Weird Science 

In which our reluctant hero spends too much time thinking things over.

On Wednesday night, I joined fellow members of Wolverhampton’s liberal metropolitan elite at the Grand Theatre to watch Stewart Lee’s excellent new show, Content Provider. For those unaware of the concepts, “theatre” is a bit like telly performed in real life, and “Stewart Lee” is someone off of comedy. The thinking man’s Micky Flanagan. Or something.

After the show, we headed to the nearest hostelry where we bumped into said performer and exchanged pleasantries. Excited by this unexpected liaison, I briefly considered asking for a photo and Tweeting it. But it was a hot night and he looked fat, and depressed. And fat. So I thought better of it.

Pint finished, I couldn’t help but notice that the Wetherspoons clientele was quite different from normal. Less recently released psychopath and more geek. Aging leftie comedy geek, granted, but geek nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of geek and I include myself in this lazy generalisation. We’re everywhere. Even my team at work have got a poster with “#GEEK” printed in foot high letters on their notice board.

This sort of admission is less of a problem as you get older. With age comes experience and a general feeling of “I don’t really care what you think.” Which is nice in middle age, but would have been a lot more useful had it been my thinking during my teens.

Adult geekery? Fine. Yet still there is a perception that geeky kids are a bit weird, yes?

Tired, and over thinking something clearly irrelevant, I headed home to bed.

After a pleasant not-quite-as-much-as-I-needed-on-a-school-night sleep, I almost choked on my morning cuppa after spotting the headline Older fathers have ‘geekier sons‘ plastered across the BBC and other news websites.

I was an old dad on Wednesday evening at the show, but on Thursday morning I was a whole year older as it was my birthday. A dad, a mere six years away from qualifying for exclusive Saga holidays, with a two year old boy. NOOO!

The article details the results of monitoring the development of around 12,500 twins up to the age of twelve and according to science and research;

Findings showed a correlation between the age of the father and the geekiness of the sons, with a positive correlation between the two – the older the father, the geekier the son. They also noticed geek traits appeared more after the age of 45.

Repeated studies have shown that older sperm is more prone to genetic errors and children are more likely to develop autism and schizophrenia.

Deep breaths…

I was 41 when our son was born, so we should be at a lower risk of seeing the more extreme effects of the “geek gene” as he gets older. With a bit of luck, the boy won’t be full on geek by twelve, more a young lad who had a minor run in with the geek stick.

Looking at the positive aspects, the study suggests that sons of older dads are more intelligent, more focused on their interests, and less concerned whether or not they fit in with their peers or not. Which is pretty much the polar opposite of my adult perception of me at twelve years old. So far, so good.

With all this extra intelligence and focus, the boy will hopefully reach twelve, bypass the problematic teen years, and land slap bang into middle age. This has to be useful, as the worst behaviour of his teen rebellion could potentially peak at turning The Archers up to eleven on the wireless.

At best case scenario, being more intelligent could mean better academic prospects and, hopefully, a better paid job. Better still, in this utopian future, mum and dad will be able to blow the kids’ inheritance on several exclusive over fifties holidays every year. Masai Mara here we come.

There is only one potential concern that I can see from my hurried pre-work scan of the findings. We would need to ensure that our son doesn’t pick up the poor emotional and social functioning skills associated to the generic geek.

On reflection, this shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve made it to my mid-forties being reasonably socially competent and quite well liked, despite not really liking people, things, or leaving the house. So there must be a tip or two that our lad can pick up on bluffing his way through adulthood as a borderline sociopath from his old man, should the need arise. Sorted.

We will have to wait another nine and a bit years to see if I can (falsely) claim that leaving fatherhood late was a deliberate and calculated plan for the betterment of my youngest child.

I will leave it to Prof Allan Pacey, professor of cleverness at the University of Sheffield, to sum things up.

“Whilst it may be chic to be a geek, I would not recommend that would-be parents delay their plans to start a family to specifically increase the odds of having a child with geek-like qualities.”

“However, I do find the idea of a ‘geek gene’ quite intriguing, and, given our recent trend to have our children later in life, perhaps we are destined for future society of geniuses that are going to help us solve all the world’s problems.”

Is he really predicting that an army of clever clogses will one day rise up to save us all? Spoken like a true geek.

Fin.

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