Monday, March 12, 2012

Why So Many People Have No Common Sense - People who watch too much TV lose touch with reality

I've had an experience the other day that has shown me, once again, that too many people have lost touch with reality, have little common sense and watch way too much TV...

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have worked in TV and broadcasting for 30+ years. Because of this experience, I have no TV in my house. I threw it away ten years ago. Most professional TV people I know have no TV in their house. All professional TV people I know never watch any TV.

I know TV is bad for you. I think watching any TV at all is watching too much TV. Sometimes readers will argue this point with me. But I've never once had a professional educator nor professional in the mass media or TV business argue this point with me. I only get mails (and I get lots of them) from professionals who strongly agree. I get mails that strongly disagree from TV and game fans trying to defend their altar.

The ones who think TV is good or can be useful are, of course, fans of TV. I got one of these mails the other day. I had written, "I hate computer games of all kinds... (They are a) waste of time like TV." To which a reader replied:

Actually, computer games are proven to increase not only cognitive abilities, but even eye-hand coordination.
Then again, television is also a very useful tool, that can be used to widen experience far beyond what normal people have available. It's very politically correct to decry such things, but fallacy.

This is patent nonsense. Calling it "politically correct" is supposed to belittle criticism of TV. In recent years, calling something "politically correct" has become the easy way for people who cannot support their arguments with facts or common sense to escape rational, logical discourse. Then the writer then goes on to offer no evidence to support his claims besides saying it is "fallacy."

He also mentions that "computer games are proven to increase not only cognitive abilities, but even eye-hand coordination"!? Madness! What? What kind of a fool actually believes this (excepting if he is a fat and over-weight American couch-potato or game salesman?) 

First off, what are "cognitive abilities?"


What is cognition? Cognition has to do with how a per­son under­stands and acts in the world. It is a set of abilities, skills or processes that are part of nearly every human action.

Catch that? "How a person understands and acts in the world." It isn't rocket science to figure out that what goes on in a hand-held game like a DS or Playstation has little to do with the real world. And the part about eye-hand coordination is also nonsense. Perhaps it would be good for eye hand coordination if you wanted to shoot people in Pakistan with hell-fire missiles while you sit from your office in Quantico, Virginia.

I wonder how well, say, a guy who can score and continually win at a game console baseball software would do with his "eye-hand" coordination catching a ball or hitting one with a bat in the real world? Not too well, I suppose.

It isn't rocket science, like I said. It doesn't require genius to figure out that that sort of thinking is nonsense.

Playing computer games is only good for "cognitive abilities" and "eye-hand" coordination confined to the computer world.

TV and computer games are a vicarious experience; their relation to real world experiences are negligible.

The other part of what the reader wrote that is completely absurd is the that games "are proven" to "increase ... abilities." Proven by whom? By research funded by game manufacturers? That's like using research funded by tobacco companies to prove that cigarette smoking isn't bad for you too! And, yes, Virginia, there are still many of those! In a 2006 article on the Independent UK, research showed the benefits of cigarette smoking!

Sure! There are benefits to smoking and some good things about cigarettes! Just like there are some good things to playing computer games... But the negatives by far massively outweigh the positives and to think otherwise is just plain foolish.

You don't, though, need hundred million dollar research to stop for a moment and use some common sense to see that inhaling the smoke from burning matter can't be natural or good for you, just as anyone with a lick of common sense could see that our children becoming zombies playing computer games can't be good either.

The lowering of academic scores in American school since the 1950s speaks for itself. The startling and escalating decline in the last ten years is startling.

Sure, but don't worry. Research shows that TV and computer games are good for you.... 

Sure, research funded by big corporations show you that, regardless of what your common sense tells you.

(PS: I know some defender of games will say this, so let me cut them off at the pass: When I say, "game" I mean the typical hand-held game kids play or the average home Playstation or like system. I am NOT talking about some multi-million dollar simulator that are used for pilot training or such. As Deleuze and Guattari write, "Simulation does not replace reality, it appropriates reality. It can't replace it." I also doubt that the average home has a million dollar simulator in the living room.)

The Plug-In Drug (Part 2)
(This article first appeared on Lew Rockwell in Feb. 2008. Part 1 is here)

".. although you won't appear on any public wanted lists, the American Government will consider you a dangerous enemy if you try to start a movement for people to throw their television sets away... television is the Government's way to keep people subdued, illiterate and brainwashed and there won't be any thanks from them if you try to change it."
~ Andrew Taylor, UK, IT Journalist
".. Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses"
Removing the TV from the home is the only hope for people who still believe that living in a free society is possible. This is the critical issue when any discussing of the negative effects of television are to be considered. My previous article The Plug-In Drug appeared on this particular website as it is a place where I consider "free-thinking people" to gather. Nevertheless some readers criticized it using very curious and illogical arguments.
If you believe that our entire current political and social debacle cannot be attributed to the wide infiltration of television in all aspects of our lives, then you are truly blind. Television is the modern-day opiate of the masses, used by our rulers to provide us with the bread and circuses that keep our minds off the critical issues at hand.
Serious thought must be given towards television; how it came about, by whom, and for what purpose? Before anyone can make a fair and honest assessment as to the question "Do the benefits of television outweigh the negative effects for the average person or family as a whole," once again, I strongly say, absolutely and definitely they do not. Television is the modern day disease that is ruining our minds, bodies, family, and society as a whole. It is a monstrously gross understatement to say that there is no good argument that shows that the benefits of television outweigh the negative effects on a person, family, or society.
Our societies' political and social order has become corrupted by many things. But undoubtedly the main cause and culprit is television. Television is a root cause of crime, divorce, decaying morality, and poor health; and, even worse than public schooling, it is the harbinger of a poor education. I make the last claim because most people start their children's indoctrination through the use of television four to five years before public schooling ever does.
Before I continue to attempt to get people to recognize that they've been brainwashed and to make the effort destroy the television before it destroys them, I think a brief on the facts on how television came about is in order: Television was invented in the 1920's. Yet it sat unused for nearly thirty years. It wasn't until the end of World War II that TV became prevalent in our homes. When the war ended we had hundreds of thousands of soldiers coming back home to a country where there weren't enough jobs for them. Our women were no longer needed, nor wanted, in the factories making weapons. Readers of this site know that war cannot actually bring a country out of an economic depression. The government of the USA, along with major corporations, needed to keep their profits expanding; they needed a marketplace for goods. So how did they create one? They did it by dusting off the television and cheaply putting this technology into American homes. By doing this, they could control the message much better than radio or print ever did and create a need where one didn't exist before. Television is the child of advertising. A dumbed down populace is the child of television.
In darkened rooms, with all eyes fixated on a screen, conversation frowned upon, and outside noise muffled, people were made to relax, and then mesmerized. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American homes were shown the new lawnmower, the new kitchen gadgets, the new car, and the new tract housing all at the same time. Through the use of television, our government and major corporations could control what was shown to the public. Diversity was discouraged; not only was diversity in thought discouraged, but also diversity in the marketplace has been suppressed by television. How many small mom & pop stores can afford to spend several hundred thousands of dollars on a TV ad? This situation continued and has led us to where we are today: In a society of Clear Channels and Fox TV's that are run by major corporations in bed with the central government through advertising for the sole purpose of controlling the message. And that message is meant to destroy the free market spirit, dampen free thought among the people, and crush rebellion.
To get off the point for just a moment, I believe that, in many ways, the so-called hollowing out of the American economy can also be attributed to television. The government and major corporations used television from the 1950's to the present to sell Americans products that we don't really need. They sold us an image and the idea that we had to "Keep up with the Joneses." Products that are truly needed for survival, such as basic foods, milk, eggs, bread, rice, meat, vegetables, etc., do not usually need advertising as, since they are needed for survival, they will be searched out by people.
In turn, this process means that corporations and advertisers need to always find new markets; there are only so many new cars that can be sold here in America. Few people will buy a new car every year. This, in turn, makes a situation where the corporations need to leave this country and find new markets. It is in these new emerging markets where they can sell Coca-Cola and gadgets. The advertisers prime those markets by using television to show those people what the "American Dream" — or whatever they will call it there — looks like and that dream is a new car, a new house, and new gadgets....
The corporations then must move their factories out of the USA in order to retain profit margins by selling products at lower prices in those emerging markets. This, in turn, allows for a higher profit margin on those same products that are sold back to the American consumer at a higher cost.
There are many arguments against television, so many that they cannot all be named here. So I will just point out a few.
Go back a few paragraphs to where I wrote: "In darkened rooms, with all eyes fixated on a screen, conversation frowned upon, and outside noise muffled, people were made to relax, and then mesmerized." Is there any reader who will disagree with this assessment on how television is generally viewed by the public? Doesn't everyone want silence when they watch their favorite TV show? Do they not relax and prepare for the so-called experience by readying their food, drinks and snacks? Many readers mentioned that they do not like to be interrupted while watching television. Is there anyone who can disagree with the situation concerning the watching of television that I have described above?
Consider this passage from Four Arguments For The Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander:
I asked ... prominent psychologists, partly famous for their work with hypnotism, if they could define the TV experience as hypnotic and, if so, what that meant. I described to each the concrete details of what goes on between viewer and television set: dark room, eyes still, body quiet, looking at light that is flickering different ways, sounds contained to narrow ranges and so on. Dr. Freda Morris (former professor of medical psychology at UCLA and author of several books on hypnosis) said, "It sounds like you are giving a course outline in hypnotic trance induction."
Dr. Ernest Hilgard, who directs Stanford University's research program in hypnosis and the author of the most widely used texts in the field (said), "Sitting quietly, with no sensory inputs aside from the screen, no orientating outside the television set is itself capable of getting people to set aside ordinary reality, allowing the substitution of some other reality the set may offer. You can get so imaginatively involved that alternates temporarily fade away. A hypnotist doesn't have to be interesting. He can use an ordinary voice, and if the effect is to quiet the person, he can invite them into a situation where they can follow his words or actions and then release their imagination along the lines he suggests. Then they drift into hypnosis."
Now, if anyone were really honest about this, how could they say that the typical watching of television doesn't fit the same conditions necessary for hypnosis? Of course, some people will scoff at the idea that hypnosis is anything but Quack Science; for those I suggest researching the Department of the Ministry of Truth as described in George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four or Soma as referred to in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I suggest researching these two only if I can get those of you who still believe television is good or neutral to turn it off for a moment to bother to pick up and read a book.

The point of this is to show that television is a form of hypnosis. Hypnosis is described as "suspension of the critical factor" which expands on the idea of "increased suggestibility." A person who is hypnotized may accept statements as true that he or she would normally reject.
This may go to explain why Americans are often so ill-educated, uniformed, and uncaring about world events as well as events happening in their very own country since their main pipe of "knowledge" is an electrical device whose output is completely and totally controlled by the American government and its bed partners in the military/industrial complex. Since the fact that television is controlled by major corporations along with its prostitute Big Brother — and always will be, due to exorbitant costs — it should be self-evident that television is not neutral, is not a tool for the users, and, therefore, it cannot ever be reformed.
Do not confuse my message here. I am not an anti-capitalist. Capitalism and the free market, with all its warts, is still the best system man has ever devised, but I don't need to be homogenized to enjoy living in a free society. In fact, homogenization of thought is the very antithesis to a free society.

As I stated in my article (and confirmed by Marie Winn's book The Plug-In Drug) it is not what is on television that is bad, it is not the content that is damaging; it is the mere act of watching television that is harmful. Television is a displacement of time. It is a huge waste of time — in a hypnotic state — that implants other people's messages into the viewer's head. This makes for a bizarre state of "reality" where frequent television viewers no longer have the common sense to understand our world and true reality. One such reader made an absurd claim that "There is no scientific proof that watching television is harmful." The reader then went on to explain that scientists had not proven that digital images moving at 44.1kHz were harmful to the human eye. I won't go into it too much, but this kind of thinking is just plain ridiculous. Here's why:
Television puts people in a trance and offers up an alternate reality. People waste time watching TV and when they do, the time spent is time lost that could have been used for gaining real-life experiences. As Gary North once wrote, "Time is the only non-renewable resource." The utter notion that radioactive waves (lights) — in an unnatural color spectrum — flashing on a screen in front of someone for four to six hours a day, or more, every day, and that not having any negative effects on the human body or mind is ridiculous on the face of it. It would only take a person who has lost touch with reality and common sense, or one who watches too much TV to even consider that this practice could not be doing something, quite possibly very harmful, to the human body.
It has been obvious to most of the religions of the world for tens of thousands of years that the rays of the sun and the moon have effects on the human body and our earth. In recent years, even Western Medicine has figured it out and started using different spectrum of lights to treat many human ailments such as depression and jaundiced infants. Anyone who has ever had athlete's foot knows that white socks (yes, even white socks have a beneficial effect on certain wavelengths of light) as well as sunlight are quick cures for the ailment. Plants do not grow well under artificial lights. Light affects everything we do. The light of the moon can alter the oceans and the weather, as does the sun. It is certain and common sense that they can alter human moods. It is, quite frankly, imbecilic to think that prolonged exposure to the colored lights radiated from a television set is not harmful.
Or do some people need a million-dollar government grant to prove to them that this is so?
It is common sense that this cannot be good. The ones who fail to see that are like the type of people who need research to decide if mother's milk is better and safer than formula (as if a Nestle chemical concoction could possibly be better than a mother's milk for that mother's very own flesh and blood). That is a lunatic proposition on the face of it.
Get my point? People who watch too much TV lose touch with common sense and reality and this, in turn, leads these people to believing the most absurd notions. Of course, since only someone like Nestle would finance silly research like this, as well as buying million dollar advertising on TV to even bring it up, the people who are in hypnosis will easily accept the new "reality" provided for them by way of suggestion from television.
I've been accused of being a hippie and riding the bandwagon of the seventies by saying that television is bad for children (and that playing classical music is better than rock). To that I would say that I hope you'd read my articles more carefully and understand that I am an industry insider working in the mass media for over thirty years. Generally speaking, I make, and always have made, music-related TV and radio programs. I use this as my "authority." I do not need a ten-million-dollar government university research grant to show me what I have come to know through real-life experiences; that TV is bad and that classical music is better for small children than, say, rock, or hip-hop. Some others also have said that, by riding the bandwagon, I use this as justification to be able to brag that my child is gifted. Once again, the evidence of the damage caused by too much television viewing rears its ugly head; a cursory reading of the article I wrote would show that I never wrote what I am accused of. The Plug-In Drug speaks at length about how TV watching can cause people's ability to read and comprehend to atrophy. As I wrote, "The fact of the matter is that I reckon that, because my son watches no TV, he is actually normal. He seems gifted if only because the other kids have been made dumb because of television..." As far as my child being "gifted" due to not watching TV, I'd like to add that Richard Buckminster Fuller once said "there is no such thing as genius, some children are less damaged than others."
Another intelligent reader interestingly pointed out that, "Kids should be protected from TV with the same determination (that) protects them from child molesters. Come to think of it, viewing TV may be a form of molestation: A stranger attempts to distort a child's concept of reality, obviously without physical touching, but with carefully practiced psychological 'strokes' instead."
The television is one of the main root causes of all our problems. Bring up any subject and it can be pointed out how the television directly relates to the situation. Whether we are talking about the presidential run of Ron Paul and his campaign being ignored, and therefore, out of sight and out of mind of average Boobus Americanus or the sick state of American foreign policy, the television is, at the very least, the accomplice to the crime. It is the television that is being used as the conduit for propaganda and falsehoods that are making our society a society of ill-educated dimwits who know nothing, nor do they care to know, about the problems at hand. The television is giving the public the explanations of the problems in 15-second sound bites that are paid for by major corporations and their prostitute Big Brother; explanations that are controlled and designed to give a certain message. It is a message that is not to be discussed, interrupted, or confused.
If you wish to live as a free human being and wish that happiness upon your children, then throw away your television today. The television cannot be reformed. Don't believe me, read the books I've recommended here, and, after you do, if you still think TV is fine, then I hope you enjoy your "show."
Still, if you think what I have written is wrong, then as is your right, please ignore my warnings. I seriously doubt that any intelligent person could read the books I've mentioned and come to the conclusion that I am wrong. In fact, after reading and judging for themselves, I think most people would say that I am not enough of a hard-core anti-TV advocate. I do not write these warnings for the average person; I write them in the hopes that there are still a great many wise people around. Unfortunately, I fear that the average person is a lost cause; the grip television has on their lives is too great to ever be broken.
The central government, the controllers of the opiate of the masses, will give the average person all the freedoms they could possibly want. Just sit in darkened rooms, relax, shut out any interference, and bring snacks along. The Bread and Circuses are on air all day, every day, for their enjoyment with just the push of a button. What more freedoms could the average person want… or deserve?


Anonymous said...

That's the problem with common sense Mike, it's not so common! TV and social media overload all contribute to unreality... - "Destroy She Said".

Boo said...

And then there's youtube, often linked to on these pages...
I would be interested in knowing if, in addition to the hypnotic state, TV also causes overstimulation (ie the dopamine rush) that makes regular conversation, life, reading, etc. seem gray and bland in comparison.
As for the reader's comment, yes, it is well-known that if you practice something for hours and hours daily, you will get better at that thing. So all the guys I see playing sudoku on the trains, unfortunately, are only increasing their ability to play sudoku.

Marc Sheffner said...

"I told you, some time ago, that I stopped doing traditional hypnosis with patients, because I found that most of them were already in a hypnotic state. Some part of them was already in trance and reacting to old suggestions. At that point, my job was to figure out how to reverse the hypnotic state that was already there, was already in place. The answer was: get them to create. Get them to imagine. That reverses a hypnotic state. A hypnotic state is a state of reduced mind. Traditionally, a trance is induced to prepare a person for suggestions. But he’s already acting and thinking on the basis of suggestions. So what good does it do to add more crap to the pile?"
From "Jack True in Conversation"

Mr. Nobody said...

Hello Mike,

Reading the essay also made me think of the internet. Do you believe that the internet is much different compared to TV? Instead of just staring at a screen, one stares at a screen, and then points and clicks. This is called “interactivity”. I guess in the same way that a videogame is considered interactive. If one goes into many cafes, or even restaurants currently, everyone seems to be “interacting” with their screens. I don't believe that the same could generally be said about the rest of their environment.
Girl Falls In Mall Fountain While Texting

One though must earn one's daily crust. What effect has it had on you, being on the other end of the camera? With that being said, if watching TV rots your brain, what does producing TV do? Would you recommend that a university graduate go int o TV media production?

Could it be said that as a factory might ruin the physical environment, that television ruins the mental environment?

All the best!!