Dave Grossman would have you believe that playing "Medal of Honor" will somehow turn you into an "Elite Team Fighter" or some such nonsense. The easiest way to show you that this isn't true is to observe the "XBox Generation" as they go through Basic Training. Elite fighters they ain't....
The observation that violence in the media is causing violence in our streets is nothing new. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and their equivalents in many other nations have all made unequivocal statements about the link between media violence and violence in our society. The APA, in their 1992 report Big World, Small Screen, concluded that the "scientific debate is over." And in 1993 the APA's commission on violence and youth concluded that "there is absolutely no doubt that higher levels of viewing violence on television are correlated with increased acceptance of aggressive attitudes and increased aggressive behavior." The evidence is, quite simply, overwhelming.From Killology.com, Dave Grossman’s website
Unfortunately the current data set does not support the “debate is ended” statement. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics violent crime is on a descending trend. While The APA and AMA have made “unequivocal statements” 17 years ago the data set gathered since then has shown that the debate is far from over as a causal relationship and mechanism of action cannot be positively identified.
There are many psychological and sociological processes through which media violence turns into violent crime. From a developmental standpoint we know that around the age of 18 months a child is able to discern what is on television and movies, but the part of their mind that permits them to organize where information came from does not fully develop until they are between ages five and seven. Thus, when a young child sees someone shot, stabbed, beaten, degraded, abused, or murdered on the screen, for them it is as though it were actually happening. They are not capable of discerning the difference, and the effect is as though they were children of a war zone, seeing death and destruction all around them, and accepting violence as a way of life.From killology.com
The work of Dr. James Fallon, a neuropsychologist at USC, shows that psychotic violent individuals require three things. First a genetic predisposition followed by a pattern of severe childhood abuse, followed by exposure to extreme violence (not fantasy violence such as video games or television). Dr. Fallon’s research is directly in opposition to the “debate is settled” proclamation by the APA. Dr. Fallon has done fascinating research into generational violence in the Middle East (specifically Palestinians) and has come to several well thought out conclusions about the genetic component of violence as a survival trait for a violent world. Also the three requirements for someone to become a killer (genetic, severe childhood abuse, and exposure to extreme violence) discounts any single source cause such as video games or television quite directly.
The biggest problem for Grossman is that media violence rates are not correlated with violent crime rates. Ultimately the biggest problem for this body of literature is that for his theory to be true, media violence would be well correlated with violent crime (which has been cycling up and down throughout human history). By discussing only the data from the 1950s through the 1990s, media violence researchers create the illusion that there is a correlation, when in fact there is not. Large spikes in violent crime in the United States occurred without associated media violence spikes during the 1880s (when records were first kept) and 1930s. The homicide rate in the United States has never been higher than during the 1930s (reference historical UCR data freely available from the FBI).
Violent crime rates (including among juveniles) dramatically fell in the mid 1990s and have continued to decline (through 2009, the most current data set available), during a time when media violence has continued to increase, and saw the addition of violent video games (Grand Theft Auto in a whole bunch of versions). Media violence researchers can not explain why many countries with media violence rates similar to or equal to the U.S. (such as Norway, Canada, Japan, etc.) have much lower violent crime rates (or why the UK has a rising violent crime rate despite increases in police spending, nanny cams, and a near total weapons ban). Huesmann & Eron's own cross-national study (which is often cited in support of media violence effects) failed to find a link between television violence and aggressive behavior in most of the countries included in the analysis (including America, and even in studies on American boys), which directly contradicts Grossman's assertion that murder rates will always double 15 years after television is introduced to a society.
Several scholars (e.g. Freedman, 2002; Olson, 2004; Savage, 2004) have pointed out that as media content has increased in violence in the past few decades, violent crimes among youth have declined rapidly. Although most scholars caution that this decline cannot be attributed to a causal effect, they conclude that this observation argues against causal harmful effects for media violence. A recent long-term outcome study of youth found no long-term relationship between playing violent video games or watching violent television and youth violence or bullying (reference "Video Games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in Adolescents", Christopher J. Ferguson, Journal of Youth and Adolescence)
Dave Grossman also discounts murder rates.
When we talk about violent crime, the first thing you have to realize is, you must ignore the murder rate. Because medical technology saves ever more lives, every year. A wound that, nine out of ten times would have killed you in World War II, in Vietnam you would have survived that same wound, nine out of ten times. This last year, I've written three encyclopedia entries, in the entry to the Oxford Companion to American Military History, and we've laid the scholarly foundation to say this: If we had 1930s-level technology in America--think of the 1930s now: no penicillin, no cars, no telephones, for all practical purposes, in most places--if we had 1930s technology, the murder rate could easily be ten times what it is. You've got to look at the aggravated assault rate, the rate at which people are trying to kill one another off. With that as our measure of crime--we're allowing for population growth--violent crime, per capita, has gone up sevenfold since 1957 to the middle of this decade. It's gone down just a tiny bit, recently, mostly because of a fivefold increase in the incarceration rate, and a good economy, but we're still six times greater per capita in the rate at which we're trying to kill one another off, than we were in 1957. From an interview conducted http://american_almanac.tripod.com/grossint.htm
However when we look at violent crime in general it does not discount the murder rate as the murder rate is closely correlated with the overall violent crime rate. Violent Crime last peaked in the US in 1992. The obvious implication is that violent crime is down from 1992 with a population of July 1, 1992, 254,994,517 to 2009 with a population of 305,529,237: U.S. population estimate for Jan. 1, 2009. An increase of 10 million citizens corresponding to a decrease from 1,932,274 to 1,318,398 in the violent crime rate demonstrates a negative correlation between both population density and prevalence of violent video games with violent crime.
So if Grossman's conclusions don't fit the data, what does?
The data begins to Peak around 1992, which is 19 years after Roe V. Wade (1973). Since 1992 crime statistics have fallen. Alternate hypothesis, people who would have been violent criminals were aborted as fetuses instead and this is the casual link between falling crime rates despite an ever increasing number of “violent video games” in the US. As an alternate hypothesis a diminishing pool of potential violent criminals due to legalized abortion supports the available data better than blaming media violence (remember, when we throw away what cannot be true, what is left is most likely true).
As an alternate we could take a look at the rates of childhood vaccinations and prescriptive medication for those under 25 for the same time period and see a correlative relationship. As medication rates rise crime lowers, as vaccination rates rise crime lowers... The problem with this is that the correlation cannot go further to a mechanism of action as with the abortion hypothesis.
To sum up, media violence does not correlate with actual violence, and without correlation a causal relationship CANNOT be established (and when data sets do correlate a causal relationship cannot be determined without a well defined MECHANISM OF ACTION) which leaves Grossman as just another guy trying to sell something. Dr Fallon on the other hand, can clearly point to both genetic and environmental factors with high confidence.
If you want to see where I got my numbers, go to http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/