Dr. Michael Merzenich Feb 23, 2012 posted in his blog "On the Brain with Dr Michael Merzenich"
I was dismayed by the recent 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals rejection of a California law requiring that violent video games be labelled, with their purchase being limited to individuals over the age of 18. [You can read the court's Opinion by going to the 9th Circuit website.] What I most strongly objected to was the judges’ conclusion that no definite relationship has been established between violent games and the behavior of young game-players — arguing, in a sense, that what a child sees and does has no demonstrated negative impact on what that child IS. Judges Callahan, Kozinski and Thomas, be it known that this is equivalent, scientifically, to a rejection of Darwinism.
How can these judicial authorities (who above all others should have developed an understanding about the origins of aberrant human behaviors) NOT understand that the child’s culturally-driven brain plasticity underlies their operational abilities and experiences. Where do THEY think that personhood and the beliefs that guide it — or its empathy or its lack of empathy — COME from? Am we really supposed to believe that if a child who spends an hour or two or three a day playing a highly neurologically rewarding (by definition, brain-changing) video game that inures the brain to violence and inculcates amoral psychopathy has no measurable, detrimental impact on them or their brain?! Do judges really believe that our ethical judgments are inborne, or spring right up out of the thin air?
You don’t have to go further than the our military’s training commands to find fact-certain evidence that violent video games inure young men and women to the infliction of violence, and to the de-sensitization of a trainee to its occurences. How else could you so uniformly educate altruistic young individuals to voluntarily eradicate other natively altruistic young individuals? And if these video game-based training strategies are not effectively contributing to achieving the transformation of a young individual who is reluctant to commit violence to one who will do that willingly, why have they become such a central piece of training a modern soldier?
As for the lawyers who failed to make their case for the state of California, or the judges who are blind to the obvious, we’ll all pay a price for your incompetence, far into the future.
And for supporting the defense of selling intensive training in violence to children to their great profit, be it noted that Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, and most of the companies producing violent video games paid the lawyers bills, through the manufacturers and distributors associations that they support. They are crowing about their victory, arguing that it’s all about ‘freedom’.
Stuff and utter nonsense.