By Carl Zimmer | August 7, 2011 12:21 pm

[If you can’t see this post here, you can see it on Storify here.]

View “Greenfieldism” on Storify

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Brains, Top posts

Comments (43)

Links to this Post

  1. Interacting on the Interweb « Purely a figment of your imagination | August 8, 2011
  2. Has Susan Greenfield been misrepresented? - News Feed Centre | August 9, 2011
  3. Greenfield blames internet for autism, coins meme « skepgineering | August 9, 2011
  4. Collide-a-scape » Blog Archive » Collide-a-scape >> Greenfieldism | August 9, 2011
  5. Baroness Greenfield ludicrously links autism to the internet « Sans Science | August 10, 2011
  6. Silly Site o’ the Day | GAMES MOVIE | August 10, 2011
  7. Argument From Authority – Baroness Greenfield on Autism at Skeptical Science | August 11, 2011
  8. Friday Links (12-Aug-11) -- a Nadder! | August 11, 2011
  9. Is the internet dangerous? Taking a closer look at Baroness Greenfield’s concerns — Risk Science Blog | August 15, 2011
  10. Body and Soul : The Last Word On Nothing | August 25, 2011
  11. Pienso, luego Dudo – Capítulo 17 « Círculo Escéptico Argentino | August 28, 2011
  12. I’m going to reblog a blog within a blog. | Kai's World. | April 13, 2012
  13. Possiamo far dire ai dati tutto quello che vogliamo? | LSDI | July 1, 2012
  14. Does the Internet Really Make Everyone Crazy? | Healthland | TIME.com | July 13, 2012
  15. Does the Internet Really Make Everyone Crazy? | Across the Fader.ORG | July 13, 2012
  16. Is Autism an Epidemic or are we just noticing more people with it « Northern Rivers AS Network | August 10, 2012
  17. The Internet and KidsTheseDays-ism | a Nadder! | August 16, 2012
  18. Txch Today: Greenfieldism, snail mail my email, exploding sun! | Txchnologist | September 6, 2012
  1. Thanks for this; I think you’ve cheered many of us up in the midst of all this nonsense.
    But one small correction – I’m a neuropsychologist, not a psychiatrist.

    [CZ: Fixed!]

  2. John Kubie

    When I saw the Dorothy Bishop exchange last week, I viewed a Greenfield lecture via Youtube. Greenfield is a problem.

    But Greenfieldisms are wonderful! Useful on so many occasions. Meme on!

  3. Great post, Carl. I am archiving the #greenfieldism tweets here: http://twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/greenfieldism It will take a bit of time before they all accumulate.

  4. Thanks to everyone who shared in this bit of meme-manufacturing

    Shouldn’t it be “meme-ufacturing”?

    I point to the debt crisis, I point to lolcats. That’s all.

  5. Worth noting that the Baroness has now blessed us with 2 internet memes – #yakawow was equally entertaining. I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been even more, what with all that rewiring going on…

  6. As an ABA tutor for autistic kids, I find Greenfield’s simplistic ‘explanation’ for autism reductionist and insulting. Oh, and wrong.

  7. Reggie

    “I point to the increase in stupidity and I point to Baronesses. That’s all.”

  8. From the Daily Mail (not sure why she didn’t just pick up the phone):

    Baroness Greenfield said: ‘I have never claimed new technologies are causing autism. Rather, I’ve said that the increase in lack of empathy, that is documented scientifically, may be leading to behaviours like that and this should be explored.’

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2023535/Battle-dons-internet-link-autism-scientists-claim-PCs-shorten-attention-span.html#ixzz1UPhuHr2n

  9. bad Jim

    I point to PowerPoint and it points to the dot-com boom. And the real estate boom. And the economic crisis.

  10. My late boss – Sir John Maddox, the Editor of Nature – had the unerring gift of cutting through the crap and homing in on the essentials. Many years ago we were standing together at a reception at the Royal Institution when Greenfield was its head. She stepped up to the podium and waffled about something or other in the distance. Maddox leaned over to me and said, in a gloriously blessed-are-the-cheesemakers kind of way — “but what has she done?’

  11. HJBoitel

    It is fundamental that the existence of two events or two courses of conduct, at or about the same time, is not proof of causation.

    However, it is also fundamental to progress in science that events that occur in sequence MAY have a relationship, and, therefore, causation ought be ruled out. As a practical matter, not everything can be ruled out, and so, that process must be prioritized.

    In fact, a large number of scientific discoveries are or border upon accident. Human beings have not been very successful at realizing the causation or non-causation of relatively contemporaneous events.

    The issue then, is whether, on its face, personal computers or internet usage might adversely impact the mental state of human beings, either by some actual physical trauma or by some corruption of the brain’s programming.

    Those who simply laugh at the suggestion are, possibly, also whistling in the dark.

    Our knowledge of how “abnormal” patterns of thought and conduct arise is, at best, primitive. We have yet to have even a generation of people who have lived during high use of computer devices, usage that is continually expanding.

    Time will tell.


  12. Brett Syndercombe

    I point to a fish. A fish. That’s all.

  13. Reggie

    You seem to be keen on having your own meme which seems to go . . .
    1. Take any old unevidenced assertion such as “Black holes are made of ketchup”
    2. State “Those who simply laugh at the suggestion are, possibly, also whistling in the dark.”
    3. In Obi Wan style say “Time will tell”

    I’m sorry, we should be able to do better than line up all the wild guesses in the world and consider them equally valid for some undefined length of time.

  14. Snagg

    I can’t help but notice the simultaneous rise of both the internet and jabbering boneheads with no expertise in any particular field, save for chicken-littling the internet in order to get some attention for themselves.

    Could there be a connection? The evidence seems fairly inarguable.

  15. Baroness Tyski

    OMG Carl, you are so wrong! Cuz my dad banned the Brady Bunch and I only got to watch it at Great Aunty Barbara’s, and now I have Barrett’s Esophagus and have to have an endoscopy every six months!

    Wrong, I say!

  16. articulett

    I point to the increase in diabetes and I point to scary clowns. That’s all.

  17. I greatly enjoyed Susan Greenfield’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (‘Journey to the Centre of the Brain’) when I was a kid. It’s rather sad to watch her saying so many stupid things.

  18. Bob Carlson

    For a variety of reasons, my brain has preferred avoiding the Facebook and Twitter memes, but has not been able to avoid the Kindle meme. Among the things I’ve recently read on the gizmo are Susan Blackmore’s short intro to Consciousness and then her fascinating book, The Meme Machine. In response to the bargain price of $3.99 announced here, I next read Brain Cuttings. My brain said, more brain stuff, please, so I ran a search for brain on the Kindle Store and quickly came upon V. S. Ramachandran’s book The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. I had seen video’s of Ramachandran lectures and had been much impressed by them, so I grabbed the book. In the acknowledgments, he mentioned authors whose books had been invaluable to him in his writing of this one and he said:

    Some of these books resulted from the foresight of two enlightened agents–John Brockman and Katinka Matson–who have created a new scientific literacy in America and the world beyond. They have successfully reignited the magic and awe of science in the age of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, sound-bite news, and reality TV–an age when the hard-won values of the Enlightenment are sadly in decline.

    If he’s not implying a cause-and-effect relationship between the supposed decline and the modern phenomena he lists, then I suppose I must be missing the point. A search of the book suggests to me that he did not elaborate on the question therein.

  19. Daniel J. Andrews

    Check out James’ spoof of this meme. Amusing indeed.


  20. lqd

    I point to the S&P downgrade and I point to Pomeranians. That’s all.

  21. Bill Stewart

    I point to Post Hoc, and I point to Propter Hoc. That is all.

    Or maybe it isn’t – I point to Pre Hoc, and I point to Propter Hoc also.

  22. christopher

    i point to reading science blogs and i point to my not having a girlfriend, thats all. #Greenfieldism…oh, wait, there there might actually be a corrolation there

  23. HJBoitel

    It may be that Greefield has drawn some unwarranted conclusions concerning the impact of the internet upon the neurological susceptibility of some human beings. However, Carl Zimmer’s article and most of the comments are surprisingly superficial and defensive

    We simply do not know what, if any, impact the internet and the use of internet intelligent devices will have upon human beings. The time has been too short (and usage is expanding not only in numbers of people but also in hours per person and in nature of the interaction). We do not even know whether anyone has devised a useful test to measure what the impact of such usage may be.

    The comments suggest to me the possibility that the internet has dulled the brain of those who feel threatened by the suggestion that use of the internet may be dangerous to one’s mental health.

    Progress generally brings with it the potential to cause a significant degree of harm. Most things come with a price.

  24. Sandro

    First I’ve heard of Greenfield, and all I can say is “wow”. How did she manage to obtain any sort of degree if she doesn’t even understand the difference between correlation and coincidence?

    Please, someone do the charitable thing and mail her a book of logical fallacies.

  25. I read this, was impressed, and went to twitter to see what was happening with #greenfieldism.


    Absolutely nothing.

    A search for the hash-tag produced no results at all!

    [CZ: Twitter only lets you search tweets less than a week old. That’s why I saved my favorite tweets from the #Greenfieldism episode with Storify. Otherwise, they go down the memory hole.]


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


See More

Collapse bottom bar