Mozart Effect, Schmozart Effect

The newest issue of the journal Intelligence has the largest review ever of research on the so-called Mozart Effect, the popular idea that listening to classical music can enhance the intelligence of people in general and babies in particular.

The review is titled “Mozart Effect, Schmozart Effect,” which should give you some idea of its conclusion: there ain’t no such thing.

But even if listening to Beethoven won’t make us smarter, the history of how the Mozart Effect ultimately became fashionable does have something to teach us. It’s a story about careful science, less careful journalism, and of course, death threats.

And so kicked off a decade of people believing that Mozart makes them smarter because people jumped far too early to broad conclusions based on a very simple very specific investigation.

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