October 26, 2009
DOES ONE REALLY KNOW WHAT ONE THINKS ONE KNOWS?
Levitt, Steven D., & Stephen J. Dubner, Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (New York: Morrow, 2009) (“Most of the stories fall into one of two categories: things you always thought you knew but didn’t; and things you never knew you wanted to know but do.” Id. at 17. “People have long posited that violent TV shows lead to violent behavior, but that claim is not supported by data. We are making an entirely different argument here. Our claim is that children who grew up watching a lot of TV, even the most innocuous family-friendly shows [e.g., “Leave It To Beaver”], were more likely to engage in crime when they got older.” Id. at 102. “For every extra year a young person was exposed to TV in his first 15 years, we see a 4 percent increase in the number of property-crime arrests later in life and a 2 percent increase in violent-crime arrests. According to our analysis, the total impact of TV on crime in the 1960s was an increase of 50 percent in property crimes and a 25 percent in violent crimes.” Id. at 104.).