6 Acts of Skullduggery in the Technology Dispute

By Blair Morris

September 23, 2019

Note: This post is coauthored with Rune K.L. Nielsen and initially appeared in the Danish Communication Forum, in Danish. This is the English translation.

There is no strong scientific evidence that modern digital technology such as cellular phone, video game, or the Internet is inherently harmful to human beings. At the same time, it is likewise not possible to prove that these innovations do not have a damaging result. One can never prove an unfavorable claim. For instance, it is impossible to show that the abominable snowman is not out there someplace. The closest science can come is to establish how not likely it is that he or she exists.

We are for that reason in the a little regrettable situation that it depends on us as human beings, moms and dads, psychologists, doctors, political leaders, and so on, to examine how to finest handle technology. But if you are worried about the function of technology in people’s psychological health, you can quickly use science to trick your opponents anyway. You just need to be willing to dedicate a little bit of skullduggery. Here are six of the most popular manner ins which science is abused:

Inform half the fact and nothing however half the truth

If the very best lie is half-truth then dopamine is the ideal neurotransmitter to utilize to inform flight of fancies. In pop-culture and pop-science, dopamine is typically referred to as the brain’s happiness hormonal agent The notion that the amount of dopamine drifting around in a brain is a direct step of just how much pleasure a person experiences stems from science, however in scientific circles there is essentially no one still signing up for this basic view of dopamine and enjoyment[i] Not even Roy Wise who initially proposed the “dopamine satisfaction hypothesis” in1980 By the mid-1990 s, Wise had actually currently pulled back the theory, saying: “I no longer believe that the amount of enjoyment felt is proportional to the quantity of dopamine drifting around in the brain.”[ii]

Dopamine is maybe best understood for its function in knowing and motivation and most well-known for its function in addiction Nevertheless, it’s activity in routine activities, whether sex, food, exercise or innovation usage, looks nothing like dopamine activity throughout making use of drug or methamphetamine But it sounds scary. So, if you understand someone who does things that you don’t like, you can rightly implicate them of being a servant of dopamine, and therefore frame their behavior as pathological. Is your friend in love with somebody you do not like? You can easily argue that it is not true love, your buddy has simply become “partner-addicted” in a storm of dopamine. Does your sweetheart spend excessive time working? It does not need to be since the work is fascinating or meaningful, with the dopamine argument you can declare that it is a morbid addiction. The point is that all behavior can be constructed out to be pathological by claiming that it is simply an expression of dopamine dependence.

The uninteresting scientific truth is that dopamine itself is neither dangerous nor pathological, it is natural and needed.

Come up with a really unpleasant name

The best method to conjure up something from absolutely nothing is by offering it a name. If the name sounds actually dreadful, it may be used to discourage people from doing something and stigmatize those who can not be prevented. In the 70 s and 80 s, one could check out for the first time how dangerous it was to compose computer system code. There were some who became so pathologically interested in programs that they no longer just tried to compose computer system programs that could resolve tasks. Instead, they continued to work on the code and make it more intricate without a particular purpose in mind, they would code for the sake of coding. It can be challenging to comprehend why some individuals throw themselves into shows and provide themselves over completely to the computer, however words like ‘microholics’ (a combining of microchip and alcoholic) or ‘machine-code junkie’ complex social and psychological processes suddenly ended up being really basic. Some people have actually simply gone and contracted a persistent illness of the brain inflicted on them by the attraction of the personal computer.

Language is well created to convince other individuals to see things from your point of view. If you want to be permitted to exercise torture, call it improved interrogation methods. If you are concerned about technology then compare it to passive smoking or other kinds of contamination. The crucial thing is to use metaphors that are unquestionably negative.

The boring clinical truth appears to be that the impact of technology is extremely context-dependent. That which has favorable effects for one user in one context might have unfavorable effects for another user in another context. This is as true for “great” media and technology (reading culturally important books like Catcher in the Rye, for circumstances) when it comes to “naughty” media such as playing Grand Theft Vehicle. When a number of studies of ‘video game dependency’ have actually not been able to find unfavorable impacts for the ‘addicts’, it might, of course, be due to the fact that the research study is improperly carried out. Nevertheless, it is probably due to the truth that computer system games do not have inevitable impacts, what they have rather are extremely context-dependent effects, type of like almost anything else on the planet.

Pretend as if modifications in the brain are always hazardous

When, it was believed that when a human’s brain was totally developed, that was it, there was no more modification. It was thought that the brain only altered if it was damaged in some method. Now we understand that the brain is constantly altering which whatever that you learn causes physical modifications in the brain. To put it simply, one can not find out anything without the brain physically changing. This can be used in order to make anything appear highly suspect. If you understand someone who does something you do not like, for instance playing golf, then you can use science to alert them that golf not just triggers changes in brain chemistry however likewise in the structure of the brain itself! And who would wish to incur golf brain? That sounds unpleasant. Really, golfers would most likely desire that. Without finding out and the corresponding changes in the brain, it would be as if you had actually never touched a club prior to whenever you badgered up out of the bag.

The dull clinical reality is that it can be very tough to find out if a change in the brain is an expression of an erosion or an optimization and streamlining of brain function.

Pretend as if correlation is the exact same as causality

Or in other words: neglect the fact that simply because A is followed by B it is not always the case that A triggered B. When the earth’s temperature level increases as the variety of pirates falls, it is not necessarily because pirates have a cooling result on the planet (or due to the fact that warmer temperatures make life as a pirate difficult). When individuals who often have a lighter in their pocket die earlier than those who hardly ever have a lighter in their pocket, it is not always since lighters are harmful (or because individuals who are close to death like to have a lighter in their pocket), this is more likely because individuals who like to smoke also like to have a lighter in their pocket. If kids who sit a lot in front of a screen have more attention problems than other kids, we can not claim that screens trigger children to have attention issues. Viewed through the lens of science, we have to consider whether children who have attention problems are more typically parked in front of a screen. In numerous research studies, the only source of understanding about the children and their lives is the kids’s parents. In such cases, we likewise require to think about whether we can depend on the moms and dads’ judgment or whether there might be distinctions in between people that trigger them to exaggerate or downplay the quantity of time their kids spend in front of screens. Psychologists constantly warn us that “connection does not equivalent causation” till they encounter a correlation that confirms their own individual beliefs, theories or moral soapboxes. Frequently, psychological researchers appear just as bad as the general public in ignoring the correlational fallacy.

A dull insight from the viewpoint of science is that we can not speak with the impacts of technology, or anything else, without rather cumbersome and invasive experiments. Observation alone is never evidence of causality.

Overemphasize small impacts from specific studies

In a big dataset, researchers found that there was an association in between anxiety signs amongst American teens and their direct exposure to social networks. Of course, this research study developed headings in the media. We have actually previously slammed this sort of research study for presuming, at least rhetorically, that media is something people are exposed to passively. We argue instead that individuals’s media usage is at least a bit conscious and driven by users’ personal motivations.

However, rhetoric was not the biggest problem with the previously mentioned study. When other researchers went through the data, they found that the relationship between depressive symptoms and social networks only applied to ladies and not to young boys. In addition, the relationship was incredibly small, it was only at 0.36%which had to do with the very same association that was found between eating potatoes and depression signs. For comparison, the relationship in between listening to music and anxiety signs was 13 times as high. Again, we do not know on this basis, whether teenagers get anxiety symptoms since they listen to music, or whether teenagers with depression signs are most likely to listen to music. It may of course likewise be the case that there is something distinctively dismaying in the music that teens listen to. So, if you don’t mind playing a little loose and quick with science, the next time you are exposed to a teen’s irritating music you can properly inform them that they are betting with their psychological health.

The boring scientific reality is that a person research study can not stand alone, we need to take a look at the overall quantity of research if we wish to say anything meaningful. At the very same time, we should take care about utilizing the author of a study to assess the quality and value of the research study. Even scientists are simply individuals.

Pretend that innovation is particularly addicting

It is most likely not possible to come up with a human activity that is not engaged with excessively by somebody somewhere. At the very same time, there are most likely couple of people who do not feel that there is something in their life that they do excessive. Activities that involve technology are, of course, among the important things we do too much. However we likewise overdo old-fashioned activities such as workout (or lack thereof), eating (or lack thereof), sex, love, work, religious beliefs or shopping and none of these have addiction diagnoses (even if they do figure in other disorders).

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) presented “gaming condition” as a behavioral addiction, it has actually ended up being extremely easy to argue that video game are especially addicting. In the United States, the American Psychiatric Association have been more cautious and have specified that more research is required for computer game addiction to be the second behavioral dependency. Betting was reclassified as an addiction in 2013, before that time it was not possible to be addicted to anything not involving a substance. It is still a relatively brand-new and controversial in psychiatry to presume that one can be addicted to behavior. There is research into a myriad of behavioral dependences, even dance dependency, however the WHO has actually formally recognized just gambling dependency and computer game addiction. When we asked the WHO why, in spite of great criticism from the research study community, it has selected to only acknowledge video game as a new addiction we got the somewhat mysterious answer that they have actually been under excellent pressure, specifically from Asian countries to make it take place.

The somewhat uninteresting scientific reality is that the research study neighborhood has actually not yet been able to demonstrate that innovation is unique in its ability to trigger dependency in the same way as drug dependency.

The body of scientific proof that exists right now does not strongly support the idea that innovation is naturally hazardous, however that does not indicate that one can not use skullduggery to argue that such strong proof exists. One might likewise pick a various tack and utilize good sense, or one’s worths and beliefs about what constitutes a well-lived life, to argue for, and choose how much and when it is appropriate to utilize innovation.

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About Blair Morris