Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Exposing evil in babies' hearts

Are they the world's biggest bullies?

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Today, we are going to have an informative and educational discussion about a gang of bullies who are making life miserable for anyone they view as different than themselves.

As you have no doubt already guessed, I am talking about babies.

According to a new psychological study conducted at the University of British Columbia and making headlines around the world, babies may look cute and cuddly on the outside, but deep down, they have a hidden mean streak.

Is that a surprising scientific finding, or what? Here's a hint: No, it's not! The truth is, if you were unaware that babies are actually miniature evil masterminds, then you have clearly never spent any quality time with a baby. For instance, a baby once performed surgery on my sister by grabbing her earring in its tiny fist and yanking with all its baby might.

Before we discuss that, however, let's take a look at how the UBC researchers arrived at their stunning discovery.

In the study, babies aged nine to 14 months chose a food they preferred to eat, either green beans or graham crackers, both of which can be pulverized to a tasteless mush that wouldn't appeal to anyone other than a baby, but that's beside the point.

The babies were then shown a puppet show wherein one puppet demonstrated the same food preference as the baby, while another puppet demonstrated the opposite food preference.

At this point, more puppets joined the show, demonstrating nice, neutral or mean behaviour toward the original two puppets. After the show, the babies happily ate all the puppets, regardless of the behaviour they exhibited.

Sorry, I made that last bit up. What really happened was the babies preferred the puppets who harmed the puppet that did not share their food preference. News reports state one baby even planted a kiss on the harmful puppet.

Lead study author Kiley Hamlin told reporters the results suggest babies are like tiny adults in the sense they tend to embrace people who bully individuals who are different.

Some would say this would come as no surprise to anyone who has ever been trapped on an airplane with a squalling baby. I personally would never say anything like that because I have no desire to start another fight with readers who strongly support the right of cranky babies to shriek non-stop on commercial flights.

A while ago, in a moment of sheer madness, I wrote a column wherein I kidded around in a joking manner that, instead of transporting babies on passenger jets, it would make more sense to ship them via Canada Post, even though the number of stamps required would be prohibitive.

Instead of responding to the intellectual merits of this argument, a lot of readers sent angry emails or left online comments making the central point that I am a jerk. "I am a frequent flyer and I would much rather sit beside a crying baby than a fat tub of goo like Doug," is how one critic explained it.

The point is, I get it. I now firmly believe that, when boarding a plane, every passenger should receive a complimentary baby, unless they are travelling in first class, in which case they should get TWO babies and a year's supply of disposable diapers, which would run out before they reached Saskatoon.

The problem, as science has demonstrated, is babies are not fond of people who are different, which would explain why they dislike guys of my particular gender, most of whom are uncomfortable in baby-intensive environments.

For example, at a typical baby shower, you will see groups of women delightedly passing around a baby that -- let's be honest here -- is happily emitting toxic fumes and spewing green mush in a projectile fashion like in The Exorcist.

Now hand that baby to a guy and his eyes (I am referring here to the guy) would become the size of manhole covers and he would immediately tuck the baby under his arm like a football, because that is how guys are trained to carry valuable items.

If he accidentally dropped the baby on the carpet -- which could happen because a standard baby is as slippery as a brick of butter -- the other guys in the room would shriek "fumble" at the top of their lungs and fling themselves on top of the baby.

But our main point is babies don't like people who are visibly different, which is why they hate anyone who thinks it is normal to sleep at night.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 A2

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