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New Tech == bad for you (or is it)

April 14th, 2009

or contra, studies with bad methodologies will make headlines!

I know, I know what else is new.

As Stacy noticed yesterday, facebook addicts face a hard row in college, and can’t compete with the non-addicts academically.  Seems she’s now found that workers with addictions end up being less productive than their peers.  Truly this is cats and dogs living together time.

We can now rest assured that western civilization is on the highway to hell, thanks to this headline

Twitter can make you immoral, claim scientists

(its big cuz its a headline)

Here is the lede:

Social networks such as Twitter may blunt people’s sense of morality, claim brain scientists.

New evidence shows the digital torrent of information from networking sites could have long-term damaging effects on the emotional development of young people’s brains.

A study suggests rapid-fire news updates and instant social interaction are too fast for the ‘moral compass’ of the brain to process.

The danger is that heavy Twitters and Facebook users could become ‘indifferent to human suffering’ because they never get time to reflect and fully experience emotions about other people’s feelings.

US scientists from the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California (USC) say the brain can respond in fractions of seconds to signs of physical pain in others.

Yep, that’s what happened to Hitler, too much twittering.  So now all you time-travelers, go back and steal Adolph’s iPhone.

Oh wait, here is the buried lede:

But a new study led by Antonio Damasio, director of the USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, suggests that digital media may be better suited to some mental processes than others.

The study used compelling, real-life stories to induce admiration for virtue or skill, or compassion for physical or social pain, in 13 volunteers.

The emotions felt were verified by researchers in a series of interviews before and after, conducted using a careful protocol.

Brain imaging showed the volunteers needed six to eight seconds to fully respond to stories of virtue or social pain.

However, once awakened, the responses lasted far longer than the volunteers’ reactions to stories focused on physical pain.

Yep, statistics geek, that is an N of 13 that supports the headline.  Now all this neat stuff about how long the brain takes to fully register an emotional story is neat, but hardly directly attributible to ‘Twitter’.  What about MTV, CNN, Headline News, etc…  Nah, the headline gets noticed because of TWITTER.


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