Study: Journalists’ Brains Are Functionally Below Average

It’s something that many of us have long suspected, but we never had any actual data to back it up.  But now the studies are done, the numbers have all been crunched, and the results leave no room for doubt:  Journalists–the same people who hold themselves in such high regard that they more or less believe it’s their moral duty to tell you what to think–are operating at about the same intellectual level as a stoner in search of his next bag of Doritos.

Business Insider has all the fun details:

Journalists’ brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning, according to a new study, which means they have a below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking.

Yeah, shocking I know.

The study, led by Tara Swart, a neuroscientist and leadership coach, analysed 40 journalists from newspapers, magazines, broadcast, and online platforms over seven months. The participants took part in tests related to their lifestyle, health, and behaviour.

That’s right–it’s #Science.  And as we all know, the #Science is always settled.

Each subject completed a blood test, wore a heart-rate monitor for three days, kept a food and drink diary for a week, and completed a brain profile questionnaire.

The results showed that journalists’ brains were operating at a lower level than the average population, particularly because of dehydration and the tendency of journalists to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, and high-sugar foods.

Yep, that bottle of hooch is to blame.  The one hidden in the bottom desk drawer, behind the old Starbucks cups and discarded Ding Dong wrappers.  Damn.

Forty-one percent of the subjects said they drank 18 or more units of alcohol a week, which is four units above the recommended weekly allowance. Less than 5% drank the recommended amount of water.

This would explain a lot about Don Lemon’s behavior.  As for units of alcohol, I’m also guessing that Chris Matthews has been eking into “or more” territory for while now.

On the bright side, though, journalists scored pretty high on some things, including:

Abstraction, the ability to deal with ideas rather than events. It’s related to the part of the brain where the most sophisticated problem-solving takes place. In other words, it highlights the ability to think outside the box and make connections where others might not see them.

Problems such as, “How do we spin everything Trump does into an impeachable offense after running cover for eight years on every Obama scandal from Fast & Furious to the IRS?”  After all, if it’s one quality a journalist needs, it’s the ability to ignore events and concentrate on ideas instead.

Still, it’s obvious that something needs to be done to cure this crisis in journalism.  Maybe we could squeeze a PSA out of it, and draw attention to this silent killer of credibility–and make sure that no matter what happens, we will not allow democracy to die in darkness.

This is your brain.  This is journalism.  And this is your brain on journalism.

Any questions?


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Marc Giller

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