Who to Trust: Science, Reason or Tradition?

100_0095This title comes from Wendell Berry’s Life Is A Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition. Berry criticizes scientists who believe the mind is just a machine. He calls this the Tarzan Theory of the mind, which holds that a human, raised entirely by apes, “would have a mind nonetheless fully human.” He substitutes what he calls the Adam and Eve formula: mind = brain + body + world + local dwelling place + community.

I am reminded of cultural anthropologists who (continued) . . . http://bit.ly/18LqRqI

The Death of Superman


IF WE BELIEVE THE MOVIES, Superman is still a superhero. But according to DC Comics, the Doomsday machine killed Superman in 1992. I was sorry to learn of his passing, because when I was a kid we all wanted to be Superman. Of course, that meant flying through space, seeing through walls, and running faster than a speeding bullet. No problem. Some kids would mount the roof of their house, dressed in Superman gear, and jump and flap their arms as they battled gravity, only to fall at breakneck speed onto the grass below. By the way, that was about the time hospital emergency rooms came into vogue. Jumping from the top of a jungle gym was more common. My brother and I developed the ability to fly headfirst, down a 12-step carpeted stairs, without any identifiable injuries (except for a possible concussion or two).

But all this stopped once Superman died. (For more: Go to my Psychology Today blog:)   http://bit.ly/1aChR7V

Play Video Games Outdoors?

103_0386Playing video games outdoors. Sounds kinds of dangerous, doesn’t it? Whatever prompted such a scary thought? I can see kids walking into trees while they play Donkey Kong.  In my book, The Digital Pandemic, Reestablishing Face-to-Face Relationships in the Electronic Age, I pointed out some research indicating that children with attention deficit disorder do better when they play outside on grass. Better than indoors, but also better than outdoors on concrete. No one is sure why this is true, but the data appear reliable. So maybe outdoors is a good place for our kids, especially if they are overly active.

Now I have research from the Journal of Biological Psychiatry suggesting that living in states with greater sunshine(solar intensity or SI) may protect against the development of attention deficit disorder. There is a wide variation of reported attention deficit disorder from a low of 5.6% in Nevada to a high of 15.6% in North Carolina. Some of this can be differences in diagnostic practices but something else may be going on as well.

Why would this be the case? The authors believe that use of modern media, including IPads and mobile phones by children and adolescents shortly before bedtime, results in delayed sleep onset, shorter sleep duration, and melatonin suppression. Natural light may counteract the affects of modern media in the evening.

The study was based on observation and a comparison of data, so we will need more scientific investigations to draw confident conclusions. But as I pointed out in The Digital Pandemic, children need exposure to grass and sunlight for any number of reasons. This research also ties in with my previous comments on the overuse of melatonin to get kids to sleep at night. So using these digital devices prior to bedtime may reduce melatonin and then the parents give the children melatonin to compensate for their decision to allow their kids to use this these devices in the first place.

Talk about going around in unhealthy circles!