Correlation, Causation, Violent Video Games… And Church

from the drawing-conclusions dept

While some have been quick to link all sorts of violent video games to crimes committed by teens, there’s plenty to suggest they’re not the problem. To make a similar point, someone has noticed that a number of recent mass murderers were religious church-goers, yet no one is blaming church for their killing sprees — nor should they. It’s easy to show a correlation. It’s much more difficult to prove that one thing really resulted in the other.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Correlation, Causation, Violent Video Games… And Church”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
dorpus says:

But what if correlation does reflect causation?

Your average college student who took a semester of stat learned that correlation does not imply causation. However, it still can reflect causation; in the real world of science, early-stage association studies find a correlation, from which further experiments can be designed to assess a causative link. If further, more refined experimentation confirms this trend, and a satisfying mechanism is given, consistent with other knowledge on the subject, then we do consider it a causative link.

Nobody has actually proved that smoking causes cancer, but experiments with cell cultures on petri dishes exposed to smoke, experiments on animals, and what is known about the chemistry of smoke, the biochemistry of cells, supports very strong evidence for a causative link.

There is extensive evidence, from before the time of video games, to show that children who are exposed to violent imagery tend to become more violent themselves. There are, indeed, cases where individuals who went on murder rampages openly acknowledged that they were influenced by video games. During the Vietnam War, the US army showed violent films to new recruits to desensitize them to violence. The trend continues today, in which the US army offers free downloads of war games.

The real issue here is the odds ratio: given a logistic regression in which we measure a binary outcome of serial killer vs. non-serial killer, will playing more hours of video games increase the odds ratio of a serial-killer-positive outcome? Is there an interaction between age and hours of video games played per day? How violent was the video game? Both common sense and extensive psychological evidence suggest that young kids who are exposed to violent imagery all day are at increased risk of violent behavior.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

“…yet no one is blaming church going…for causition of serial killers…”

Perhaps we should. Look into profiling serial kilers and specific actions by parental roles found in very high correlation in the background of SKs. Then look at the relationship between the church and it’s attendees. OK, semi-anecdotal… but the similarities are striking.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...