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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #134                                                   July 18, 2002
                     A Publication of The Nature Institute
               Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
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    Quotes and Provocations
       Does Television Cause Violent Behavior?  Wrong Question.
    Technology, Alienation, and Freedom (Stephen L. Talbott)
       On the virtues of abstraction
    About this newsletter
                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    Does Television Cause Violent Behavior?  Wrong Question.
    The news will stimulate little change, but should be mentioned anyway.
    A seventeen-year study of 707 individuals, published in Science magazine
    (March 29, 2002), concluded that
       There was a significant association between the amount of time spent
       watching television during adolescence and early adulthood and the
       likelihood of subsequent aggressive acts against others.
    The study was controlled statistically to account for previous aggressive
    behavior, childhood neglect, family income, neighborhood violence,
    parental education, and psychiatric disorders.  A commentary accompanying
    the report in Science noted that the results contradict "the common
    assumption that media violence affects only children".
    That same commentary (authored by Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman) cites
    the long-accumulating evidence for a link between televised violence and
    aggressive behavior in children, and then goes on:
       Despite the consensus among experts, lay people do not seem to be
       getting the message from the popular press that media violence
       contributes to a more violent society.  We recently demonstrated that
       even as the scientific evidence linking media violence to aggression
       has accumulated, news reports about the effects of media violence have
       shifted to weaker statements, implying that there is little evidence
       for such effects.  This inaccurate reporting in the popular press may
       account for continuing controversy long after the debate should have
       been over, much as the cigarette smoking/cancer controversy persisted
       long after the scientific community knew that smoking causes cancer.
    Anderson and Bushman also point out that the weight of the evidence from
    all the available studies is not trivial.  The effects "are larger than
    the effects of calci