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01/07/2018 5:30 PM IST

Psychologists Pooh-Pooh One 'Incredibles 2' Plot Point

This “Incredibles 2” motif is sadly incredibly bogus.

Incredibles” is finally Bach! Wait, no, it’s Mozart.

The sequel, which arrived 14 years after the original film, brought an even more grown-up version of the franchise’s signature parent-centric humor. But the character who does the most growing out of anyone in the movie is baby Jack-Jack ― courtesy of some classical jams.

Yes, in “Incredibles 2,” it appears listening to Mozart helps bring out Jack-Jack’s new superhero forms, some of which are fire baby, floating baby and monster baby. To the internet’s delight, the joke is clearly based on the idea that classical music, specifically Mozart, might aid in cognitive development.

Sadly, if you’re a parent who thinks their kid could also get a superpowered boost from listening to classical tunes, we have some bad news.

First off, we’re worried about you. Secondly, the experts we talked to pooh-poohed the notion that listening to Mozart and his classical compatriots would have any positive effects on development, let alone spark superpowers.

Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures
Jack-Jack and Bob in "Incredibles 2."

Professor Christopher Chabris, a cognitive psychologist at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and co-author of The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, said the perception that Mozart has an effect on development and intelligence is misinformed.

“It won’t surprise you to hear that there is no scientific evidence that listening to Mozart can bring out super powers in a baby, or anyone else,” he said in an email.

Bummer. 

“In the 1990s, many music companies put out CDs and videos based on exactly this idea, e.g. ‘Mozart Makes You Smarter,’ ‘Baby Mozart,’ which led to ‘Baby Einstein’ and related products,” he added. “However, the truth is that after many studies, there is no reason to believe that listening to Mozart’s music will make anyone smarter: not adults, not children, not babies, not fetuses. This has been known since 1999, when I published an article in Nature showing that the so-called ‘Mozart Effect’ was a fluke, not a reproducible scientific effect.”

Jakob Pietschnig, a psychologist at the University of Vienna who’s also done studies on the “Mozart Effect,” agreed with Chabris.

“The evidence for a performance-enhancing effect of music exposure is depressingly little (i.e., virtually zero),” he told us.

Though Pietschnig wasn’t impressed with Mozart’s results on increasing intelligence, he did say music training is more promising.

“It is pretty clear that mere exposure to Mozart/classical music does not do anything to enhance intelligence. However, there are some accounts that suggest that music training may be linked to cognitive abilities to a certain extent. I would not go as far to call this solid evidence though, especially because the causality has not been clearly established.”

Disney
Jack-Jack shows Dad his monster mode in "Incredibles 2."

Though Jack-Jack’s powers are featured in “Incredibles 2,” we first got a glimpse of the baby’s super-potential at the end of the original movie, when his multiple abilities allowed him to escape the grip of the villain Syndrome.

But the first time Jack-Jack’s powers appear occurred in the short “Jack-Jack Attack,” which is on the “Incredibles” DVD and covers events that happen chronologically before the baby is captured by Syndrome. Jack-Jack’s abilities manifest around the time his babysitter plays him some classical music, leading fans to speculate that Mozart was the impetus for his powers. 

“Incredibles 2” basically confirms that theory.

After Edna Mode creates a super suit to help control Jack-Jack’s abilities and shows it off to his dad, Bob Parr, we learn that, indeed, Mozart is somehow able to bring out Jack-Jack’s powers. 

Unfortunately, try as we might, we couldn’t get an expert to entertain the idea that this might be plausible in real life. Mozart won’t awaken your baby’s superpowers, let alone make him or her smarter. That only happens to Jack-Jack. Which maybe isn’t such a bad thing.

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