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News - Lab looniness

Let some air into the ivory tower, guys

There's a great brain robbery going on, right under our noses in the morning papers. And no one seems to notice.

Call me an alarmist. Call me a crackpot. Call me a son of Oliver Stone. But even a cursory review of the latest academic studies confirms that someone or something is systematically robbing researchers' minds of even the most basic cognitive functions.

In recent months, onetime eggheads across North America and Europe have telegraphed their own intellectual demise with a mind-blowing blizzard of moronic studies.

A hapless bunch of stateside pediatricians got things rolling with a high-profile study confirming that bullying — that's right, bullying — is alive and well in our nation's schools.

Hate to break it to the authors' loved ones, but it doesn't take umpteen years of medical study and a fistful of advanced degrees to see that bullying exists in America's schools. All it takes, really, is a thimbleful of memory and a pinch of common sense.

Yet, researchers were inexplicably shocked — shocked! — to find bullying in our schools.

Have these labcoats been out of school so long they forgot the way bullies routinely taunted them with such compound endearments as "four-eyes," "geek-boy" and "super-dweeb"? Or did the doctors, in a Panglossian fit of misplaced hope, somehow become convinced that kids had altered their essential nature and become nice and sweet, like alien escapees from a happy planet?

More likely, the study's authors were the victims of some mysterious brain snatcher.

Human nature, after all, has not been repealed. Kids are still the depraved little worms they've always been. Picking on the fat kid. Picking on the weird kid. Picking on the dork. Picking. Picking. Picking. And kids are going to keep on picking on — and bullying — each other until, centuries hence, they all roll off assembly lines looking like Haley Joel Osment.

While we're here, what about the newspapers? Doctors discovering bullying in schools is as newsworthy as astronomers reporting the moon is still there. There's no news here, unless reporters decide to pursue whatever has deflated the once- bulbous brains of study authors.

A day after the bullying story hit, along came a study from Europe on the reasons men and women choose to stay in monogamous relationships. Women, it turns out, are most interested in security while men are most interested in sex.

Men interested in sex? That's about as amazing as gravity still pulling people to Earth.

My mind reeling, I began to wonder what these numb-nut professors would "discover" next. Would they, at long last, declare summer hotter than winter? Denounce breathing underwater as prohibitively risky? Isolate aging as a factor in dying? Affirm the 24-hour day? Proclaim roses beautiful? Find fast food greasy?

And then I had my answer. Scientists — and this is no joke — have linked tattoos to bad behavior.

According to researchers, kids who turn their bodies into extended-run gallery space for dreadful art are 2.7 times more likely to be gang members. In addition, such teens are twice as likely to abuse drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. And young people with tattoos are almost four times as likely as their peers to be having sex.

All of which only confirms, yet again, that someone or something has unloaded on these former Brainiacs a particularly nasty form of mind-wipe. I mean, didn't at least one of them still have a vague memory of the Hells Angels?

Guys in biker gangs, after all, long have been synonymous with trouble, and they tend to have lots of tattoos. In fact, tough hombres through history, from ancient pirates to modern soldiers, have used tattoos to signal just how bad they are. In any era, a tattooed skull says, "I'm tough, I'm mean, and I might just kill you if you look at me the wrong way."

Kids into bullying? Men into sex? Tattooed teens into trouble? We may be powerless against the brain drain itself, but we can keep researchers from further embarrassing themselves — and save a few trees — if we stop wasting the paper on which these imbecilic studies are printed.

For updates on the greater mystery, keep your hand-cranked solar radios tuned to Art Bell.??





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