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The Monitor ep. 12--Autism and Video Games

Are video games linked to autism? Are we the only intelligent life in the galaxy? Is PETA's X Prize for artificial meat going to work?

Created, written & designed by John Pavlus / Screencasts produced by Smashcut Media / Music by Jeff Alvarez

Check out previous episodes of The Monitor. Subscribe to this video podcast via iTunes or RSS

Background on this week's stories:

# 1. Gaming addiction = Aspergers?
http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/30296

A Discovery News story in which a researcher from the University of Bolton in England likened video game addiction to Asperger syndrome was widely repeated throughout the blogosphere, and was even picked up by at least one wire service.

Fortunately it turns out that the most immediate conclusion to be drawn from the title of the original release from the British Psychological Society ("Computer game addicts like people with Aspergers"), that one might cause the other, is not true. The researcher himself responded to the coverage of his work with a helpful clarification.

For a full account of neurological phenomena that might underpin Aspergers and austism, check out our recent feature on the subject.

# 2. Intelligent aliens? That's unpossible!
Andrew Watson of the United Kingdom's University of East Anglia in Norwich has calculated that we are probably the only intelligent life in the universe.

This would be remarkable if it weren't simply the latest salvo in the oldest debate in astrobiology, namely, just how much life is out there, and what kind is it?

Mark Chu-Carroll at the blog Good Math, Bad Math neatly eviscerates the logic behind just about any definitive claim about the amount of life in the universe. Carl Sagan himself used the mathematics behind such claims -- known as the Drake Equation -- to estimate that alien life could be so common in our galaxy that the nearest intelligent civilization might only be a few hundred light years away.

But why take the experts' word for it when you can simply plug whatever probabilities you like into the Drake Equation and draw your own conclusions.

#3. The X-Prize of meat?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is offering a million dollars to anyone who can make lab-grown meat commercially viable by 2012. There are plenty of companies already trying to crack the problem, but it's going to be a while until the FDA approves this radical new foodstuff. Which means this is probably all just a publicity stunt on the part of PETA.

The Monitor Series
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