Documentaries on TV dumb you down

I believe the biggest threat to our world is not global warming, war, or poverty, it is an absence of critical thought.

To solve any problem it first requires the skills of critical thought. These are skills that most people do not use and when do try to apply critical thinking it is often faulty.

I have witten more about the problems people have with critical thinking here . Television, after public schooling, is a significant cause of this reduction in our abilities to think critically. The North Korean propaganda video below shows how corrupt and stupid western society is. They didn’t have to try very hard as its all there….on television.



In the last 10 years I have progressively been watching less and less television. Today I wouldn’t watch it at all if my partner didn’t. I watch probably about 1 hour a week.

The biggest argument I hear on the defense of watching television is that the documentaries can be educational. I believe that even good documentaries are usually damaging to our intellect.


Lets do some maths
The “Average” weekday of an Australian heart_maths

That means that during the week watching television accounts for most of the average Australians waking hours when they are not at work or eating. This leaves the average Australian with little time during the weekdays to do anything constructive. It also means that the people they spend the most time with are from work and on television.

People cannot help learning off other people and often without realising it we take on behaviours we see at work and from television. Television is full of negative behaviours which discourage individual thought and encourage dependents through an emphasis on the importance of authority figures I talk about this more here.

Most debate or critical analysis the average person gets exposure to is not through face to face debates with friends or experts it is by watching television through news and documentaries. This is where the average person learns what it is to investigate information, debate and come to conclusions. Television programs generally have an agenda and frequently use fallacious arguments by authoritative individuals to make their points. This in turn creates an acceptance of faulty logic and poor critical thinking in the viewer. You can prove this by printing out this fallacy reference card reading it and then counting the fallacies next time you turn on the television.

All media is not equal in regards to its effect on critical thinking and intellect. Earlier in the year I was developing an application with the intention of promoting critical thought through a structured internet discussion (which I shelved) but in the process I put significant thought into media and how it can assist or retard mental development. I put this into a blog post which can be found here . It explains my views on different media and why I am not being a hypocryte putting youtube videos onto this blog post. I found a good video below that goes into some more details about the problems with watching television.

PS If I watched television when I got home from work I wouldn’t have written this blog post

Comments

  1. Paul Dixon says

    Hey Paul

    The impact of media – specifically mainstream television and newspapers is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. The example that has actually scared me is the treatment of Julia Gillard. Now, this is not a discussion of whether she is right or wrong, and I have little interest on whether you like her or don’t. But I firmly believe she has not received the same level of respect as the previous Prime Ministers I have experienced (eg Howard, Keating, Hawke and Fraser).

    What has scared me is how quickly actions by the media are replicated by the general public.

    First example, is her leadership challenge – for the past 3 years it has been referred to as her knifing Rudd. Why so negative? Compare that to Keating’s challenges on Hawke. It was never discussed in the same kind of primal context. The only real difference is Hawke allowed it to go to the vote, Rudd did not.

    Second example, the mainstream media has decided that the Gillard Government did not function as a ‘proper’ Government should. There is little to no acknowledgement of successes (eg Murray-Darling scheme), but days will be spent discussing failures.

    Third example, the constant analysis of her appearance. Yes, other politicians have been ridiculed – Paul Keating was often referred to as an undertaker for his preference of dark suits, John Howard was often made fun of for his wearing of green and gold tracksuits when he went for his morning walks. But the negativity aimed at Gillard was a whole new level – attacking her hair style, hair colour, body shape, the cut of her clothes, the colour schemes, pretty much anything.

    Now all you need to do is head down to a suburban pub, or read the comments section of a mainstream newspaper website, and you will see these kind of comments regurgitated without question. I have had these comments leveled at me, and when I have pushed for more detail, there is no understanding, it is just acceptance of the media’s point of view.

    I know this is not a real detail of response, but I just wanted to touch on an idea that has been bouncing around my head. For me, I not really a Gillard fan, I thought some things she did was good, others not so much, but it really has frightened me how negative the media have been to her and how easily the general public seem to have accepted that as the truth.

    My question is, why is this so. Is it because the decline in the idea of community and rise of the individual, or is it the greater immersion of the population into the depths of mass media?

    Hope this made sense and added to your stuff to think about.

    Cheers

    Paul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *