One and a half years ago, I blogged about a working paper by Simen Markussen, Knut Røed and myself showing that access to commercial television channels during childhood and adolescence reduced cognitive ability scores and high school graduation rates of Norwegian men. Now, a substantially revised version is forthcoming in The Journal of Human Resources. (Preprint here.) The effects appear to be driven by consumption of light television entertainment crowding out more cognitively stimulating activities.
Books finished in September:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)
The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We like to Watch (2015) by Jonathan Gottschall. Unfit professor of literature in his late 30’s starts MMA training, goes a proper fight in the end. A very simple plot, but it works. Gottschall is prone to overgeneralizations, but that does not concern the essence of the book. The book is a good introduction to MMA for people who do not know much about it. Recommended.
The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance (2017) by Ben Sasse. Sasse, a Republican Senator in the US, is concerned about the state of the nation’s young. Especially that they are not driven and independent enough, but expect everything handed to them. He recognizes that people have always had such concerns, and emphasizes that today is different. I am not so sure it is, but that is not important, as any time needs to find its own answers anyway. He advocates for the important role parents have in fostering a work ethic and a broad intellectual outlook in their offspring – with which it is hard to disagree – but ducks the question of what to do for all those whose parents shirk this responsibility. Overall the book has too much generalization, e.g. about “the young” or “the past,” idolizes the past too much, and places far too much weight on old institutions like religion and marriage. Overall, this review ended up sounding more negative than I intended, perhaps because it gets worse towards the end, so let me be clear that there is good material there as well, and even if the virtues he writes about at times feel like motherhood and apple pie, it may be that they are worth re-emphasizing today.
Ratings and previous books are in the library.