The Cure for Listening

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

This morning I emailed this quick little note taking issue with Colorado Public Radio regarding a segment on their show Colorado Matters:

Dear Colorado Matters team,

Thank you for your segment “Preventing Schizophrenia in Utero” wherein Ryan Warner interviewed Psychiatry Professor Randy Ross. I believe the study of this disease that causes so much suffering is very important, however, I found many things about this report very disturbing.

I happen to think that the appreciation of sensory input from the surrounding environment, especially sound, is a very important and healthy thing. The implication and tone of the segment were that listening to background noise is somehow bad or wrong, and might lead to illness. There was no distinction between the ability to ignore sound and the ability to direct attention at sound, both of which are important to human development. I can imagine parents hearing this report and discouraging their children from listening to background sounds. This would be awful, I think we already have a cultural tendency to ignore our surroundings. Listening to background noises is not something that needs to be “cured”.

Further, the segment did not do a very good job at all in firmly establishing an evidential link between the presentation of this specific reaction to sound in infants and later development of schizophrenia in adults.

C. Reider


  1. I like the letter. It reminded me of a United States Supreme Court case. It was called PAPACHRISTOU V. CITY OF JACKSONVILLE [citation:
    405 U.S. 156, 92 S.Ct. 839, 31 L.Ed.2d 110 (1972)]

    Justice William O. Douglas wrote an opinion in a case which disallowed a Jacksonville, Florida “vagrancy” law as unconstitutional. He wrote in pertinent part about wandering aimlessly and pursuing no action in general:

    “The difficulty is that these activities are historically part of the amenities of life as we have known them. They are not mentioned in the Constitution or in the Bill of Rights. These unwritten amenities have been in part responsible for giving our people the feeling of independence and self-confidence, the feeling of creativity. These amenities have dignified the right of dissent and have honored the right to be nonconformists and the right to defy submissiveness. They have encouraged lives of high spirits rather than hushed, suffocating silence….”

    Posted by gurdonark | January 30, 2013 11:32 pm
  2. There is a tendency in the States for parents to over-react swiftly and severely in “protecting” their children. I have been known to succumb to this myself. though the media does no one any favors in their sensationalizing of stories.

    Posted by David Nemeth | January 31, 2013 5:08 am
  3. RT @vuzhmusic: The Cure for Listening: new blog post

    TrackBack by dpnem | January 31, 2013 5:08 am
  4. RT @vuzhmusic: The Cure for Listening: new blog post

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