Best Of The Web
“Does watching television make people stupid? Are stupid people more likely to vote for populist parties? And can these effects linger for years, or even decades?
If you had asked me a few days ago, I would have been highly skeptical of these claims. They sound far too much like the sort of thing educated people want to believe. But a meticulous new paper published in the American Economic Review, one of the world’s most prestigious social-science journals, suggests that there might be truth to these clichés.
In the study, three economists, Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti, and Andrea Tesei, were able to provide strong evidence for a shocking set of conclusions: Watching a lot of entertainment TV does seem to have an adverse impact on your intelligence. And it also makes you more likely to vote for populist parties.
Until the late 1970s, Italian television was an earnest affair. The only national channels were run by RAI, the state broadcaster. On average, RAI only broadcast for about 10 hours a day. Nearly two-thirds of its content consisted of serious news or educational programming. Even advertising had to meet high moral standards; ads for pet food, for example, were not allowed to show moving images of cats or dogs. Apparently the bosses at RAI thought it was inappropriate for companies to hawk food for Fluffy or Rover while people in the developing world were suffering from famine.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Blackface. I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny. It’s racist. Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about..."
"Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “selfie line” may be a “political phenomenon,” according to CNN, but it’s also a misnomer, twice over: The photos that supporters end up with aren’t technically selfies—campaign aides snap them—and no one waits in a line..."
"In the archives of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, there is an old postcard from the city aquarium of a large sea turtle with four boys straddling its back. The turtle lies flattened upon a pathway in front of a fence. At the feet..."
"As we celebrated my granddaughter’s third birthday this summer, I made the following rough calculation: I’d trekked from my home in New Jersey to her Brooklyn apartment roughly 150 times to provide once-a-week day care, plus other times as needed."
"That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our..."
"It was the 2019 Pet Sematary that finally broke me. Was this really necessary? I seethed in a theater earlier this year, at a loss for why anyone would green light a self-serious update to a 30-year-old so-bad-it's-good movie. "Update," even, was.."
"Tuesday was election day in Israel. But no winner has yet been declared. As of this writing, it appears that the parties committed to supporting Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister will not win a majority in Knesset. At the same time, the..."
"The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it? The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to..."