Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dupe your kids!

Wired reports that researchers have successfully created false beliefs in subjects to help them avoid certain foods. They convince them that the foods have made them sick in the past. Works for strawberry ice cream but not for chocolate chip cookies or potato chips (hmm). Could this benign mindfucking be the next miracle in weight-loss?

Keep your pants on, because the researchers include some telling qualifications. Here are two:

You would have to show that the effects are longer-lasting than just an hour

you would also like to show that this would work when real foods are put in front of you

Perhaps forgetting that she does not know if this even works, the researcher, Elizabeth F. Loftus (a well-known memory expert identified in the article by last name only) suggests that "parents might try it with their children." The next fad in childrearing: deceptive parenting. Screw with your kids' memories and beliefs. Hey, they're going to hate you someday no matter what you do.

In an LA Times article on the same topic, Gregory Stock, director of UCLA's program on medicine, technology, and society, does Loftus one better:

it would be much simpler to give kids the offending food--a McDonald's burger, a pizza, whatever--and put a little something on it that makes them harmlessly sickā€¦then you would really affect their eating.

How arrogant and Orwellian: harmlessly sick. Like childhood isn't traumatic enough without parents intentionally sickening their kids.

Do these people exist merely to give David E. Kelley bad ideas?


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