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Just how stupid are babies, really?
Wharton professor Francis Ruiz sought to answer this question when he launched a research project studying infant intelligence and behavior last fall. Leading a team of undergraduate and graduate researchers, Ruiz “hoped to contribute to the expanding field of [examining] baby stupidity.”
The professor and his team concluded their year-long research project this past Thursday, when the University of Chicago Journal of Behavioral Economics published Ruiz’s findings.
“Going into this project, people really had no idea what [babies] were incapable of,” he explained to a UTB reporter. “We know that they’re, like, smaller and dumber versions of adults and kids. But there’s so much left to know about these creatures.”
Ruiz’s studies consisted of 2 experiments within a lab setting.
He first gave his subjects, whose ages ranged from 3 months old to 9 months old, a multiple choice exam in order to test their general knowledge. He claims that a vast majority were unable to answer “easy” questions such as “What color is the sky?” and “Is God real?” Ruiz also noted that the subjects displayed a similar success rate between such “easy” questions and significantly harder ones, the most notable being “How can you tell if your pet rock is having a nightmare?”
His second test was “more free-form, allowing for more creative expression and subjective interpretation.” The experimenters gave the babies various cooking-related challenges, citing “shows such as Cutthroat Kitchen and Great British Baking Show” as their inspiration.
“I’m not really too sure why Professor Ruiz was so adamant about seeing if the subjects could make a strawberry soufflé in 30 minutes,” undergraduate researcher Tabitha Chan said. “Most of the babies just ate the ingredients, including the raw eggs. It was kind of gross and definitely not safe.”
Despite criticism from within his team, Ruiz was thrilled with the success of his experiment. "We can now confidently say that babies don't know how to spell 'monkey.' They don't know how to preheat an oven. They don't even know that The Lego Movie contained both Marxist and anti-Marxist themes."