Friday, April 04, 2008

Water and Violence

A BoingBoing bonanza today:


Firstly, NPR's succinct debunking of water-related myths.

No, you don't have to drink eight glasses of water a day. Though people engaging in heavy exercise should gulp down a good 16 ounces of water to avoid dehydration, the rest of us can just drink when we're thirsty.


Secondly, a Middlesex University study has determined that violent videogames may cause relaxation. Unfortunately, the results of this study are as inconclusive as a thousand flawed studies on the opposing side for two reasons:

1) Relaxation (or increased excitement) cannot be equated directly with pacifism or violence. An individual's propensity toward violence or desensitization is simply not something that can be measured in a controlled study. However, rather than admit the weaknesses of our science, we feel a need to crank out a million biased, conflicting studies. It's true that violent videogames, symphonies or a good round of tennis might increase your aggression, just as it's possible that playing a game (or running over your annoying neighbor with a riding lawnmower) could bring you a sense of relaxation. There's too many factors to say anything conclusive.

2) Secondly, this study used World of Warcraft for its subject - a game with nearly as much exploration and item-shopping as actual combat, and not particularly violent combat at that. They should have used a game like Manhunt - something that we can all agree is sadistic and terrible, but not particularly exciting in terms of mere adrenaline. That way we should avoid false positives brought on by mere excitement or deep involvement with the game.


Story #3: Sunspots may not be a good argument against climate change theorists. As with the last story, I'm under no illusions that either side of the global warming debate really has an eye out for the evidence rather than trying to merely perpetuate their view, but let's try to phase out some of the bad arguments, all right?

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