Don’t think it was easy to pry Tom Fishandchips’ fingers off the joystick of his Super Columbine Massacre video game. Doing so was almost as rough as pulling the game’s antagonists’ (protagonists?) fingers off their assault weapons. After all, Fishandchips had scientific research, which he displayed powerpoint style* (see below) all around his work area, that declared violent entertainment did not produce violent people. Science said he was in the clear to blow away sim students all day long, which was well, because that’s what he wanted to do in the first place.
*Violent media not to blame for violent people
Scientific evidence does not show that watching violence desensitizes people to it . [University of Toronto study: Dec 2000, displayed prominently by Fishandchips]
Nor was he quick to change his tune when other Institute members, guys like Sheepandgoats, Wheatandweeds and Weedsandwheat, pointed out to him that the studies he had cited were most likely dogs, and that 99% of all studies on media and violence had concluded there was a relationship. No, said Fishandchips, might does not make right, the majority is usually wrong, what about tiny David going up against mighty Goliath, etc, etc, etc.
What finally broke Fishandchips' pigheadedness was the revelation of who had paid for his study….a study so obviously favorable to the makers of violent entertainment. It was the Motion Pictures Association! Now, I guess that doesn’t mean for sure that their resulting study is so much horse manure, but it sure does raise suspicions that the MPA simply fished around till they found someone who would tell them what they wanted to hear. Their violence-is-golden conclusion would have been easier to accept had it been reached by the Presbyterian Church, or the Girl Scouts, or the Ghostbuster’s Association, or the Evolutionists of America Club.
Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, declared Samuel Adams in 1775. But here we can modify that statement to science is the last refuge. Note how the MPA’s contract researchers wrap themselves in the scientific method every bit as much as a rabid nationalist wraps himself in the flag. On the other hand, the 99% other studies which conclude that violent entertainment isn’t great for public moral health, are not said specifically to employ the scientific method, but “many investigative methods.” That’s not to suggest those methods were mere new-age fluff. Doubtless they were rooted in logic and made use of scientific reasoning. But they may not have restricted themselves to the narrow scientific method, which insists on finding causality and is never satisfied were mere correlation.
VIP commenter Mr. Crowe (VIP because he does comment, which I appreciate and endeavor to return the favor wherever I can) smelled a rat with regard to my last post on this subject. Was I not taking a shot across the bows of science? Why am I anti-science? Isn’t religion also the last refuge of scoundrels, even more so than science or patriotism?
Actually, religion may be the first refuge of scoundrels. But everybody knows that. The opium of the people, and so forth. We all know how cynical power brokers use religion to stir up the masses. But science enjoys a purer, more rarefied reputation, as if it is above and immune to manipulation by scoundrels. That reputation is not entirely deserved.
Nevertheless, running down science was not the point of my previous post, though alas, it was not worded skillfully enough to avoid that interpretation. Science is good. Science is useful. We find out a lot of things though the scientific method. What science is not, however, is the be-all and end-all, the uncontradictable one true means of discovering things so that, if science comes up with no answer, then there is no answer.