Saturday, June 1, 2013

Refuting a Wild and Crazy Medical Finding

This article appeared in The Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 2004;89:159-181. Now, although this article was authored by widely published experts from Brock and McMasters Universities in Canada who use 23 pages of fancy-schmancy words, graphs, and comparative images to prove their point—I can tell you from first-hand experience that they are flat-out wrong.

I must disclaim that I wasn’t aware of Steve Martin until April 22, 1978—just short of my 10½-year mark—when he performed “King Tut” for the first time on Saturday Night Live. (I may well have seen him on an earlier SNL episode—and thus at an earlier age—but this is the earliest date for which I have absolute confirmation.)

I cannot state with any certainty when was the first time I saw Paul Newman (although I spent much of the early 1980s groaning at “Lucille’s” car-washing scene in Cool Hand Luke).

The authors of this paper would quickly defend their position by stating that the mental capabilities of a 10½-year-old far exceed those of an eight-year-old—and I would heartily agree, thus making the basis of my accusation unfair and incorrect of itself. However, just before my eighth birthday, I viewed my first World Series (the 1975 epic battle between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox), and I sure as hell could differentiate Pete Rose from Carl Yastrzemski! And I mean facially—not by way of their different uniforms or because Pete used Aqua Velva.

Not that I was a precocious child—although I was eating entire 12-oz bags of Cheetos by first grade—but I certainly had no difficulty discerning Dan Rowan from Dick Martin—and Laugh-In was one of the very first television shows I ever watched, long pre-dating my eighth birthday.

Maybe it’s simply a fact that all Americans look the same to Canadians—in which case the authors should have included that critical finding in their paper—but I am 100% certain (P = 1) that, as an eight-year-old, I was able to tell the difference between Steve Martin and Paul Newman…

(Article cover page copyright Elsevier Inc.; photo of Steve Martin [the guy on the left, in case you're a Canadian eight-year-old] copyright Warner Brothers.)