Here’s a little taste of my next “Sightings” column, which appears biweekly in the “Pursuits” section of the Saturday Wall Street Journal:
Remember the “Mozart effect”? That was the shorthand phrase for a group of studies purporting to show that playing classical music to children raised their IQs in later life. The actual research made no such claims, but such was the simplified version that found its way into the public domain, achieving such wide circulation that Zell Miller, then the governor of Georgia, actually proposed in 1998 to earmark $105,000 to buy a classical album for every child born in that state. Alas, later research left the original findings in doubt, and though the phrase entered the language, the actual concept went into the scientific wastebasket.
Even so, there remains something irresistibly seductive about the notion that listening to Mozart might actually make you smarter. William Safire, who gave up political punditry to become chairman of the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic group (the Web site is dana.org) with an interest in brain research, gave a speech last month in which he reported on the latest studies into the relationship between arts education and brain function. That may not sound sexy, but it is–at least potentially–a public-policy bombshell….
As always, there’s lots more where that came from. See for yourself–buy a copy of tomorrow’s Journal and look me up.