Morlock Elloi on Wed, 10 Jul 2019 02:19:10 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> IQ in the infrastructure web

A comprehensive Italian study "The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV" came out recently (available at ), providing compelling evidence that TV exposure in young age permanently affects IQ and cognitive abilities in general.

It is focused on Berlusconi's Mediaset, and deals with rather large samples, covering the influence that happened several decades ago, affecting today's adult population. Here are few quotes from the study (which should be read in its entirety):

"Overall, these results suggest that early exposure to entertainment TV led to a decrease in cognitive sophistication and civic engagement, but only for individuals exposed during childhood."

"Indeed, ideology does not seem to matter for politicians’ communication style: the coefficient of the dummy for right-wing parties is not statistically significant and small in magnitude. Instead, communication style is most similar between Berlusconi and the populist leader of the M5S; see the additional evidence in online Appendix Figure A9. The M5S is also the only other party attracting votes from individuals who were exposed earlier to entertainment TV (Table 5)."

"Overall, we conclude that early Mediaset viewers did not idealize Berlusconi’s qualities as either a man or a politician. Rather, they appear to filter such qualities through a different system of values, presumably influenced by their prior exposure to Mediaset."

"Our findings offer the first systematic evidence that exposure to entertainment television influences voting behavior, and suggests that this effect is mediated by deeper cognitive and cultural transformations."


Relatively primitive TV technology from decades ago had deep measurable and permanent influence on today's adult voting population. The content does not seem to matter - the volume and style do.

Which means that low-volume (articles, books and conferences) reasoning against these manufactured attitudes is a waste of time. If you can't force-feed them your counter-propaganda, or disrupt force-feeding by controlling communication pipes, you are wasting everyone's time.

Fast forward few decades - instead of being glued to the broadcast television screens with content same for everyone for several hours daily, the populus today is glued to smaller screens with customized content for the most of waking hours. Make a wild guess how will this affect cognitive abilities and political attitudes when they are measured few decades from now (the only problem is that there will not be relevant control set.)

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