Everything Bad Really Is Good For You

by on December 17, 2005 · 4 comments

Though I haven’t read Steven Johnson’s book, I know he makes the argument that the complexity of plotlines in modern-day televison is a significant departure from the simplistic shows of the past, and as a result, our brains must work harder to digest today’s shows. In other words, the television of today is “smarter” than that of yesteryear. That’s all well and good and may be a satisfactory answer to the question of whether TV rots your brain. Answer: not anymore.

But, new research by a couple of fellows at the University of Chicago suggests that the answer might be: it never did. Certainly, too much of anything can be bad for us, but Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro contend that the presence of television in American life has actually raised our IQs, especially in homes where English was a second language. I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Shapiro this past weekend at an IHS-sponsored event. He explained that he and Gentzkow’s research compared standardized test scores for children in certain areas before and after television was introduced. Conclusion: scores rose after the introduction of TV. Read the whole thing here.

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