Walt: Disney Babies Not Dunces!
As many of you may know, a research article was published this month claiming the highly popular and highly lucrative Baby Einstein DVD's can do more harm than good for your growing theoretical physicist (click here for a NowPublic Article on this topic).
Well, Disney is firing back with all cylinders - bringing into question both the motives behind the work and its quality of science.
Robert Iger, Disney's chief executive, says the study's "methodology is doubtful, its data seem anomalous and the inferences it posits unreliable". In a letter to the university, he accused it of issuing a "deliberately misleading, irresponsible and derogatory" press release. "Whether your university is comfortable associating its name with analysis of this quality is, of course, your decision," he wrote. "And I would not be reaching out to you if all that was at stake was a poorly done academic study."
What is at stake is a million-dollar industry in such products for babies. A full set of Baby Einstein DVDs costs US$369.99. Baby Einstein packaging says it "is not designed to make babies smarter", but detractors claim such products are marketed as educational...
...The study was press-released by his
university under the headline "Baby DVDs, videos may hinder, not help,
infants' language development". University president Mark Emmert has
refused to retract the press release and says he stands behind the
research. "The findings were considered significant enough to be
reported in a major journal, and as a public institution we feel duty
bound to make the public aware of these findings," he says.
So what did Disney do - hire a child psychologist to defend their DVD's.
Deborah Linebarger, an expert in child development and television at
the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was asked by Disney to
defend Baby Einstein to the FTC. Although believing such products can
be useful, she declined. "I have concerns that anything called Baby
Einstein, Genius, etcetera, is exploitive of a vulnerable population,"