Watch more TV

It’s harmless.  Or, at least it won’t kill you. Via the Austin Carroll:

Results: During a median follow-up of 5.8 years, 542 participants died. At baseline, 12.7% of participants reported watching television or using a computer less than one hour per day, 16.4% did so for 1 hour, 27.8% for 2 hours, 18.7% for 3 hours, 10.9% for 4 hours, and 13.5% for 5 or more hours. After extensive adjustment, the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality for the top category of exposure was 1.30 (95% confidence interval: 0.82, 2.05). No significant trend across categories of exposure was noted. The amount of screen time was also not significantly related to mortality from diseases of the circulatory system.

I will grant you I’m not unbiased here. I love TV, I love computers, and I love video games. On the whole, I think consuming amounts of technology that would stagger mere mortals has not hurt me too much; I think I’ve turned out OK. But I agree that there should be limits. Although I’m more permissive with my kids than many of my friends are with theirs, my children are not allowed to spend too much time playing video games and watching TV. They’re turning out pretty well, too.

I will also grant you that my wife and I spend an enormous amount of time with our children, and they have a number of advantages that other children might not. But that’s the point. It’s hard to determine which of these things is causal. It may be that there are other factors that are correlated with lots of TV time that may make kids or people worse off. Perhaps parents who let their kids watch enormous amounts of TV are more likely to be bad parents. Perhaps parents who let their kids watch enormous amounts of TV are working three jobs, struggling to make ends meet, and can’t play with their kids as much as they would like. Perhaps parents who let their kids watch enormous amounts of TV are depressed or sick. There are any number of scenarios where kids who have it harder are more likely to watch TV, without it being the TV that’s hurting them.

Many of the studies account for that as best they can. But the media likes to run around extrapolating a small statistically significant correlation into headlines like “TV WILL KILL YOU!” The sensationalism is pretty staggering. This leads to a publication bias, where results that are likely to shock and garner headlines are more likely to get accepted and printed.

Love both the points about the nature of parenting and the media’s bias towards more negative, i.e., “TV will kill you!” news.  I certainly spend lots of time in front of screens, but according to my doctors (and myself), I’m pretty damn healthy.  Of course, I’m also fortunate to have a job that allows me time to exercise, and honestly, I’m part of a socio-economic stratum that strongly values, and thus reinforces, exercise and good physical health.  I just wish my kids wanted to read a little more and watch TV a little less.  But they’re doing okay.

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Yes, racists are less intelligent

Alright, one of those headlines liberals cannot help but love:

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

Indeed.  To be fair, it is most definitely the combination.  And as the article suggests, low IQ and liberal beliefs probably have some bad effects (though, unlikely to be this unsavory).  But there’s definitely some interesting stuff going on here– and it is backed up by findings we already know, such as the lower cognitive complexity involved in conservative beliefs.  Some highlights:

There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience…

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice,” [emphasis mine] said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

This last bit would seem to have some interesting implications for diversity in the classroom, i.e., it really is good for you.  It’s also somewhat amusing to me just how far the article goes to assure that these findings don’t mean that liberals are smart and conservatives are dumb.  These are averages– then again, maybe the conservatives reading this need extra help understanding that :-).  Anyway, this certainly is interesting and provocative.  I love this one summary:

“They’ve pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics,” said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. “When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it’s bound to upset somebody.”

Okay, back to intelligently liking minorities.

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