Thursday, 11 November 2010

NOT PJ: Mozart for your Mall

_BernardDarntonBernard Darnton's column this week is a Requiem for journalism.

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Mozart prevents crime, claimed Monday’s Press, which is just as well because ticketing people for driving at 55 does no such thing.

The claim is that since starting to play Mozart from speakers in City Mall (a pedestrianised Christchurch street) the crime rate has been slashed. The number of thefts and other offences is reported to have gone from 35 per week in October 2008 to zero for the same “typical” week in October 2010. There is even helpful bar graph showing a green line (with “35” written above it) next to no bar whatsoever (with “0” written where the bar would have been) so you can marvel at how different the two numbers are. Now that’s sciencey.

City Mall is a nice place to sit in the sun at lunchtime and read a book. The gentle strains of Mozart add something to the pleasure, as does the not being stabbed. The only thing that spoils it is the Music to Bang Hoes By blaring out of Glassons.

Mozart is an extremely powerful deterrent to violent crime. Two weeks ago, presumably during an atypical week, a man with a tyre iron began haranguing another man about staying away from his daughter. As soon as the argument got loud enough to drown out the Mozart, violence erupted. Fortunately, Mozart also heightens concentration and allows you to work faster. Once the four Police cars had gone back to their real task of ticketing alacritous drivers, the people mopping up the blood were able to do so with a spring in their step.

Mozart also allegedly increases your IQ. About twenty years ago a research paper showed that listening to Mozart temporarily increased subjects’ performance in a spatial-temporal reasoning test. This caused a flurry of popular books with more pages than content although, to meet the target market, the message had to be dumbed down to “Mozart makes you smarter.”

CDs like Mozart for your Mind flooded the market. Everyone instantly got smarter at which point they all realised that the research said no such thing and the industry disappeared in a puff of contradiction.

Less well known is Mozart’s ability to break down sewage. The Treuenbrietzen sewage treatment plant in Germany plays Mozart to assist in the breakdown of all the crap that flows through it. It makes me wonder whether moving the Press’s headline writers to their new building further away from City Mall is a good idea.

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* * He’s not PJ O’Rourke, but he’s not bad either.  Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ
column here every Thursday, barring drinking accidents. * *


  1. "to zero for the same “typical” week in October 2010"

    Would that be the same typical week post earthquake in which the citzenry (and would-be crims) are avoiding because a. fear of buildings collapsing on their noggins, b. the place is no doubt still crawling with Mr Plod, security staff and council bureaucrats, and c. the centre of the Village of The Damned is still closed for business?

    Yes, stats do work for you whilst listening to classics. Really.

  2. As you say, PM, a very typical week -- well, apart from the earthquakes.

    As Eric Crampton perspicaciously says, read this sort of "reasoning" and weep.

    Or laugh, if you're reading Bernard as well. :-)

  3. there has been a correlation between classical music and a reduction in crime in Brisbane's train stations, it appears to make the louts hanging around leave, thus reducingthe chances of getting assaulted by them. It wasn't exclusive to classical though, as Barry Manilow was an even better deterent

  4. "Barry Manilow was an even better deterent"

    I imagine that would deter everyone. Baby out with the bathwater and all that.


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