Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If Pavlov's Dogs Were Irish Setters

Ring the bell and offer food, and before long you've trained the test subject to expect food when the bell rings. Ring the bell and the test subject expects food. Anticipates a reward with all the physical manifestations that are seen when food is actually present.

Ring the bell on the ice cream van and you'll get the same response from the wee little ones who have been conditioned to expect ice cream when those tempting chimes start to ringing.

And that, says Senator Catherine Noone, has to stop.

It's making the children fat.

Actually, it's only making the children fat if the parents of said children then hand the child enough money to buy an ice cream from the truck with the ringing bells, but we can't let parents have to parent and possibly say no to the child. Far better to stop the bell from ringing, from conditioning the children to expect a fattening treat at the sound. They won't want what they can't hear, now, will they?

Without the conditioning bell, the children won't know about the ice cream truck because they're all indoors playing video games while sitting immobile on upholstered furniture, not burning off the calories they consumed at breakfast or dinner or tea. Not that any of that lack of activity is contributing to childhood obesity. It's the conditioning bell of the ice cream that has to be stopped if we as a nation are to tackle this epidemic of fatties.

In Ms. Noone's opinion, it's the aggressiveness of the bells that is a matter of concern. No other industry would use persistent bell ringing to generate sales. You won't see a fruit and vege wagon trundling down the road with chimes breaking the peace, coercing people to purchase a bunch of grapes or a head of lettuce. No shoe company in the world sends its sales force out with a set of bells to drum up business and encourage children to purchase a new set of trainers so they can run and jump outdoors. No, it's only the ice cream vendors who take advantage of Pavlov's discovery regarding conditioning.

The Senator may think she is tackling an important issue, but even she realizes that she is likely to be laughed at for suggesting the ban. It's all a bit ridiculous, to stop a practice that has been part of childhood for decades, when the real issue is a lack of activity. That issue does not have a simple and easy solution, because you can't ban children from being lazy and send the gardai into every home to roust the miscreants and make them play football or camogie for an hour every day.

Although if one was to ring a bell and then offer ice cream after a match.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sen Noone also highlighted the ban on running in school yards & how it should be lifted. Kids could be out playing in their back garden & still hear the chimes, that used to happen to me as a kid