Videogames, Violence, and Truthiness
It is now “common wisdom” that there is a link between violent video games and subsequent violent behavior by the teenagers that play them.
As usual, common wisdom is simply code for “truthiness”, because that link appears either not to exist or to have ever been established.
Oddly too, those who express moral panic assert it typically in reference to young people or even merely young men. Apparently older people are immune or simply un-worthy of our moral outrage.
This is another example of truthiness. It feels like it should be true, so what harm can there be in asserting that it is true even without any actual such proof?
I’d like to think that the harm that arises from making public policy decisions based on false information would be self evident, but clearly it isn’t.
I’ll put it this way. Even when we believe we have thoroughly researched an issue and even with goodwill on all sides, we struggle to make effective public policy that does not backfire and lead to unwelcome unintended consequences. For example, laws to prevent disabled people being disadvantaged in the workplace might simply put employers off hiring them in the first place etc. Surely then if we make policy without research, and based on falsehood, we risk even greater adverse outcomes.
Or more simply still: the truth is important, even when it is inconsistent with one’s ideology.