A college professor, whose 2006 study concluded that Bible verses lead to violence testified March 19 in front of a subcommittee chaired by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R.-Va.) on the similar role of video games.
“People who believe that God sanctions violence are more likely than others to behave aggressively themselves,” wrote Ohio State University Prof. Brad J. Bushman, in his 2006 study “When God Sanctions Killing: Effect of scriptural violence on aggression.”
The study was published in the journal Psychology Science and offers a parallel with his February study for the National Science Foundation, commissioned by Wolf, after the tragic Dec.17 spree shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Wolf is one of the strongest voices on Capitol Hill making the connection between video games and violence.
If the government must restrict video games because the cause violence, why would not the government restrict other sources of violence—identified by the same scholar?
In the 2006 study, Bushman wrote that God could be cause of violence.
“We found compelling evidence that exposure to a scriptural depiction of violence or to violence authorized by deity can cause readers to behave more aggressively,” he wrote.
“Even among our participants who were not religiously devout, exposure to God-sanctioned violence increased subsequent aggression,” he wrote.
“That the effect was found in such a sample may attest to the insidious power of exposure to literary scriptural violence,” he wrote in the study.
The violence does not stop with garden variety thuggery, he wrote.
“This work also supports theories proposed by scholars of religious terrorism who hypothesize that exposure to violent scriptures may induce extremists to engage in aggressive actions,” wrote Bushman, an Mormon, who conducted half of the study with Mormon students at Brigham Young University and the other half with a mix of Christian and atheist students in the Netherlands.
In his testimony before Wolf, Bushman relied heavily on the NSF study “Youth Violence: What we need to know,” but he gave him out comparing his video game conclusions to tobacco studies.
There was never a direct link shown between lung cancer and smoking, but there was a lot of evidence, he said.
“We haven’t “proven” that violent video games directly cause violence because it can’t be proven. There is no way to ethically run experiments that see if playing a violent game like Call of Duty can push a person into violence,” he said.
Another comparsion to tobacco was Bushman’s observation about warning labels, which is the purpose of one of Wolf’s bills pending in the House.
“Unfortunately, one unintended side effect of warning labels is that they make violent media ‘forbidden fruits’ for children,” he said. The key is to educate parents, he said.
“This is an uphill battle, because the news media, entertainment industries, and other mass media purveyors may be reluctant to report that that they are marketing products that can be harmful to children.”
A posting at GamesPolitics.com, the news website for the Entertainment Consumers Association, attacks the Wolf hearing with Bushman testimony: “Wolf is handling this hearing the way other lawmakers tried to handle SOPA and PIPA; by presenting only one perspective. Clearly there’s mountains of research that disputes Bushman’s claim that video games and other media are a bad influence on America’s youth.”
The ECA also put out an alert about the hearing saying: “Today, Congressman Frank Wolf is holding a one-sided hearing on video game violence before the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee. Unfortunately, Congressman Wolf has already come to his conclusion – that video games cause violence, and he’s stacked the panel with partisan witnesses who agree with him.”