From: Don Olivier (
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 17:15:24 -0500
Joani Blank <jeblank [at]> wrote:
> I'm kinda surprised that none of you smart folk out there (a few of whom I
> hazard a guess are social scientiests), have gotten into this  discussion
> yet. I hoped that someone who is smarter than I am about this would point
> out that just because TV violence  isand actual violence increase over the
> same time period, one (TV )does not necessarily CAUSE the other (violence).
> A lot of other things have happened during the last 20 years ...

As one of those social scientists I feel guilty for not having spoken
up.  The logical fallacy that Joani points out is an old one, so old it
has a Latin name ("post hoc ergo propter hoc").  We were cautioned
against it when we began our study of social-science data analysis, but
there's nothing esoteric here, just simple common sense.

Worth calling attention to, though, because it keeps coming up.
Probably harmless in this context, but how many times have you heard,
for example, that marijuana use must be strenuously suppressed because
it leads to the use of more dangerous substances-- most crack users
start as marijuana users!  (To be sure, almost all of them were habitual
milk users even before that.)

In the cohousing context I would propose that the most important
relationship between TV and the quality of community is diagnostic: if
the community is working the way it should be working, TV won't be a
problem, but if TV is causing trouble, something is wrong, whether the
trouble is that TV is watched too much, or that it's not available when
you want it, or (most likely I suspect) that too much time is being
wasted in meetings arguing about TV policy.

While we're on the topic, I have to put in my two cents on the subject
of computers.  The situation is just the same, perhaps more so because
there's even more variety in the ways people use computers than in the
ways they use TV.  Donna Spreitzer recently wrote

> I also
> must admit that some of my negative feelings about TV go for computers as
> well....  I do think that computers
> however well used they are, still take away from personal interaction.  

Might I point out that as Donna wrote those words, she was using a
computer to interact with me and the other people who read this list.
Don't we count as "interaction"?  8-)
    Don Olivier   ***   Cornerstone Village Cohousing   ***   Cambridge, MA

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