6 Acts of Skullduggery in the Technology Dispute

By Blair Morris

June 18, 2019

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

There is no strong clinical evidence that modern digital technology such as cellular phone, computer system games, or the Internet is naturally hazardous to humans. At the exact same time, it is likewise not possible to prove that these innovations do not have a damaging impact. One can never ever prove an unfavorable claim. For example, it is difficult to show that the abominable snowman is not out there somewhere. 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 somewhat regrettable scenario that it is up to us as humans, parents, psychologists, physicians, political leaders, etc., to examine how to finest deal with innovation. However if you are worried about the role of innovation in people’s psychological health, you can quickly use science to trick your challengers anyway. You just have to be ready to commit a little bit of skullduggery. Here are 6 of the most popular methods that science is mistreated:

Inform half the truth and absolutely nothing but half the reality

If the finest lie is half-truth then dopamine is the perfect neurotransmitter to utilize to tell tall stories. In pop-culture and pop-science, dopamine is typically referred to as the brain’s happiness hormonal agent The idea that the amount of dopamine drifting around in a brain is a direct step of how much enjoyment an individual experiences stems from science, however in scientific circles there is essentially nobody still signing up for this easy view of dopamine and satisfaction[i] Not even Roy Wise who first proposed the “dopamine satisfaction hypothesis” in1980 By the mid-1990 s, Wise had actually already retracted the theory, stating: “I no longer think that the amount of satisfaction felt is proportional to the amount of dopamine drifting around in the brain.”[ii]

Dopamine is maybe best understood for its function in learning and inspiration and most well-known for its role in dependency However, it’s activity in routine activities, whether sex, food, exercise or technology usage, looks nothing like dopamine activity during the use of drug or methamphetamine But it sounds frightening. So, if you understand someone who does things that you don’t like, you can rightly accuse them of being a slave of dopamine, and therefore frame their behavior as pathological. Is your friend in love with someone you do not like? You can easily argue that it is not real love, your good friend has simply become “partner-addicted” in a storm of dopamine. Does your girlfriend spend too much time working? It does not need to be because the work is interesting or significant, with the dopamine argument you can claim that it is a morbid dependency. The point is that all behavior can be constructed to be pathological by declaring that it is simply an expression of dopamine dependence.

The dull clinical fact is that dopamine itself is neither hazardous nor pathological, it is natural and necessary.

Develop a really unpleasant name

The best method to summon something from absolutely nothing is by offering it a name. If the name sounds actually terrible, it may be utilized to prevent people from doing something and stigmatize those who can not be hindered. In the 70 s and 80 s, one might read for the very first time how harmful it was to compose computer code. There were some who ended up being so pathologically worried about programming that they no longer just attempted to write computer system programs that could fix tasks. Rather, they continued to deal with the code and make it more complex without a particular function in mind, they would code for the sake of coding. It can be challenging to comprehend why some people throw themselves into shows and offer themselves over completely to the computer system, however words like ‘microholics’ (a merging of microchip and alcoholic) or ‘machine-code addict’ complex social and mental procedures suddenly ended up being really basic. Some people have simply gone and contracted a chronic illness of the brain inflicted on them by the allure of the personal computer system.

Language is well developed to encourage other individuals to see things from your point of view. If you desire to be permitted to exercise torture, call it enhanced interrogation strategies. If you are worried about technology then compare it to passive smoking cigarettes or other forms of contamination. The important thing is to utilize metaphors that are certainly unfavorable.

The dull clinical reality appears to be that the impact of innovation is very context-dependent. That which has positive effects for one user in one context may have unfavorable effects for another user in another context. This is as real for “excellent” media and innovation (reading culturally important books like Catcher in the Rye, for circumstances) as for “naughty” media such as playing Grand Theft Auto. When a number of research studies of ‘computer game addiction’ have not been able to discover unfavorable results for the ‘addicts’, it may, obviously, be due to the fact that the study is poorly performed. However, it is probably due to the reality that computer system video games do not have inescapable results, what they have rather are extremely context-dependent results, sort of like almost anything else on the planet.

Pretend as if changes in the brain are necessarily harmful

When, it was thought that when a human’s brain was completely established, that was it, there disappeared change. It was thought that the brain just changed if it was harmed in some method. Now we understand that the brain is continuously changing which whatever that you learn causes physical modifications in the brain. In other words, one can not find out anything without the brain physically altering. This can be used in order to make anything appear extremely suspect. If you know someone who does something you do not like, for instance playing golf, then you can use science to caution them that golf not just causes modifications in brain chemistry however also in the structure of the brain itself! And who would desire to incur golf brain? That sounds undesirable. Actually, golf enthusiasts would most likely desire that. Without learning and the matching modifications in the brain, it would be as if you had never touched a club prior to each time you badgered up out of the bag.

The boring clinical fact is that it can be extremely difficult to find out if a modification in the brain is an expression of a disintegration or an optimization and streamlining of brain function.

Pretend as if correlation is the same as causality

Or to put it simply: ignore the fact that just because A is followed by B it is not necessarily the case that A triggered B. When the earth’s temperature level rises as the number of pirates falls, it is not always since pirates have a cooling effect on earth (or due to the fact that warmer temperature levels make life as a pirate challenging). When individuals who typically have a lighter in their pocket pass away earlier than those who rarely have a lighter in their pocket, it is not necessarily due to the fact that lighters are dangerous (or because individuals who are close to death like to have a lighter in their pocket), this is most likely due to the fact that people who like to smoke likewise like to have a lighter in their pocket. If children who sit a lot in front of a screen have more attention issues than other kids, we can not claim that screens trigger kids to have attention issues. Seen through the lens of science, we need to consider whether kids who have attention problems are more typically parked in front of a screen. In numerous research studies, the only source of understanding about the kids and their lives is the children’s parents. In such cases, we likewise need to consider whether we can rely on the parents’ judgment or whether there might be distinctions in between individuals that cause them to overemphasize or downplay the quantity of time their kids spend in front of screens. Psychologists constantly warn us that “connection does not equal causation” till they discover a connection that validates their own individual beliefs, theories or moral soapboxes. Frequently, psychological scientists appear simply as bad as the basic public in disregarding the correlational misconception.

A dull insight from the viewpoint of science is that we can not speak with the results of technology, or anything else, without rather troublesome and intrusive experiments. Observation alone is never proof of causality.

Overemphasize little impacts from individual studies

In a large dataset, scientists discovered that there was an association between depression symptoms among American teens and their exposure to social networks. Of course, this research study created headings in the media. We have actually previously slammed this type of research study for presuming, a minimum of rhetorically, that media is something individuals are exposed to passively. We argue rather that individuals’s media intake is at least a bit conscious and driven by users’ personal inspirations.

Nevertheless, rhetoric was not the biggest issue with the aforementioned study. When other scientists went through the information, they discovered that the relationship between depressive symptoms and social media just applied to ladies and not to young boys. In addition, the relationship was extremely little, it was only at 0.36%which was about the exact same association that was found in between eating potatoes and anxiety symptoms. 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 teens get depression signs because they listen to music, or whether teenagers with depression symptoms are most likely to listen to music. It may naturally likewise be the case that there is something uniquely depressing in the music that teens listen to. So, if you do not mind playing a little loose and quick with science, the next time you are exposed to a teenager’s bothersome music you can properly notify them that they are gambling with their mental health.

The dull clinical truth is that a person study can not stand alone, we have to look at the total quantity of research study if we wish to say anything meaningful. At the very same time, we need to be careful about utilizing the author of a study to evaluate the quality and importance of the study. Even researchers are just individuals.

Pretend that technology is particularly addicting

It is probably not possible to come up with a human activity that is not engaged with excessively by someone someplace. At the exact same time, there are probably few people who do not feel that there is something in their life that they do excessive. Activities that involve innovation are, naturally, amongst the important things we do too much. However we likewise overdo traditional activities such as exercise (or do not have thereof), consuming (or do not have thereof), sex, love, work, religious beliefs or shopping and none of these have dependency medical diagnoses (even if they do figure in other conditions).

Given That the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced “gaming condition” as a behavioral dependency, it has actually ended up being very easy to argue that computer video games are especially addicting. In the United States, the American Psychiatric Association have actually been more mindful and have actually stated that more research is required for computer game addiction to be the 2nd behavioral addiction. Gambling was reclassified as an addiction in 2013, prior to that time it was not possible to be addicted to anything not involving a compound. It is still a fairly brand-new and controversial in psychiatry to presume that a person can be addicted to habits. There is research study into a myriad of behavioral dependencies, even dance addiction, however the WHO has formally acknowledged just gambling dependency and video game addiction. When we asked the WHO why, in spite of terrific criticism from the research study community, it has actually selected to just acknowledge video game as a brand-new dependency we got the somewhat mysterious answer that they have actually been under great pressure, especially from Asian nations to make it take place.

The a little dull scientific reality is that the research study community has not yet had the ability to demonstrate that innovation is unique in its ability to cause dependency in the same method as drug dependency.

The body of scientific evidence that exists today does not strongly support the concept that innovation is inherently harmful, but that does not imply that one can not utilize skullduggery to argue that such strong evidence exists. One could likewise pick a various tack and utilize typical sense, or one’s values and beliefs about what makes up a well-lived life, to argue for, and decide how much and when it is suitable to utilize technology.

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