria. (I hope the irony of which country this actually is isn’t lost on anyone.)

FoxNewsEgypt1 Fox News Makes You Stupid: The Evidence

Source: mediamatters.org

This alone however isn’t enough evidence to definitively conclude that it is FOX news making the people that watch FOX news stupid. If anyone sees more evidence of misinformation or general ignorance by FOX news please comment below preferably with a clipping. I’ll keep this post updated as a naming and shaming page exclusively for FOX. Subscribe to comments below for updates in your inbox.

DoubleFacePalm Fox News Makes You Stupid: The Evidence

I should note in the interest of scientific integrity that, it is perfectly possible that as Miss South Carolina famously stated, this is all just because of a map shortage in the USA.

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Check out this absolutely jaw dropping documentary by “60 Minutes” detailing an apparently ground breaking phenomenon, “superior autobiographical memory”. Six people who remember every detail of every event of their whole life in photographic detail.

Click here to watch part 2

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Update (27/11/2011): Another study has since shown a similar finding, that respondents who watch Fox news are “less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all”.

Rupert Murdoch must be over the moon after today’s “gaff” by Vince Cable which has resulted in the man being stripped of his right as Business secretary to judge on Murduch’s takeover of BSkyB. A senior politician is openly opposed to Murdoch’s brainwashing tactics? Off with his head. BSKyB shares are already soaring after news broke this afternoon that pro-Murdoch Jeremy Hunt will be replacing Cable as judge and jury over the decision. The tables have well and truly turned in favour of Murdoch with the financial forecasters (posh bookies) today placing the odds at 90% that Murdoch will take over SKY.

FOX NEWS YOU DECEIVE WE BELIEVE England, Prepare to be Brainwashed

Only last week a study by the University of Maryland demonstrated that consumers of Murdoch’s US news network FOX are statistically more misinformed than the rest of the population. The study assessed a number of measures of knowledge on subjects ranging from global warming to levels of job and tax cuts. Consumption levels of the main TV news providers were measured and FOX was the only channel that actually had a strong negative effect on knowledge. The data even shows a strong exposure effect, i.e. the more FOX news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about various facts.

FOX makes you stupid1 England, Prepare to be Brainwashed

Belief of statement: “Most scientists think climate change is not occurring / views are divided evenly”

This makes a lot of sense coming a week after the leak of a directive given by vice president of FOX news Bill Sammon ordering all FOX news personalities to only use language that is favourable to the conservative option. One of the examples given is that news readers must be skeptical of climate change and make sure that every time the topic is ever mentioned it must be countered immediately by a statement stating the idea of climate change has been called in to question.

Be prepared England, FOX news is coming to play.


I should note here (before I get sued for libel) the old rule of Correlation ≠ Causation. Therefore it is not necessarily true that “FOX news makes you stupid” as it is perfectly possible that it is just that stupid people are more likely to watch fox news. Without a more controlled piece of research it will be impossible to make the hypothesis directional.

pirates England, Prepare to be Brainwashed

rb2 large gray England, Prepare to be Brainwashed

RAMSAY, C. , KULL, S. , LEWIS, E. & SUBIA, S. (2010). Misinformation and the
2010 Election. Published online at WORLDPUBLICOPINION.ORG by University of Maryland

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This weekend I went to a talk by Professor Susan Greenfield, titled “Brain of the future: The impact of new technology on how we think and feel”. I had very high expectations considering that Susan is a professor of psychology Physiology at Oxford University and was being delivered to the British Psychological Association. I went with the intention of hearing some hard evidence to support Susan’s shock-horror theory that technology is destroying our ability to maintain attention and worse, to interact with other people normally and is even “anaesthetising” us against sadness. All of this written in such reputable outlets as ahem, the Daily Mail. I’ve also been following her (rather one sided) feud with Dr. Ben Goldacre who has been calling for her to provide evidence for her ideas or publish them in a scientific journal for a very long time with no response. I highly recommend you read his article on the topic before reading on so you are aware of the long back story to this debate. brain as computer Modern Technology is Making You Stupid. Sorry What? So I arrived at the lecture hall with bated breath ready to hear the evidence for her shocking suggestions of the powerful effects of modern technology. Unfortunately I left none the wiser. Prof. Greenfield presented a compelling recitation of the basic theoretical framework of how we understand neuronal connections to be flexible, a concept known as neural plasticity. This is something I would have greatly appreciated in my first year of Psych 101 but leads me no closer to understanding why technology per se’ can cause permanent negative changes in the brain.  It seems only logical that the evidence presented by Prof. Greenfield for the theory of neural plasticity, though fascinating in it’s own right, suggests the total and utter opposite. Our brains are highly flexible to adapt to new and varied environments, and back again. There was also much talk of new “2D” ways of communicating and an apparent belief that social networks used by young people are an end in their own right rather than a means to an end. This seemed to be based on an assumption that communicating online means not communicating in real life… Once again I find the total opposite is in fact true in the lives of most people I know, young and old. From my experience, being more connected means seeing more of people in real life. socialnetwork 300x225 Modern Technology is Making You Stupid. Sorry What? Worst of all, there was however not a single reference to any experiment having been done to directly support her ideas about negative effects of technology on the brain. So much for science. Professor Greenfield did however mention in passing, a review of research on the effect of use of computers on the young mind, published in Neuron in September. This article is very well researched and I highly recommend it. It is still open access, PDF here. I was however, (not so) shocked to discover that the review is overwhelmingly positive, here are just a few of the many findings from studies cited in the review, none of which Professor Greenfield addressed:

  • Owners of computers are seven percent more likely to graduate school (after controlling for confounding factors such as home environment)
  • Interactive programming on television can improve language (whilst programmes like the “tellytubbies” damage language skills)
  • Playing action video games is associated with a number of enhancements
    in vision, attention, cognition, and motor control

The lecture warned of the possible devastating effects of games and computers and the new “sensory environment” on the mind while blissfully ignoring the evidence which in more cases than not appears quite the opposite. Of key importance in the neuron review that Professor Greenfield cited  is the suggestion that technology is going to be vital in preparing us to survive in the 21st century economy. To follow the advice that Prof. Greenfield alludes to and deprive the young of access to computers may deal them a profound blow in their ability to compete in the brave new world. Footnote: I’m pretty sure I don’t need to add that there was of course no mention of Baroness Greenfield’s own “Mindfit” brain training computer game priced at £88 that was slammed for false advertising claims and very dodgy supporting research (no control group being just one of the flaws). Nor did she mention the oh so relevant recent findings that Brain Training Games are, at the moment no more beneficial than random web browsing. A finding that probably has more implications for random web browsing than anything else. So rest assured, if anything is making you stupid, it’s not the internet. Now that’s out of the way, here’s a far more rational and balanced look at the issue…

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