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The Barney Stare

by John Vorhaus |  Published: May 30, 2012


John VorhausSome of you kids aren’t old enough to remember Barney, the annoying purple TV dinosaur who infected so many young minds with his inane song, “I Love You, You Love Me,” a tune second only in teeth-gnashing torment to Disneyland’s “It’s A Small World.” And while any experienced poker player might argue that ours, too, is “a world of laughter, a world of tears,” it is the mauve saurian upon whom I cast my attention today because, well, Science leads me there, and where Science goes, I follow.

Thus I bring to your attention what Science has lately brought to mine, namely a mental state known in the literature as “attentional inertia” or, more colloquially, the Barney Stare. The Barney Stare is a phenomenon first noticed to afflict fans of said saurian when they spend too many hours engaged in passive, repetitive activity, such as watching said saurian on TV. (Or, perhaps, promiscuously overusing the phrase “said saurian.”) In the grip of attentional inertia, Science notes, mental processes slow down, the physical body decays into something like a torpor and, quite possibly, drool forms at the corner of the mouth.

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