Friday, February 22, 2013

Childhood TV watching and crime

This study has excited both liberals and conservatives but it has been much overhyped.  See the comments following the report below

Children who watch excessive amounts of television are more likely to have criminal convictions and show aggressive personality traits as adults, a New Zealand study has found.

The University of Otago study tracked the viewing habits of about 1,000 children born in the early 1970s from when they were aged five to 15, then followed up when the subjects were 26 years old to assess potential impacts.

The research, published in the US journal "Pediatrics" this week, found a strong correlation between childhood exposure to television and anti-social behaviour in young adults.

"The risk of having a criminal conviction by early adulthood increased by about 30 percent with every hour that children spent watching television on an average weeknight," co-author Bob Hancox said.

The study also found excessive TV viewing was linked to aggressive personality traits and an increased tendency to experience negative emotions.

It said the links remained statistically significant even when issues such as intelligence, social status and parental control were factored in.

"While we're not saying that television causes all anti-social behaviour, our findings do suggest that reducing television viewing could go some way towards reducing rates of anti-social behaviour in society," Hancox said.

He said the findings supported the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that children should watch no more than one to two hours of quality television programming a day.

The study said it was possible that children learned anti-social behaviour by watching it on TV, leading to emotional desensitisation and the development of aggressive behaviour.

But it said the content of what children were viewing was not the only factor, highlighting the social isolation experienced by those who spent hours watching the box.

"It is plausible that excessive television viewing contributes to anti-social behaviour in ways unrelated to violent content," it said.

"These mechanisms could include reduced social interaction with peers and parents, poorer educational achievement, and increased risk of unemployment."

Hancox said the study concentrated on children's viewing habits in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before the advent of personal computers, and further research was warranted into how such technology affected subsequent behaviour.


My immediate reaction to this report was that we are just seeing another social class effect here:  Working class children are more likey to come from criminally-inclined homes and also are more often left to be "minded" by the TV.

Such effects are well known, however, so the authors were unusually conscientious and controlled for them.  They used analysis of covariance to remove the effect of class variables.  And what did they find when they did that?  I quote: "After controlling for additional covariates, associations between viewing time and criminal conviction and antisocial personality disorder remained statistically significant, although the association between television viewing and violent convictions did not."

So I was pretty right. Watching a lot of TV as a kid does not of itself make you more likely to be a violent criminal but coming from a lower social class does. It is only non-violent criminality (presumably drug offences and the like) that is somewhat associated with childhood TV viewing.

The study is actually good evidence AGAINST the concerns of the TV haters. Reading the actual "Results" section of academic journal articles has long been a pesky habit of mine. Sorry to puncture any treasured bubbles

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE. I should have mentioned above that ALL of the correlations reported were trivially small. They were statistically significant only by virtue of the large sample size. By any criterion of real-life significance, TV viewing predicted NOTHING. To put that another way, TV viewing explained at best only around 2% of anything else

The name of the original study is "Childhood and Adolescent Television Viewing and Antisocial Behavior in Early Adulthood" (by Lindsay A. Robertson et al.) -- JR


The lazy French

The boss of US tyremaker Titan has provoked outrage in France after mocking its workers for putting in only "three hours" a day and said his company would be "stupid" to take over an ailing French factory.

Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan, berated the French work ethic in response to a request for the US company to consider investing in a loss-making Goodyear plant in Amiens, northern France, in an attack which has infuriated unions.

"I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works three hours," Mr Taylor wrote in a letter to Arnaud Montebourg, French Industrial Renewal Minister, dated February 8 and obtained by French business daily Les Echos.

"They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!"

Goodyear said last month it planned on closing the plant, which employs 1,173 workers, following five years of failed talks with unions.

Mr Taylor said Titan had a long history of buying and turning around troubled factories but in this instance was not in any way interested.

"Sir, your letter states that you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tyres. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government," Mr Taylor wrote.

The Titan boss, who made an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination in the 1996 presidential election, said France's industrial base was under threat from low productivity and cheap imports, including tyres from China that he said were made in subsidised factories.

"Titan is going to buy a Chinese tyre company or an Indian one, pay less than one euro per hour wage and ship all the tyres France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amiens North factory," he wrote.

Mr Taylor's incendiary comments have drawn fury from French unions. Mickael Wamen, a representative for the major CGT union at the Goodyear factory, said they showed the Titan boss "belongs more in an insane asylum than at the head of a multinational corporation", and threatened to file legal action in the US against Goodyear and Titan over the closure of the plant.

However, the insults have received some assent in the Gallic nation.

Bernard Accoyer, an opposition politician, said that while Mr Taylor's assessment amounted to a "mocking caricature", it was "not completely unfounded", adding that the country's "serious competitiveness problem" was linked with the "extremist hardliner" views of some unions.

France's Socialist government, led by President Francois Hollande, is struggling to boost the productivity of its industries in the face of increasing global competition. French firms have announced thousands of job cuts in recent months as the economy stagnates.

The country's labour minister Michel Sapin stoked panic last month after describing France as "totally bankrupt" while being interviewed on radio, a gaffe hastily dismissed as "inappropriate" by finance minister Pierre Moscovici, who said: “France is a really solvent country. France is a really credible country, France is a country that is starting to recover.”

Mr Montebourg told reporters he would reply to Mr Taylor in writing, but declined to comment verbally.


The French minister responded that there is a high level of American invrestment into France anyway.  But he did not say how much of that investment has taken place since the socialists gained power.  Most of the investment probably took place under the previous conservative government


An Agent of Intolerance Seeks to Stifle Debate

When you hear the name Southern Poverty Law Center, it immediately evokes images of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Freedom Rides... all iconic symbols of the civil rights movement. And rightly so, for these are the events that inspired it’s founding. Founded in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) made a name for itself by defending the poor and disenfranchised against organized forces of hate and bigotry in a society torn by racial tension. Unfortunately, as the years have passed, SPLC has allowed its work to become less about defending the constitutional rights of all Americans and more about prosecuting a far-left ideology in our courts of law and in the court of public opinion. In the process, it has become an agent of intolerance and an enemy of free conscience and religious liberty.

There has always been an inherent tension between individual liberties and the greater social good. The American people are always struggling to strike a balance between protecting the freedoms of speech and conscience and protecting those who might be harmed by the misuse of those freedoms. As time passes, new issues arise and new debates emerge. Most recently, our society has been engaged in a fierce debate over the issue of homosexuality and what place it should occupy in America's social and legal milieu.

The right of individuals to freely associate – in public and behind closed doors – has been an issue that has sparked controversy in all quarters. The question remains as to what level of acceptance society must accord homosexual behavior – conduct that is fraught with social, religious, moral, and medical implications. Those who treat homosexuality as normative behavior rooted in immutable characteristics find their view in conflict with those who subscribe to more orthodox views of sex, marriage, and family. SPLC has very strong views on where society should come down on this issue, and anyone who dares to disagree with its "progressive" worldview is branded hateful and bigoted and assaulted with all the vigor it can muster.

The Family Research Council (FRC) is Exhibit A to this proposition. For its work to preserve and advocate traditional values and morals, including the defense of a one man, one woman view of marriage, it has been branded as a "hate organization," by SPLC. No matter that the FRC's views are rooted in ancient, universally-recognized social and religious principles, or that a free society should welcome and encourage vigorous debate on this topic. SPLC fueled the fire of intolerance and hate and made the FRC a target for retribution. Is it any wonder, therefore, that an unstable, self-styled vigilante took it upon himself to "punish" FRC for the organization's "anti-gay" views?

But indicting organizations like FRC in the court of public opinion is not enough. SPLC apparently feels that the most effective way to silence debate on key moral issues is through the courts. Recently, SPLC has filed suit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH. According to its website, JONAH is a "faith-based, nonprofit organization that offers assistance to men and women seeking to resolve their sexual conflicts, including unwanted same sex attractions." SPLC asserts that homosexuality is fixed and immutable, and that because of this JONAH's work to help people overcome their same-sex desires amounts to consumer fraud. They further assert that JONAH's work is emotionally and psychologically harmful, and that it fosters “anti-gay bigotry.”

A victory for SPLC in this case would set a frightful legal precedent with broad-sweeping implications for the foundational constitutional freedoms of speech, conscience, religion, and association. As a private organization, JONAH has every right to offer reorientation or conversion counseling to willing clients. Individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions have every right to pursue resources to help them overcome these attractions. SPLC is seeking to silence the voices of faith and tradition in America by making it "hateful" and “fraudulent” to advocate for these causes. What's next? Suits against churches for preaching about a "nonexistent" God? Suits against Creationist research groups for advocating intelligent design? Suits against those who reject the theory of man-made global warming? Suits against Weight Watchers for suggesting that fat people can become thinner and healthier by changing their lifestyle choices? The possibilities are limitless.

SPLC appears to have no use for freedom of thought or freedom of speech. Its once noble mission has been perverted to radical ideological ends. It is unwilling to accept that life in a free society means that people will disagree on a host of issues, even issues that SPLC considers to be matters of "settled science." In light of this, it is more important than ever that people of faith and conscience be vigilant. If we assume that organizations like SPLC will never be successful in their campaign to legally hamstring our constitutional rights, we'll find ourselves shocked when the legal rug is pulled from beneath our feet. I, for one, am not prepared to cede my First Amendment liberties without a fight.



The terminal poison of the European 'liberal'

by Melanie Phillips

If anyone still doubts that European culture is suffering from a terminal sickness, and that the poison in its bloodstream is oozing out foully to pollute the atmosphere as it steadily disintegrates, what has happened to Lars Hedegaard stands as a graphic corrective.

Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Press Society and The International Free Press Society, is the nearest thing to a quintessential European liberal. He is a heroic icon of the fight against tyranny. He believes in freedom of expression, life and liberty. He not only detests those who threaten to destroy those things, but has been prepared to stand up and be counted in the fight to defend them.

As such, he was reported speaking in his own home about child abuse and violence against women in Muslim culture. The day after these remarks were published, he stressed that his opinions were not intended to refer to all Muslims.

What then happened to him was the kind of nightmare associated with totalitarian regimes, and which I wrote about in 2011 here and here. He was put on trial in Denmark accused of hate speech and racism. He was unable to mount a defence, because under the Orwellian rules of the Danish legal system he was in effect convicted before his trial even took place. After a roller-coaster of a case in which verdicts went first one way and then the other, the Danish Supreme Court finally ruled that he was not guilty after all of hate speech and racism.

That, however, was not the end of the trials of Lars Hedegaard. Some two weeks ago, he answered his front door to a man in his twenties posing as a postman who fired a gun at his head and missed. Douglas Murray reported that 70-year old Hedegaard punched him in the head; the man dropped the gun, picked it up and fired again.  The gun then jammed and the man ran off. According to Hedegaard, he looked like a ‘typical Muslim immigrant’. Hedegaard has had to leave his home for an undisclosed location under police protection.

The attempted murder of Lars Hedegaard for speaking out against Islamist violence has received virtually no public attention – except in Sweden. As reported here, several Swedish newspapers published wicked distortions about him in order to portray him entirely falsely as an acknowledged racist.

Hedegaard’s Free Press Society campaigns for the rights of journalists and cartoonists to express themselves without fear of being murdered. Now an attempt has been made to murder Hedegaard himself, after he was dragged through the courts in an attempt to stifle his warnings about Islamic violence by labelling these protests ‘hate crime’.

Yet far from the uproar one might expect in any sane and decent society following these attempts to destroy both the reputation and the life of a man who fights for freedom from tyranny, Hedegaard finds himself now victimised three times over – by the Danish judicial system, a fanatical would-be assassin and a European liberal class for whom fighting Muslim extremism and violence constitutes ‘Islamophobia’ and must be stopped.

The message from this most chilling tale of our times is that in Sweden and other western ‘progressive’ circles, anyone who protests at the phenomenon of ‘honour violence’ that terrorises Muslim women and children is a racist; and if a supposed Islamic fanatic tries to murder that protester, well, that just proves what a racist the protester is.

Stalin would have approved.




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