Baroness Susan Greenfield will be speaking this evening at the British Science Festival 2012 in Aberdeen about the 21st century mind.
‘The human brain adapts to the environment in which it is placed. Today's cyber world is offering a new type of environment and the brain could therefore be changing in correspondingly new ways. We need to try and forsee what these changes, be they positive or negative, may be. Then we can minimise the threats and harness the opportunities. Join Susan Greenfield to explore the 21st century brain.’
Baroness Susan Greenfield is a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, a member of the House of Lords, a writer and a broadcaster.
She has, over the past 3 or 4 years shared her opinion that digital technology is having an impact on our brains. She has been associated with stories that Facebook and other social websites could be causing damage to our, and childrens brains. These are bold views and messages that the media has picked up on. She has also publicised her views through talks, interviews and her own stories.
She hasn’t yet published any of her thoughts, findings or ideas in a scientific paper – she has only used the media and talks to discuss these views.
A point I have seen and heard her make a number of times is that the impact of digital technology on our brains is a concern of hers, and that it is something we should be discussing openly. Yet, she has failed to publish and take her thoughts through the proper scientific channels in order to get research in this field really moving.
In interviews she only presents her view, and she has never used a social networking site herself.
She has been publicly criticised by a number of other scientists who have urged her to publish her theory, including Professor Dorothy Bishop at her resident university (Oxford) , science writers and Dr Ben Goldacre .
I know people are looking forward to seeing Baroness Susan Greenfield. Many people that I have handed leaflets to about the festival were very pleased to see her on the featured page and I wanted to highlight some concerns though for those going to see her talk. I feel others have discussed the ins and outs of her arguments and research so I have included links to those for further reading.
Just a side note.. I think the festival is fantastic; it’s great that it is here in Aberdeen. I am involved with a number of events myself. I am also a great supporter and believer that scientists and researchers should interact with the public and be present in the media, social networks, blogs and any other outlet you can think of.
There is a fine line between the presentation of opinions and research findings. Just because an authoritative, intelligent speaker says something does not mean it is a proven fact. Always ask questions, and dig deeper.
If you want to see some great examples of the things happening in Aberdeen, please check out the Au Science Magazine website (of which I am the departing editor)
Some more Greenfield links worth a read (any other suggestions please let me know):