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Another Study Attacks Violent Video Games, Claims To Be "Conclusive" 587

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the subjective-research-is-now-conclusive dept.
Killer Orca is one of many to tell us about a new study on the effects of violent video games on kids. The latest meta-study that analyzed research from 130 different reports claims to have "conclusively proven" that violent video games make more aggressive, less caring kids. "The team used meta-analytic procedures — the statistical methods used to analyze and combine results from previous, related literature -- to test the effects of violent video game play on the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of the individuals, ranging from elementary school-aged children to college undergraduates. [...] Anderson says the new study may be his last meta-analysis on violent video games because of its definitive findings."
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Another Study Attacks Violent Video Games, Claims To Be "Conclusive"

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  • As always... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:15PM (#31322148) Homepage

    As always, whenever this topic comes up, here are my thoughts on it:

    http://livingwithanerd.com/violence-in-videogames/ [livingwithanerd.com]

    Excerpt:

    You have to allow the little monster to come out every now and then and release its frustrations. If you don't, you risk becoming a quivering mass of nervous and dangerous flesh. What better place to do this than in a simulated environment with simulated violence where the only things harmed are your eyes for staring at the screen?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      The way I've always described the effect of violent video games:

      Digital punching bag. At least for me and some of my friends, the stress release of violent video games made us LESS violent in school.

      • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:05PM (#31322984) Journal

        It really depends on the game though. Everytime I see road kill now I have the urge to pull over and loot the body.
        "Damn raccoon, I need a new helm!"

    • Re:As always... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:52PM (#31322730)

      I love how all of these studies overlook the fact that so many parents use video games, like television, as a baby-sitter. Kids who's parents neglect them and allow them to spend all their time alone are bound to end up mal-adjusted. The fact that the kids choose to play violent video games is just a product of the situation and not the root cause. But of course ... it's never popular to release a study saying "bad parents raise violent kids" ... so much easier to have a scapegoat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Demonantis (1340557)
      Meta analysis is misleading or at least that what has been claimed against of the VOC causing cancer in drinking water studies that I have read. I guess acceptable results justified an acceptable means.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      It's a good theory, but really it doesn't pan out too well. I think the problem is that people are so damned habitual. If you sit around thinking violent thoughts, that becomes the way you think, the way you see things, and the way your brain works.

      It's like complaints; contrary to what you might think, complaining and "getting it out" doesn't really tend to make you feel better. The more you talk about your complaints and criticisms, the more you dwell on them. If complaints and criticisms dominate yo

  • by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:15PM (#31322150)
    It's just another study by people with an agenda.
    • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:20PM (#31322232)

      You can see the study author's bent in this quote:

      "It's now time to move on to a more constructive question like, 'How do we make it easier for parents -- within the limits of culture, society and law -- to provide a healthier childhood for their kids?'" But Anderson knows it will take time for the creation and implementation of effective new policies.

      Um... is it the government's job to make parenthood easier? I thought they put the kids in front of the glowing screen in order to give themselves (the parents) a break from parenting.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:31PM (#31322432) Journal

        Metastudies are a troubling area. What's more, particularly with this kind of work, there's a huge risk of GIGO... Even where the "researchers" don't have an agenda.

        It's just bunk. Pure bunk. It comes too late to save Jack Thomas (thankfully).

        • There's only one thing for it - we need to do a metastudy on this serious issue!

        • by icebike (68054) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:53PM (#31322760)

          Metastudies are a troubling area. What's more, particularly with this kind of work, there's a huge risk of GIGO... Even where the "researchers" don't have an agenda.

          It's just bunk. Pure bunk. It comes too late to save Jack Thomas (thankfully).

          And its pretty clear the researchers DO have an agenda.

          No scientist/researcher would ever use the term "Conclusively Proven".

          When you see that phraseology, mindset, or pronouncement, run away like your hair is on fire. No assertions of this type are ever conclusively proven. All such conclusions are merely working theories. And this study offers nothing new than increasingly suspect meta-analysis from dissimilar studies.

          "Conclusively Proven", "Settled Science", = Hidden agenda.

          • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:16PM (#31323152)
            Mod parent up!

            Agreed. Anyone who does statistical analyses and claims to have thus "conclusively proven" anything can be dismissed as not knowing that the hell they are talking about.

            Not only that, but since when has the whole field of psychology claimed to have "conclusively proven" anything?
          • When you see that phraseology, mindset, or pronouncement, run away like your hair is on fire.

            No no no, don't you know anything? You stop, drop, and roll!

          • by Odinlake (1057938) on Monday March 01, 2010 @08:16PM (#31324602)

            That's because the article you are reading is NOT written by a scientist-slash-researcher but by some idiot journalist who (I hope) interviewed a scientist-slash-researcher. I can't say I myself have bothered to read the whole paper

            http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/abstracts/2010-2014/10ASISBSRS.pdf

            ... but from the abstract: "The evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior". This is a strong but not unusual kind of statement, meaning they are sure of themselves. The word "conclusive" is not used once (if Adobes search function is accurate). It also annoys me that the journalist turned "causal risk factor" into "causes", but then again perhaps people in general are just too stupid to understand anything more complicated than "A causes B".

            What really bugs me though is how /. users eagerly discard scientists as having a "hidden agenda" based only on someone elses lay review, without having the decency to actually read the publication. Don't forget that there is often a distorting layer between what you read and the real stuff.

        • by LordKazan (558383) on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:28PM (#31323324) Homepage Journal

          I'm an ISU Alum

          this guy has an agenda. He was a common subject among the CS students, about how he talks out his ass with confirmation bias.

          As an alum i just sent him a polite email telling him that he's full of shit

          "conclusive" in science.. uumm
          "conclusive" in psychology? not even POSSIBLE
          "conclusive" in a meta-analysis? YOU'RE FREAKING BIASED!

        • Unlike most papers, where you have to read them to discern whether they cherrypicked their evidence, with metastudies you know right away.

      • by langelgjm (860756) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:36PM (#31322490) Journal

        What I think is more interesting is the stuff right after that:

        But Anderson knows it will take time for the creation and implementation of effective new policies. And until then, there is plenty parents can do to protect their kids at home. "Just like your child's diet and the foods you have available for them to eat in the house, you should be able to control the content of the video games they have available to play in your home," he said. "And you should be able to explain to them why certain kinds of games are not allowed in the house -- conveying your own values. You should convey the message that one should always be looking for more constructive solutions to disagreements and conflict."

        I really don't have a problem with that analogy (between parents controlling a kid's diet and controlling what games they play). However, he seems to be arguing that we need new policies that go beyond this. That breaks the analogy. People are already upset over the idea of the gummint telling them what they should and shouldn't eat through things like "fat taxes." Fat kids abound; instead of parents taking responsibility for their children's diets, maybe we should ban the sale of candy bars and soda pop to minors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by WCguru42 (1268530)

        You can see the study author's bent in this quote:

        "It's now time to move on to a more constructive question like, 'How do we make it easier for parents -- within the limits of culture, society and law -- to provide a healthier childhood for their kids?'" But Anderson knows it will take time for the creation and implementation of effective new policies.

        I think we have the ESRB for that. You could make the same claim about films, how are parents supposed to know what is okay for little jack and jill. Check the back of the box, it's damn simple.

    • by jimbolauski (882977) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:39PM (#31322532) Journal
      I like the logic, all rapists drink water it must be the water! Time to start watering our plnts with BRAWNDO The Thirst Mutilator.
    • It's only an "agenda" in the sense that it has a viewpoint you disagree with.

      Here's an article done a while back by the same psychologist as the study done in the OP: http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2003/10/anderson.aspx [apa.org]. To summerize:

      Video Game Violence, and media violence in general, are more than proven to increase aggression. This is not an area of "mixed results" any more than any other group of studies--there are always outliers. It's as conclusive as wifi and cell phone signals not causing cancer or being responsible for "electrosensitivity". Probably more so, since media violence has had over 40 years of research, whereas EMF health studies are relatively recent.

      He also has some very pointed words about the massive overuse of the phrase "Correlation is not causation".

      If you still think he has an agenda, then read this:

      Media violence is only one of many factors that contribute to societal violence and is certainly not the most important one. Media violence researchers have repeatedly noted this. (Emphisis mine)

      In other words, if your goal is to reduce violence in society at large, media violence, including video games, are not where you should be focusing your efforts. These studies in no way justify going to huge lengths to censor such violence. They justify parents being more attentive. Inattentive parents in various forms are probably a bigger factor in overall societal violence than any specific media violence.

    • by Rei (128717) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#31322590) Homepage

      I'm waiting for the meta study that shows that studies on video games leading to anger make video gamers angry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ircmaxell (1117387)
      Well, what I don't see is the direct relation to causality. They show there's a strong connection between violent video games and violence. But a connection doesn't imply causation. Is there an underlying factor in there (Say, oh I don't know, poor parenting perhaps?) that actually causes the connection? Statistics are funny in that given enough data, you can usually find what you're looking for, even if it's not really there. Good science starts with a clean slate (Ok, we know violence is an affect, l
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:06PM (#31323002)

      It's just another study by people with an agenda.

      Yes, but this time they have CONCLUSIONS! Which is more newsworthy than an unbiased study by honest researchers who caution people not to overreact to their results. It is always this way, which is why even after that study linking vaccines to autism has been completely demolished, a depressing amount of people still run around thinking that autism is caused by vaccines. That study was poorly done, and the results were announced to the world as final proof rather than something that would merit at most one or two repeats of the experiments before it was taken seriously.

      If you want to get a lot of attention and don't care that all of the serious professionals in your field will immediately see that you are a quack and will eventually prove you wrong, then make a quick study and shout your results as the word of God for all the public to hear.

      ""We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method -- that is experimental, correlational, or longitudinal -- and regardless of the cultures tested in this study [East and West], you get the same effects,"

      Yes, you can say that, Mr. Anderson. You should also point out IN THAT SAME FUCKING BREATH that regardless of research method, YOU COULD STILL EASILY BE WRONG. As you're promoting this as infallible truth, based on research you didn't even do, I'd say that increases the chances that you're wrong, because you're a complete moron.

      I'm actually a bit surprised he actually says policy needs to be changed, rather than "Elect me to be supreme overlord and I'll have this whole violence thing sorted out in a month." I mean, if you're going to boldly overstate your results, then by God, overstate your results, don't pansy out at the end and suggest someone else be empowered to deal with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322164)

    I'll shoot anyone in the face who says that I'm violent.

  • Funny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322168)

    I seem to remember there being plenty of violent criminals before video games were invented.

    Yawn. Another academic tries to prove his pet theory. Nothing is "conclusive" in science. You can merely fail to reject the hypothesis.

    It's like saying that children who participate in animal cruelty grow up to be serial killers because most serial killers have a history of animal cruelty. They fail to take into account that almost all CHILDREN have been cruel to an animal at one time or another. No, that doesn't support the point we want to make, so let's not mention it...

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Informative)

      by vell0cet (1055494) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:56PM (#31322816)
      Actually... there were MORE violent criminals before video games were invented.

      Youth crime and violence have been steadily decreasing since the introduction of the playstation in 1995. And apparently, they haven't been this low since the sixties.

      "As violent videogames have become more popular in the United States and elsewhere, violent crime rates among youths and adults in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, and most other industrialized nations have plummeted to lows not seen since the 1960s." - Texas A&M International University researchers Christopher Ferguson and John Kilburn

      There are some graphs out there from the US Department of Justice that show exactly this trend.
      • So what you are saying that your study is a fact and that another study is a lie. How does this work? Because you like the conclusion of the one and not the other?

        Violent crime studies are as controversial as computer game studies and have the same bias by people wanting to make their point.

        Why do you blindly accept one study and denounce the other? Because you got an agenda?

        Science doesn't work that way.

  • by captaindomon (870655) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322170)
    Just taking the viewpoint that the majority of comments will probably not take.
    • by plague3106 (71849) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:18PM (#31322202)

      Doubtful. Violent video games have been around for a while now, and VIOLENT CRIME CONTINUES TO DECREASE.

      But don't believe me, just take a look at the DOJ website.

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yppupcinataS.> on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:24PM (#31322318) Journal

      Well, I mean his study is conclusive. I guess that means he must be right?

      Of course the article is completely fact free, with no actual methodology or conclusions other than "the effects are measurable."

      Ooooo, measurable. Look out everyone, the effects are measurable. Whatever the hell they are.

      Of course, they're not measurable in an upswing of violent crime, or anything like that. But gaming and puppy kicking behaviours? Strong correlation. Also, I'm told, gaming and pwning noobs is also strongly correlated.

    • by skine (1524819) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:42PM (#31322592)

      Let's assume he's right (which I will not pass judgment on). What does that imply?

      It implies that age-restricted material shouldn't be sold to minors and that parents should be more active in determining what is appropriate for their children.

      Do we really need a study to tell us that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        ESRB ratings are not restrictions, they are simply ratings intended to 'inform' consumers and help them choose products. They do not have force of law (at least intrinsically) except where a few state/local governments have decided to pass laws using the private ESRB rating as a guideline for age-discriminatory distribution.
    • Re:Maybe he's right. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@g m a i l . c om> on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:26PM (#31323300) Homepage Journal

      Just taking the viewpoint that the majority of comments will probably not take.

      I'll bite. I'll come out and say it - I think it *is* correct. Playing an action game, or watching an action movie, gets blood pumping and adrenaline flowing. (for the more imaginative, so does reading a good book.) During adolescence this is especially likely to have a measurable effect on behavior, as these chemicals are flooding bodies at rates that are never again quite equaled except in the most extreme of circumstances. (Both as a result in changing physiology and maturing psychology.)

      How many here did not go and half-pretend to beat the crap out of friends after watching a kung fu movie? Anyone else have memories of playing Contra and finding themselves jumping off of garages while pretending to shoot their neighb... erm, skip it, that last is probably just me.

      By constantly throwing up the "correlationisnotcausation" attitude whenever a study like this comes along, we do two things. First, we say that we're sticking our fingers in our ears and refusing to listen. Second, we're letting everyone slide on the assumption that if there *was* aggression, it would be a Bad Thing.

      By refusing to hear that there might be causation, we don't ask the next logical question. What does it matter? What are the harmful effects? Some rough-housing? Is that really a bad thing, or is it a fairly healthy reaction? In the absence of any real-life examples where such aggressiveness lead directly to real-life consequences, perhaps we should stop focusing on whether to games-aggression connection exists, and instead look at whether it's actually as harmful as everyone assumes it must be.

      The truth is that aggression is a perfectly natural response -- "fight or flight" is built into us, and it doesn't matter if we're talking about 8-bit nintendo games or the quadrillion-poly games of tomorrow. But there has been no time spent focusing on the significance of this - instead we all loudly proclaim that no, there's no possible way we'd have a physical response to a simulated stressful activity. Until we get past the latter, we won't be able to learn the answers to the former.

  • by Kagato (116051) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322174)

    You know what else makes people indifferent and uncaring... living in New York city. Nobody can ignore a bum on the street nearly as well. Should we ban living there too?

    • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:30PM (#31322420)
      I live in New York, you FUCKING ASSHO - ahem, I mean, you insensitive clod!

      Seriously, it's usually people who've never lived in NYC that say things like this. We're as good-natured as any Americans. And when was the last time you offered a homeless guy on the street a place to stay?
      • by malkavian (9512) on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#31323198) Homepage

        "And when was the last time you offered a homeless guy on the street a place to stay?"

        That'd be about 1991, in between degrees; still paying out the nose for the first, and prepping up for the second.. To make a little extra cash, I did early morning work cleaning a homeless hostel (trust me, jobs don't get much more crap than that; shaking the blankets on the beds and wondering if crap will fly out, literally, or needles).. Some of the guys there were really unpleasant. Most were pretty good blokes, in hard times.. One was an absolute blast, just had had a complete mental meltdown and hit rock bottom.. He was full of plans to get back into life proper again after getting his head straight.. Ended up hanging out with him for a while, then offered him my spare room for a few months until he got sorted (having a good address as correspondance works a lot better than a homeless hostel for job apps). Took him a few weeks to get a job from there, and after getting the first month's paycheck, he hunted a place for himself..
        Guys on the street, like anywhere else, are like anyone else. Some are arses, and some are good guys.. Sometimes, life just deals bad cards and you end up somewhere unpleasant.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I know it's a joke, but in fairness, it's not that New Yorkers are uncaring.

      It's more like... you have to learn to ignore *everyone*. It's not that we learn to ignore the few homeless people we encounter; it's that we learn to ignore our millions of neighbors. The homeless are just lumped into the group of "the millions of people in this city that I don't have time to think about right now."

      New Yorkers are actually pretty nice and helpful and look out for each other. The funniest thing is, I said somet

  • Uh... no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322176) Journal

    Nothing other than a double-blind study with random selection of test subjects can truly be considered "conclusive", IMHO. All studies that I've seen thus far are hopelessly thwarted by selection bias.

    • Re:Uh... no. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by algormortis (1422619) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:52PM (#31322720)
      I agree with this. The majority of people who conduct these studies and find that video games "make people more violent" are generally trying to prove that they do. Probably everyone can attest to at least one friend they know that acts more aggressive while playing games, but definitely not after. My own brother swears like a sailor when he plays flash games about amoebas and Tetris and the like; it's more of a competitive aggression than a response to violence.

      Also, in terms of desensitizing, it's more likely that the news desensitizes people than violent video games. Nobody even flinches nowadays when they hear about another car bomb or some other terrorist attack. Killings happen daily; it's a pretty well-known fact. When the news constantly report it, people stop caring. Playing Halo 3 or COD: Modern Warfare 2 aren't what make people yawn when they hear about the latest tragedy befalling people in Darfur, Rwanda, etc. It's the fact that when news stations constantly report such things, they simply become... expected.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322180) Homepage

    This reminds me of the TV version of this anti-violence crusade in the 80s and 90s.

    One thing that always stuck out in my mind about that last round was how the talking
    heads of that movement would take things out of context and then whine about them. I
    knew this because I watched the stuff they were whining about. They would show you a
    little 15 or 30 second bit and then criticize it and leave out ANY of the context.

    People can abuse information in any way that suits them.

    Disraeli probably didn't even say it first.

  • "not huge effects" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymusing (1450747) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322182)

    FTA:

    "These are not huge effects -- not on the order of joining a gang vs. not joining a gang," said Anderson. "But these effects are also not trivial in size. It is one risk factor for future aggression and other sort of negative outcomes. And it's a risk factor that's easy for an individual parent to deal with -- at least, easier than changing most other known risk factors for aggression and violence, such as poverty or one's genetic structure."

    The analysis found that violent video game effects are significant in both Eastern and Western cultures, in males and females, and in all age groups. Although there are good theoretical reasons to expect the long-term harmful effects to be higher in younger, pre-teen youths, there was only weak evidence of such age effects.

    How did they rule out the possibility that children who are prone to violence might also be prone to playing more violent video games?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      How did they rule out the possibility that children who are prone to violence might also be prone to playing more violent video games?

      That is a common point my wife makes whenever we have this conversation with someone. None of these studies look at whether or not violent people are attracted to violent entertainment (which, logically, they most likely are). Also, violence has different effects on different people. In my case, playing violent video games and watching violent movies as a kid has desensitized me to violence in such a way that I don't flinch from it. I don't engage in it, I'm just able to view it objectively and react wi

    • by plague3106 (71849) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:21PM (#31322254)

      How did they rule out that humans by nature are violent animals?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192)

      You should be able to find his methods in the preprint [iastate.edu] of this paper on his university website. I haven't had a chance to read it so I have nothing more to add.

  • by monoi (811392) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:16PM (#31322184)
    From TFA:

    "These are not huge effects -- not on the order of joining a gang vs. not joining a gang," said Anderson. "But these effects are also not trivial in size. It is one risk factor for future aggression and other sort of negative outcomes. And it's a risk factor that's easy for an individual parent to deal with -- at least, easier than changing most other known risk factors for aggression and violence, such as poverty or one's genetic structure."

    As a parent, that seems a pretty fair and balanced analysis to me. And yes, I have been known to play GTA myself. As an adult.

  • by Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:19PM (#31322212)
    ... is that it is very challenging to study political hot topics without bias.
  • I'm dubious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:20PM (#31322228) Homepage Journal

    he says a new study he led, analyzing 130 research reports on more than 130,000 subjects worldwide

    It (TFA is actually a link to the school that did the study) doesn't take into account that many if not most of the studies he was studying were horribly flawed and designed to give the answer the researcher wanted (in short, not real science). Few studies I've seen on the subject were the least bit reputable.

    However, at the end is a bit of hope -- he calls for parents, not governments, to police the children

    "From a public policy standpoint, it's time to get off the question of, 'Are there real and serious effects?' That's been answered and answered repeatedly," Anderson said. "It's now time to move on to a more constructive question like, 'How do we make it easier for parents -- within the limits of culture, society and law -- to provide a healthier childhood for their kids?'"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)

      It (TFA is actually a link to the school that did the study) doesn't take into account that many if not most of the studies he was studying were horribly flawed and designed to give the answer the researcher wanted (in short, not real science).

      This is the real kicker. Metanalysis doesn't work by magic. All it does it attempt to lump together different studies to see if a statistically valid correlation can be found in the data. One hopes that by having larger numbers, you get better statistical power t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Colonel Korn (1258968)

        It (TFA is actually a link to the school that did the study) doesn't take into account that many if not most of the studies he was studying were horribly flawed and designed to give the answer the researcher wanted (in short, not real science).

        This is the real kicker. Metanalysis doesn't work by magic. All it does it attempt to lump together different studies to see if a statistically valid correlation can be found in the data. One hopes that by having larger numbers, you get better statistical power than was available from smaller studies.

        The validity of these studies is critically intwined with quality of the individual research. If all they did was lump everything together, you're going to get a lump of garbage. Interestingly, TFA doesn't mention any statisticians as authors. I would have serious doubts that psychiatrists or psychologists would have enough of a background in statistics to create a quality analysis.

        And the fact that he is enough of an egotistical jerk to suggest that he has "definitively" proven anything in psychiatry leads me to believe that this is just part of the 94.277% (P less than 0.001) of all research that is crap.

        A distressingly large number of psychological/sociological studies (I agree with your 94.277%) have deeply flawed statistics and/or experimental design. This meta-analytical study starts by assuming the validity of the conclusions from these broken studies and then adds another layer of potential statistical and design mistakes on top of that.

        In such a fuzzy field, it would be much more useful to move in the other direction: rather than looking at tons of other studies from high overhead, very carefully ex

  • Or maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:20PM (#31322238) Journal
    An attention seeking/instant gratification/short attention span culture is generating less caring, more violent children because their communication is self-centered, widely dispersed and largely meaningless between their 7000 text messages a month and their garish myspace pages with 10000 friends.
  • by syousef (465911) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:20PM (#31322240) Journal

    I'll pummel them I tells ya! How dare they! Video games don't make me more violent! I'll rip their throats out!!!!

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:25PM (#31322336) Journal

    Yes, this is always trotted out, but I think it's applicable here. How can you demonstrate causation through a meta-analysis? Without randomizing your subjects, and subjecting them to different treatments you can't prove that any given effect is caused by that treatment and not a 3rd variable.

    Also, how big is this effect compared to other things we tolerate as a society? Watching sports for instance causes an increase in testosterone, and testosterone is linked to aggressive behavior. We need this kind of context in order to prioritize how we treat these issues.

  • Oddly enough violent crime has been decreasing since 1992, and is now at 1960 levels. Ergo another possible conclusion: Video games decrease overall societal violence level.

    Consider that the first generation of videogame kids became old enough to start committing violent acts readily in the early 90s.

    Source:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

    Note to parents: this also puts the lie to "we must keep our kids inside all the time, since it's a scary world out there".

    Yes, I'm a parent, and yes, I'm thinking of my children!

    Min

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

      To be fair to them, they're at least trying to isolate a factor, which is a lot more than what you're doing. The same drop in violent crime could be attributed to cable tv, and it could easily be argued that the drop would have been MUCH higher, if it weren't for those pesky games.

      I would suggest that it's disingenuous to claim that there is a measurable increase in real world physical violence that can be directly attributed to video games, but it's much easier to suggest that other social indexes (like em

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:39PM (#31322540)

    For people like me who take science very seriously, I find these results disappointing. I imagine that many people here do as well. Let's remember, though, that just because we don't like the results does not make them wrong. I was really hoping that the universe would not end in a boring heat death, but I'm not about to attack cosmologists because the results of their research have dashed my hopes.

    We have to examine the data very carefully, trying to look for other explanations for the correlations that were allegedly discovered. If becomes an established conclusion in the field that video games weakly cause violent and antisocial behavior, we might still decide that we don't need to do anything to regulate them beyond "M" labeling. This research result, even if confirmed, doesn't mean that the prudes won and that the state will be prying Crisis from some fat kid's cold dead fingers. We have many choices in how to react to this. But let's not get on our high-horse and yell about how this research must be tainted because we don't like the result. Fundamentalists with no respect for science do that, and we should meet a higher standard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As I have posted separately, there is a fully scientific critique of this research from Texas A&M

      http://www.tamiu.edu/~cferguson/Much%20Ado.pdf [tamiu.edu]

      • OK, good. Notice that this isn't a kneejerk response, but a reasoned, fact-based dissenting view. The Texas researchers definitely make good points, and the Iowa people are just dicks to say that their study is so "definitive" that the book on the subject is closed.

        Now I wish that the discussion on the rest of this thread were conducted on this level, instead of the "If the research doesn't support my preconceptions then it's wrong" crap perfected by geocentrists, cigarette companies and climate change den

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:41PM (#31322562)
    Violent videogames do not in of themselves cause violence - BUT - works of fiction (or exaggerated works of non-fiction), including videogames, with characters that exhibit extreme behavior, can warp our perceptions of what "normal" behavior is, giving us license to act in ways we'd otherwise consider extreme.

    "Yeah, I'm a gangster and I've killed a few people but it's not like I'm Scarface or anything."
    "Yeah, I'm not the best manager in the world, and I goof around a lot, but it's not like I'm Michael Scott or anything."
    "Yeah, I've been known to give a perp a beatdown after he's cuffed, but it's not like I'm Jack Bauer or anything."
    And so on and so on...
  • Already debunked (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bert the Turtle (1073828) on Monday March 01, 2010 @05:52PM (#31322734)
    I have my concerns that the Slashdot crowd seem to have immediately disregarded this research, particularly that "correlation is not causation" rant. In this case, they *have* been looking for causation. There is, however, already a response from researchers at Texas A&M discussing the flaws of this particular paper (link below), including selection bias and apparent contradictions from other evidence. In short, peer-review is acting just as it should. It is only because Anderson has jammed out a press release to get his 15 minutes that we are even discussing it. Link to A&M paper http://www.tamiu.edu/~cferguson/Much%20Ado.pdf [tamiu.edu]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      The author of this meta study deserve all the derisive responses he gets. for his entire career he has been trying to show that TV, and now video games' cause people to have a higher risk of violence. His proof is always crappy studies.

      The man should either start doing proper studies, or have his doctorate revoked.

  • by vtechpilot (468543) on Monday March 01, 2010 @06:23PM (#31323258)

    My wife's PhD thesis was a Meta-Analysis, and I helped her create some new tools for doing the math behind the analysis so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the topic. The process (greatly simplified) is this. Dig through hundreds of articles published in peer reviewed journals on the topic you are examining, and find as many as you can that test the specific theory you are studying. All the articles included in the meta-analysis must test the same theory. Next you need to reverse engineer the numbers reported in the article. This can be a bit tricky since each article may have reported their result using different statistical tests. Occasionally some articles don't have all the relevant numbers and you have to contact the author. Once you have all that data together the math is relatively straight forward.

    Presuming that all the other articles that you feed into the process are based on high quality research, then a Meta-Analysis can give you an insight to the overall strength of the results of the theory being tested. As you might imagine this process can easily be a Garbage In Garbage Out sort of situation. The researcher performing the meta-analysis must have the ability to identify bad studies that overlooked key moderating variables, or were simply done poorly and remove these bad studies from their analysis. If you want to attack this meta-analysis, attack the articles it was based off of. A meta-analysis by itself is not 'conclusive' just because of the method it represents. The analysis itself must be performed on many many well done studies in order to have any credibility of its own.

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