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DAYoung
5th March 10, 03:36 AM
http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n5/DAYoung_2006/645px-Family_watching_television_19.jpgWHEN I was little, my mother sometimes took me to the butcher's shop. Amid the blood and sawdust, they would have a yarn about the weather, politics, or food prices. It was a tiny parliament, with its own question time and partisan bunfights.

But when I take my son to the local butcher's shop, we don't talk so much. Why? I blame the huge plasma television on the wall. Even if customers were not distracted by the box's hypnotic glow, they would have trouble discussing foreign policy over the sound of music videos.

The ubiquity of the television today is astonishing - in bars, restaurants, cafes and salons, in kitchens and toilets. There's a huge one in Federation Square, our very own public square. And more importantly, television takes up a large chunk of our leisure time: on average, about three hours a day, according to pollsters Roy Morgan.

What does this do to us? Criticism of television often attacks the content: too violent, too sexualised, or simply unedifying. And often this is true. But this all too quickly degenerates into a slanging match, where holier-than-thou moralists decry imagined ills. Perhaps glorification of violence is a dubious way to raise children, but there's no evidence that CSI breeds killers. This argument was bad in Plato's day, and it's bad now.

It also misses the deeper point. The medium of television has serious shortcomings, even if the message is ethically pure. Research suggests that television leaves many viewers lethargic, passive and unimaginative - it takes away their ability to imagine, to invent and seize new possibilities.

Children watching television while studying were found to have diminished capacities to recall, and think about, important information. So television seems to subtly undermine our imaginative and cognitive powers, leaving us "spaced out", as one scientist put it.

Of course this doesn't mean everyone watching any program will be off in La La Land. I spent many formative years watching (and hiding from) Daleks and Cybermen, and as far as I know, my cognitive functions are unimpaired. But given television takes up so much free time, and is in so many public and private places, caution is advised.

But what should be done? Should we ban television, and enforce nationwide knitting, reading and meditation? Thankfully, the answer isn't totalitarian legislation or cold turkey. Instead, we need to reassess our relationship to the technology. Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis once spoke of technology as an iron horse. It was supposed to be a steed for the human spirit to ride on. But, he lamented, at some point the horse had mounted the rider: the machines were enforcing their own rules and cadence. Often we become so habituate that , we take for granted that the television should be on; that there are schedules to abide by and programs to wait for: news, variety show, movie, news again, then bed. We let the machine organise our time.

To get our minds back, we have to get back on the horse. Rather than having our hours and attention dictated to us, we should reclaim our own rhythms.

For example, at least once a week, try leaving the television off. Don't have breakfast and dinner with it - get the news from the newspaper, and spend the evening talking, reading, drawing or putting on a play. You might find yourself less drained, and more focused. And if your children raise hell because they can't get their hit of Bob the Builder or the Wiggles, try making up your own version. All you need is imagination, goodwill and lots of pipe-cleaners.

Of course there will be times when we are bored - everyone gets bored. It's one of the continual struggles of civilised life. We all need distractions. The most important thing is to choose distractions that leave our minds clearer, perceptions sharper, emotions more articulate and our bodies fitter. In other words, we want healthy preoccupations, not just idle distractions. And ironically, television teaches us this: Dr Who didn't get so clever or fit sitting in the TARDIS channel surfing, did he?

The idiot box won't go away any time soon - it will remain in our lounge rooms, city squares and butchers. We just have to make sure we're holding the reins.

Damon Young is a philosopher at Melbourne University and author of Distraction: A Philosopher's Guide to Being Free, published by Melbourne University Press.

- http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/heres-a-radical-thought--turn-off-the-tv-and-tune-into-life-20081123-6esz.html?page=-1
=================

Ok, folks. I know I'm supposed to add a paragraph to this - but they're already my paragraphs.

Am I just a self-righteous git, or do I have a point, or both?

Discuss.

bob
5th March 10, 03:51 AM
I only use mine for porn.

Cullion
5th March 10, 05:40 AM
The Internet has replaced TV and newspapers for me. The only time I sit facing our TV is to watch a rented movie. I'm not exercising discipline, it's that I actually find TV too dull now. I find passive consumption, rather than interaction, irritating and unsatisfying.

I limit my children's TV time and insist that they spend over half of their free time playing outside, painting, drawing or making stuff.

Lights Out
5th March 10, 07:23 AM
The Internet has replaced TV and newspapers for me. The only time I sit facing our TV is to watch a rented movie. I'm not exercising discipline, it's that I actually find TV too dull now. I find passive consumption, rather than interaction, irritating and unsatisfying.

Heh, I was gonna post that.

I'm not sure the internet is more healthy than TV in this regard. Yeah, it gives me the chance to interact with people form different countries... One day i'll talk about how Bullshido has influenced me on changing my world view.

But still internet is cutting on my interaction time with "real" people.

Maybe we (I) should turn off the computer once in a while? Can DAY's article be applied to the internet too? I guess so.

Phrost
5th March 10, 07:51 AM
I agree completely, especially given how difficult it is to get genuine information from TV. The News is spun by ideological agenda (or profit motive), the rest of the culture is becoming a cesspool of vapidity, and even the fucking History Channel runs paranormal bullshit for ratings.

Most of the time my TV is used for either Netflix or video games. My kid's TV... different story. I'm doing what I can to remove Walt Disney's spectral grip on her, but am pretty sure it's only going to be replaced with MTV's unless I do something drastic.

Cullion
5th March 10, 09:00 AM
Too much internet is bad, because it's such a distraction.

I don't think it rots the brain in the same way, because you aren't such a passive consumer. You choose your subject of interest by searching, rather than flicking through a limited range of broadcast choices. On sites like this, you're engaged in debate, trying to contribute ideas back, rather than simply consuming something that was chosen for you by TV executives.

So, yeah too much Internet is bad, but I don't believe it's anything like as bad for you as TV.

AAAAAA
5th March 10, 10:03 AM
I turn on the TV just for watching "rented" movies, or the occasional sports event.
But I think that the web is the most potent narcotic ever invented, beating even TV, because its very interactivity makes it perfect for compulsive behaviours. I've often found myself learning absolutely everything about obscure and by all means useless subjects, just because I could, and then discover how I had just wasted the better part of my free day.

I don't attribute that to the medium; it's just a potential I seem to be quite vulnerable to, and I expect it to be exploited more and more as the "regular" tv powers shift to the new medium (or disappear). How, not sure yet.

billy sol hurok
5th March 10, 10:12 AM
I'm with you, creativo. The web is like crack to an information junkie like me. TV is just too stoopid to be absorbing.

I knew we'd turned a corner the first time I saw TV screens on the gas pumps at a Mass Pike rest stop.

Mas
5th March 10, 10:37 AM
I always appreciate DAYoung's moderation in thought and speech.

Thanks for the article!

WarPhalange
5th March 10, 10:45 AM
TV? What is this, 1990? It's all about the internets now. You can even get TV on them!

TheMightyMcClaw
5th March 10, 10:47 AM
I stopped watching TV when I got to college (didn't want to pay for cable), and haven't taken up the habit again since.
I think television is an excellent example of "the iron horse mounting the rider" because of the extent it imposes it's schedule on you. Want to watch South Park? Well, you'll have to do at this particular hour on this particular day of the week. Your TV starts writing your schedule.
I like the direction TV is going via Hulu and DVD's of series and the like, because it puts control of people's schedules back in their own hands.

HappyOldGuy
5th March 10, 11:32 AM
Good article. As other people said tho, it's not about the TV. It's about media overload. I mostly post from work, where I will simultaneously have headphones on playing music, be working on several different tasks in different windows, and have a window open to post on sociocide, do personal email, facebook, or whatever.

If I'm posting from home, you can pretty much guarantee that I have the TV on, I probably a computer game running in another window, and there is a good chance I have music playing.

I'm not sure why I do this. Obviously each individual task suffers. Especially the background tasks (TV and music listening), but I think something about my work life has taught me that I have to be a multi-tasking media sponge. I guess the interesting question is whether the total aggregate amount of 'work', however we're going to measure it, is greater or not. I suspect it is.

Robot Jesus
5th March 10, 12:56 PM
I used to live by a bar called Father Murphy's. It was an awesome bar. lots of Irish ex-pats, cheap Guinness, IRA memorabilia on the walls, and Irish folk music (including the odd IRA fight song); most importantly the only TV was a projector system that was only turned on for football.

it was purchased by another owner, he took down the IRA stuff leaving only a few classic Guinness adds, brought in satellite radio, raised all the prices, fired the hot waitresses, brought in several TVs. they folded within a year.
the TVs were what really killed it

a few years latter I was working A bar tending gig, one of the waitresses told me she worked there opening night. she was surprised I liked it, because "there was nothing to do".

do people not know what to do in a pub these days?

resolve
5th March 10, 01:41 PM
A generation raised by the media knows not what to do without its pervasive guidance.

A more compelling derision of the parenting of your child by an electronic box you will not find.

Kiko
5th March 10, 01:55 PM
Recent hours or days without power and or cable have reminded me only how right our resident philosopher is. Huddled into one candle-lit room should have been fun, but it was sort of... meh.

Also... you have a butcher shop? I saw something on TV recently about how fewer and fewer men (and I suppose women) are becoming butchers, so it's becoming a dying art/profession. A shame, really.

Vieux Normand
5th March 10, 02:23 PM
Put big, colourful screens everywhere.

With the morons standing there gaping, sucked into their "content" like remoras attached to sharks, the rest of us can go through their homes and take whatever we want.

Kiko
5th March 10, 02:25 PM
Put big, colourful screens everywhere.

With the morons standing there gaping, sucked into their "content" like remoras attached to sharks, the rest of us can go through their homes and take whatever we want.

Especially their flatscreen TVs!

*ducks*

Robot Jesus
5th March 10, 02:39 PM
Especially their flatscreen TVs!

*ducks*
I need to be disappointed in bioshock 2 on something.

Ajamil
5th March 10, 04:23 PM
I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
-Groucho Marx

My mother likes to expand the range to "screens." That way we can add in portable games and texting on our phones.

I'm with many that the CPU screen has replaced the TV one (I don't even own a TV), but that's not really a cure. I don't know which is cause and which effect, but I find my brain demands "background info" which is often sated with a TV in the background or more recently an audiobook, radio, or music. In fact, I recently bought an mp3 player to encourage myself to get outside more, without sacrificing the ability for background noise.

Being so reclusive, it might be an unrecognized need for hearing other people's voices, a pseudo-interaction not achieved through the dialogue/voyeurism available here on Sociocide.

Interaction I think is a big part of it. I cringe to see children raised on watching. It hurts eye contact, language use, and social cues so much I wonder why there aren't more studies seeing if there's a link between TV and autism.

bob
5th March 10, 04:52 PM
Television has actually become a more social event for me. I rarely watch unless I'm making a specific effort for a rental or something like that and for some reason I can't stand watching tv alone. So for me it's a chance to sit down and chat and share a laugh. Contrast that to the lack of real human interaction I get on the internet or, if I'm reading a book instead I'm actually actively hostile to people talking to me.

Lights Out
5th March 10, 05:54 PM
I don't think it rots the brain in the same way, because you aren't such a passive consumer. You choose your subject of interest by searching, rather than flicking through a limited range of broadcast choices. On sites like this, you're engaged in debate, trying to contribute ideas back, rather than simply consuming something that was chosen for you by TV executives.

Yeah, but then again, I get exposed to Lebell's posts.

Seriously, we're talking not only about TV but how certain tehcnologies influence negatively on our social interaction.

I've never been the popular kid and interacting with other human beings has always been a bit difficult for me. I prefered to play alone when a child and such. I'm not saying I have some kind of mental diosreder, because I don't honestly think I have.

Internet provides with some human interaction but allows me complete control. I go the sites I want and when I want. If I wanna lave forever, so be it... things are easier this way.

This is both something good and bad. It allows me have power and control that i cannot have in "real" life. But on the other hand it encourages lack of compromise and empathy.

We have yet to see a definitive study on how growing watching TV affects the people's ability to interact with each other, and the next generation will be raised with the internet from the start. We shall see how that turns out.

bob
5th March 10, 06:36 PM
These guys should have watched more tv. Or at least got a home internet connection.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/couple-let-baby-starve-after-becoming-obsessed-with-raising-a-virtual-daughter-online-police-20100305-pmyi.html

billy sol hurok
5th March 10, 07:08 PM
These guys should have killed themselves before reproducing.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/couple-let-baby-starve-after-becoming-obsessed-with-raising-a-virtual-daughter-online-police-20100305-pmyi.html

Yeah, pretty much.

SFGOON
5th March 10, 09:18 PM
This may be yet another one of my airheaded theories. There is also the peril of unwittingly exposing myself as some sort of closet pyrophile with minor cognitive impairments. But - I will proceed anyway.

Am I the only one who finds staring into a campfire - oddly engrosssing? Something about the random flickering of the light captures the focus quite powerfully - at least for me.

Now, assuming this phenomenon is universal, (and I haven't once again exposed myself as a weird pervert,) does it not make sense from an evolutionary standpoint? After all - a stared at fire will usually tend to stay lit. For early humans, fire was a source of shelter and sanitation, even protection. A genetic preoccupation with it is understandable and would likely have been strongly selected for.

Computers, TV, anything with a flickering screen seems to have the same effect. Campfire lit, brain off. TV on, brain off. Computer booted, brain off. Things like watching plays, even really good ones, don't seem to hold the attention in the manner that watching an infomercial does, even though the former is far more interesting.

Conversely, devices which employ LCD displays - the kindle for example, don't seem to have this effect.

I can't help but wonder if there's not a biological basis for the attention-demanding power of television.

Hedley LaMarr
5th March 10, 11:08 PM
Interaction I think is a big part of it. I cringe to see children raised on watching. It hurts eye contact, language use, and social cues so much I wonder why there aren't more studies seeing if there's a link between TV and autism.
Here's all the research you need to prove it...

http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Chris-chan

Ajamil
6th March 10, 02:47 AM
If I wanna lave forever, so be it... things are easier this way.I tried every Spanish verb conjugate I could think of before I realized this was a typo. Does anyone else who is attracted to online socializing find it easier to organize your thoughts on type rather than speaking them? I know my brain jumbles my speech unless I can speak soft and slow - usually not possible in most common socializing areas. With type you can back up, grab different parts of the conversation, and even go take a crap in the middle of someone's response without seeming rude.


Am I the only one who finds staring into a campfire - oddly engrosssing? Something about the random flickering of the light captures the focus quite powerfully - at least for me.No. I find that too. I'd be interested to know if your idea of campfire = delta waves/brain off is really true.

Do you think the difference between a regular screen and the Kindle style is the radiation type? I know radiation from most modern screens is negligible, but that also reduces the iconic "flicker," yes?

DAYoung
6th March 10, 03:05 AM
This may be yet another one of my airheaded theories. There is also the peril of unwittingly exposing myself as some sort of closet pyrophile with minor cognitive impairments. But - I will proceed anyway.

Am I the only one who finds staring into a campfire - oddly engrosssing? Something about the random flickering of the light captures the focus quite powerfully - at least for me.

Now, assuming this phenomenon is universal, (and I haven't once again exposed myself as a weird pervert,) does it not make sense from an evolutionary standpoint? After all - a stared at fire will usually tend to stay lit. For early humans, fire was a source of shelter and sanitation, even protection. A genetic preoccupation with it is understandable and would likely have been strongly selected for.

Computers, TV, anything with a flickering screen seems to have the same effect. Campfire lit, brain off. TV on, brain off. Computer booted, brain off. Things like watching plays, even really good ones, don't seem to hold the attention in the manner that watching an infomercial does, even though the former is far more interesting.

Conversely, devices which employ LCD displays - the kindle for example, don't seem to have this effect.

I can't help but wonder if there's not a biological basis for the attention-demanding power of television.

Yes, I think this backs up your hypothesis, SFGoon:


Human beings usually absorb information via 'ambient' light - light that has been reflected off objects. Light that started out from the sun or a light bulb is being reflected from the white spaces between the letters on this page and then travelling on into your eye.

But if you look now at the light source itself, you get radiant light at a much higher intensity. And this is something, say [Fred and Merrelyn Emery], that the human brain cannot make much use of.

'The human perceptual system,' they say. 'evolved to deal with ambient light, not radiant light'. Nothing in evolution has prepared us for the luminous beams from the television set. Our ancestors' only similar experience might have been star-gazing or staring into the fire. And since we have no evolved system for extracting information from radiant light, 'We don't try to do it. We cut off'.

But TV light, they say, has a second important characteristic that sets it aside from other human experience. It is pulsating very rapidly and regularly - fifty or sixty times per second - (see box). This could produce 'habituation' - the brain gets used to the rhythm of the rapid changes and becomes so fixated by them that the picture itself fades into insignificance.

Television, they claim, can only be seen as a 'direct technological analogue of the hypnotist', with the brain effectively dominated by the signal. 'Provided the viewers continue to watch, they are unlikely to reflect on what they are viewing.'

The Emery's first put forward this startling hypnothesis on the physiological effect of TV back in 1975 while they were at the Australian National University of Canberra. Then in 1978 they appeared before a government committee enquiring into the effects of television on children and which recommended the 'priority be given to testing their theories'.

In fact relatively little was done; for all their efforts the Emerys found it almost impossible to get funds. - http://www.newint.org/issue119/light.htm

DAYoung
6th March 10, 03:11 AM
Do you think the difference between a regular screen and the Kindle style is the radiation type? I know radiation from most modern screens is negligible, but that also reduces the iconic "flicker," yes?

Kindle does not flicker at all, and it is not illuminated.

As I understand it, the 'dots' are charged particles, not pixels.

SFGOON
6th March 10, 03:34 AM
Now somebody has to bust out the good ol' fMRI next time the Yul log is being shown around christmas.

So, who here has an fMRI I could borrow? Portable, of course.

So - building on this - do you think dampening screen brightness would negate some of the ill effects of TV? Conversely, could we exploit the effect to draw people's eyes to shit they should be looking at?

DAYoung
6th March 10, 04:05 AM
Now somebody has to bust out the good ol' fMRI next time the Yul log is being shown around christmas.

So, who here has an fMRI I could borrow? Portable, of course.

So - building on this - do you think dampening screen brightness would negate some of the ill effects of TV? Conversely, could we exploit the effect to draw people's eyes to shit they should be looking at?

I think it's the mode, not just the brightness. Making it less bright would probably just make it harder to read. If it's illuminated and flickering, our brain - says this research - goes on holiday. Reverie time.

As for looking, sure: advertisers know this. But it's all simple messages. I don't think television is very good at getting sophisticated points across. From neon signs to Jesus, luminescent things have an 'oooooooooooh' character. So anything that requires more thought, and less 'oooooooooooooooh', is a problem.

Steve
6th March 10, 04:23 AM
Let's think about the opposite for a second, I'll use the Amish as an example.

They never have anything besides fire, as SFGOON pointed out, as some form of mindless entertainment. Have they made a better wheel? A better way to take care of the sick? Yes, TV hasn't created those things but it has exposed the masses to the idea that people could make something better than just building a house without an air powered nail gun.

TV for me is like music. I turn it on and then tune it out when I'm paying more attention to things I care about.

SFGOON
6th March 10, 04:31 AM
It depends on what the sign says.

I was thinking less of "Christ Saves" or "Budweiser" and more along the lines of "Stop."

It could also be used to aid in the memorization of typically rote, assinine yet necessary subjects. There is no reason why I should be able to tell you "Two all beef patties pickles sauce lettuce cheese on a warm toasted sesame bun!" Yet, here I am.

If it works for hamburgers, it could also work for the periodic table, the krebbs cycle, or characters from the Aeneid. (It works spectacularly for the alphabet.)

Of course, implementing repetitive, screen based learning in a manner which wouldn't make Orwell look like a prophet is an entirely different matter.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 04:33 AM
Let's think about the opposite for a second, I'll use the Amish as an example.

They never have anything besides fire, as SFGOON pointed out, as some form of mindless entertainment. Have they made a better wheel? A better way to take care of the sick? Yes, TV hasn't created those things but it has exposed the masses to the idea that people could make something better than just building a house without an air powered nail gun.

TV for me is like music. I turn it on and then tune it out when I'm paying more attention to things I care about.

Steve, I have a hunch that most of the great innovators and creators aren't watching much television.

They might be on it, but they're not in front of it. (Which is how I prefer it also.)

And for the record, Amish health is quite good (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/helthrpt/stories/s1392353.htm). I suspect their quality of life is quite high.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 04:37 AM
It depends on what the sign says.

I was thinking less of "Christ Saves" or "Budweiser" and more along the lines of "Stop."

It could also be used to aid in the memorization of typically rote, assinine yet necessary subjects. There is no reason why I should be able to tell you "Two all beef patties pickles sauce lettuce cheese on a warm toasted sesame bun!" Yet, here I am.

If it works for hamburgers, it could also work for the periodic table, the krebbs cycle, or characters from the Aeneid. (It works spectacularly for the alphabet.)

Of course, implementing repetitive, screen based learning in a manner which wouldn't make Orwell look like a prophet is an entirely different matter.

Agreed. But I think this is an empirical question

For example, in the studies I've read, television has a negative effect on education, e.g. grades, test results. This is assuming the tests, homework, writing is on paper or computer, and the TV is a distraction.

I've not yet read studies on TV as the medium of learning. My hunch is that it's a clumsy tool for anything sophisticated.

But, yes: it might work for rote learning. I'd like to see the studies.

Steve
6th March 10, 04:46 AM
Steve, I have a hunch that most of the great innovators and creators aren't watching much television.

Of course not, the innovators are innovating.


And for the record, Amish health is quite good (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/helthrpt/stories/s1392353.htm). I suspect their quality of life is quite high.

Sure it is, but as my point still stands as intended, I doubt they can treat cancer with much success.

Lights Out
6th March 10, 05:37 AM
I tried every Spanish verb conjugate I could think of before I realized this was a typo. Does anyone else who is attracted to online socializing find it easier to organize your thoughts on type rather than speaking them? I know my brain jumbles my speech unless I can speak soft and slow - usually not possible in most common socializing areas. With type you can back up, grab different parts of the conversation, and even go take a crap in the middle of someone's response without seeming rude.

Well, first off, sorry about the typo. I try to make less of them but still... perhaps I should double-check every post. Sometimes I do and even yet, I overlook a typo or two.

And yes to your question. Sometimes you can buy yourslef a big deal of time to reply and construct a witty answer. Even you have time to do some research on data backing up your claims.

However, and any forum can be used as proof, that doesn't prevent anybody for looking like a moron.



They never have anything besides fire, as SFGOON pointed out, as some form of mindless entertainment. Have they made a better wheel? A better way to take care of the sick? Yes, TV hasn't created those things but it has exposed the masses to the idea that people could make something better than just building a house without an air powered nail gun.

That might have something to do more with their culture rather than they not watching TV.

I only know about Amish from movies and the ocassional american show, but aren't they somewhat against tehcnology and innovation? My impression is that Amish folks look down on anything that is not within their tradition, and that also applies to new technology*.

*Technology as in better cart wheels, improved non-powered tools, etc.

Kiko
6th March 10, 05:51 AM
The fire gazing rings true with me. Hell, if I want to chill, I find some back to back episodes of Law & Order or a flick I've seen before, so I DON'T have to pay attention too much. TV isn't much like music for me. I can't concentrate unless the tunes are instrumental. Studying+Lyrics=nothing done in Kiko's world. I must be easily distractable.

Putting all those educational things into ANY format besides dry makes them much more learnable to kids. A song, mnemonics or something they can relate to easier. Teachers who are aware of this have always gotten through to me in the past. Those and the ones who explain all the whys and wherefores.

Being plugged in to anything all the time is bad. But a little downtime? Maybe us modern hunter gatherers can benefit a bit from some fire-gazing...

bob
6th March 10, 06:17 AM
Staring into a fire used to be the impetus for people to make up their own stories.

Cullion
6th March 10, 08:14 AM
I've not yet read studies on TV as the medium of learning. My hunch is that it's a clumsy tool for anything sophisticated.

But, yes: it might work for rote learning. I'd like to see the studies.

The Open University used to do the bulk of their teaching via BBC TV lectures accompanied by books and experiment kits, they were usually on late at night or on Sunday mornings, the students would usually video tape them to watch when they had time to concentrate.

I used to watch some of the basic science lectures and the occasional bit of ancient history as a kid.

Here's an example of a recent one (with the actor who played Kryton in red dwarf):-

fvuH8cbkuvM

I'll try and find a youtube example of one of the 70s/early 80s classics (a lot of the professors were loltastic hippies trying to look respectable wearing loud kipper ties and 'mad professor' cords and tweed).

I think there's a place for allowing yourself to be hypnotised, but choose wisely.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 01:51 PM
Sure it is, but as my point still stands as intended, I doubt they can treat cancer with much success.

My point was that treating cancer is very important, but not the be all and end all of civilisation. And, in many cases, a lifestyle that prevents early-onset cancers is more important.

Most of us get cancer or heart disease eventually. But a good lifestyle means this is less likely for many. (In some cases it's genetic, or we just don't know the aetiology.)

So perhaps the Amish way of life does not sacrifice as much as you think.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 01:52 PM
The Open University used to do the bulk of their teaching via BBC TV lectures accompanied by books and experiment kits, they were usually on late at night or on Sunday mornings, the students would usually video tape them to watch when they had time to concentrate.

I used to watch some of the basic science lectures and the occasional bit of ancient history as a kid.

Here's an example of a recent one (with the actor who played Kryton in red dwarf):-

I'll try and find a youtube example of one of the 70s/early 80s classics (a lot of the professors were loltastic hippies trying to look respectable wearing loud kipper ties and 'mad professor' cords and tweed).

I think there's a place for allowing yourself to be hypnotised, but choose wisely.

Good point.

Though I dare say a lecture theatre is a better place to learn. (Relatively speaking.)

Cullion
6th March 10, 02:30 PM
I wouldn't argue with that at all.

The Open University was designed to offer people something as close as possible to the education offered in a traditional university, for whom leaving the workforce and moving to a campus for 3-4 years simply wasn't an option, rather than something anybody claimed would be better than the traditional experience. It was explicitly designed as a 'next best' for working adults with an urge to improve themselves.

(I must say I'm impressed with the quality of their in-house textbooks so far though. Better than some of the terse, muddled junk I used wade through in traditional univerities).

Damon, what's your opinion on the public-service ethos of the early 'Reithian' BBC?

My view is that television's hypnotic quality can be dangerous in many ways, but that it is possible to use it to elevate people, it's just that in UK television, that public service ethos is now almost completely dead and that much of the content is actively degrading.

P.S. The Amish seem to have much lower levels of stress and distraction than the surrounding culture, but their diet actually isn't all that wonderful. They have higher rates of diabetes and obesity than many other first world populations because they eat a lot of white flour. It's not as bad as a junk food heavy diet like you'd find in some places, but they could certainly cut down on the starch and butter. Keinhaar wrote a very informative first-hand account of eating at an Amish diner and being very disappointed.

Robot Jesus
6th March 10, 03:15 PM
they also tend to have extra thumbs

DAYoung
6th March 10, 03:19 PM
I esteem the Reithian approach, if only because it produces programs that I want to watch (rather than another series of babies falling out of highchairs, or fifteen self-absorbed monkeys trying to get a recording deal). It aims for higher quality, balanced programming, rather than the commercial agenda.

It still offers people something popular, but it's not quite so vulgar and narrow about it.

Our SBS & ABC have elements of this.

On the Amish, I thought I read that the diabetes was genetic, not diet. And that they were not obese, as a rule. I might've misread this.

Cullion
6th March 10, 03:38 PM
On the Amish, I thought I read that the diabetes was genetic, not diet.

They're just generic Northern Europeans who eat a lot of pastry, white bread and potatoes. This is not an especially healthy diet (it's absolutely loaded with high-glycemic index carbohydrates), it's just not as bad as the worst excesses of modern processed junk diets. They don't eat as well as a lot of continental Europeans.


And that they were not obese, as a rule. I might've misread this.

They aren't fat compared to the surrounding populations who are exposed to a range of horrific junk foods, but they are compared to a lot of modern continental european or 1st world asians, despite burning a lot more calories in physical labour.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 03:48 PM
Yeah, sure. I'd prefer the Mediterranean diet/lifestyle.

And given the life expectancy of the Classical Greeks...

Robot Jesus
6th March 10, 04:31 PM
what is the Amish view on education? I've heard that they can be quite liberal until they take their oaths as elders.

Hutterites have always irked me for two reasons. firstly they believe that education and music are sinful. a pious life is a simple life, and a simple life calls for a simple mind.
Secondly they steal like gypsies; each colony has a slightly different culture, and some don't respect the property rights of those off colony.
any similar experiences with the Amish, he asked an Aussie and a Brit.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 04:59 PM
The Amish really only have primary education. But then they learn lots of Amish-specific skills (wood turning, Karma Sutra, hand-to-hand combat). In what sense do you mean 'liberal'?

As for property, I do know they've been known to steal women from one another. but it's custom.

Cullion
6th March 10, 05:01 PM
I read somewhere that some Amish communities allow and accept that their children will want to sample the outside world (including going to a normal secular university, and indulging in vices that wouldn't be allowed in their own communities), and that once these kids have tried it out, it's up to them whether they come back and become elders. Apparently many do. I'll try and find a source for this.

Edit: This 'rumspringa' life stage is what I'm talking about:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumspringa

I can't find the original thing about Rumspringa which I read, but it basically said some Amish communities saw this as a time when it was understandable that a youth might smoke pot, have extramarital sex and make non-Amish friends (often at university), but if they decided to call time on it and come back they were welcome to become elders.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 05:10 PM
As someone who saw Witness, I am now an expert on the Amish.

See?

TV = knowledge = power.

http://www.independentcritics.com/images/witnessSPLASH.jpg

Cullion
6th March 10, 05:14 PM
I'm sorry for interrupting Professor. You've obviously got this completely covered.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 05:16 PM
Damn right. Now let me tell you all about the physics of plane flight.

http://redriverautographs.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/topgun_800px.jpg

Cullion
6th March 10, 05:20 PM
Surely you were too distracted by all those eager young men in uniform to concentrate on the planes?

bob
6th March 10, 05:21 PM
I read somewhere that some Amish communities allow and accept that their children will want to sample the outside world (including going to a normal secular university, and indulging in vices that wouldn't be allowed in their own communities), and that once these kids have tried it out, it's up to them whether they come back and become elders. Apparently many do. I'll try and find a source for this.

Edit: This 'rumspringa' life stage is what I'm talking about:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumspringa

I can't find the original thing about Rumspringa which I read, but it basically said some Amish communities saw this as a time when it was understandable that a youth might smoke pot, have extramarital sex and make non-Amish friends (often at university), but if they decided to call time on it and come back they were welcome to become elders.

In reality it works the other way. They're being assessed as to whether they can rock a serious enough beard to be an elder.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 05:23 PM
Now, back to the program...


For a brain to comprehend and communicate complex meaning, it must be in a state of “chaotic disequilibrium.” This means that there must be a dynamic flow of communication between all of the regions of the brain, which facilitates the comprehension of higher levels of order (breaking conceptual thresholds), and leads to the formation of complex ideas. High levels of chaotic brain activity are present during challenging tasks like reading, writing, and working mathematical equations in your head. They are not present while watching TV. Levels of brain activity are measured by an electroencenograph (EEG) machine. While watching television, the brain appears to slow to a halt, registering low alpha wave readings on the EEG. This is caused by the radiant light produced by cathode ray technology within the television set. Even if you're reading text on a television screen the brain registers low levels of activity. Once again, regardless of the content being presented, television essentially turns off your nervous system.

http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/5jcl/5JCL59.htm

DAYoung
6th March 10, 05:25 PM
Surely you were too distracted by all those eager young men in uniform to concentrate on the planes?

*wink wink*

http://img.actressarchives.com/features/braingasm/top-gun-volleyball.jpg

Cullion
6th March 10, 05:48 PM
Here's a flakey hypothesis for you.

I see television as another potential 'disease of civilisation'. Let me explain.

We all seem to be adapted to different degrees, to different 'modern' innovations.

Some people can eat a diet high in processed grains and/or sugars without getting fat or becoming diabetic, some people can't. Some populations aren't very well adapted to getting calories and protein from the milk of domesticated animals, some are. I think similar mechanisms exist with alcohol and tobacco.

They all have some useful reason for existing, but we're not all fully adapted to them from our paleolithic state, and some of us can be thought of as having allergies which present as addiction or other bad reactions.

The exact pattern varies by individual, and to some degree, ancestry, but essentially these flickering magic-lantern broadcasts are another thing that some people are physiologically or psychologically better able to handle than others.

I don't believe it's a single scale with 'willpower' on one axis and 'propensity to over-indulge' on another. This isn't about a simple measure of 'civilised' vs 'barbaric' for me.

I certainly have a battle of will with refined carbs, alcohol and tobacco, but TV, gambling or phoney status symbols like clothes, cars and gadgets just don't seem to light me up in the same way.

I feel like I can watch a TV show, if I really want to, and it doesn't shut my left-brain down in the way it seems to for many others, nor do I get addicted, most of the time it's just annoying and I want to go and do something else.

This might not be to do with any higher psychology regarding intellectual interests etc.. and just be that I was lucky to have a higher than average resistance to the hypnotic effect of the flickering light.

<shrugs>

DAYoung
6th March 10, 06:00 PM
Yes, I agree with this - generally, speaking. Individual propensity has something to do with it. And no doubt these propensities are often clustered by class and status.

But I do think some media - just like some drugs - have more addictive properties than others. Television is certainly more habit-forming than the radio, i.e. it has a more prolonged, intense physiological effect.

But as you say, it all depends on how this interacts with individual propensities. For example, nicotine is certainly more addictive than coke. But through a combination of class, psychology, income and dumb luck, some are hooked on charlie, but rarely pick up a cigarette.

Cullion
6th March 10, 06:06 PM
I actually agree with your second paragraph more than I seem to have made clear, but perhaps I confused the issue by giving a bit of a biologically reductionist explanation.

My working hypothesis is that TV is the worst of the lot precisely because of the neurological effects of light flickering at 60hz combined with the passive broadcast nature of the medium, and that some might be more resistant to this than others, just as they are with potatoes, or beer, or driving too fast. I'm not saying it's all genes, that's just how I presented it first, because I'm a science dork.

DAYoung
6th March 10, 06:21 PM
I actually agree with your second paragraph more than I seem to have made clear, but perhaps I confused the issue by giving a bit of a biologically reductionist explanation.

My working hypothesis is that TV is the worst of the lot precisely because of the neurological effects of light flickering at 60hz combined with the passive broadcast nature of the medium, and that some might be more resistant to this than others, just as they are with potatoes, or beer, or driving too fast. I'm not saying it's all genes, that's just how I presented it first, because I'm a science dork.

Fair enough. I think in some cases there is a genetic component. And also a physiological component (i.e. physical but not inherited).

But in other cases what makes the difference is character: e.g. values, habits, 'lifestyle'.

Ajamil
7th March 10, 03:17 AM
Now, back to the program...

http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/5jcl/5JCL59.htm
Is there any info on interactive screens? It mentions whether text or image, the brain activity is the same, but what about when you are replying to text, or responding to image? Are the activites the same in video games, for one? There should be plenty of studies measuring that.

Also, does TV have a similar effect to less complex brained animals? They mention the limbic system a lot (reptile brain), so does this shutting down of the cortex happen in a dog or cat? Does it only work if the creature responds to 2-D images and no smell? How do elephants or chimps or dolphins respond to TV? Do they like Dexter or True Blood more?

bob
7th March 10, 03:21 AM
Now, back to the program...



http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/5jcl/5JCL59.htm

I found this interesting so I spent a while searching it. I don't necessarily buy their explanation. I read some sites which actually said tv increases your alpha wave activity. Most of the references to the left/right brain thing came back to the one study about thirty years ago and that by an 'advertising researcher' (which I couldn't find in any academic database).

Not saying I disbelieve it but I remain to be convinced.

nihilist
7th March 10, 03:42 AM
I usually sit in my Monitor Room patiently waiting to confront someone whose life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation.

DAYoung
7th March 10, 03:49 AM
I usually sit in my Monitor Room patiently waiting to confront someone whose life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation.

I know kung fu.

(But Jeet Kune Do is not kung fu. NOT KUNG FU, YOU HEAR ME.) (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=94449)

Zendetta
7th March 10, 02:03 PM
Here's a recent article about How Watching the Magic Lantern Will Kill You.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35646508/ns/health-behavior/

Apparently, TV makes you boring, gets you drunk, breaks your bones, rots your heart out, and knocks up your daughter.

Not kidding! Its science!

jnp
7th March 10, 05:24 PM
For Goon and the rest of you wondering about the effect T.V. has on the brain, check out the book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (http://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Elimination-Television-Jerry-Mander/dp/0688082742/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268000158&sr=1-1). The book is dated and more than slightly reactionary, but it does have some sobering data.

It's no accident that the images on T.V. are refreshed at the same rate that the human eye processes information. This is responsible for the "hypnotic" effect of T.V.

I don't watch T.V. anymore. I wish I could say the same for my son. Instead we have electronic free days and sometimes weekends at our house. That is, no T.V., no video or computer games.

It seems to work well if our son knows in advance that Tuesday (or whatever day) is the day he has to entertain himself without the aid of electronics. Because of this, both his, my wife's and my own watercolor and crayon skills have improved dramatically.

OZZ
8th March 10, 08:37 PM
I usually make a conscious effort to have at least one evening a week where I don't turn the television on..and read for that entire night until I go to bed.
If you add up all the hours spent in front of the television over a month , in the average person's case, I am sure these numbers would be daunting.
Besides the news, the only thing I watch are movies and sports ..along with the occasional sitcom, but I don't follow any weekly programs. I used to watch the Sopranos..but got bored with it.

KO'd N DOA
31st May 10, 03:10 PM
Whats fun with TV is to not watch it for long periods of time, months or years, and then come back and see how quick it sucks you in.

Amish, have almost no peanut allergies. My brother is a teacher and at their school, the kids openly ate peanut butter samwhiches. Something that died out in the 1980's.

Feryk
31st May 10, 04:27 PM
I am in the same camp as Cullion - if it ain't interactive, I get bored. It's even happening in some movies now (though not as much).

I do watch TV, but it's generally late at night (after 9pm). Until then, I prefer to do things. I've mentioned in other threads that I blame sitting in front of the TV for overeating and underexercising for most of the last decade and a half. Now, I get 1-2 hours of TV/day tops, and only try to watch shows I enjoy. If I am 'meh' on the show, I turn it off.

I do play video games, though, and some of them for way too many hours (COD -MW2). However, I prefer that, and believe it's more mentally engaging than being a pure couch potato. Even there, though, I probably end up at 3-4 hours/week max.