Former FBI Profiler Says Games Don't Cause Violence

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Former FBI Profiler Says Games Don't Cause Violence

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The Parents Television Council claims a new report demonstrates a "strong correlation" between violent media and violent behavior, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't seem to agree.

"A comprehensive review of more than 381 effects from studies involving more than 130,000 participants around the world shows that violent videogames increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (eg., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior," states the recently-released report Youth Violence: What We Need to Know. "A meta-analysis of 26 studies involving 13,661 participants found that violent media exposure is also significantly linked to violent behavior (eg., punching, beating, choking others), although the effects are smaller than for aggressive behavior."

Neither that introduction nor the report's conclusions - such as, "Some research has shown that the gorier the videogame, the larger the effects [on players]" - are terribly surprising, given that the subcommittee that wrote the report is co-chaired by Brad Bushman, a longtime critic of videogame violence, and cites his work several times. Nor is it a big shock that the Parents Television Council, which has previously accused the Supreme Court of the United States of being in the thrall of the videogame industry, is standing firmly behind it.

"Once again we are faced with evidence showing a strong correlation between violent media and an child's increase in aggressive thoughts and behavior, as well as a decrease in empathy for others," the PTC said in a statement following the release of the report. "If we strive for a less-violent society, then we must address the root causes of our violent culture. The entertainment media's obsession with graphic violence is one of the root causes."

But speaking on Face the Nation, former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole said she, and the FBI, don't agree with that position. "It's my experience that videogames do not cause violence. However, it is one of the risk variables when we do a threat assessment for the risk to act out violently," she said. O'Toole explained that the FBI looks at gaming habits in conjunction with other factors, including isolation and the exclusion of other activities, when making its assessments of the likelihood of violent behavior.

"But again, it's important that I point out as a threat assessment and as a former FBI profiler, we don't see these as the cause of violence," she added. "We see them as sources of fueling ideation that's already there."

In the same segment, Texas A&M Professor Christopher Ferguson also noted that research on the impact of violent media has been "inconsistent and in many cases methodologically flawed," and also pointed out that societal data over the past few decades, during which time videogames have grown increasingly more popular and graphic, shows that youth violence in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest point in 40 years.

Source: Raw Story, Parents Television Council

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It's no use; they are impervious to data that disagrees with them.

I'm sorry, but somebody has to do it:

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Also, is this topic going to ever end? At this point, it just seems like information without subject. It doesn't matter. And on that point, why can't adults make a Quality Product Council, so that they can pick on something that really needs picking, like trash TV or shitty games.

Capcha: hard and fast

I shit you not.

Zulnam:
I'm sorry, but somebody has to do it:

image

Also, is this topic going to ever end? At this point, it just seems like information without subject. It doesn't matter.

When we stop using "People are entitled to their opinions" as an excuse for not having the balls to simply come out say they are WRONG.

An FBI profiler. Someone who does little else but study the minds of serial killers among other criminals. I'd say nobody else is better qualified to say what does and does not make someone pick up a gun, walk into school, and blast little timmy and friends away.

But of course...nobody's gonna listen to him. Especially not this "parents television council" which sounds like a bunch of right wing old ladies screaming "Won't somebody think of the children!?" every time someone says the word "damn".

Doclector:
An FBI profiler. Someone who does little else but study the minds of serial killers among other criminals. I'd say nobody else is better qualified to say what does and does not make someone pick up a gun, walk into school, and blast little timmy and friends away.

But of course...nobody's gonna listen to him. Especially not this "parents television council" which sounds like a bunch of right wing old ladies screaming "Won't somebody think of the children!?" every time someone says the word "damn".

Don't you know? Everything to do with the government is evil, as long as they hinder my freedom to hinder the freedom of others.

Andy Chalk:
"A comprehensive review of more than 381 effects from studies involving more than 130,000 participants around the world shows that violent videogames increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (eg., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior," states the recently-released report Youth Violence: What We Need to Know. "A meta-analysis of 26 studies involving 13,661 participants found that violent media exposure is also significantly linked to violent behavior (eg., punching, beating, choking others), although the effects are smaller than for aggressive behavior."

I wonder how much more of a correlation they'd find of these things with a nice healthy game of football.

I have never been to a gaming session where one guy has hit another guy over the head with a glass bottle and tried to slash his face open.

I work in a pub, I see it all the time during sports matches... but Vidjageamz are evil and sport is a good wholesome activity.

The cause isn't violent media, but rather supposedly "healthy" competition.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." - Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia

I get the feeling that many people who do these experiments simply want to say games cause violence, and twist their data and tests to do so.
I doubt most of them would publish anything if their experiments did not align with their world views.

Zulnam:
I'm sorry, but somebody has to do it:

image

Also, is this topic going to ever end? At this point, it just seems like information without subject. It doesn't matter. And on that point, why can't adults make a Quality Product Council, so that they can pick on something that really needs picking, like trash TV or shitty games.

Capcha: hard and fast

I shit you not.

.....That is the best meme ever and you have done mankind a great service by sharing it.

What Jessie said. Science bitch.

Correlation? Correlation isn't enough!
One might assume that since a mad gunman played a violent game and then went and shot someone that the game cause the violent behavior. But it may be the other way around, maybe he liked that sort of game because he was already a violent nut. And since, again, correlation doesn't not imply causality, that is certainly not to say that anyone who likes those games is prone to violent behavior.

Flatfrog:

Andy Chalk:
"A comprehensive review of more than 381 effects from studies involving more than 130,000 participants around the world shows that violent videogames increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (eg., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior," states the recently-released report Youth Violence: What We Need to Know. "A meta-analysis of 26 studies involving 13,661 participants found that violent media exposure is also significantly linked to violent behavior (eg., punching, beating, choking others), although the effects are smaller than for aggressive behavior."

I wonder how much more of a correlation they'd find of these things with a nice healthy game of football.

Or chess for that matter. I know I certainly feel more inclined to violence after a board game than I do after a video game.

You know it always frustrates me when people say violent video games make gamers angry/frustrated/more violent, because people tend to do those things when they do any activity that involves a challenge or competition. For example if I can't do a puzzle I get frustrated, and if I lose a football game I might get mad and upset, just like you might get frustrated when playing a video game which you can't beat, and take your anger our by hitting something or if a console gamer throwing your pad.

To be fair, an "ex-FBI profiler" doesn't necessarily speak authoritatively for the current FBI as a whole. Basically, it's not a surprise that playing games might make someone more aggressive while they're playing the game or for a short period of time after, the question becomes whether or not it has any lasting effects or whether avid gamers are more "desensitized" to actual, real-life events of violence or death that happen in front of them- an impossible question to answer, really.

And to be fair again, gamers are just as dismissive of any study that does suggest that perhaps it does negatively affect the psyche of kids or the mentally unstable, the problem is that this presents a very narrow number of options for dealing with it. ~95% of all game sales are already regulated to make sure kids can't buy them and we're not going to do mental background checks on every game sold. So these results alone don't really mean much in terms of laws.

To be honest, I wouldn't mind if the industry voluntarily started moving back towards its roots; more creativity in games and less industry-wide focus on gritty, realistic, and ultra-violent games. We can still have them, but when every major best-selling game includes humans killing other humans, it's not wonder why people point the finger at it and why parents might be wary about letting their kids play games at all.

major_chaos:

Or chess for that matter. I know I certainly feel more inclined to violence after a board game than I do after a video game.

Oh boy, just think of Monopoly. If any board game deserves to be banned for violence, it is certainly Monopoly.
The data I carefully picked out of over 130000 reports from all over the world suggests that it destroyed more families than alcohol, poor education and tv combined!

and point to the FBI Profiler.

cause given that job, I trust what they have to say on this FAR MORE then some idiotic 'think of the children' group

Sadly this pointless, moronic, debate will never end.

The idea of scapegoating new sources of entertainment as a way of saying "This is the root of our ills!" has been going on for... well as long as we've been developing major and widely available forms of entertainment.

Books dealt with this once we were able to cheaply mass produce them.
Radio dealt with this once people could own them more easily.
Music dealt with this likely well before Elvis Presley.
Movies dealt with this since the moment someone flashed their ankle.
Television dealt with this the moment, well, Television came out I bet.
And now games are dealing with this. As soon as the next form of entertainment arrives, all of these brainless shills will completely forget about video games and start pointing their fingers at it instead.

All the while completely ignoring the difference between "correlation" and "causation", or how much something as simple as a little parental involvement might help, not to mention schools and other places we trust to take care of our kids actually stepping up to, you know, help keep our kids in a better environment like every public school swears they already do.

Andy Chalk:
"If we strive for a less-violent society, then we must address the root causes of our violent culture. The entertainment media's obsession with graphic violence is one of the root causes."

Out of all the parroted "think of the children" speeches this is the line that makes me flinch, because it is so very familiar. This line of thinking seems to permeate throughout every moral watchdog group I've ever known, as if violence/teen pregnancy/drunk driving/obesity/sick people didn't exist before the advent of whatever the medias newest punching bag is, they just *have* to be foreign influences trying to drag our imperfect society down.

You mean an organization that has aimed its sights at videogames found studies corroborating their belief? Never had that happen before. Now that I have gotten the sarcasm out of the way. Are people familiar with first impressions (The lack of question mark means it's rhetorical). It is very much in human nature that when a person or people have a first impression of something, all evidence there after will on go towards reinforcing that first impression. It's a horrible vicious cycle that can be broken, but it takes more will power (ie. individual will power vs group will power) to overcome that first impression.

Also, as I'm sure 0 of the people that are part of the above mentioned organization have ever touched video games. This goes to whole back and forth with gun vs videogames in this debate that so many gamers fall into. All the gun folks (who are dominantly non violent) generally don't play videogames, so they can easily see how videogames cause violent behavior (it is a group that exists outside a group they know to be non violent in nature). Likewise,the majority of gamers (a group that is dominantly non-violent) have little to know experience with firearms, therefore they can easily see how gun owners are a violent part of society and can, by extension, blame guns.

Haha, people, I love people.

tmande2nd:
"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." - Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia

I get the feeling that many people who do these experiments simply want to say games cause violence, and twist their data and tests to do so.
I doubt most of them would publish anything if their experiments did not align with their world views.

Two things:

A) That Sherlock quote is dead on.

B) The issue with these studies is that it goes both ways. The only people who are interested in performing these studies are doing so to prove who's viewpoint is right. There simply is too much bias going on in these studies that's constantly ruining the validity of the results, and to find someone who would be willing to do this kind of research without having a previous opinion on the subject is seemingly nigh-impossible.

People love to read into one-way correlations in these things. If I told you that 66% of all cases of meningitis in the united states involved people that drink alcoholic beverages, you might be fooled into thinking that alcoholic beverages are a cause of meningitis. The piece of data that I left out is that 66% of ALL people in the united states drink alcoholic beverages. That is to say, there is no relationship there. Now, if I tell you that 90% of young men that shoot people play video games, your response should be (all together now), 90% of ALL young men play video games.

This is generally the first hurdle to overcome. There's plenty more: causation vs. correlation, statistical significance of the results, Bayesian inference from multiple sets of data, higher order model cost ("after adjusting for seventy-two lower order factors, we find that" generally means the researchers don't know anything) and many more. Generally, by the time all these studies get to the public, they've been reduced to meaningless drivel.

Is there a correlation between violent video games and violent behavior? Well, we have not found a meaningful one. It doesn't mean we should stop studying the issue, but it certainly means we have no evidence to suggest there should be legislation about this.

"But again, it's important that I point out as a threat assessment and as a former FBI profiler, we don't see these as the cause of violence," she added. "We see them as sources of fueling ideation that's already there."

Oh, bless her heart. Why is this kind of common sense so rare in the rhetoric of most of the people who like to bang the drum of "common sense"?

What the profiler says seems pretty good. The fact that they consider it IN CONJUNCTION with stuff like isolation and violent tendencies is pretty cool and frankly understandable. Considering games as a factor alongside the fact that they're an unstable character is probably a move for the better let's be honest. Good to know. :D

The PTC thing is really unsurprising, mind.

tmande2nd:
"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." - Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia

I get the feeling that many people who do these experiments simply want to say games cause violence, and twist their data and tests to do so.
I doubt most of them would publish anything if their experiments did not align with their world views.

Its no different then 99% of the people posting in this thread. Even if there was 100% conclusive evidence that games caused violence they still would deny it.

Come to think of it I am pretty sure both sides have found that violent video games did cause people to become more violent. It was just that it didnt last all that long and they tended to also take out there anger on the video games.

Good to see that the people who deal with these issues as THEIR JOB are on the ball at least have been approaching the subject correctly. They DO look at violent game use as factor of their profiles... but not a cause. Smart. Reasonable. Are we sure this is coming from an agency of the U.S. government?

Why are children playing such violent games to begin with?

Ahhhh Profilers, First heard of them in the TV show 'Criminal Minds' to see one say this is quite interesting. I can easily believe that it can fuel it, but to cause violence? Nu-uh.

major_chaos:

Or chess for that matter. I know I certainly feel more inclined to violence after a board game than I do after a video game.

Try chess boxing. You play a round of chess, then you box for a round, repeat until...well, I never made it that far in the article, I just loved the idea of getting to lessen the IQ of the man that just beat me at chess.

OT: Well, I suppose that's probably the greatest weight to our side of this argument, and it's definitely greater than any weight on their side, so I suppose that leaves us a decade or two before their side finally decides to give up and move on to the next thing.

Humans are violent by our very nature, it's the reason we survived so long as a species. If these people whining about violent media really want to create a less violent society, then they should work toward altering the human race's basic instincts.

AC10:
Why are children playing such violent games to begin with?

It's not so much a matter of "kids" so much as "teens". Imagine you're a 13 year old or so, what options for video games do you really have? Take the top games of 2012: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184637/The_10_bestselling_games_of_2012.php

Five are rated M, and three of them are sports games. Lego Batman Just Dance 4 are the only ones remaining. In 2011, 7 of the top 10 were rated M, with 2 dancing games and Madden filling it out. So it's a similar situation as American TV, lots of stuff for younger kids and adults, but not much for teens in between. None of the games on that list are rated T, and there seem to be surprising few on the market. So, either you resign yourself to playing E-rated games that might be good but still come in a pretty narrow selection, or find a way to play the M-rated games.

It's easy to say it's the parent's responsibility and that kids shouldn't be playing these games, but when those games are more or less the only quality games available to you and are worth the price tag, it's either that or basically nothing, if you're not much into sports or dancing games.

No matter what scientific data comes out until another popular medium comes out video games will take the heat that metal had in the 80's and rap had in the 90's.

Anyone else immediately reminded of this?

image

I think it makes a pretty valid point.

immortalfrieza:
Humans are violent by our very nature, it's the reason we survived so long as a species. If these people whining about violent media really want to create a less violent society, then they should work toward altering the human race's basic instincts.

I think they should probably try understanding human nature first. They don't seem to have a firm grasp on that yet.

hentropy:

It's not so much a matter of "kids" so much as "teens". Imagine you're a 13 year old or so, what options for video games do you really have? Take the top games of 2012: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184637/The_10_bestselling_games_of_2012.php
[...]
It's easy to say it's the parent's responsibility ....

Thank you.
I never thought about it this way.
I was always on the "parent's responsibility"-side of the argument, but that is partialy because I have worked retail now for a while and I see shitty parents all the time.
Seriously, the amount of people who decide on behalf of their children what DVDs and video games they can have and get it wrong is horrible.
However, I see now that they have a choice:
Give your kid some kid's-age game, which will not engage them and bore them to tears while possibly hindering their development in terms of "not being able to handle X situation".
OR
Give your kid an adult game. Here you have the risk that your kid can't handle the adult themes, but then again, you can always take that game away if your kid is suddenly having nightmares. And your kid can always talk to you, right?

What games would be good for teens? Point-and-click adventure games with more mature themes? Something like the first Tomb Raider games (platforming and shooting animals, with graphics that render it almost harmless)?

cursedseishi:
Sadly this pointless, moronic, debate will never end.

The idea of scapegoating new sources of entertainment as a way of saying "This is the root of our ills!" has been going on for... well as long as we've been developing major and widely available forms of entertainment.

Books dealt with this once we were able to cheaply mass produce them.
Radio dealt with this once people could own them more easily.
Music dealt with this likely well before Elvis Presley.
Movies dealt with this since the moment someone flashed their ankle.
Television dealt with this the moment, well, Television came out I bet.
And now games are dealing with this. As soon as the next form of entertainment arrives, all of these brainless shills will completely forget about video games and start pointing their fingers at it instead.

All the while completely ignoring the difference between "correlation" and "causation", or how much something as simple as a little parental involvement might help, not to mention schools and other places we trust to take care of our kids actually stepping up to, you know, help keep our kids in a better environment like every public school swears they already do.

you forgot the whole dungeons and dragons cause kids to engage in satanic human sacrifice that was a big thing in the 1980's crap that was a pain in the ass movement.

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