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Response to PUNISHER #1 Review

Another response to my PUNISHER #1 review:

Scott Reed wrote a column responding to my review. Here's part of it, with my responses:

>> The evidence' Rob relies on to make his case is ambiguous at best; a statistical claim <<

982 positive results out of some 1,000 studies is "ambiguous"? Wow. I'd love to see your definition of "unambiguous."

In most scientific circles, evidence that surpasses the 98th percentile is considered "conclusive," not "ambiguous."

>> I suspect would be difficult if not impossible to validate scientifically. <<

What you "suspect" is hardly admissible in a debate, much less a court of scientific inquiry.

>> It's the same whining <<

Whoa! We leapt from the evidence being "ambiguous" to "it's the same whining"?! Hel-lo! If the evidence is ambiguous (your word, not mine), that suggests it may support my conclusion. So we're halfway to a valid conclusion.

If the evidence is even partly accurate, how is my conclusion whining? If scientists say fatty foods contribute to heart disease, are they "whining" about such foods? That leap of "logic" is about as valid as yours.

>> those who point to the media for all the causes and yet aren't willing to take responsibility when society 'goes wrong'. <<

I've taken responsibility by living a violence-free life myself...by producing a powerful alternative to the mindless mayhem in comic books (PEACE PARTY)...and by denouncing the PUNISHER comic when it was in my power to do so. What have you and other apologists for the status quo done?

Is defending THE PUNISHER the extent of the responsibility you're willing to take? If that's it, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution. So noted.

>> The problem is in the mind-set of individuals who feel so brainwashed by what they see as entertainment that they feel compelled to emulate it in real life. <<

If this is true, what's your solution for "unbrainwashing" people? Drugs? Electroshock therapy? Deprogramming gurus?

More important, what caused these people to become brainwashed? Were they born with a genetic flaw making them susceptible to violence? Or were they raised that way? If the latter, why were they raised that way?

You see the problem with any argument against mine. Ultimately, you can't point to any cause other than our culture as a whole—of which the media is a big part. Because if you point to individuals (or their parents, or grandparents, et al.), you're back to the same question: Whenever this influx of "brainwashing" started, where did it come from? What is its original cause?

There are two possible answers to this question. Either violence is programmed genetically in humans, which doesn't explain why America is more violent than other countries and has become more violent recently. Or violence is instilled by external influences, including the media.

Which is it, Scott? Choose and then we'll see if your argument can stand the light of day.

>> If Rob's claim is true, then we have a psychological phenomenon on our hands that far surpasses the few so-called 'media-inspired' cases of violence. We're talking about an entire society brainwashed. What this means is we are a species with virtually no control over our own mental processes. <<

Oy, vey. Will someone please save me from these simplistic arguments? For the nth time, media violence doesn't cause real violence directly. Rather, it desensitizes people to violence, thereby making them more prone to act violently in the future.

Obviously, something else is going to set people off, not their memories of Rambo movies or PUNISHER comics. So media violence isn't the direct cause. But the violence people see shapes their perceptions, beliefs, and psyches. It affects them, just as their parents' training, peer pressure, and every other external influence affects them.

That naysayers are still arguing this boggles the mind. Read the studies, people, in which researchers spell out that media violence desensitizes us to real violence. Review the classic study in which people administered shocks to subjects when someone told them to do so. Were these people brainwashed? No, they were influenced by the power of suggestion, just as every person is every single day.

Congratulations, Scott, if you're the first person who never bought something he saw in an ad, never ate something delicious but bad for him, never looked at a pretty girl walking by. Because all these are influences just like media violence is an influence. An idea forms in your head when you see an advertisement, a delectable morsel, or a member of the opposite sex, and an idea forms when you see the Punisher shoot someone without moral consequences. Why is that so difficult to understand?

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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