This lecture was filmed at the 2017 National Math Festival in Washington, D.C. and features Dr. Rebecca Goldin of George Mason University and STATS.
Do video games cause violence? The simple answer is, “It’s complicated.” Reports on recent studies assume that a functional brain scan can “measure aggression,” but what does that mean? The human brain is complex. The research is varied and "aggression" can be interpreted differently in different contexts. While the detailed neural mechanisms underlying mental and emotional states remain poorly understood, mathematical and statistical models form the foundation for our incomplete, approximate knowledge on this and many other important, but not yet rigorously defined, social and scientific questions.
Important considerations include issues of research design and quantitative analyses. For example, how do we differentiate between the effects on older versus younger children, or between those on healthy versus vulnerable sub-populations? Acts of violence are often committed by single individuals, yet studies measure effects across wide populations. Basic statistical concepts are helpful to shed light on these and other complex, interesting, and consequential open problems affecting all of us, often yielding intriguing and counter-intuitive conclusions.
Dr. Rebecca Goldin is a professor of mathematical sciences at George Mason University. Goldin is the director of STATS.org, a nonprofit, non-partisan project to analyze and explain numbers and statistics in the news and to promote statistical literacy in the media and society.
The National Math Festival thanks STATS (stats.org) for their support of this program.