Baby Biologist?

 

I’ve been watching episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents from its run in the late 1950s.  Most, of course, take liberties with credibility but one episode stretches things further than modern-day minds can take. I decided to watch this episode, “Silent Witness”, because the director’s daughter, Pat, makes an appearance.

Here’s the IMDb summation of the episode: “Donald Mason is a married professor who wants to end a romance with one of his students. He stops by while she is babysitting. He tries to end the relationship, but she threatens to expose him. He kills her and leaves a witness: the screaming baby she was watching. Later, Mason runs into the infant in a carriage on the street. At the sight of him, the baby screams and cries.”

In subsequent encounters with the baby, the baby grows agitated and upset. Mason is convinced that the baby recognizes him as the murderer and that once the baby learns to talk, it will testify against him. So Mason turns himself over to the police. 

In a postscript, we see the baby’s father return after many months away in the service. The baby becomes upset seeing the father and begins to cry. The mother explains he shouldn’t be upset, the baby cries whenever it sees a man.

This is the big twist that the show was known for. But you can see how it stretches credulity. How could a mere baby distinguish between a man and a woman?  If the task is beyond the capacity of a Supreme Court Nominee, how could a baby do such a thing?

It reminds me of those people who say their dog gets upset by the presence of men (or women for that matter.) How could a dog discern the difference between a man and a woman? Did the dog go to college to become a biologist? It’s like one of those Far Side cartoons with a retriever in a lab coat. Simply absurd.

No wonder Hitchcock was known as the “Master of Suspense” and not a “Master of Science.”

 

 

Published in Entertainment
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There are 8 comments.

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  1. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Well obviously the baby couldn’t really tell, it was just written that way.  Fiction, y’know?

    • #1
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    No.  Babies are hard-wired to recognize faces, and I believe research has shown that babies as young as a couple of months old can tell their parent from a stranger, so they should be able to tell a man from a woman.

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Ricochet needs a Double-Plus Like button.

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Eustace C. Scrubb: How could a mere baby distinguish between a man and a woman? 

    It’s easy during feeding time . . .

    • #4
  5. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Ricochet needs a Double-Plus Like button.

    A little too, “Brave New World” for me.

    • #5
  6. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Eustace C. Scrubb: How could a mere baby distinguish between a man and a woman?

    The same people who told us a candidate was unqualified because he couldn’t answer, “What is Aleppo?” then go and praise a nominee who couldn’t answer “What is a woman?”

    • #6
  7. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    I wouldn’t underestimate what babies can do. Often you will find that dad (or another male) can soothe a baby more quickly than mom. When men hold babies, they hold them tightly and consequently, the baby can feel more secure. In the case of the fictional story, it could be that even an infant can distinguish between male and female – not only by sight (as in the Hitchcock stories men and women were distinctly different), but also by sound, movement, and smell. This is obviously a Hitchcock twist, but not so far out of the realm of possibility.

    • #7
  8. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Stad (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb: How could a mere baby distinguish between a man and a woman?

    It’s easy during feeding time . . .

    Not necessarily, according to the new “science.”

    • #8
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