Games and Rape: More Thoughts on Carole Lieberman
This whole fiasco with Fox News and psychiatrist Carole Lieberman is reminiscent of the small scandal involving psychologist Cooper Lawrence. You know, the pundit who was part of the “Mass Effect as a sex emulator” discussion.
I’m studying Psychology myself, though I’m obviously no expert, but PSY101 clearly enforces something Dr. Lieberman seems to have forgotten. You can never make an assumption without citing your proof, because then it’s just hearsay. As a professional (as this woman claims to be) you cannot rely on random word-of-mouth evidence, especially when you cite no sources. Carole Lieberman provided no evidence in the original Fox article, nor in the follow-up with Kotaku because she was “caught off-guard.”
These are no excuses.
Even if Dr. Lieberman was called up for an interview out of the blue, this does not excuse not being prepared before handing in her thoughts to Fox News in the first place.
I read her response to Kotaku thoroughly, and from the way she describes it, I can somewhat understand her reasoning. What she’s trying to get across is if you’re already predetermined to think in a violent and/or sexual demeaning way, violent and/or sexually-orientated video games enhance that impulse. But so do violent movies and sexual songs. These tendencies are enhanced because these mentally unstable people (a term I am only referencing because she was trying to describe murderers and rapists) are personally seeking it out.
What she’s describing is not causation, but correlation. Everyone knows causation does not equal correlation, so even in trying to defend her point she ran herself into a corner. Dr. Lieberman was right that by constantly watching excessive amounts of violent and sexual acts you do become desensitized (why do you think horror movies are getting more gruesome by the year?), but desensitization doesn’t motivate you to commit murders and rape others.
She went on to say that the more violence and sex we stimulate, the more volatile we can get, but she fails to understand that video games are not causing that. Many of us use video games to LET GO of such frustration, not enhance it. This day and age is stressful (everything has to be done faster and better), so people play video games to relax. If someone happens to commit a horrible act (and coincidentally has played some video games), this still may be related to stress and their psyche’s inability to handle social pressures. That, Dr. Lieberman, is still correlation. We’re missing a third factor, the actual cause, that connects the two separate identities (video games and crime).
Even though there are several facts that refute her claims, such as rape’s been on the decline since 1992 and in 2009 it was at all time low, I’m not exactly thrilled with the response she’s received from the gaming community. Articles are one thing (like the one I wrote here), but to berate her with threatening e-mails is not the way to go. You’re just proving her point that video games are for “violent-oriented” individuals. If you’re going to e-mail her, write an actual argument to prove your case. As for the negative Amazon reviews she’s getting, this also shouldn’t occur, but I’m starting to believe her research may need to be re-examined if this is any indication on her work (oh look, assumptions!).
The one thing that all this negative video game coverage seems to forget is that it is the parent’s job to monitor what their children consume; television is not your child’s babysitter. If you have children, look after them. Yes, there are studies that prove watching/playing violent media can lead to violence in a child, such as the Bobo Doll Experiment and another study that shows how volatile little kids become after watching an episode of the Power Rangers, but the presenters of this media were adults. They prompted it, kids watched it then imitated what they saw because they do what their parents allow them to.
Bulletstorm was never intended for kids… case closed.
ADDITION: Wired.com’s Interview with Carole Lieberman – Still no facts