Junky TV is actually making people dumber — and more likely to supp...

How often do you watch shallow "fun entertainment" TV, like salacious shows and sports? [I watch at least 3 hours/day] Shallow entertainment doesn't make us more conservative directly, it seems. TV lacking educational value leads kids to develop into less civically engaged adults. It increases seniors’ vulnerability to ideologically right-wing populists. Years of watching shows with “accessible” (i.e. simple) language apparently increases the appeal of “accessible language” politicians, i.e. rich guys shouting insults and lies.

A raft of new research shows that watching junky cable and other lowbrow TV is actually making people dumber — literally lowering their IQs.

[In Italy]... children were “less cognitively sophisticated and civic-minded as adults, ...

“Less civically minded voters may be more vulnerable to populistic rhetoric.”

"For the elderly, the effect was happening through habit formation. They were hooked by the ... — the salacious shows and sports."

[In Norway] They estimate that 10 years of exposure to cable television lowered I.Q. scores by 1.8 points. In related research, ... exposure to cable television reduced voter turnout in local elections.

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I can't stand junk TV, and I watch TV less and less - info, news and a British murder series is about all. But I use quite some time for computer games, most of the time when I'm stressed, tired or need a slow think.

I'm with you. I spend time on computer games, and on reading news and commentary (usually online, occasionally on paper) at my own pace.

I am the "King of TV" and I watch it from all over the world in order to get facts on things. TV became a big thing as I was a child and I was hooked instantly. The problems with TV today is that everything has went towards "Reality TV." More shows are this way than you think and there is no "reality" in it. Scripted and pre-determined, we are better off watching something else. Today America even has a "Reality TV President." I don't watch him very much either. 

BTW, I play no computer games Online or otherwise, and I have little time for Facebook's new "My Story" setup. The least info I give about myself the better off I am. I detest looking at something Online to later find that the pages come back in other media to haunt me. My data is my human right and does not belong to others who use it against me in any way.

For getting facts, I much prefer reading alternative news sources on the internet to watching TV. I can scan secondary articles on research at Science Daily, use Alternet for political links, and select Reddit groups such as climate, progressive, science, and occupywallstreet. I keep up with Arctic changes at Arctic Sea Ice Forum. For me, it's almost all reading while annoying autoplay videos are paused. When you watch TV news the network decides which topics you'll see, in what order, and there's way too much sensationalizing. I need to be in control of topics, timing, speed, etc. Plus it's easier to copy and paste notes instead of having to remember everything. Not that I don't watch fiction on TV, or occasional news about storms etc.

I resemble that remark (though you read Reddit much more than I)! Autoplay videos are a curse that make me less likely to return to a site (unless I learn a technological workaround).

Self-defense on the internet includes an ad blocker. It's not just selling products, it's also trying to influence opinions and manufacture doubts in people who don't consider themselves susceptible to ads. I'm happy with uBlock Origin (not plain "uBlock"); and on Android I also use Blokada (device-wide blocker, no root needed) from the F-Droid free and open-source app repository (f-droid.org).

I hate auto play videos. In my world I also check sources and avoid "conservative sources" as today that term means those who favor the Orange Turd and his GOP Swamp. Their attitude is that they are the only legitimate source on anything. By all means use blockers. I use several and even block things in my router. Yes, it might be paid for by commercials but I don't wanna watch. 

If you are in Facebook beware of new strategies to milk you of your information. Your friends will fall for it and pass it on to you. 

If I watch a program, it’s not junk.

Sorry, Ruth.

Lumping sports in with salacious and junk is nonsense. Sports is a form of human conflict, competition and drama that fosters cooperation and good will...physical fitness and well... tribalism...but yaya...

Casting aspersion on diversions is or can come off as intellectual snobbery. 

That was from the article, how the researchers of a study defined it. I'm not personally a sports fan. I assume the criterion is that a form of entertainment has no educational value. My detective and sci-fi shows usually fit that, though there are some which sneak in political, moral, or historical messages. Is it primarily a way of escaping from reality?

Yes, some people would define their real world by sports, but then star trek fans might define their world around that. I don't know how cooking shows or shows about tatoos rate on this scale, but they probably don't encourage civic engagement either. One could watch hours of TV about cupcake wars, for example. Yes, there is art to decorating cupcakes but it's a narrow, narrow field of interest. Yesterday I wasted 15 minutes of my life watching Randy decorate a cake.

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Yup, that's "eating my brain". Are you sure watching sports on TV, rather than actually playing sports, encourages wider involvement in society?

Escapism seems to be an element of life in all civilizations. We need a break from rituals, routines, jobs, people, ennui, grief and even EDUCATION!

Playing sports makes it more probable one will watch sports. The converse is also true. Watching and playing is a didactic experience. One learns about human nature and social intelligence. 

To escape, or leave a reality I read fiction.

To do the opposite, or enter a reality, I read non-fiction.

In a writing class a few years ago I opined that fiction allows escape. Several fiction writers made clear their dislike for the word.


A coworker who’d played football in college suggested that instead of watching the ball, choose a player and follow him for several plays. I thought it a good idea.

That's true, Frankie. But today there's danger we could be entertaining ourselves to death, by escaping from responsibility in the face of existential danger. Can we balance work and play when forms of entertainment become so seductive?




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