Stanford Prison Experiment Psychologist: You're Never Going To Get Laid, You Game-Playing, Porn-Watching Fat-Asses

from the alernately,-The-Stanford-Penis-Experiment dept

Oh, good. It's time once again to hear how videogames are destroying society. This time, it's Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist behind the controversial (putting it politely) Stanford Prison Experiment. Having driven the wheels off a much-debunked experiment, it appears Zimbardo's looking for a career renaissance of sorts, using an issue that is a bit more timely. And what could be timelier than being about the thousandth person to declare videogames the end of the world as we know it?

Speaking to the BBC, Zimbardo said his research has uncovered something in those boys who are online up to 15 hours a day.

He described boys' altered brain function like this: "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected."

He says that such a mindset has been created because of the Web's existence and the proliferation of particular entertainment sources on it.
While Zimbardo's research would seem to be focused only on the extreme end of the human spectrum, he seems to think it applies to those who don't engage in these activities at public servant/South Korean levels of engagement.
Zimbardo defines excessive porning and video gaming as more than five hours a day.
And already the scale has shifted massively. (Also: "porning?") Now, it includes those who spend a quarter of the day engaged in some form of popular entertainment. He thinks it's killing off more than males' social drive. It's also killing their sex drive.
Kids might find online porn exciting psychologically, but physiologically they are actually becoming less excited. They suffer, he said, from PIED. Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction.
And here we are at another area of sketchy research, most often touted by those with goods and services to sell. Unsurprisingly, Zimbardo has recently published a book dealing with these very issues.

Presumably because the evidence doesn't match the assertions, Zimbardo's claims as to how many hours are too many continues to shift, all within the space of a six-minute interview.
[H[e regards the addiction and the rewiring of the brain as being a factor of not merely the number of hours, but the obvious changes in mindset…
Now it's any length of time, provided the "mindset" is "changed." Zimbardo's discussion of these males paints gamers/porn watchers as socially-stunted introverts whose hobbies are only making them more unable to deal with the outside world. And all it takes is (up to) 5 hours a day.

He does admit there's an upside to gaming/porn watching. Criminal activity is on the wane and the amount of men drinking/using illicit drugs continues to fall. But even this upside is a downside. In Zimbardo's mind, the world would be better served by an increase in drunken, drug-addled men looking to raise hell and get laid.
However, Zimbardo said: "They're not violent because they're alone in their room."

He added that young men are drinking Coke instead of alcohol and becoming "fat-asses." The chances of type-2 diabetes are increased, he said, which tends to decrease libido.
There are plenty of issues to be had with Zimbardo's skewed portrait of male gamers, starting with the "male" part. Keith Stuart's dismantling of Zimbardo's assertions at The Guardian points out that males are only barely the majority.
Research by the Internet Advertising Bureau last year found that 52% of British gamers are women. This isn’t an isolated blip and it isn’t just down to “casual” phone games like Candy Crush Saga. In the US, research specialist Super Data found that just over 50% of PC gamers are women. Senior researcher Stephanie Llamas wrote about how her data challenged the cliche that women only play casual titles – her female subjects identified mostly as “mid-core” and hardcore players.
And his take on gaming is dated and -- dare I say it -- sexist. Zimbardo sees male gamers as translucent-skinned basement dwellers whose unblinking eyes are fixed on computer monitors and TV screens. It's as if he's never heard of social gaming. The games that routinely sell the most copies in any given year are heavily-focused on multiplayer interaction. Each iteration of the Call of Duty series is fine-tuned for online play. The single-player "experience" is usually a 4-6 hour afterthought that many purchasers completely ignore. The Grand Theft Auto series has made online multiplayer an option for the past couple of releases, and even included limited local multiplayer options back in the Playstation 2 days.

As for the porn claims, the verdict's still mostly out. While there are a number of psychologists who link porn-watching to erectile dysfunction, it's tenuous at best and purely correlative at worst. With porn easily available online, the number of people partaking has undoubtedly gone up. But have erectile dysfunction cases climbed at the same rate?

It's the same logic hole that trips up arguments that violent videogames result in violent crime. While there may be some negative effects in a few members of the population, one would expect the hundreds of millions of gamers who play violent videogames to have produced an appreciable spike in violent crime -- if we're to believe violent videogames lead to violent acts. But that simply hasn't happened. Granted, numbers on reported erectile problems are far harder to come by (pun not not intended but not totally intended) than crime stats and game sales figures, but if it were approaching the apparently epidemic level of porn intake, you'd think there would be a bit more credible reporting on the link between the two.

But perhaps more troubling than the male gamer cliches and the touting of questionable correlations is Zimbardo's other ideas -- ones that don't receive quite as much play in most of the coverage. Zimbardo seems to feel porn and games (and soda, I guess) are undercutting what it means to be male and producing an inferior iteration -- at least as compared to the manlier men of the past.
[W]hile girls are increasingly succeeding in the real world, boys are retreating into cyberspace, seeking online the security and validation they can’t get anywhere else. They are bored at school, increasingly have no father figures to motivate them, don’t have the skills to form real romantic relationships, feel entitled to have things done for them (usually by their parents) and seek to avoid a looming adulthood of debt, unfulfilling work and other irksome responsibilities. As a result, they disappear into their bedrooms where, he argues, they risk becoming addicted to porn, video games and Ritalin.
Zimbardo proposes a set of "fixes" that rely heavily on turning men into men by interfacing with other men -- presumably all in a very heterosexual way. (Zimbardo's research apparently didn't cover those who don't fall under the "straight" umbrella…)
Zimbardo has lots of suggestions: more male teachers, more incentives for men to establish boys’ and men’s groups so that the former can get the masculine mentoring they otherwise lack, welfare reform to encourage fathers to remain in the family loop, crowdsourcing initiatives to fund video games that are less violent and require more co-operation, parents to talk to their sons about sex and relationships so they don’t take porn to represent real life.
The suggestions improve as the list goes on, but Zimbardo seems to fear a world of feminized, antisocial fat-asses (he refers to today's male role models as "man poodles" or "infantilized jerks") who aren't going to find the masculinity they apparently need with one hand on a controller and the other on manual override.

Then there's this:
Zimbardo contends that immersion in online technology means that boys never learn basic social communication skills, still less how to flirt, risk rejection or ask for a date. As a result, boys are hobbled by a new form of social shyness.
But wouldn't this online technology also facilitate flirting, social communication and asking for dates? Social communication is changing, but Zimbardo still wants it to resemble the sort of thing he grew up with. And this perception of unsociable losers is mostly false, but it gets perpetuated every time some axe-grinding moral panicist or book-peddling psychologist takes an inadvertent shoulder from a teenager staring a cellphone, rather than where he or she is going.

If porn/videogames were really that destructive, the world would be a complete mess. Both are ubiquitous and enjoyed by millions of people around the world, by a wide range of ages. And yet, for the most part, life is still recognizable as life, even by those who've been around since the "better days" when people talked "face to face" and waited until the newspaper arrived in the morning to discover what had happened yesterday.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 6:23am

    Considering games and porn are the favorite punching bags for the moralist dinosaurs out there he'll be on Oprah very soon. Facts be damned. My personal research says porn is awesome for couples and gamers have a pretty normal sex drive.

    I will say in advance that I couldn't care less about these pseudo-researches so I did not read any further but I'm missing hard numbers and methodology in his comments. As the article points out he seems to have hand picked a few extreme cases where the game/porn addiction is a mere consequence of a sick person and not the cause of some psychiatric condition.

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  • identicon
    Jigsy, 12 May 2015 @ 6:33am

    In all fairness, I'm happy with my life as long as I can masturbate to anime characters and play Final Fantasy IX over and over again.

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  • identicon
    AJ, 12 May 2015 @ 6:41am

    "[W]hile girls are increasingly succeeding in the real world, boys are retreating into cyberspace, seeking online the security and validation they can’t get anywhere else. They are bored at school, increasingly have no father figures to motivate them, don’t have the skills to form real romantic relationships, feel entitled to have things done for them (usually by their parents) and seek to avoid a looming adulthood of debt, unfulfilling work and other irksome responsibilities. As a result, they disappear into their bedrooms where, he argues, they risk becoming addicted to porn, video games and Ritalin."

    O it's going to get much better. Virtual reality, force feedback devices, implants and motion detected response machines... want to play a game of racket ball with your buddy in Japan??, plug on in and call him up!!! Want to tap that virtual bomb shell you've been eyeballing on that web site a few times before work (who's hopefully not Bob from Detroit)... Log on in.... Seriously, I think were evolving, and evolution can sometimes seem bad at first, but natural selection will sort things out.. trust in nature.

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    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      I hope you're kidding, or just misusing the word "evolving".

      I think you may mean "adapting" or changing our culture.

      Because evolution is a much slower process, takes millenia, and requires those "less fit" to not reproduce and/or die. Because of our healthcare and our somewhat monogamous family structure, many of the "less fit" take their turn at reproduction. I'm not sure how humans are likely to evolve. It seems that natural selection has been "denaturalized" by humans. Our rates of reproduction are also odd, such as 8 children per woman in Uganda to the sub 2/per rates we see in developed nations.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re:

        I'm not sure how humans are likely to evolve. It seems that natural selection has been "denaturalized" by humans.

        Nobody is sure how of course, but rest assured, we're evolving. Our DNA is changing faster than it did in the distant past, largely probably due to the sheer number of us. With so many births, the number of mutations goes up too.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 9:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          But with the increase in population, mutations are absorbed back into the gene pool. Some part of the species needs to be isolated in some way, and mutate in a way that reproduction will favor lifeforms with that specific mutation at the expense of "normal" forms. It's simply not happening anymore for humans.

          There's speculation that life in space will be the next point of evolution, where something like the curvature of the human spine, for instance, could be affected by generations of lives lived under different gravity.

          Either way, humans have thrown off the shackles of evolution and we should be happy about that. There's no need for so-called "weak" people to die. Might makes right was a terrible system, and I am thankful every day that our ancestors had the sense to challenge the whims of nature.

          That's all in regard to the scientific idea of evolution in nature. Applying the concept to other fields has proven misguided and dangerous. The idea of continued human evolution in the modern era has led to some very seriously destructive, wrong-headed science.

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          • icon
            nasch (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 10:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well it depends on your definition I guess. I have read about research that indicates that our genomes are changing at a faster rate than they did in the distant past. Whether that's evolution or not I don't know.

            There's no need for so-called "weak" people to die.

            Quite right, but until everyone has an equal chance of passing on genes, there is still selection pressure.

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          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 10:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Like how humans were never able to adapt to the consumption of lactose, right?

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      • identicon
        AJ, 12 May 2015 @ 11:07am

        Re: Re:

        Nope, you heard me right "evolving". Here is a graphical illustration of the evolutionary process. Guess where we are in the time line right now?? I'm guessing somewhere between AK47 and fat ass with McDonald's bag!!??

        http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/148173/Evolution

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 10:08am

      Re:

      Come on now.

      I know Bob from Detroit. Totally stand-up guy.

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  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 6:54am

    "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft"

    ...as opposed to the "I'll wish I was doing almost anything else" that was the norm before WoW existed? Or, is he pretending that the world was full of dedicated studious children before that?

    "When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected."

    Because porn is a brand new thing that never existed before the internet, and teenagers would never fear rejection if it weren't for porn?

    "Zimbardo defines excessive porning and video gaming as more than five hours a day"

    How does this compare to other similar activities such as watching TV? I'll never take any of these people seriously if they pretend that watching hours of trashy reality TV and soaps is OK or that lounging around watching football is fine but it suddenly becomes a problem when you have a controller in your hand.

    "He added that young men are drinking Coke instead of alcohol and becoming "fat-asses."

    ...because nobody got fat from drinking beer? Because instead of a fatass playing games in their room, what you really need is a pissed-up teenager with nothing productive to do outside the home?

    "Unsurprisingly, Zimbardo has recently published a book dealing with these very issues."

    Ah, OK. So, instead of a dickhead being paranoid about videogames and presenting half-assed research and long-outdated stereotypes as mere fearmongering, he's doing it to make money from book sales? That's not better.

    What a shame that people will swallow this rubbish rather than dealing with some of the real issues (such as parents who use games and TV as babysitters because they don't have time for productive parenting, have swallowed the 24 hour news cycle exaggeration of danger outside the home, etc).

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 7:05am

      Re:

      He must have been molested with a Snes controller or something when he was a kid...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      "He added that young men are drinking Coke instead of alcohol and becoming "fat-asses."

      ...because nobody got fat from drinking beer?


      Not only that, nobody drinks beer and plays video games?!

      Now I have to cancel my Friday night Street Fighter jam session!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:04am

    My research has shown that pretentious dicks are pretentious dicks.

    Who the hell cares.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      "Who the hell cares."

      Historically, crap like this can get waved around by idiot politicians with axes to grind and use it as evidence of why they should restrict peoples' rights, make laws to restrict free speech and other such rubbish. Whether you're talking "Seduction of The Innocent" or anti-vaxxers, pretentious dicks do cause a lot of damage if someone decides to run with it.

      I don't care if someone writes misleading rubbish to sell some books, but it's best to get objections out there before people start running with it as their political platform.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re:

        This is informative, thank you.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re:

        Exactly. I just made a post that was a little more oblique about it, but this kinda junk always becomes ammo for politicians looking for a feel-good "think of the children!" way to force censorship upon media, and nab a cheap few votes while they're at it.

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  • icon
    Steve Swafford (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 7:06am

    Zimbardo can suck my translucent ball sack.

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  • icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 7:20am

    There is an alternative not quite stated here - perhaps the whole thing is autobiographical

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:21am

    Zimbardo unethically conducted a horrible human torture experiment which he admitted had affected him psycholigically. He also attempted to continue the experiment at the suggestion that a released "prisoner" was going to return and stop it by moving it's location. And it only ended when a woman, who also happened to be his grad student girlfriend and later his wife, suggested that it was immoral to continue. This guy is concerned about men not being masculine enough, yet his own infamous notoriety suggests the horror and inhumanity that happens when overly masculine conditions are perpetuated without positive female influence.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      I think you are drawing the wrong lessons from Zimbardo's experiment. Also from his later history. You might use the link above, and read the wikipedia article on his experiment, the criticism thereof, and the related work he later did.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:16am

        Re: Re:

        Funny... I used the Wikipedia entry as a refresher of what I'd already remembered from my college courses that dealt with the experiment.

        "Zimbardo mentions his own absorption in the experiment. On the fourth day, some of the guards stated that they heard a rumor that the released prisoner was going to come back with his friends and free the remaining inmates. Zimbardo and the guards disassembled the prison and moved it onto a different floor of the building. Zimbardo himself waited in the basement, in case the released prisoner showed up, and planned to tell him that the experiment had been terminated. The released prisoner never returned, and the prison was rebuilt in the basement once again."

        "Zimbardo aborted the experiment early when Christina Maslach, a graduate student in psychology whom he was dating (and later married), objected to the conditions of the prison after she was introduced to the experiment to conduct interviews. Zimbardo noted that, of more than fifty people who had observed the experiment, Maslach was the only one who questioned its morality. After only six days of a planned two weeks' duration, the Stanford prison experiment was discontinued."

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      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re:

        Instead of claiming 'Psssh. Go do your research!', you could consider explaining which lessons he is incorrectly drawing. This would foster further discussion, rather than elitism.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:27am

    The Gamergate crowd is going to love this...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:33am

      Re:

      My thoughts exactly. Zimbardo apparently missed that whole affair.

      The Gamergate demographic seems to be the oddly appropriate combination of the things he says are effeminizing young men (video games and porn and, for some, Ritalin) and yet they acted like they were conducting their own Stanford Prison Experiment online against women.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:36am

    Art I don't like or understand means you're a bad person!

    Fred Wertham is that you? Or maybe it's Max Nordau. At this point, I'm guessing their spirits have congealed into a massive finger-wagging, tut-tutting prudergeist that just happened to jump into Zimbardo's body.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 7:49am

    this guy sounds a lot like a mother who's kid is a gamer who is presumably male and therefore has been exposed to [evil] porn which combined with an introverted lifestyle, makes him less of a man.

    By the same shaky logic, lack of scientific methodology and predetermined outcome as he has, I posit that Zimbardo is not male and in fact someone's mother. Or an emasculated male-puppet construct. Either way, I can write a book based this flimsy premise.

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  • identicon
    F U, 12 May 2015 @ 7:51am

    I pray that Mr. Zimbardo dies a painful death, being eaten alive by army ants while screaming in agony. Is that masculine enough for you?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:10am

    He has a point, gaming is certainly more effective at keeping the people occupied than TV ever was.

    Stopped reading at the hilarious "52% gamer womyn" part. Seriously, if the "research" only includes candycrush and farmville...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      You probably should have read onto the next couple sentences. No, the research does not only include candycrush and farmville.

      This isn’t an isolated blip and it isn’t just down to “casual” phone games like Candy Crush Saga. In the US, research specialist Super Data found that just over 50% of PC gamers are women. Senior researcher Stephanie Llamas wrote about how her data challenged the cliche that women only play casual titles – her female subjects identified mostly as “mid-core” and hardcore players.

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    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      You realize men play Candy Crush and Farmville also, right?

      Women play video games. This is a fact, confirmed by multiple studies, not to mention personal experience and common sense. The majority of games aren't marketed towards women, but that doesn't change the appeal. Whether being introduced by a significant other, a friend who plays, or just from interest, many, many women play video games. Just because they don't announce "I'm a woman!" every time they play a game online doesn't mean they aren't there (and there's moderately strong social pressure to avoid declaring themselves by their gender in video games).

      You might want to do some "research" before making assumptions based on, well, whatever you were basing it on (your buddies, maybe?). Most women I know play video games, including games like DOTA 2 and Call of Duty (both of which I don't play because I think they suck, but to each their own).

      Sorry to intrude on your non-existent boy's club fantasy land.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      "Stopped reading at the hilarious "52% gamer womyn" part. Seriously, if the "research" only includes candycrush and farmville..."

      So, you ignored the following sentence and the linked evidence because they don't fit your preconceived notions? Or, are you the kind of idiot who things that only one kind of online FPS counts as "real" gaming and nobody else playing games counts?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:17am

    So, why is this important news?

    Assume for the sake of argument that he is right. Assume even that he is understating the case. So... what? Wake me up when the human population of the earth is in danger of extinction due to games and porn.

    I mean, I like to ridicule people as much as anyone else. But why is this even interesting?


    And Mr U, above...
    > I pray that Mr. Zimbardo dies a painful death, being eaten alive by army ants while screaming in agony. Is that masculine enough for you?

    An excellent display of bluff and bravado. Contrast Kipling.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:18am

    At the lowest level

    we know that the synapse that has fired more times, is more likely to fire in the future. This is how memory works. If memory is a contributing factor to decision making, then exposure to false sensory input WILL change behavior.

    After that the rest is a matter of degrees. If one is to distinguish between interactive false sensory input, and passive false sensory input, the passive is worse.

    Normal daily activities would have a correcting influence due to the sensory input being more than just visual stimuli. Just walking around for example creates memories that are distinctive from the VR environment and therefore constrain recall to some degree. (though I understand this will change)

    Passive video made specifically for the purpose of psychologically engineering the prolletariate is MUCH worse, because there is no auxilluary sensory input data associated. It would therefore be less likely to self correct.

    IOW, TV and specifically advertising is a much greater public hazard than video games. Though both ARE harmful. But then again so is smoking and booze.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 8:53am

      Re: At the lowest level

      Could you link to research that expresses what you are discussing here? Because this seems to make a few leaps in logic, most notably the inability for someone to distunguish reality memories from media memories. Because while I have plenty of 'false sensory inputs', I don't believe those memories to be of real things, neither 'passive' or 'interactive'.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re: At the lowest level

        Anecdotal, but I definitely recall a week after Skyrim was released: I was walking outside when a plane passed far, far overhead (too far to hear the engines). The placement of the sun was just right that the shadow of said plane passed over me on the ground.

        It was brief. Maybe 1/2 second, if that. But for that half second I was honestly, deeply fearful for my life. Because dragons.

        Doesn't prove anything of course, but I can kind of see what previous poster was talking about. The neural pathways had been forged, and the brain used them without me even having time to decide whether it was real or not.

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        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 3:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: At the lowest level

          There are many questions I have about this. But I don't have the time. But I will leave you with this: Did it change your behavior? Did you run for cover? Did you attempt to draw your bow and cast it from the sky? Did you fall to you knees, cursing the god that allowed dragons to enter your world? Or did you go "Oh shit! Wait, that's a plane. Ok. Phew. Thats a little silly." and move on? That last bit is your brain distinguishing reality from fantasy. I have had dreams whose memory pathways caused longer periods of disorientation then your dragon moment.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 5:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: At the lowest level

          I understand what you're referring to. I actually experienced a similar phenomenon with Skyrim where my first thought upon seeing a unique flower in a field of grass was, "should I pick that in case it's valuable later?" But James' response makes the relevant point on that issue. I never picked a flower because of that thought. I smiled to myself that I thought that and turned the anecdote into a Facebook post that my gamer friends liked.

          If this phenomenon were effective at changing these injected thought processes into actual behavior in the real world, you'd have more acts of violence occur in which the assailant claims they thought that they were in a video game. You'd have people going broke because they bought every product they saw advertised on TV. A person who would be so easily influenced would probably be influenced by any number of stimuli beside video games and would probably be diagnosed with a mental disorder.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 6:10pm

        Re: Re: At the lowest level (Re: reference request)

        (Thread OP here) This is just stuff from reading I did on AI waaay back in the day.

        The brain is a difference engine. Which is to say that finding an overlay match between two things is defined by ALL of the sensory input data, not just visual stimuli. Thus the amount of entropy for comparison in interactive data is MUCH higher than in non-interactive data. Watching TV your receiving no differentiating input from the other senses, which I would interpret as a transparent value, rather than a zero. (Couch potato!)

        Compare a splotch of 4x4 pixel gray to 100K random photos, and your likely to get match. Increase the size of the source picture and make it a forest, then run the same comparison, and the answer is probably not. It is as much a question of volumetric ratios as likely similarities.

        Smaller more focused less interactive data sets, are more likely to match a current experience. Which is why new-speak meme factories all sound the same, though they say totally different things. It is as important to avoid points of differentiation, as much as it is important to create association. (Which is a Machievellian way of saying it.)

        Personally I regard a lack of self governance on this subject to be akin to selling booze at an AA meeting. And I mean that across the board, from advertising to "personalized Internet" surveillance, to (yes) gaming environments.

        Messing with people's brains who you don't know, without their consent and without their being aware of the level of engineering involved is criminal assault. If your hiring head shrinks to help make things more addictive (which they all do) you really don't have an argument. Proof of intent can be found on the pay stub, whether the intent resulting in a successful mass assault on the public welfare is almost immaterial.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 8:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: At the lowest level (Re: reference request)

          So. You are basing your assertions about how the human brain works on a bunch of old theories of how to build an AI? Ok.

          I'm really not understanding what you are getting at. You insist that all media is engineering us, seemingly agreeing with Zimbardo. But, your half expressed ideas start confusing the whole thing. Every time I can tease a solid example of the engineering from your statements, it seems to be about addiction. Yet despite decades of experience triggering our dopamine reflex (you are right, they do engineer games to trigger that reflex), the majority of users are not suffering under crippling addictions. Moreover, despite years of playing video games for hours at a time, I now listen to audiobooks more often, despite having games I want to play. So it would seem it failed to program my behavior, despite the claims of you and the Doctor.

          Id put some more weight behind your claim that advertising is engineering behavior from me if that behavior wasn't "holy shit thats stupid." I buy based on personal preferences based on experience. So, what behavior is TV programming into me again?

          You have made the claim that there are indoctrination videos out there, designed to engineer us to some unspecified purpose. Given your failure to list any examples, nor the clear goals, you lose credibility here.

          If your hiring head shrinks to help make things more addictive (which they all do) you really don't have an argument.
          Not sure what this means. Seems to be half an idea. An arguement for/against what?
          Proof of intent can be found on the pay stub, whether the intent resulting in a successful mass assault on the public welfare is almost immaterial.
          Same problem here. Its hard to understand your point when its not fully articulated again. I think you might be trying to say "Proof of intent (to make things more addictive), can be found on the (psycologist's) pay stub, and whether the intent (results) in a successful mass assault on the public welfare is almost immaterial". A few word changes and it is somewhat reasonable, but I still don't see evidence that jumps from "games trigger the dopamine reflex", to "subliminal messages are changing your general behavior".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2015 @ 7:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: At the lowest level (Re: reference request)

            (Thread OP here)

            Effects of media on synapse are small but cumulative, and defined as much by void as by content. Disinformation techniques for example provide an excess of ancillary data that reference something near the truth, but associate with unrelated topics in order to draw the reader/viewer away from the truth.

            In disinformation we may know the intent of the author by the shape of a void, not by the shape of composition. Propaganda is best, when you don't know that it is propaganda.

            For example: a cop show where police NEVER mistake good guys for bad guys, you can regard the content (whether intended or not) as propaganda. It reinforces synaptic pathways that will provide the consumer with a very hazardous false memory base for reference when dealing with the legal system.

            The question then becomes: How effective any given example is at modifying recall? There aren't a lot of hard numbers on this, and those that there are aren't reliable. Statistical sciences can shed only very narrow light, and in sociology and psychology tend towards a high taint rate.

            However, we can say without much doubt that modern media development processes have in their aggregate, an understanding of psychology that is far more sophisticated than anything North Korea used on POW's.

            So, yeah, your right. I don't have hard data. But there are a number of cases where software emulates physical and biological systems entirely by accident. Often code stumbles on the same solutions as nature.

            And yeah, I'm making a leap, and assuming that matching-algorithms can be used for reverse engineering brain function. It is my hypothesis, and it jives well with my experience. I'm not making claims otherwise.

            However, if you look at the WHOLE synaptic mesh as a memory base, not just the visual bits, the math is different for video, and games, because the stumuli for games is greater. If association is XOR thing, then the greater associated inputs will be as distinguishing as referencing. Which is to say that a smaller data set engineered for matching, will have a greater match rate.

            It then follows that if one finds invasiveness offensive, the greater match rate will be more invasive, and thus more offensive.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:25am

    Basement dweller?

    Well, my room is on the 1st floor so he's completely wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:35am

    Maybe he should stop watching South Park while doing research

    PIED. Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction is not new, its well known!

    http://southpark.cc.com/clips/qqsz42/internet-porn-simulator

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:37am

    My first thought was "That guy is still alive? Wouldn't he be really old?" Checking his wikipedia page, he's apparently 82, so it's good to see it wasn't a baseless thought.

    Sadly waiting for old age to carry off people like him likely won't solve the problem any time soon. Too many people with axes to grind enjoy stereotyping gamers as white male basement dwelling losers with poor social skills, and holding the problems of the minority of them up as representative of the majority. It's an easy tactic to reduce the proponents of something they don't like into a socially acceptable target.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 9:17am

      Re:

      Sadly waiting for old age to carry off people like him likely won't solve the problem any time soon.

      It won't ever really solve the problem. His generation took over after the generation decrying comic books died out. After his generation dies off, the next will wring their hands over virtual reality. And so on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re:

        Yes, this. The reason that waiting for dinosaurs to die isn't a solution is that the younger set becomes the new dinosaurs during the wait.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re:

        And so on...

        Tri-V Holographic Projectors: Worst thing to happen to America's youth since the Oculus Rift?"

        Dr. Perlklucher decries the device as "turning our children into 'maladjusted fantasists' who flee to tactile holograms instead of using virtual reality like normal folks".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 8:58am

    Selection bias

    Each generation is exposed to a different set of circumstances. Zimbardo assumes that the undesirable aspects of the millenial generation are consequences of his chosen subset of circumstances, rather than other possible causes. For example, maybe the reticence with women is driven by current social dynamics that make associating with unknown women dangerous: most accusations of sexual misconduct by the male are simply assumed true by the public and lives are ruined without respect to what any official investigation finds.

    Paternity-related laws heavily favour the woman at every step. Wife decides to leave? She'll decide who gets the kids. Woman gets pregnant? The father is financially on the hook if she wants him to be, no matter if he gets to enjoy any of the benefits (visitation, shared house, etc.) of the family. Settling down becomes a huge gamble on whether the woman will be a stable and net positive influence for the next 25+ years, with potentially huge consequences if she isn't. With those kind of odds, I find it completely unsurprising that there are some men who decide to go on strike, forfeiting the potential upsides of a marriage in order to avoid the potentially huge downsides.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 9:53am

      Re: Selection bias

      While I do not agree with the conclusions of Zimbardo, I find your assertions lacking in evidence and presented with your own bias. For instance:
      most accusations of sexual misconduct by the male are simply assumed true by the public and lives are ruined without respect to what any official investigation finds.
      Does not address the large number of sexual misconduct cases that are dismissed out of hand or blamed on the victim's actions. While false accusations are a problem, the prevalence of failures to investigate and blame being placed on the victims of sexual misconduct is just as bad, and suggest the opposite bias.

      On a side note, if you are in a region where it is considered a societal norm for women to make false claims of sexual assault (Im sick of using a term to reduce the severity of what we are discussing), I'd like to know where that is, as lately I've been seeing a lot of media backlash for unsupported claims from my women friends, who know that such claims undermine legitimate calls for the better handling of sexual assault cases.

      Or How about:
      Wife decides to leave? She'll decide who gets the kids. Woman gets pregnant? The father is financially on the hook if she wants him to be, no matter if he gets to enjoy any of the benefits (visitation, shared house, etc.) of the family.
      Two big 'Men's Rights' cards. And two which honestly are not as big as they claim. the court only assigns custody in 4% of cases, meaning 96% of the time, custody was decided outside the court and often in male dominated abusive relationships tends the other way, with the father getting custody via the court something like 76% of the time (and in abusive relationships, they tend to go to court).

      As for child support, wile it is issued more often when the woman gets custody (56% of the time vs. 40% for male custody, and I can't find data on whether that is all cases or just cases where custody is decided by the court), it still is only offered 56% of the time, little better then the flip of a coin. And your commentary on visitation and shared housing is a bit out there. I mean I would want an abuser (of the type referred to as a wife-beater) to still support that child, and I certainly would not want to expose the mother to him (or in many cases, the child). Blanket statements without nuance where nuance makes a huge difference do not make good arguments.

      Your second paragraph is quite beside the point anyway. Marriage is not really the issue being discussed when talking about men's reticence with women, though the moral police would like you to think that is the only situation where this discussion is applicable. In fact, I thank you for limiting your complaints about paternal rights to married couples, it eliminates a large section of the debate. In the end, the discussion is about heterosexual socialization and the supposed end goal: procreation. And that is its own downside.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 12:30pm

        Re: Re: Selection bias

        I picked "misconduct" for a reason. I'm looking at more than just physical assaults. Look also to the absurd "hostile work environment" policies where a comment between two friends, made with no expectation anyone else would hear it or that anyone would be offended by it, can still result in a "hostile workplace" complaint if someone overhears it and decides to be offended by what she (or sometimes he, but in my experience almost always she) thought it meant.

        It may not be a "societal norm" here, but major media coverage of a few false accusations, much like major coverage of other rare events (e.g. mass shootings) can drive the perception that it is a common problem. When the consequence of being accused is high enough, even a rare event can look scary.

        Freezing out a man who hurts his family is one thing, and is clearly what you were thinking of based on your comments about abusers. I was thinking of the general case that he has not committed any crime against his family, nor threatened to, nor done anything particularly scandalous under local mores, but she just doesn't love him anymore.

        I think marriage, although not explicitly listed in the article, is an important part of the discussion. Why court a woman if not for a long-term relationship (whether church married, state married, common-law implicitly married, etc.)?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Selection bias

          Look also to the absurd "hostile work environment" policies where a comment between two friends, made with no expectation anyone else would hear it or that anyone would be offended by it, can still result in a "hostile workplace" complaint if someone overhears it and decides to be offended by what she (or sometimes he, but in my experience almost always she) thought it meant.
          In a cubicle, or an office with an open door, you have to assume other people can hear you. because they can. But thats another arguement entirely. You undermine your own argument by highlighting overheard misunderstood gossip. Because you see, by refusing to associate with a woman, you do not mitigate this threat. You were talking about men refusing to approach woman because of the societal impact of her eventual claims of false sexual misconduct. This would only enhance the likelihood of such a misunderstanding and enhance the 'boys club' feel of the office which promotes those misunderstandings.

          Moreover, You have now made the claim that lives have been ruined by overheard gossip. I would like to see evidence of that.

          It may not be a "societal norm" here, but major media coverage of a few false accusations, much like major coverage of other rare events (e.g. mass shootings) can drive the perception that it is a common problem. When the consequence of being accused is high enough, even a rare event can look scary.
          You are right, but aside from the recent Rolling Stone article, I can't point to a false claim making major news. Well, there was the one college sports team claim a decade ago. But certainly not one about a single instance of office gossip.

          Freezing out a man who hurts his family is one thing, and is clearly what you were thinking of based on your comments about abusers. I was thinking of the general case that he has not committed any crime against his family, nor threatened to, nor done anything particularly scandalous under local mores, but she just doesn't love him anymore.
          Well no, the general case would be the one where the details of why she is leaving would be left out. That's why I attacked your claim, because it was open to interpret as I did. You now present not a general case, but a very specific one. Your example is actually a very strange case as now presented. I am going to interpret a little bit, in that I assume the father is not an active or former criminal (which might endanger the family), and has no other history that might be brought up to highlight why he would be unfit to have any paternal rights at all, and he is one of the 4% that took a custody case to trial. I would love to see a case where all of this was true and the wife got 100% custody, no visitation and was assigned child support. Just because it would seem so arbitrary compared to the actual custody cases I know about.

          I think marriage, although not explicitly listed in the article, is an important part of the discussion. Why court a woman if not for a long-term relationship (whether church married, state married, common-law implicitly married, etc.)?
          The import you place on marriage of some sort is obvious. But common-law marriage does not exist in many jurisdictions. And many are happy without it, including raising families. But thats beside the point. Fearing rejection and an inability to enter a romantic relationship is the problem cited, and that handily covers so much more. Not all people's needs include a long-term relationship that results in a situation covered by the types of marriage you describe.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 9:18am

    Double Standards

    Meanwhile, it's perfectly normal and healthy to watch TV 16-20 hours a day and eat nothing but fatty foods.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 10:16am

    I would be curious how much porn and video gaming the good professor takes part in.

    What are the odds he has never played any type of game or ever looked at porn and is just using these and other talking points as a way to get people to pay attention to him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 10:32am

    It's Hard To Tell the Addicts From the Adolescents

    Tim's article makes a valid point, in that Zimbardo has a specific issue that he's demonizing, but Tim is using pure speculation as to the reason for Zimbardo's push against this cultural activity. I don't know if Tim is a gaming addict, but they do exist; at least by society's definition of addiction.

    For the those who are an addict, or lose a family member to this or another addiction the loss is significant. Those who disparage the idea throw contempt on those who are suffering and show a callous disregard and lack of empathy. But meh, people in general suck and are asshats towards their fellow man.

    It's easy to see why there is a negative reaction to Zimbardo's comments. People in general get wrapped up in their worlds and can't see past their egotistical nature, and so I get why gamers (whether adolescents and addicts) attack those who take a dim view of their life choices. If you've dealt with addicts you know they have a very visceral reaction when they think someone is endangering their drug du jour, and if you been around adolescents you notice they don't have the wisdom to know that they're not immune to life's dangers and pitfalls.

    Whether an adolescent or an addict both will say, "I can stop whenever you want to", but their life of poor choices proves otherwise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Starke (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 10:47am

      Re: It's Hard To Tell the Addicts From the Adolescents

      Here's the thing. In the right circumstances, anything can be addictive. It's easy to sell sensationalist dreck like, "there are fifteen things in the room with you at this moment that could lead you to a crippling life long addiction!"

      Video Games are one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing media industries today. Call of Duty: Black Ops holds the record for largest opening week of any media property at over one billion in sales in the first five days.

      Of course there are going to be addicts. Just like there are BINGO addicts. Anything that provides a dopamine hit to the back of your lizard brain can get you hooked.

      Saying the internet is more addictive than huffing kittens? That's a lot harder to prove. You can find video game addicts. But that doesn't make video games more addictive than, say, street racing. Just safer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 11:12am

      Re: It's Hard To Tell the Addicts From the Adolescents

      I don't know if Tim is a gaming addict, but they do exist; at least by society's definition of addiction.

      Society's definition is basically doing something more than a few hours a week. I haven't heard of any real scientific research (ie not someone trying to sell a cure) that indicates gaming can be an addiction in the same way as heroin or gambling. If you know of any, please let us know about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 12:56pm

        Re: Re: It's Hard To Tell the Addicts From the Adolescents

        "I haven't heard of any real scientific research (ie not someone trying to sell a cure) that indicates gaming can be an addiction in the same way as heroin or gambling. If you know of any, please let us know about it."

        There is a lot of it. Not about gaming in particular, but the science is clear: people can get addicted to literally anything. That would include gaming. It's also why it's idiotic to single out something like gaming for special attention.

        A more interesting question is "what is addiction" as even in the medical and research communities there are multiple definitions. The one that people usually mean (when they don't mean a physical addiction) is "a compulsive activity that causes a reduction in the person's overall quality of life."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Xuuths, 12 May 2015 @ 1:17pm

      Re: It's Hard To Tell the Addicts From the Adolescents

      Is the captain of the high school chess team an addict because he plays/studies chess many hours a day? Or the wrestling captain who is in the gym? Or the swim team member who is in the pool? Or a dancer? Or a karate student?

      It seems that you use the word "addict" when it isn't something you view as wholesome. I would be surprised if you were able to determine whether someone was being an addict (unless it was substance/sex/food abuse) at this age based solely on how many hours a day they do it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Starke (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 10:37am

    Is anyone honestly surprised that Zimbardo's the one making these accusations?

    I could be wrong here. It's been a few years since I covered The Stanford Prison Experiment back in college, but my recollection is, Zimbardo has horrible issues with methodology, and a nasty habit of reworking the evidence to fit whatever sensationalist theory he's got this week.

    The guy has spent the last 40+ years trying to insist that humans are fifteen seconds off turning into a reenactment of Lord of the Flies, when even his own research doesn't support it.

    So, honestly, is anyone surprised? Or am I just remembering this guy's career incorrectly?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hij (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 10:40am

    Thems were the dayz

    Ah, I miss the good ole days when it was drugs and rock and roll that turned young brains to mush and removed all desire to succeed. We all know the real root of the problem, though. The introduction of the tractor ruined everything. Before then kids did not have time for frivolous activities and could focus on the important things. Of course we were too tired for sex and our desires for worldly goods were focused on new leather accouterments.

    Now please excuse me I have some googling to do and have to figure out how to turn safe search off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    scott, 12 May 2015 @ 10:43am

    Seems Reasonable To Me

    It all sounds about right to me. I see nothing in your writeup other than your unfounded, fear-based opinions that this guy might be right or at least in the ballpark. I am constantly amazed at how techdirt goes out of its way to defend video gaming, etc. You are clearly very afraid of someone restricting your play.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 11:14am

      Re: Seems Reasonable To Me

      I see nothing in your writeup other than your unfounded, fear-based opinions that this guy might be right or at least in the ballpark.

      Did you read the same article I did?

      You are clearly very afraid of someone restricting your play.

      This website is operated and I think largely read by adults, who can play games as much or as little as they choose.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 12 May 2015 @ 11:19am

      Re: Seems Reasonable To Me

      What's to be afraid of? Gaming is a huge cash cow. The chances of all of the game companies turning their back on that money is less than zero.

      It's only crusaders in the liberal media that want to pander to "feminists" that whine about the downfall of the "evil basement dwelling male gamer". If anything, the entire affair is nothing but shameless click-bait. It's professional troll posing as journalism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Blue Sweater, 12 May 2015 @ 11:58am

    Zimbardo defines excessive porning and video gaming as more than five hours a day.

    So if I combine my porning and gaming I should be good as long as I try not to go over 9 hoursa day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Takumi (profile), 12 May 2015 @ 12:15pm

    [W]hile girls are increasingly succeeding in the real world, boys are retreating into cyberspace

    Is it just me or is there buried in here a flawed premise in that we can't have women being more successful than men! If men stop expanding their opportunities at the same pace as women they're not going to be men any more! Alarming!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 3:45pm

      Re:

      I think that's just you

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Starke (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 12:57am

      Re:

      I wouldn't phrase it that way, but there's an element of that in some of the excerpts. If it's intentional or not is another question.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2015 @ 8:05pm

      Re:

      Well, if men were less successful because of a variety of social factors which nonetheless are at a surface level a result of free individual choices, would that be a issue of serious social inequality which must be addressed by discriminatory programmes, legislation, special ministers for men, etc.? If not, why was that the case when it was women who were the losers?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 12:58pm

    Kids might find online porn exciting psychologically, but physiologically they are actually becoming less excited. They suffer, he said, from PIED. Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction.

    This sounds like a job for the PIED PIPER.

    http://en.bab.la/dictionary/english-french/blowjob

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 12 May 2015 @ 2:29pm

    ok...

    ill stop using porn and playing games instead when i get upset ill hit someone and ill knock up 20 girls that tax payers can look after caus eim not gonna pay cause all the jobs now a days i can barely afford myself and a 80 dollar game and the free pron, let alone paying for the misus and kids .....

    haha this moron would see the destruction of society as you all know it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2015 @ 2:37pm

    Sounds like Mr. Zimbardo is projecting his own fear on others...

    Why can't Psychologists heal themselves first before they try to randomly help everyone else?!?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 12 May 2015 @ 4:34pm

    I feel ashamed now. I don't have a basement and I have the blinds and window open (except when it's cold then I keep it open enough for the fresh air) to let sunlight in. I don't drink Coke, let alone alcohol. When I first started the piece I kept looking for the mention of "the book wot he rote" and there it was about a third of way through the article. A plug by any other name. Oh yes, I play WoW as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 4:58am

    Wait for it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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