Susan Greenfield lecture

Recently, Susan Greenfield gave a lecture at the Oxford Internet Institute. Apparently, she seems to be quite controversial, academically speaking. Unfortunately, the Q&A section, if there was one, wasn’t recorded.

The lecture is about 47 minutes long. Beneath the first video, there is another one from BBC’s Newsnight with Susan Greenfield and Ben Goldacre. He has a lot of critique on Greenfield’s media appearences. I most say that I am more on his side than on hers. In general, Greenfield’s argument in this lecture is for cognition and against sensory experiences. For instance, in her lecture she apparently favors Tolstoy’s War and Peace over the computer game Onimusha, in my opinion an normative and elitist position. Looking at Amazon’s ranking War and Peace ranks #32,658 while Onimusha ranks #8,345. This suggests the game is more popular than War and Peace. OK, the comparison in rank is not with out difficulties. Still, my argument is that Greenfield a) suggests War and Peace is more meaningful, and b) does not take into account their relative popularity. Regarding a), there are computer games that deal with moral choices (Bioshock, Black and White or Portal) and are more than just flashing lights and quick visual sequences. Navigating your way through a maze in a computer games requires quite some cognitive skills. So, the picture Greenfield’s presents is one-dimensional. Regarding b), even if computer games provide flat story lines, there are many more books that have little depth as well.

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Maurice Vergeer

I am Maurice Vergeer, working at Communication Science department of the Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands.