Author Archives: iainthegreat

About iainthegreat

I am half way between A and B personality. I shot guns, went camping, play consoles. For meeting people and entertainment, I go to the same bar in River Falls for better or worse.

NATO was created for the US Department of Defense

For all those stupid people who think that NATO was created for Europe. That’s not that true. It was created as an extension of the US military for the United States. The Europeans don’t need help, it is the United States that needs help. NATO completely follows the US Department of Defense direction. NATO is owned by the Department of Defense of the United States. Russia doesn’t give a damn about NATO countries, but Putin only cares about what Department of Defense says and does.

Hillary Clinton’s Saul Alinksy paper


An Analysis of the Alinsky Model
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree under the Special Honors Program, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Hillary D. Rodham
Political Science
2 May, 1969
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres  Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating In the general mass of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer By strength and submission, has already been discovered Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope To emulate–but there is no competition–There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.  T.S. Eliot, “East Coker”
Acknowledgements………………………………… i
CASE STUDIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
V. REALIZING LIFE AFTER BIRTH . . . . . . . . 68
Appendices……………………………………… 76
Bibliography……………………………………. 84
Although I have no “loving wife” to thank for keeping the children away while I wrote, I do have many friends and teachers who have contributed to the process of thesis-writing. And I thank them for their tireless help and encouragement. In regard to the paper itself, there are three people who deserve special appreciation: Mr. Alinsky for providing a topic, sharing his time and offering me a job; Miss Alona E. Evans for her thoughtful questioning and careful editing that clarified fuzzy thinking and tortured prose; and Jan Krigbaum for her spirited intellectual companionship and typewriter rescue work.
 With customary British understatement, The Economist referred to Saul Alinsky as “that rare specimen, the successful radical.”
 FOOTNOTE 1  (note—all such numbers in the text refer to footnotes)
 This is one of the blander descriptions applied to Alinsky during a thirty year career in which epithets have been collected more regularly than paychecks. The epithets are not surprising as most people who deal with Alinsky need to categorize in order to handle him. It is far easier to cope with a man if, depending on ideological perspective, he is classified as a “crackpot” than to grapple with the substantive issues he presents.
 For Saul Alinsky is more than a man who has created a particular approach to community organizing, he is the articulate proponent of what many consider to be a dangerous socio/political philosophy. An understanding of the “Alinsky-type method” (i.e. his organizing method) as well as the philosophy on which it is based must start with an understanding of the man himself.

Alinsky was born in a Chicago slum to Russian Jewish immigrant  parents, and those early conditions of slum living and poverty in Chicago established the context of his ideas and mode of action. He traces his identification with the poor back to a home in the rear of a store where his idea of luxury was using the bathroom without a customer banging on the door.
Chicago itself has also greatly influenced him:
Where did I come from? Chicago. I can curse and hate the town but let anyone else do it and they’re in for a battle, There I’ve had the happiest and the worst times of my life. Every street has its personal joy and pain to me. On this street is the church of a Catholic Bishop who was a big part of my life; further down is another church where the pastor too has meant a lot to me; and a couple miles away is a cemetery–well, skip it. Many Chicago streets are pieces of my life and work. Things that happened here have rocked a lot of boats in a lot of cities. Nowadays I fly all over the country in the course of my work. But when those flaps go down over the Chicago skyline, I knew I’m home.  (all boldface type indicates blockquoting)
Although Alinsky calls Chicago his “city”, the place really represents to him the American Dream–in all its nightmare and its glory.
He lived the Dream as he moved from the Chicago slums to California then back to attend the University of Chicago. Alinsky credits his developing an active imagination, which is essential for a good organizer, to his majoring in archaeology. An imagination focusing on Inca artifacts, however, needs exposure to social problems before it can become useful in community organizing. Exposure began for Alinsky when he and other students collected food for the starving coal miners in southern Illinois who were rebelling against John L. Lewis and the United Mine Workers.
Lewis became a role model for Alinsky who learned about labor’s organizational
tactics from watching and working with Lewis during the early years of the CIO. Alinsky soon recognized that one of the hardest jobs of the leader is an imaginative one as he struggles to develop a rationale for spontaneous action:
For instance, when the first sit-down strikes took place in Flint, no one really planned them. They were clearly a violation of the law–trespassing, seizure of private property. Labor leaders ran for cover, refused to comment. But Lewis issued a pontifical statement, ‘a man’s right to a job transcends the right of private property,’ which sounded plausible.
After graduating from the University of Chicago, Alinsky received a fellowship in criminology with a first assignment to get a look at crime from the inside of gangs. He attached himself to the Capone gang, attaining a perspective from which he viewed the gang as a huge quasi-public  utility serving the people of Chicago. Alinsky’s eclectic life during the thirties, working with gangs, raising money for the International Brigade, publicizing the plight of the Southern share cropper, fighting for public housing, reached a turning point in 1938 when he was offered the job as head of probation and parole for the City of Philadelphia. Security. Prestige. Money. Each of these inducements alone has been enough to turn many a lean and hungry agitator into a well-fed establishmentarian.
Alinsky rejected the offer and its triple threat for a career of organizing the poor to help themselves. His first target zone was the Back of the Yards area in Chicago; the immediate impetus was his intense hatred of fascism:
…I went into ‘Back of the Yards’ in Chicago. This was Upton Sinclair’s ‘Jungle.’ This was not the slum across the tracks. This was the slum across the tracks from across the tracks. Also, this was the heart, in Chicago, of all the native fascist movements– the Coughlinites, the Silver Shirts, the Pelley movement… I went in there to fight fascism. If you had asked me then what my profession was, I would have told you I was a professional antifascist.
Alinsky’s anti-fascism, built around anti-authoritarianism, anti-racial superiority, anti-oppression, was the ideological justification for his move into organizing and the first social basis on which he began constructing his theory of action. Working in Chicago and other communities between 1938 and 1946 Alinsky refined his methods and expanded his theory. Then in 1946, Alinsky’s first book, Reveille for Radicals, was published. Since Alinsky is firstly an activist and secondly a theoretician, more than one-half the book is concerned with the tactics of building “People’s Organizations.”
There are chapter discussions of “Native Leadership,” “Community Traditions and Organizations,” “Conflict Tactics,” “Popular Education,” and “Psychological Observations on Mass Organizations.” The book begins by asking the question: What is a Radical?
This is a basic question for Alinsky who proudly refers to himself as a radical. His answer is prefaced by pages of Fourth-of-July rhetoric about Americans: “They are a people creating a new bridge of mankind in between the past of narrow nationalistic chauvinism and the horizon of a new mankind– a people of the world.”
Although the book was written right after World War II, which deeply affected Alinsky, his belief in American democracy has deep historical roots–at least, as he interprets history:
The American people were, in the beginning, Revolutionaries and Tories. The American People ever since have been Revolutionaries and Tories…regardless of the labels of the past and present… The clash of Radicals, Conservatives, and Liberals which makes up America’s political history opens the door to the most fundamental question of What is America? How do the people of America feel? There were and are a number of Americans–few, to be sure– filled with deep feelings for people. They know that people are the stuff that makes up the dream of democracy. These few were and are the American Radicals and the only way we can understand the American Radical is to understand what we mean by this feeling for and with the people.
What Alinsky means by this “feeling for and with the people” is simply how much one person really cares about people unlike himself. He illustrates the feeling by a series of examples in which he poses questions such as: So you are a white, native-born Protestant. Do you like people? He then proceeds to demonstrate how, in spite of protestations, the Protestant (or the Irish Catholic or the Jew or the Negro or the Mexican) only pays lip service to the idea of equality. This technique of confrontation in Alinsky’s writing effectively involves most of his readers who will recognize in themselves at least one of the characteristics he denounces. Having confronted his readers with their hypocrisy, Alinsky defines the American Radical as “…that unique person who actually believes what he says…to whom the common good is the greatest value…who genuinely and completely believes in mankind….”
Alinsky outlines American history focusing on men he would call “radical,” confronting his readers again with the Alinsky outlines American history focusing on men he would call “radical,” confronting his readers again with the “unique” way Americans have synthesized the alien roots of radicalism, Marxism, Utopian socialism, syndicalism, the French Revolution, with their own conditions and experiences:
Where are the American Radicals? They were with Patrick Henry in the Virginia Hall of Burgesses; they were with Sam Adams in Boston; they were with that peer of all American Radicals, Tom Paine, from the distribution of Common Sense through those dark days of the American Revolution… The American Radicals were in the colonies grimly forcing the addition of the Bill of Rights to our Constitution.
 They stood at the side of Tom Jefferson in the first big battle between the Tories of Hamilton and the American people. They founded and fought in the LocoFocos. They were in the first union strike in America and they fought for the distribution of the western lands to the masses of people instead of the few…They were in the shadows of the underground railroad and they openly rode in the sunlight with John Brown to Harpers Ferry…They were with Horace Mann fighting for the extension of educational opportunities…They built the American Labor movement… Many of their deeds are not and never will be recorded in America’s history.
They were among the grimy men in the dust bowl, they sweated with the share croppers. They were at the side of the Okies facing the California vigilantes. They stood and stand before the fury of lynching mobs. They were and are on the picket lines gazing unflinchingly at the threatening, flushed, angry faces of the police. American Radicals are to be found wherever and whenever America moves closer to the fulfillment of its democratic dream. Whenever America’s hearts are breaking, these American Radicals were and are. America was begun by its Radicals. The hope and future of America lies with its Radicals.
Words such as these coupled with his compelling personality enabled Alinsky to hold a sidewalk seminar during the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago. He socratically gathered around him a group of young demonstrators on the corner of Michigan and Bilbo on Monday night telling them that they were another generation of American Radicals.
Alinsky attempts to encompass all those worthy of his description “radical” into an ideological Weltanschauung:
What does the Radical want? He wants a world in which the worth of the individual is recognized…a world based on the morality of mankind…The Radical believes that all peoples should have a high standard of food, housing, and health…The Radical places human rights far above property rights. He is for universal, free public education and recognizes this as fundamental to the democratic way of life…Democracy to him is working from the bottom up…The Radical believes completely in real equality of opportunity for all peoples regardless of race, color, or creed.
Much of what Alinsky professes does not sound “radical.” His are the words used in our schools and churches, by our parents and their friends, by our peers. The difference is that Alinsky really believes in them and recognizes the necessity of changing the present structures of our lives in order to realize them.
There are many inconsistencies in Alinsky’s thought which he himself recognizes and dismisses. He believes that life is inconsistent and that one needs flexibility in dealing with its many facets. His writings reflect the flavor of inconsistency which permeates his approach to organizing. They also suggest Alinsky’s place in the American Radical tradition.
In order to discuss his place, it is necessary to circumvent his definition of “radical” based on inner psychological strength and commitment, and to consider more conventional uses of the term. Although there is great disagreement among writers about the definition of “radical” and among radicals themselves over the scope of the word’s meaning, there is sufficient agreement to permit a general definition.
A radical is one who advocates sweeping changes in the existing laws and methods of government. These proposed changes are aimed at the roots of political problems which in Marxian terms are the attitudes and the behaviors of men. Radicals are not interested in ameliorating the symptoms of decay but in drastically altering the causes of societal conditions. Radicalism “emphasizes reason rather than reverence, although Radicals have often been the most emotional and least reasonable of men.”
One of the strongest strains in modern radicalism is the eighteenth century Enlightenment’s faith in human reason and the possible perfectibility of man. This faith in the continuing improvement of man was and is dominated by values derived from the French and American Revolutions and profoundly influenced by the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution shifted the emphasis of radicalism to an urban orientation. Alinsky holds to the basic radical tenets of equality and to the urban orientation, but he does not advocate immediate change. He is too much in the world right now to allow himself the luxury of symbolic suicide. He realizes that radical goals have to be achieved often by non-radical, even “anti-radical” means. For Alinsky, the non-radical means involve the traditional quest for power to change existing situations. To further understand Alinsky’s radicalism one must examine his attitude toward the use of power. The key word for an Alinsky-type organizing effort is “power.” As he says: “No individual or organization can negotiate without power to compel negotiations.”
The question is how one acquires power, and Alinsky’s answer is through organization: “To attempt to operate on good will rather than on a power basis would be to attempt something which the world has never yet experienced–remember to make even good will effective it must be mobilized into a power unit.”
One of the problems with advocating mobilization for power is the popular distrust of amassing power. Americans, as John Kenneth Galbraith points out in American Capitalism, are caught in a paradox regarding their view toward power because it “obviously presents awkward problems for a community which abhors its existence, disavows its possession, but values its existence.”
Alinsky recognizes this paradox and cautions against allowing our tongues to trap our minds:
We have become involved in bypaths of confusion or semantics… The word ‘power’ has through time acquired overtones of sinister corrupt evil, unhealthy immoral Machiavellianism, and a general phantasmagoria of the nether regions.
For Alinsky, power is the “very essence of life, the dynamic of life” and is found in “…active citizen participation pulsing upward providing a unified strength for a common purpose of organization…either changing circumstances or opposing change.”
Alinsky argues that those who wish to change circumstances must develop a mass-based organization and be prepared for conflict.
He is a neo-Hobbesian who objects to the consensual mystique surrounding political processes; for him, conflict is the route to power. Those possessing power want to retain it and often to extend the bounds of it. Those desiring a change in the power balance generally lack the established criteria of money or status and so must mobilize numbers.
Mobilized groups representing opposed interests will naturally be in conflict which Alinsky considers a healthful and necessary aspect of a community organizing activity. He is supported in his prognosis by conflict analysts such as Lewis Coser who points out in The Functions of Social Conflict that:
Conflict with other groups contributes to the establishment and reaffirmation of the group and maintains its boundaries against the surrounding social world.
In order to achieve a world without bounds it appears essential for many groups to solidify their identities both in relation to their own membership and to their external environment. This has been the rationale of nationalist groups historically and among American blacks presently. The organizer plays a significant role in precipitating and directing a community’s conflict pattern. As Alinsky views this role, the organizer is
…dedicated to changing the character of life of a particular community [and] has an initial function of serving as an abrasive agent to rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; to fan latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expressions… to provide a channel into which they can pour their frustration of the past; to create a mechanism which can drain off underlying guilt for having accepted the previous situation for so long a time. When those who represent the status quo label you [i.e. the community organizer] as an ‘agitator’ they are completely correct, for that is, in one word, your function–to agitate to the point of conflict.
An approach advocating conflict has produced strong reactions. Some of his critics compare Alinsky’s tactics with those of various hate groups such as lynch mobs which also “rub raw the resentments of the people.”
Alinsky answers such criticism by reminding his critics that the difference between a “liberal” and a “radical” is that the liberal refuses to fight for the goals he professes. During his first organizing venture in Back of the Yards he ran into opposition from many liberals who, although agreeing with his goals, repudiated his tactics. They wore according to Alinsky “like the folks during the American Revolution who said ‘America should be free but not through bloodshed.’”
When the residents of Back of the Yards battled the huge meat-packing concerns, they were fighting for their jobs and for their lives. Unfortunately, the war-like rhetoric can obscure the constructiveness of the conflict Alinsky orchestrates. In addition to aiding in formation of identity, conflict between groups plays a creative social role by providing a process through which diverse interests are adjusted.
To induce conflict is a risk because there is no guarantee that it will remain controllable. Alinsky recognizes the risk he takes but believes it is worth the gamble if the conflict process results in the restructuring of relationships so as to permit the enjoyment of greater freedom among men meeting as equals. Only through social equality can men determine the structure of their own social arrangements. The concept of social equality is a part of Alinsky’s social morality that assumes all individuals and nations act first to preserve their own interests and then rationalize any action as idealistic. He thinks it is only through accepting ourselves as we “really” are that we can begin to practice “real” morality:
There are two roads to everything–a low road and a high one. The high road is the easiest. You just talk principles and be angelic regarding things you don’t practice. The low road is the harder. It is the task of making one’s self-interest behavior moral behavior. We have behaved morally in the world in the past few years because we want the people of the world on our side. When you get a good moral position, look behind it to see what is self-interest.
The cynicism of this viewpoint was mitigated somewhat by my discussing the question of morality with Alinsky who conceded that idealism can parallel self-interest. But he believes that the man who intends to act in the world as- it-is must not be misled by illusions of the world-as-we-would-like-it-to be.
Alinsky claims a position of moral relativism, but his moral context is stabilized by a belief in the eventual manifestation of the goodness of man. He believes that if men were allowed to live free from fear and want they would live in peace. He also believes that only men with a sense of their own worth and a respect for the commonality of humanity will be able to create this new world.
Therefore, the main driving force behind his push for organization is the effect that belonging to a group working for a common purpose has had on the men he has organized. Frustration is transformed into confidence when men recognize their capability for contribution. The sense of dignity is particularly crucial in organizational activity among the poor whom Alinsky warns to beware of programs which attack only their economic poverty.
Welfare programs since the New Deal have neither redeveloped poverty areas nor even catalyzed the poor into helping themselves. A cycle of dependency has been created which ensnares its victims into resignation and apathy. To dramatize his warning to the poor, Alinsky proposed sending Negroes dressed in African tribal costumes to greet VISTA volunteers arriving in Chicago. This action would have dramatized what he refers to as the “colonialism” and the “Peace Corps mentality” of the poverty program.
Alinsky is interested in people helping themselves without the ineffective interference from welfarephiles. Charles Silberman in his book, Crisis in Black and White describes Alinsky’s motivation in terms of his faith in People:
The essential difference between Alinsky and his enemies is that Alinsky really believes in democracy; he really believes that the helpless, the poor, the badly-educated can solve their own problems if given the chance and the means; he really believes that the poor and uneducated, no less that the rich and educated, have the right to decide how their lives should be run and what services should be offered to them instead of being ministered to like children.
This faith in democracy and in the people’s ability to “make it” is peculiarly American and many might doubt its radicalness. Yet, Alinsky’s belief and devotion is radical; democracy is still a radical idea in a world where we often confuse images with realities, words with actions. Alinsky’s belief in self-interested democracy unifies his views on the use of the power/conflict model in organizing and the position of morality and welfare in the philosophy underlying his methodology.
1 “Plato on the Barricades,” The Economist, May 13-19, 1967, p. 14.
2 “The Professional Radical,” Harper’s, June, 1965, p. 38.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 40.
5 Ibid., p. 45.
6 Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press. 1946), p. 4.
7 Ibid., p. 14.
8 Ibid., p. 22.
9 Ibid.
10 Saul D. Alinsky, private interview in Boston, Massachusetts, October, 1968.
11 Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, p. 23.
12 John W. Derry, The Radical Tradition (London: MacMillan, 1967), p. vii.
13 Dan Dodson, “The Church, POWER, and Saul Alinsky,” Religion in Life,
(Spring, 1967), p. 11.
14 Ibid.
15 John Kenneth Galbraith, American Capitalism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1962), p. 26.
16 Dodson, p. 12.
17 Ibid.
18 Lewis Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict (New York: The Free Press,
1956), p.8.
19 Dodson.
20 Charles E. Silberman, Crisis in Black and White (New York: Random House,
1964), p. 331.
21 Alinsky interview, Boston.
22 Dodson.
23 Saul D. Alinsky, private interview in Wellesley, Massachusetts, January 1969
24 Patrick Anderson, “Making Trouble is Alinsky’s Business,” The New York
Times Magazine (October 9, 1966), p. 29.
25 Silberman, p. 333.

IN NOVEMBER 2012 a stone monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments was placed on the grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol. Seven years earlier, in Van Orden v Perry, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a Ten Commandments monument placed on the Texas state capitol grounds did not violate the First Amendment’s clause forbidding government from making any law “respecting the establishment of religion”. But now other religions want in too: in December the Satanic Temple launched a campaign to place a monument of its own next to the Ten Commandments, reasoning that it would give Oklahomans “the opportunity to show that they espouse the basic freedoms spelled out in the Constitution”. They wanted to raise $20,000 by January 18th; they have already surpassed that goal. On Monday, they unveiled their monument’s design (pictured): a winged creature with the torso of a man, the head of a goat and horns sits on a throne beneath a Pentagram, two fingers sagely raised as two tow-headed children look on in wonder. Satanists, it seems, have a sense of humour. But what do they actually believe?
That turns out to be a difficult question to answer. You will be unsurprised to hear that Satanists are a rather fractious bunch, with many different organisations, beliefs and rituals. Many of these organisations are wholly or partly occult, with much hidden from non-adherents. Some are spiritualists: they worship Satan as a deity. Adherents of the Joy of Satan Ministries, for instance, “know Satan/Lucifer as a real being”, and believe he is “the True Father and Creator God of humanity”. Others—notably the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey, the most renowned occultist since Alesteir Crowley; and the Satanic Temple—are materialist, and reject belief in supernatural beings. Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple, describes himself as “an atheist when it comes to supernatural beliefs”, and says that for him Satanism stands for “individual sovereignty in the face of tyranny, and the pursuit of knowledge even when that knowledge is dangerous.” LaVey’s “Satanic Bible” proclaims “Life is the great indulgence—death the great abstinence! Therefore make the most of the HERE AND NOW!…Choose ye this day, this hour, for no redeemer liveth!”
Despite these differences, certain commonalities link many spiritual and materialist branches of Satanism: namely a belief that the worship of a supernatural deity—and the ecclesiastical structure that evolved to support such worship—places needless restrictions on human knowledge and progress; and a belief in science, rationality and learning, without restrictions. Peter Gilmore, LaVey’s successor as head of the Church of Satan, distinguishes between “carnal people and spiritual people”: he believes the latter need a “spooky daddy in the sky”, whereas he is “happy being the center of [his] universe”. In this sense, materialist Satanism seems close to, if not indistinguishable from, organised atheism, or perhaps atheism with rituals. But Mr Gilmore says his church uses Satan in the original Hebrew sense as “The Adversary”—”a figure who will stand up and challenge”. Satan in this sense becomes a sort of literary figure or metonymy for challenging orthodoxy, rather than an evil or bloodthirsty god.
All of this is considerably less headline-grabbing than animal sacrifice or ritual murder. And, of course, some have been convicted of horrific acts nominally committed for or connected with Satan. But these are hardly the first murders committed in a religion’s name, nor is there any evidence to suggest that these killers are more representative of Satanism than other religiously-inspired killers are of their faiths. Yet somehow one imagines that such arguments will fail to sway Oklahoma’s legislators into allowing a giant, goat-headed, pentagrammed statue to sit next to a monument of the Ten Commandments.

Grams Search Engine and other secret wikis

I learned of a secret search engine called Grams that is accessed through the Tor Web browser.   There is also a Onion alternative to wikipedia called “The Hidden Wiki
Onion sites can only be seen in the  Tor web browser, a modified
Firefox browser.   The onion is for all the black markets.  There are
other .onion sites besides black markets.

OASIS GRAM Torch realhosting



Fixing NASCAR decline

Aaaaaaaaand, we’re back! In my earlier post, which can be found here, I discussed three major challenges facing NASCAR as it struggles to grow in this post-recession world. Beset by (1) the rise of corporate molded personalities such as 5 time champion Jimmie Johnson, (2) poor quality racing, and (3) bad broadcasts and commentating by networks such as TNT, NASCAR has stagnated. Track attendance is down. In 2012, no NASCAR races were sellouts. Television ratings have remained flat throughout the last 5 years, in stark contrast to the late ’90′s and early 2000′s, when ratings grew 5 to 10% every season. I’ve already examined 3 problems facing NASCAR. Today I look at two more issues that threaten the sport’s future.

4. Nascar has an image problem

Stock car racing is consistently one of the top three most watched sports in America, beating almost every major sporting league except the NFL in the ratings. However, Nascar’s exposure in the news media is minimal. On ESPN’s popular SportsCenter program, Nascar is talked about for at most five minutes in the course of an hour long TV show. In the New York Times Sports Section, which I’m using as an example because it’s the only paper I get, stock car races are lucky to get a two paragraph write up buried under the box scores. Midseason college basketball, youth soccer competitions, and national swimming championships all get more press and exposure than Nascar. And this is a problem. Nascar can’t attract new fans and new audiences if it has no exposure in the media. No one will get hooked on Nascar by reading a four sentence blurb about last week’s race.

Pictured: More popular than NASCAR?

If Nascar has a problem getting exposure, then it also has a problem with its image. Nascar is looked down upon by many, most of whom have never even seen an actual race. It’s perceived as a borefest where cars do nothing but go around in circles for hours on end. The drivers are seen as out-of-shape rednecks who sit in a car for a living. Many don’t even consider Nascar to be a real sport. And this is not true. Being a race car driver requires better hand-eye coordination than basketball, boxing, or football, better reactions and judgement than baseball, cycling, or martial arts, and more nerve than just about any other sport. Yet, people still hold Nascar in disdain, refusing to attend an event or to watch a race on TV. This perception needs to change, or else Nascar will have serious trouble with attracting new fans and increasing its ratings.

5. The Economy

Many of Nascar’s woes can be traced back to the economic troubles that the United States is going through. People all across the country are experiencing money problems, and this directly impacts their habits concerning Nascar. People can’t afford to pay for high-priced tickets to Nascar events. The cost of the gas needed to travel to the tracks also turns many people away from the sport. People can’t afford to take vacations and spend long weekends at a Nascar track. If they take time off, they’ll be perceived as slacking and will be the first to go if a new round of layoffs hit. The Great Recession has put a major dent in Nascar’s ticket sales and attendance records. However, the silver lining in this is that the American economy will eventually recover. America will bounce back, and when it does, once again prosperous race fans will be able to spend the money needed to attend races. Nascar just needs to ride the economic crisis out, and eventually it will come out on top.

Nascar is experiencing many problems, and as a result its viewership is in decline. But these problems are not fatal. They do not spell the death of this great American sport. How can Nascar fix its issues and surge to the top once again? Stay tuned to find out.

To read about how these problems can be fixed, click here.

NASCAR was once one of America‘s most popular sports. In the late ’90s and the early 2000s, NASCAR saw an unprecedented growth in popularity and TV ratings. NASCAR’s meteoric rise was fed by the rise of Jeff Gordon, whom many consider to be NASCAR’s first superstar, and the death of legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. However, in recent years that growth has slowed. Bland drivers, storylines, and racing have sent NASCAR’s TV ratings into a tailspin. They have also been responsible for steadily declining attendance at NASCAR races. NASCAR is in danger of fading into irrelevance if it does not do something to revitalize its growth and make it once again America’s fastest growing sport.

Over the past few years, multiple problems have beset NASCAR racing. Here are some of the biggest ones.

1. The rise of Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson has accomplished a feat no one ever thought possible. From 2006-2010, Johnson won five straight Sprint Cup Championships. His domination of the sport has actually been one of the main reasons for its decline. These five titles chases were some of the most boring in modern NASCAR history. Aside from 2007, in which Johnson was met with a stiff challenge from Jeff Gordon, and in 2010, when Johnson came from behind to beat Denny Hamlin for the title, all of Johnson’s title chases have been fairly boring. the outcome of the season was never in doubt. Like Dale Earnhardt’s domination of the sport in the early ’90s, and Jeff Gordon’s spate of championships from 1995-2001, Johnson’s winning streak should have been a boon for NASCAR–a fresh face on top of the sport. However, people have instead turned away form the sport because of Jimmie. Jimmie just isn’t that likable. He’s a wonderful person and a class act on the track, but he is not very charismatic or interesting. Jimmie is seen by many fans as having a corporate-molded persona. To them, Johnson is just one more slick average character in a sea of similar faces. Having such a bland person as the face of NASCAR is not what the sport needs. But with Jimmie, that’s what has happened.
Shot by The Daredevil at Daytona during Speedw…

Jimmie Johnson during 2008
NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt

NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt

2. Poor racing

The quality of NASCAR racing has declined in recent years. Fans and drivers alike have complained about new tracks and new cars that make it difficult to pass. Many argue that the quality of racing has declined–fans are now subjected to long periods of green flag racing where the drivers ride around the track in single files. Others complain about the tracks. Most of the tracks recently added to the NASCAR circuit have been 1.5 mile ovals. Critics have charged that these cookie cutter tracks are too similar and that all result in lethargic racing. Whatever the reason, the excitement in NASCAR has slowed, and that has been reflected by the drop-off in TV ratings.

Single file racing

But a lack of passing is not the only reason that fans have been turned away. Fuel mileage races, in which victory comes down to who can last the longest on a tank of gas rather than who drives the fastest, have become more and more common. In 2011, for example, virtually every single race on a 1.5 mile track came down to who could finish the race without running out of gas. Fuel mileage racing takes away the action associated with a race and adds a sense of boredom to what is normally the most exciting part of a race–the finish.

3. Bad broadcasting

Sometimes, when covering a sport, a good announcer can keep you on the the edge of your seat, completely engaged in what you’re watching, even if the event isn’t exactly a thriller. This has not been the case with NASCAR. NASCAR broadcasters, especially those on TNT, are known for providing decidedly dull coverage of races.

Let’s compare. In August 2012, I was watching a Formula 1 race, the Belgian Grand Prix. The race was won by Jenson Button, who led every lap and finished 13 seconds ahead of 2nd place Sebastian Vettel. The outcome was never in doubt. And yet, that Grand Prix was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever watched on TV. The camera crew was excellent, showing close ups of intense action and racing happening all around the track. The announcers were exciting, providing fast-paced calls and interesting color commentary.
Jenson Button in 2011

Jenson Button in 2011

Now let’s compare a NASCAR race on TNT–namely, last summer’s race at the Infineon Raceway, one of only two non-oval tracks on the NASCAR circuit. This broadcast epitomized the TV troubles NASCAR has been having. The announcers were uninteresting, spending more time discussing their new in-car cameras than they did actually talking about the racing. There were long pauses as they frequently contradicted each other as to what was going on during the race. At the same time they missed some great battles for position on the racetrack. The broadcast was bad. TNT turned a great race into a snoozer.

NASCAR has problems, and these problems are hurting its popularity. TV ratings are down. Ticket sales are down. Merchandise sales are down. NASCAR is down. But its not out. The sport can fix and recover from these problems. But it will have to make some major changes in order to survive. How can NASCAR come surging back? Stay tuned to find out.

Earlier, in part 1 and part 2 of this story, I discussed the problems that are facing Nascar. And there are plenty. The sport faces plunging attendance, declining TV viewership, and fans who see lethargic racing, boring drivers, and a lack of excitement. These problems, although serious, do not spell the death of Nascar. But how can Nascar fix these problems? Well, you’ll see here.

1. Better cars

The new cars (shown on the right) have more brand identity

The much reviled Car of Tomorrow, which was introduced in 2007 and quickly became the subject of unilateral hate, has been phased out of Nascar. Starting this season, the new Gen-6 cars have been introduced into the sport. And what a difference they have made! The new cars immediately got a positive reaction from the fans. They are much more aesthetically pleasing and look more like their street counterparts. All of the Car of Tomorrow models looked exactly the same. The cars have also led to more exciting racing. The races in California, Las Vegas,and New Hampshire were all much more exciting than they had been in years. However, Nascar still has some work today. Lethargic follow-the-leader racing still persists at tracks such as the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Daytona and Talladega featured long stretches of double-file racing where virtually no passing occurred. Gone are the days when a driver could charge to the front of the filed in just a few laps. An improved aero package for the superspeedways would go a long way to rectifying this.

2. TV deal

Nascar has made agreements to have its races broadcast on FOX, TNT, and ESPN throughout the season. The TNT and ESPN deals come up for renewal at the end of the 2014 season. Renewing these deals, especially the agreement with TNT, would hurt Nascar and decrease its viewership. TNT consistently puts out poor quality, commercial filled broadcasts that turn even the most exciting races into snoozefests. NBC and CBS are reportedly interested in broadcasting races. Nascar would be well-advised to consider their offers. In order to gain more exposure, Nascar races need to be broadcasted on major networks like NBC and CBS, not on cable channels like TNT and ESPN.  I mean, who really watches TNT?

3. Stopping Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson has won five straight championships. Take a moment to digest that.  In any other sport, or even with any other driver, his accomplishment would be celebrated, revered even. The only other teams that have done this are the 1950′s Yankees, the 1960′s Celtics, and the 1950′s Montreal Canadiens. That’s it. And yet, when people talk about Johnson’s achievement, it is not with reverence or with awe. His streak is talked about with utter disgust. By many, Johnson is considered a bland and boring driver. His consistent performance is driving fans away from the sport. So, what can Nascar do to stop this?

First of all, they can Jimmie-proof the Chase, much like the PGA tour did after the rise of Tiger Woods. The PGA deliberately made their courses harder, adjusting tee-off spots and hole placements in order to ensure parity and make the courses more difficult for Tiger. Now, obviously Nascar doesn’t have the ability to change the layout of their tracks, but they do have the ability to change the schedule. If Nascar were to take out Chase tracks that Jimmie performs well at, such as Martinsville, Phoenix, Kansas, or Dover, and replace them with tracks where he consistently performs poorly, such as Bristol, Watkins Glen, or Richmond, it would go a long way towards stopping Jimmie’s dominance.  Upping the scrutiny on Johnson’s cars would also help Nascar hold back the 48. More incidents like at New Hampshire, where Jimmie was sent to the back of the field after he failed post-qualifying inspection, would put a damper on the 48′s success.

4. Better racing

This fix is fairly simple. Fans and sportswriters  alike have complained about the high volume of intermediate, Cookie cutter tracks, and with good reason. Nascar races at 1.5 mile ovals such as Texas, Las Vegas, and Atlanta often feature long boring stretches of single file racing. There are on average only two caution flags for crashes per race. Races are often won and lost by strategy calls on top of the pit box, rather than by a great move on the track. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Jimmie Johnson is often at his best on these tracks. The solution? Move races away from these cookie cutter raceways. Replace them with road course events, or short tracks. Another superspeedway race like Talladega would be a good idea as well. Nascar should even consider hosting a race on a dirt track. The Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway (7 ET, July 24 on SPEED), has already generated an insane amount of interest–and that’s just a Truck Series race! It featured great racing and some of the best storylines of the year. It doesn’t matter where Nascar moves its races. It just needs to move them away form the 1.5 mile cookie cutters.

5. The economy

Many Nascar fans have stopped coming to races because of the economy. They simply can’t afford it. Aside from reducing the cost of its tickets, there’s not much that Nascar can do to stop this. Nascar just needs to ride the recession out. When the economy improves, so will ticket sales.

Eldora was a step in the right direction for Nascar. To read about how the race went down and whether it was a succes

World War III theory

When confusion and misinformation get together in the dark, paranoia is born. Fears of war, violence, and oppression fester and grow in the minds of the populace pushing everything but a misguided assurance of certain doom into the shadows. Out of this cramped and huddled mindset we get the bastardized half-brother of critical thinking: conspiracy theories.

Claiming that World War III is just over the horizon is as crazy as it gets, but the state of the world is showing some eerie similarities to the pre–World War II global picture. And history is a creature of habit.

10 An Unexpected Invasion


Photo credit: Voice of America

On February 27, 2014, Russian soldiers strapped on their marching boots and took over several airports in Crimea. As this is being written, roughly 6,000 Russian troops are moving across the Crimean peninsula and forcibly taking operational control of military bases, communications centers, and government buildings.

This is an invasion that has been a long time in the making, and it’s certainly not the first time Russia has made power plays in the Ukraine. Ever since 1783, Ukraine and Russia (for a time the Soviet Union) have played hot potato with Crimea, leaving a bubbling brew of split nationalism struggling to coexist on the little peninsula.

But the arrival of Russian troops is just the most recent step in a tumultuous few weeks for Ukraine. The country has seen its Russia-sympathizing president, Viktor Yanukovych, become a fugitive, a Russian citizen become the Crimean city of Sevastopol’s mayor, and an emergency meeting of Crimea’s parliament elect Sergey Aksyonov as the new Prime Minister of Crimea—at gunpoint. Aksyonov has declared that he will follow orders from the ousted Yanukovych, who is currently seeking refuge in Russia. The country’s politics are in tatters.

9 The Ukrainian Conflict Is Reaching A Boiling Point


Photo credit: John Jazwiec

Ukrainian nationalists are calling Putin’s invasion an act of war; Russians in Ukraine are calling it an act of salvation. Riots are flaring up all across the country as the two dominant political forces come to a head. This video shows two men being beaten by a pro-Russian mob in Kharkiv, the USSR’s Bolshevik-run capital leading up to World War II—and that’s where Putin’s army looks headed next.

You can get a pretty clear view of the political alliances of Ukraine with the above map, which shows the results of the 2010 election. Blue represents areas that supported Viktor Yanukovych, so you can consider those regions comparatively pro-Russian. The purple areas voted for an opposing candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko. The darker the color, the stronger the support. Kharkiv and Donetsk are firmly in the blue, and represent two major Ukrainian cities with a strong industrial infrastructure—and both are historically Russian.

This is a group of very assertive, very nationalistic people at arms over the one issue that holds paramount importance: heritage. And historically, gray areas are reserved for the losers; it’s the inflexible, dyed-in-the-wool believers in a cause who triumph in a conflict. Russia sees this as good news, picturing much support from the country they’re invading. As one Ukrainian bitterly put it, “No one asked us. We are like puppets for them. We have one Tsar and one god—Putin.”

8 Russia’s License For Aggression


Though the UN, NATO, and the US have all gone on high alert, the Crimean invasion isn’t an act of aggression against the whole world. It’s a move to make parts of Ukraine decisively Russian, both culturally and politically. Obama initially warned that there would be “costs” to this invasion, but he won’t back it up—he can’t, not without a game of nuclear Russian roulette, which nobody wants.

The problem isn’t that America and the UN will start tossing bombs into Russia; the problem is that Putin knows they won’t. This is a man who once said that the fall of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,” a viewpoint which harkens to the days of Stalin’s Great Purge and Khrushchev’s missile diplomacy with Cuba.

And Putin’s already on round two. In 2008, when Putin was still Prime Minister, Russia and Georgia entered a five-day conflict that culminated in Russian bombs falling on the Georgian capital. Humanitarian groups around the world cried out, governments issued strict warnings for Russia to fall back, and nobody lifted an actual finger to stop it. At the end of it all, Russia calmly strolled back home and declared that Georgia had been “sufficiently punished.” Each time this happens, Russia becomes more assured that the warnings of the rest of the world are just that—words, empty and hollow.

The situation in Ukraine may not be a match that’s going to ignite the fires of World War III, but it’s a nod to a superpower that they have a free license to do what they want. And if you give a mouse a cookie . . .

7 The Senkaku Island Dispute


Russia’s not the only country setting the stage for World War III. As is the case with most important things, World War II didn’t suddenly flash into existence; it edged its way into the world consciousness one little bit at a time, like a slowly rusting bicycle, until war was officially declared. While it’s easy to put the conflict into the simplest terms, a lot of factors combined to make up what we now view as one war.

The years leading up to the war held a lot of indicators that, in hindsight, revealed aggressive countries testing the waters of what they could get away with. Japan, Italy, and Germany were all involved in minor conflicts that the League of Nations couldn’t stop, such as Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and Japan’s chemical-infused invasion of China in 1937.

These days, China is reversing the balance by threatening an invasion of its own. The territory in question is a group of rocks known as the Senkaku islands, which are located in the East China Sea. The problem, of course, is that both China and Japan feel that the islands belong to them, and whoever controls the islands also controls shipping lanes, fishing waters, and a potential oil field.

6 A Third Sino-Japanese War In The Making

China hasn’t been the nicest neighbor recently. In November 2013, China startled the world by announcing a newly configured air defense zone in the East China Sea—a zone that they and they alone would control, to the point of shooting down aircraft that wandered into it. But, in addition to Japan, other regions originally had claim to that airspace, including Taiwan and South Korea.

Whether or not China was planning an invasion at that point, the Senkaku islands fall inside their “newly acquired” airspace, and now they’re threatening to forcefully move Japan out of the area. Tensions have been building in the Pacific Rim for a while now, and if military action puts too much pressure on the skeleton of their current political disputes, bones could break.

And unlike the first two Sino-Japanese wars, this conflict could involve other countries in the region. South Korea quietly expanded their own airspace in December 2013, pushing back into territory that China had already claimed. Combined with both China and Japan aggressively rearming themselves in recent years, this territorial dispute has the potential to explode.


5 America Is Legally Bound To Protect South Pacific Countries


Photo credit: Gary Prill

A war only becomes a World War when the US gets involved. Unlike their official policy of stern warnings and disapproving looks in response to Russia, the White House has publicly and unwaveringly declared that it will back Japan against any acts of aggression by China.

With about 50 percent of its Naval force stationed in the Pacific, the US will also be in a position to help the Philippines if China continues pressing to the south. They’re yet another country that has been affected by the airspace changes, and the US is legally bound to protect the Philippines based on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

This treaty doesn’t even require anything as outright as a full-scale land invasion. The Philippines owns disputed islands within China’s new airspace in the South China Sea (much like Japan claims to own the Senkaku islands). If China makes a move on any of those, the US Navy has to retaliate on their behalf, or they’ll break the conditions of the treaty.

4 Unlikely Alliances


Photo credit: China News

But beneath it all, what do China’s problems and Russia’s problems have to do with each other?

Although they initially ended up on opposite sides of the conflict, Germany and the USSR went into World War II with a non-aggression pact, which lasted two years until Hitler ripped it up and sent Nazis onto Soviet ice.

With perhaps some similarities to that historic pact, China and Ukraine signed a nuclear security pact in December 2013. The conditions: China won’t use any nuclear weapons against Ukraine, and if Ukraine is ever attacked by a nuclear force—or “threatened by such aggression“—China will provide Ukraine with security guarantees.

Why would China want to create such a pact with a country 5,800 kilometers (3,600 mi) away? And more importantly, with which government is China going to honor the pact? The past two months have seen a see-saw of political parties in control of Ukraine, but it’s likely that China’s involvement will be dependent on Yanukovych’s politics, which are decidedly pro-Russian. He’s the one who signed the pact. China says its relationship with Russia is warmer than ever, with China’s People Daily describing it as “one of the most active power relationships [in the world].”

It’s been speculated that Russia is hoping to draw a Western attack onto Ukraine, so that China’s entry to back Ukraine will cement the alliance between China and Russia. That idea reeks of conspiracy theory. But with Russia’s recent agreement to supply $270 billion in oil supplies to China, and with the majority of Russia’s pipelines running through Ukraine, China would want to protect its own interests. Either way, the enemy of an enemy is always a friend, and US-Russian relations are on very shaky ground.

3 Iran Is Itching For War


Photo credit: Nisseth

While tension rises on the Eastern European front and Southeast Asia is mired in an explosive territorial dispute, rumors of war are also being whispered in the Middle East—specifically, Iran. But is Iran any real threat? Depending on the spin, it’s easy to think so.

In January 2014, Iran dispatched a fleet of ships toward US national waters. The Senate has decided that unless military action is taken, Iran’s nuclear development will continue unchecked. And on February 12, 2014, Iran’s military chief answered that claim by declaring the country’s willingness to go toe-to-toe with American forces, on land or at sea.

It sounds like a crisis in the making, but it’s not as bad as it seems. Those “warships” were a rusty frigate and a supply boat, the White House in no way backs the Senate’s bill, and while Iranian general Hassan Firouzabadi did threaten the US and the “Zionist regime” (Israel), it’s worth remembering that they’ve done so plenty of times in the past.

Another point of contention is Iran’s military force. Including paramilitaries, Iran states that they have 13.6 million people who can pick up a weapon at a moment’s notice. While that number is probably exaggerated, it doesn’t matter much anyway—World War III, if it happens, will be mostly an aerial war dependent more on long-range technologies than close-quarters combat. And that, surprisingly, is an example of why not to count Iran out of the picture. They have an air force of 30,000 men with several hundred aircraft, along with cruise missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 mi). That’s plenty of range to hit US bases in the Gulf.

But most importantly, continued attention on Iran, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries is spreading the West’s foreign resources a little too thin, especially now that Russia won’t be any help in that region.

2 North Korea Is A Wild Card

North Korea tends to get relegated to the back row in discussions on world powers. They’re potentially dangerous, sure, but it’s a short-range type of danger, similar to the way you can still skip away from a mugger with a knife. But turn your back for too long, and that mugger can sneak up and give you some scars.

North Korea is still firing missiles in South Korea’s direction for no good reason. The most recent launch was March 2, 2014; they fired more the week before that. With a range of about 500 kilometers (300 mi), the missiles won’t reach far—just to, say, Japan. Or China. Or South Korea, or Russia. And since they’re nestled right in the center of three of the biggest threats to peace at this time, they could—purposely or not—stir up something bigger than themselves, like dropping a starved weasel into a den of sleeping bears.

Most frightening of all, North Korea is building a nuclear arsenal. It’s unlikely that they’ll ever lead with a nuclear attack, but if there’s enough chaos going on around them, it’s not impossible that they’ll try to slip one into the mix.

1 A Global Recession


Photo credit: Watchdog Wire

World War I and World War II were very different from each other, but they had one striking similarity. Prior to each war, economic recessions hit several of the countries involved. World War II famously brought most of the world’s economies back from the Great Depression, and World War I helped the US recover from a two-year recession that had already slowed trade by 20 percent. Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it’s worth noting which economies recovered earlier than others, which may have had a huge impact on the way things turned out.

By 1933, Japan had taken moves to devalue its currency, which led to increased exports and a resulting growth in their economy. They pumped the extra money into weapons and munitions, which gave them a decided military advantage in the years leading up to the war. Germany, on the other hand, entirely crashed, which made the Nazi and Communist parties take similar steps and earn overwhelming support among the populace.

We’re seeing some similarities today. While analysts are predicting yet another economic meltdown for Western countries, countries like Iran and Russia are looking to band together to boost their economies. Among other effects, that could lead to a second unit on Iran’s nuclear plant; Germany’s massive internal spending in the 1930s pulled it out of the Depression faster than America or the rest of Europe. And the global recession hit Russia less than much of the rest of the world, due in part to its exports of a quarter of the natural gas used by the entire European continent

And then there’s China. The US government is close to $17 trillion in debt, and China owns seven percent of that, or about $1.19 trillion. China recently flew past Japan to become the world’s second largest economy, and if it keeps growing at this rate, its GDP is going to match America’s in about eight years. The risk is if China decides to dump the US debt. China would take a financial loss, but it could be a crippling blow to the US economy—and much of the world, since the US dollar is held in reserve by most foreign governments.

If China and the US do come to blows over the South China Sea, the US could eradicate the debt and pump the extra revenue into military spending—the exact same monetary flow that happened in World War II, only this time the guns are bigger.

But don’t worry, it won’t happen. Probably.

Bill O’Reilly &Dennis Miller Bolder & Fresher Tour

I haven’t been to the University of Minnesota for 10 years, and never been to the Northrop Auditorium.  I saw the Bill O’Reilly &Dennis Miller Bolder & Fresher Tour and recorded audio.  I took pictures, but Bill and Dennis are very blurry.  Bill said that the Hurricane Sandy which hit New York around the election convinced all the idiots in the United States to vote for Obama.  McCain had a similar hurricane Gustav.  It is completely psycho that hurricanes decide presidential elections. If a hurricane decides the 2016 election, I’ll move to Australia.

Volient videogames decrease crime


ABSTRACT: Psychological studies predominately find a positive relationship between

violent video game play and aggression. However, these studies cannot account for either

aggressive effects of alternative activities video game playing substitutes for or the possible

selection of relatively violent people into playing violent video games. That is, they lack

external validity. We investigate the relationship between the prevalence of violent video

games and violent crimes. Our results are consistent with two opposing effects. First, they

support the behavioral effects as in the psychological studies. Second, they suggest a larger

voluntary incapacitation effect in which playing either violent or non-violent games decrease

crimes. Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime.



1. Introduction

From the sensational crime stories of the 19th century (Comstock and Buckly 1883), to

the garish comic books of the early 20 th century, (Hadju 2009), to today’s violent video

games, Americans have made efforts to reduce children’s access to violent media because of

concerns over their social costs. These concerns may not be unfounded as numerous studies

purport to find that violent media of all sorts, including games, can cause increases in

measured aggression. Aided in part by mounting evidence that violent video game play cause

aggression, states have passed legislation criminalizing the distribution of violent video games

to minors. 1

The research is not clear on how large the increase in aggression caused by these

games. Craig Anderson, a long-time researcher in the effect of violent media on aggression

has contended that “one possible contributing factor [to the Columbine High School killings

was the shooters’ habits of playing] violent video games. [The shooters] enjoyed playing the

bloody shoot-`em-up video game Doom, a game licensed by the U.S. Army to train soldiers to

effectively kill” (quoted in Kutner and Olson 2009). 2

1 In 2010, California passed a law making it a punishable offense for a distributor to sell a banned violent video to a minor. The US Supreme Court struck down this law in June, 2011.

2 In the opening paragraph of his literature review, Anderson (2004) suggested violent video games were

responsible for the recent wave of school shootings since the late 1990s.


If violent video games can be shown to cause violence, then laws aimed at reducing

access may benefit society at large. Yet to date, though there is ample evidence that violent

video games cause aggression in a laboratory setting, laboratory stings cannot address issues

of selection or incapacitation. Ward (2010) shows that adolescents who are otherwise

predisposed to violence tend to select into video game play. Dahl and Dellavegna (2009)

suggest that violent movies incapacitate violent crime offenders. Likewise, since the hours it

takes to “beat the game” substitute for some other activity, a complete analysis of video game

effects must consider the opportunity cost of this time. Violence may fall because violent

people are attracted to violent games and because gamers engaged in virtual violence are not

simultaneously engaged in actual violence.

To date, there is no evidence that violent video games cause violence or crime. In fact,

two recently published studies analyzed the effect of violent media (movies and video game

stores) on crime, and found increased exposure may have caused crime rates to decrease

(Dahl and Dellavegna 2009; Ward 2011). These studies, unlike the laboratory studies, were

conducted with observational data, which poses unique scientific challenge to establishing

causality. However, since laboratory studies have never shown that video game violence

causes crime or violence, despite researchers out-of-sample predictions (Anderson 2004),

observational studies may be the only ethical and practical way to test for such a causal effect.

To many in this field, it is logical to assume that if exposure to violent media causes

aggression in the lab, it will therefore cause aggression when exposure occurs non-randomly

outside the laboratory. Psychologists have adapted the general aggression model, or GAM, to

the video game setting (Bushman and Anderson, 2002 and Anderson and Bushman, 2002).

GAM hypothesizes that violent media, including violent video games, increases a person’s

aggressive tendencies through a process of social learning that occurs simultaneous to the

exposure itself. Violent media causes the person to mistakenly develop certain scripts, or rules


of thumb, that are used to interpret social situations both before they occur, as well as

afterwards. GAM posits, in other words, that violent video games cause aggression by biasing

individuals towards forming incorrect beliefs about relative danger that they are in. Perception

biases towards hostility, therefore, can in turn cause the person to respond in either a “fight or

flight” fashion. It may also permanently alter a person’s point of view, creating an aggressive

personality as an outcome (Bushman and Anderson 2002). A variant of the “rational

addiction” model (Becker and Murphy 1988) may be a fair representation of GAM. The key

insight for GAM is that consumption of a good in one period not only affects current utility

directly but, through a capital stock accumulation mechanism, it also affects future utility


The opportunity cost of playing a video game is not just pecuniary but also includes

lost time. In fact, for many gamers, the value of the time spent playing a game may be worth

much more than the pecuniary cost of the game. This time spent gaming cannot be spent on

other activities, legitimate or otherwise, if time use is rival in consumption. The substitution

patterns from video games may derive more from time use effects than from pecuniary costs

(Becker, 1965). Evidence for video games having a time use component can be found in

Stinebrickner and Stinebrickner (2008). The authors identified a causal effect of studying on

academic performance by utilizing the random assignment of college students to roommates

with a video game console, relative to the counterfactual, which caused students to study less

often, and in turn, to perform worse in school

In this paper, we argue that since laboratory experiments have not examined the time

use effects of video games, which incapacitate violent activity by drawing individual gamers

into extended gameplay, laboratory studies may be poor predictors of the net effects of violent

video games in society. Consequently, they overstate the importance of video game induced

aggression as a social cost. We argue that since both aggression and time use are a


consequence of playing violent video games, then the policy relevance of violent video game

regulation depends critically on the degree to which the one outweighs the other. If, as we

find in our study, the time use effect of violent video games reduces crime by more than the

aggression effects increase it, then the case for regulatory intervention becomes weaker.

While some early work has been done on the long-term effects of video game play, nearly all

the laboratory evidence that currently exists has only uncovered very short-term effects,

which is when time use effects could be the most important. 3

As with Dahl and Dellavegna (2009) and Ward (2011), we use a proxy for individuals’

exposure to violent video games – the volume of sales of violent video games in a week

among the top 50 best-selling video games from 2005-2008 – and relate it to a marker for

violent behaviors – weekly aggregate violent crime incidents from the National Incident

Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Using time series modeling, as well as an instrumental

variables approach, we estimate the effect of an increased weekly volume of violent video

game sales on the number of criminal incidents recorded to law enforcement over the

subsequent weeks and find that increased violent video games are associated with decreases

in crime rates, similar to Dahl and Dellavegna (2009) and Ward (2011).

One advantage of our approach is that we can attempt to disentangle the separate

effects of both a behavioral change toward more aggression and incapacitation due to time

use. Our results provide some support for the psychological finding that, absent

incapacitation, violent video games lead to more aggression as measured by violent crimes.

However, our results also suggest that this is dominated by possible incapacitation and

selection effects leading to a net reduction in violent crimes. This approach can help guide

3 In Anderson (2004), the author notes the glaring omission of longitudinal studies of effects of violent video

games on aggression in his conclusions on the state of the research, calling for more studies aimed at

investigating the long-term effects. If nothing else, though, this makes our point that the abundance of evidence

that we know does exist only speaks to short-term effects of violent video games on aggression, which is the

purpose of this study here.


investigators to develop more holistic research designs, such as field experimentation and

other quasi-experimental methodologies, to determine whether the net social costs of violent

games are non-trivial. The main shortcoming of our approach is due to the limitations of our

data on game sales. Unfortunately, the industry does not report cross-sectional variation in

game sales – only the national weekly sales of the top 50 highest grossing games are

available. As a result, our paper follows a methodology similar to Dahl and Dellavegna

(2009), who estimated the impact of violent movies, proxied by daily ticket sales, on crime

using only time series methods.

The paper is structured as follows: the second section our data and methodology. The

third presents and discusses our results. We conclude with a brief discussion of the

implications for public policy.

III. Data and Methodology

Randomized assignment of a treatment with comparison groups used to make

comparative counterfactuals is widely considered the “gold standard” in the social sciences

(Fisher 1935; Campbell and Stanley 1963; Rosenbaum 2002). Yet, it is widely known that

experimentalism may fail to identify true causal effects for a variety of reasons (Berk 2005;

Deaton, 2010; Heckman and Urzua, 2010; Imbens 2010). While others have noted the failure

of researchers in this literature to satisfy the rigorous conditions for establishing causality

(Ferguson and Kilburn 2008; Olson and Kuttner 2009) our study will focus on a separate

statistical challenge not mentioned in these earlier studies: the challenge of internal versus

external validity.

Finding of a positive effect of violent games on aggression does not therefore mean

that violent video games playe will cause crime if the incapacitation effects from time use


swamp the marginal increase in aggression in the person. By design, laboratory studies – both

by ignoring alternative time use and by treating both treatment and control groups with this

separate effect – cannot be used to guide researchers as to what expect outside the lab. In this

sense, the studies have internal validity, but may not have external validity on the incidence

of socially costly aggression from violent video game play (Campbell and Stanley 1963).

Quasi-experimental methods, such as panel econometric methods, regression discontinuity

and instrumental variables, as well as field experimentation (Harrison and List 2004; Angrist

2006) may be more suitable estimating the social costs of violent video games since they

allow for the estimation of all known and unknown theoretical mechanisms. In this section,

we explain our research design and the data used to overcome some of the limitations of a

purely experimental methodology.

A. Empirical Methodology

The models of video game violence suggest that the effect of violent video game play on

crime will depend on whether a sizable stock of aggressive tendencies accumulates and on the

games’ time use intensities.

Since the theoretical predictions are ambiguous and the policy relevance of the

laboratory studies is unclear, empirical work outside of a laboratory context is warranted.

However, without experimental data, causal inference is problematic. Correlations between

video game play and crime may or may not reflect a causal relationship if the unobserved

determinants of crime are correlated with the determinants of video game play. For instance,

bad weather such as rain or heavy snow which causes individuals to remain at home would

both increase the likelihood of playing video games and decrease the returns to crime through

higher chances of finding a resident at home. Hence, negative correlations between crime and

violent video game play could purely be a consequence of omitted variable bias. Similarly,

video game publishers could strategically release violent video games during periods of time


when gamers have a lower value of time. But a low opportunity cost of time would affect both

video game sales and crime. For example, both video game sales and the crime rate increase

during summer when most teenagers are out of school..

One solution to omitted variable bias when there is time-variant heterogeneity is to

employ instrumental variables (IVs). The researcher must have instruments that are strongly

correlated with individual game play but uncorrelated with the determinants of crime. This

approach exploits exogenous variation in video game play that is not due merely to changes in

the determinants of crime providing greater assurance that the estimated effect is causal. We

use the ratings of video games by a video games rating agency as IVs. Our IV strategy

exploits the variation in game sales correlated only with the variation in quality, and thus is

mostly free of variation due to factors related to crime.

Zhu and Zhang (2010) show that consumer reviews of video games are positively

related to game sales. Ratings are valuable pieces of information for video games because

games are complex experience goods for which gamers cannot know their preferences

without playing. Our data on professional ratings contain rich information that communicates

the kinds of information that gamers value in forecasting their beliefs about the game, and as

beliefs and anticipation are drivers of the game sales, we would expect these rating

institutions to play important roles in forming consumer prior beliefs about the game and

therefore their purchases. But we also have some evidence from other industries that would

suggest scores would independently cause purchases to rise, independent of the unobserved

factors that cause expert opinion and purchases to be highly correlated. Reinstein and Snyder

(2005) used exogenous variation in Siskel and Ebert movie ratings due to disruptions in their

pair’s reviewing to determine a causal effect on movie demand. More recently, Hilger Rafert

and Villas-Boas (2010) found that randomly assigned expert scores on bottles of wine in a

retail grocery store caused an increase in sales for the higher rated, but less expensive, wines.


While these studies do not confirm that there are exogenous forces in video game ratings that

drive consumer purchases, they are suggestive.

We begin by estimating a standard multivariate regression model of the incidence of

various crimes as functions of, among other controls, the prevalence of non-violent and

violent video games. Our outcome variables of interest, C t , are the total number of reported

criminal incidents in week t as well as the number of such incidents that are classified as

violent. While one might interpret any criminal incident as reflecting some level of

aggression, we interpret violent crimes as reflecting more aggression. While the dataset we

use documents criminal offenses on a daily basis, since the video game sales data are

available only on a weekly basis, we aggregate crimes into weekly measures to focus on

same-week exposure. Accordingly, we employ a simple least squares estimator so as to more

easily instrument for video game exposure. 6

Our main explanatory variables are aggregated current and lagged values of weekly

sales volumes for both non-violent and violent video games. Video games appear to

depreciate quickly with use. This may be because new games are played intensively for a few

weeks after purchase and are not replaced with a new game until after some diminishing

returns have been reached, or it may suggest that firms typically stagger the release dates of

games. We measure the cumulative effect of games with the sales volume of the current

week’s sales, along with the various lags of previous weeks’ sales, so as to capture the effect

of higher volume of gameplay with an unknown time lag to trigger crime.

Our benchmark specification is:

( ) ∑

[ (


[ (


where L  is the lag operator of length  . The number of crime incidents depends on the

exposure to violent video games

and non-violent games . The sum over  of can be

6 Our empirical methodology is in large part based on Dellavegna and Dahl’s (2008) study of the effect of movie

violence on crime.


interpreted as the cumulative percentage increase over the  weeks in criminal incidents for

each percent increase in violent video games sold in week t while the similar sum for


be similarly interpreted for non-violent video games. The trend and month dummies attempt

to account for secular increases and seasonality in video game purchases. The identification of

the parameters is based on the time-series variation in the style of violence in the video

games. Again, we instrument for both types of games using average quality ratings of the

games on the market that week.

The measured effect from this specification can represent a confluence of multiple

effects. It is possible for there to be a positive behavioral effect, as found in the laboratory,

and a negative voluntary incapacitation effect. This specification will typically only measure

the net effect. However, it may be possible to disentangle the behavioral effects from the

incapacitation effect from the estimated cumulative effects from non-violent and violent

games. Both should incorporate incapacitation effects but only the former will include a

behavioral effect toward aggression. The difference between the two provides an estimate of a

pure aggression effect.

Besides the benchmark specification we employ two additional specifications as

robustness checks. These specifications identify specific segments of the population and

locations where we expect a differential a gaming-to-violence link, e.g. crimes committed by

teens and young adults and those committed at high school and college campuses. For each

crime incident, NIRBS provides information on the age of the offender and on the location of

the incident. In the first robustness check, we select a sun-sample of offenders aged between

15 and 30 years and compare these results to the results obtained from a sub-sample of

offenders who are 35 to 50 years old. In our second check, we extend our estimation

procedure to compare the effects on the number of incidents reported on school campuses to

the number committed at other locations.


B. Video Game Sales Data

Our treatment variables for video game play are derived from the volume of video

game unit sales data from VGChartz 7 . Beginning consistently in 2005, this site has provided

unit sales volume information for each of the top 50 selling video console based games each

week. Among other information, volumes are reported worldwide as well as for several

geographical areas including USA, Japan, Europe, Middle East, Africa or Asia. In our sample

period 2005 to 2008 the VGChartz dataset contains 1,091 different titles over the 208 weeks

for the US with some of these titles being the same game for different gaming consoles. In

sum, the games are provided from 47 different publishers and designed for nine different

gaming consoles. While VGChartz includes the top 50 selling games each week, it only

covers a portion of all sales in the US video game market. A game’s week of release is almost

always its top selling week. Figure 1 indicates that most games stay in the top 50 for only a

few weeks. Moreover, as Figure 2 indicates, the top selling games sell much more than even

the lower ranked top 50 games. These features suggest that there is considerable week-to-

week variation in the games, and the types of games, being played. According to the

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 8 VGChartz account for about one-quarter of all

units in 2005 (ESA Annual Report, 2010). The ESA also includes sales of non-console based

games such as computer and smartphone games. Still, this fraction rises to almost one-half in


Our measure of violent videogame content stems from the Entertainment Software

Rating Board (ESRB). 9 This non-profit body independently assigns a technical rating (E, E10,

T, M, and A) which defines the audience the game is appropriate for where E classifies games

for everybody, E10 for everyone aged 10 and up, T for teens, M games for a mature audience,

and A for adult content. In addition, ESRB provides detailed description of the content in each


8 – The reported numbers from ESA also include games for personal computers which

amount to about 10 percent of the market each year and are intentionally not included in VGChartz.



game on which the rating was made, including the style of violence, e. g. language, violence,

or adult themes. For all of the 1,091 titles in our sample we collected the appropriate ESRB-

rating and all content descriptors. Based on this content information we identify 762 non-

violent and 329 violent games, of which 105 titles are described as intensely violent. Almost

all violent games are rated T or M. All intensely violent games are rated M. Since most of the

policy concern stems from these intensely violent games, these are the games we concentrate

on. 10 Merging both data sources together we can construct measures of the aggregate unit

sales of non-violent and intensely violent video games for each week. The weekly sales are

pictured in Figure 3 for all games and for intensely violent games. Overall, the two graphs

follow a similar pattern with a peak around the Christmas gift purchasing period. In the mid of

2008, however, the intense violent games seem to account for almost all sales of the violent


As argued above the prevalence of video games in a week is not randomly distributed

over the sample and therefore may be endogenous. For instance, if changing economic

conditions that caused a rise in unemployment, and in turn crime rates, may also have caused

leisure activities like video games to rise, then we might observe positive correlations

between video game play and crime that is driven purely by these changing economic factors

(Raphael and Winter-Ebmer 2001; Gould, Weinberg and Mustard 2002). We address the

potential endogeneity of video games with instrumental variables using expert review of each

title as an instrument for purchases.

Our expert review data comes from the GameSpot website. 11 GameSpot provides

news, reviews, previews, downloads and other information for video games. Launched in

May 1996 GameSpot’s main page has links to the latest news, reviews, previews and portals

10 We have also performed our analysis for the broader “violent” and “intensely violent” definition of a violent

game. Qualitatively, all of our general results described below hold however parameter estimates are smaller (in

absolute value terms) and are less precisely estimated.



for all current platforms. It also includes a list of the most popular games on the site and a

search engine for users to track down games of interest. The GameSpot staff reviewed all but

a handful of the games in our sample and rated the quality of the titles on a scale from 1 to 10

with 10 being the best possible rank. These so-called GameSpot-scores assigned to each game

are intended to provide an at-a-glance sense of the overall quality of the game. The overall

rating is based on evaluations of graphics, sound, gameplay, replay value and reviewer’s tilt.

A possible issue with this measure is that GameSpot changed the rating system in mid of 2007

to employ guidelines and a philosophy focusing more on a prospective customer rather than a

hardcore-fan that the reviewers had focused on before. Nevertheless, the five mentioned

aspects are essential parts of a game that are still reviewed in detail by a GameSpot reviewer

but will not get an aspect-specific rating score anymore. We do not consider this change in the

GameSpot focus to noticeably affect the overall GameSpot-score.

We expect the quality rating of the games to be positively correlated with their sales as

better-rated games usually are more highly demanded. It is possible that some games have the

opposite relationship if they are based on a popular tie-in from a movie, e. g. Harry Potter, or

sequels, e. g. the Final Fantasy series. Developers know that these games will sell well due to

their popular tie-in which may lower the returns to investment in game quality. However, in

table 2 we show that, a game title’s weekly sales are positively related to the Game Spot score

for games of different violence profiles.

C. Crime Data

For our measure of weekly crime, we used the National Incident Based Reporting

System (NIBRS). NIBRS is a federal data collection program begun by the Bureau of Justice

Statistics in 1991 for gathering and distributing detailed information on criminal incidents for

participating jurisdictions and agencies. Participating agencies and states submit detailed

information about criminal incidents not contained in other data sets, such as the Uniform

Crime Reports. For instance, whereas the Uniform Crime Reports contain information on all


arrests and cleared offenses for the eight Index crimes, NIBRS consists of individual incident

records for all eight index crimes and the 38 other offenses (Part II offenses) at the calendar

date and hourly level (Rantala and Edwards 2001). A potential drawback of NIBRS is that

many law enforcement agencies do not participate. [Need a sentence or two here Scott] We

aggregate across only the jurisdictions that participated during each of our sample years.

Because of the detailed information about the incident, including the precise time and date of

the incident, economists such as Dahl and Dellavegna (2009), Card and Dahl (2009), Jacob

and Moretti (2003) and Lefgren, Jacobs and Moretti (2007) have used it for event studies. In

our case, we exploit detailed information about the age of offenders and the crime’s location –

on school campuses or not – for our robustness checks.

Crimes follow a seasonal pattern. Figure 4 indicates a consistent pattern of gradual

increases in both violent and non-violent crimes from winter to summer. Our method was

developed to account for seasonality in both of our main variables of interest crime and

games. Much of the seasonality in crimes is believed to be due to weather while seasonality in

games is likely due to holiday gift giving (Lefgren, Jacobs and Moretti 2007). Failure to

address this will likely lead to spurious correlations. As indicated above, we accommodate

this in two ways. First, month dummy variables should capture much of the seasonality.

Second, using Game Spot scores as IVs should isolate the variation in game sales due to game


Our final sample includes 208 weekly observations on video games sales and crimes

from early 2005 through 2008. However, eight observations are excluded from final

regressions because of the use of lagged video game sales. Table 3 reports basic descriptive

statistics for our sample.

IV. Results

A. Basic Results


Our basic regression results are presented in Tables 4 and 5. Table 4 reports estimates

of specifications for various lags of the effect video games sales on all crimes. Video games

are separated between those that the ESRB rated as “intensely violent” and those that are not.

Recall that the lesser rating of merely “violent” does not warrant an ESRB rating of “M.” 12

Control variables include month dummies to capture seasonality and a time trend to capture

any secular trend. The columns from left to right add more lags of video games to the

specification so as to measure possible inter-temporal effects of game purchases in one week

affecting crime in subsequent weeks through continued play. Finally, each regression employs

a 2SLS estimator with the same set of current and eight lags of Game Spot scores averaged

over intensely violent games and over games that are not intensely violent. Since the

specifications are over-identified, we test for possible endogeneity of the instrument set. As

expected, in all cases, we fail to reject the exogeneity of Game Spot scores with respect to the

level of crime. 13

The estimated effect of video games sales in any single week is small. Most individual

coefficient estimates are negative but few are significantly different from zero. It appears that

lags of up to five weeks of video game sales may be associated with current crime. It is not

clear from this table whether violent games have a different effect from those that are not

violent. For ease of comparison, we report the sum of the coefficients for various lags for both

in the top panel of Table 6 to calculate the cumulative effect of a change in video games over

time. Here it becomes clearer that video games are estimated to have an overall negative

effect on crime for specifications that include from two to six lags. That is, both violent and

non-violent games are associated with reductions in crimes. However, the effect is small.

Since our specification is double log, these estimates can be interpreted as elasticities with

12 Unreported regressions comparing games that are either “intensely violent” or “violent” versus all other games

generally yield much less precisely estimated parameters.

13 Estimates assuming that game sales are exogenously determined typically generated smaller (in absolute value

terms) and much less precisely estimated coefficients.


values of up to -0.025 for non-violent games and -0.010 for violent games. These estimates

suggest that, over all the mechanisms through which videogame play can affect crime, the net

effect is to reduce crime.

As mentioned above, these estimates may also allow us to make some inferences that

distinguish between potential mechanisms. While both violent and non-violent games are

hypothesized to have incapacitation effects, only violent games are hypothesized to alter

behaviors. Indeed, the top panel of Table 6 indicates that the difference in effects between

violent and non-violent games is for violent games to reduce crime by a smaller amount and

that this difference is statistically significant for specifications that include between one and

five lags. Moreover, it is possible that the incapacitation effect for violent games is greater

than for non-violent games, though we cannot test this hypothesis. If so, the difference of

these estimates may represent a downwardly biased estimate of a behavioral effect. This

provides some support for the laboratory findings of a reinforcing behavioral effect that

partially counterbalances the incapacitation effect.

Table 5 repeats these specifications where the dependent variable is now the log of

violent crimes. By doing so, we focus on criminal acts that clearly entail an element of

aggression. Again, we include various lags for the effects of video games and, again, more

individual estimates are negative than positive but few are significantly different from zero.

The bottom panel of Table 6 reports the aggregation of the lagged video game coefficients to

calculate the cumulative effects. From this panel we usually find an overall negative effect of

video games on the number of violent criminal incidents. These estimates are quite similar to

those for all crimes in upper panel of this table. If anything, these parameter estimates are

slightly larger (in absolute value terms) and aggregations with more specifications yield

results significantly different from zero. These estimates indicate that both violent and non-


violent video game play is generally associated with reductions in the number of violent


The test for a difference in the effects for violent and non-violent games may be more

informative. There are no known previously hypothesized mechanisms through which non-

violent games would affect violent crimes. We propose that the appropriate test for violent

video games affecting violent behavior is the difference in these effects by game type. In this

case, the marginal effect of violent video games, relative to non-violent games, is to increase

violent crimes. Decomposing the two effects suggests that a one hundred percent increase in

violent video game sales implies an incapacitation effect reducing violent crime by as much

as 2.6% and an aggression effect increasing violent crimes by as much as 1.5%.

B. Age of Offender Results

A potential robustness check is to examine the effects of video games on criminal

offenders by age of offender. While the age profile of video game players is increasing, video

games are still primarily played by children, teens and younger adults. For most offenses, the

NIBRS data records information on the age of the offenders for an incident. We separately

examine the effects of video game sales on offenders aged 15-30, the prime video game

playing population, versus those 35-50, a population for which video game play is not as

popular. If our basic results were spurious and did not reflect any direct link between video

game play and criminal acts, we would have no reason to expect a differential effect by age

group. In contrast, under our hypotheses, we would expect larger effects for the younger


Table 7 reports cumulative estimates for both these younger and older groups. The

specifications are otherwise identical to those reported in Table 4. However, rather than report

the individual estimates as in Tables 4 and 5, we report the estimated sums over all lags as in


Table 6. As before, specifications with lags from between two and five achieve some level of

statistical significance for both the young and the old. The estimated effects of both violent

and non-violent video games are both negative, as before. And, as before, violent video games

decrease crime by less than do non-violent video games. That is, there are few, if any,

qualitative differences across the two groups.

Table 8 reports cumulative estimates where the dependent variable is violent crimes,

for both these younger and older groups. The specifications are otherwise identical to those

reported in Table 5 and again we report the estimated sum of effects over all lags as in Table

6. Now, there are noticeable differences across the two groups. None of the estimates for the

older group approach traditional levels of statistical significance. In contrast, the estimates for

the younger group are generally larger (in absolute value) and many are statistically

significant. In addition, the differences in estimates between violent and nonviolent games are

often statistically significant. We again find that, for the younger group, non-violent games, as

well as violent games, reduce the number of violent crimes. In these specifications, the

measured by the difference between the coefficients in the two rows which is about 0.06.

Thus, this is evidence that the behavioral effect of violent video games on violent behavior is

found only within the younger population that tends to play video games more intensively.

C. On Campus Results

Another potential robustness check is to distinguish between crimes committed at

schools and colleges and those committed elsewhere. Schools and colleges tend to aggregate

people who are of video game playing age. The NIBRS data record the location of each

incident as a categorical variable where one possible choice out of eleven is “school or college

campus.” One advantage of this variable over the age of offender variable is that it is recorded

for all incidents while the age of offender can be missing if no one witnessed the incident in

progress. One disadvantage is that crimes committed at schools and colleges need not be


committed by a member of the younger video game playing demographic, though most are.

Perhaps a bigger problem is that many of the younger video game playing population commit

crimes away from schools. Finally, since such a small number of crimes are committed on

campus, we may lose statistical power for that sub-sample while the off-campus sub-sample

will be quite similar to the overall sample.

Table 9 reports cumulative estimates for both crimes committed on campuses and

those committed off-campus. The specifications are otherwise identical to those reported in

Table 4 but we report the estimated cumulative effect over all lags as in Table 6. As before,

specifications with lags from between two and five achieve some level of statistical

significance for both the young and the old. The pattern of estimated effects for both violent

and non-violent video games is similar to before except that they are much larger for the on-

campus sample than off-campus sample. In the lower panel, the estimates are qualitatively

similar to the base results in Table 6. However, the upper panel estimates are about five times

larger. Other than the difference in magnitudes, the pattern of effects on-campus is

unchanged. There is still a negative effect for non-violent video games in columns 2-5 that we

interpret as an incapacitation effect. The estimated effect for violent video games is

statistically significantly smaller (in absolute value) and we interpret the difference as a

possible estimate of a behavioral effect of violent video games on crime for this sub-sample.

Table 10 reports cumulative estimates where the dependent variable is the number of

violent crimes, for both crimes on and off campus. The specifications are otherwise identical

to those reported in Table 2 and again we report the estimated sum of effects over all lags as

in Table 6. In this case, fewer effects are estimated to be significantly different from zero.

However, the pattern is similar to those for all crimes in table 9. The magnitudes are about

five times larger for the on-campus sub-sample relative to the off-campus sub-sample. As


expected, the off-campus results are more similar our basic results reported in the bottom

panel of Table 6.

V. Conclusion

Content regulation of the video game industry is usually predicated on the notion that

the industry has large and negative social costs through games’ effect on aggression. Many

researchers have argued that these games may also have caused extreme violence, such as

school shootings, because laboratory evidence has found an abundance of evidence linking

gameplay to aggression. Yet few studies before this one had examined the impact of these

games on crime, with the exception of Ward (2011) and Dahl and Dellavegna (2009).

Consistent with these studies, we find that the social costs of violent video games may be

considerably lower, or even non-existent, once one incorporates the time use effect into


These analyses are suggestive of the hypothesis that violent video games, like all video

games, paradoxically may reduce violence while increasing the aggressiveness of individuals

by simply shifting these individuals out of alternative activities where crime is more likely to

occur. Insofar as our findings suggest that the operating mechanism by which violent

gameplay causes crime to fall is the gameplay itself, and not the violence, then regulations

should be carefully designed so as to avoid inadvertently reducing the time intensity, or the

appeal, of video games.

Our findings also suggest unique challenges to game regulations. Because GAM

proposes that the individual playing violent video games is developing, accidentally, a biased

hermeneutic towards people wherein they believe they are in danger, then the decrease in

violent outcomes that we observe in our study – the incapacitation effect from time use – may


be masking the long-run harm to society if these violent behaviors are developing within

gamers. This suggests that regulation aimed at reducing violent imagery and content in games

could in the long-run reduce the aggression capital stock among gamers, but potentially also

cause crime to increase in the short-run if the marginal player is being drawn out of violent

activities. This may be too costly a tradeoff, and may not pass any cost-benefit test. But

another possibility is that individuals who play games could be regularly taught to recognize

these errors in their framing of situations, which theoretically would reduce the aggressive

capital and thus reduce any negative outcome that is determined by the amount of aggression

the person has built up, without losing the short-run gains from crime reduction.



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Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3


Figure 4


Table 1

Unit Sales of Video Games (millions) from VGChartz and ESA

Year VGChartz ESA Pct

2005 56.7 240.7 23.6%

2006 76.2 267.8 28.5%

2007 107.0 298.2 35.9%

2008 141.3 273.5 51.7%

VGChartz from authors’ calculations and ESA from


Table 2

The Effect of Game Quality (Game Spot Score) on Log Sales

All Intensely Violent Not Intensely Violent

Games Games Games



0.0803** 0.1221** 0.0769**

(0.0060) (0.0181) (0.0065)

Week of


-0.0039** -0.0081** -0.0036**

(0.0002) (0.0008) (0.0003)

Trend 0.0058** 0.0040** 0.0060**

(0.0001) (0.0003) (0.0001)

February -0.0902* -0.2169* -0.0663+

(0.0361) (0.1020) (0.0385)

March -0.0212 -0.0576 -0.0081

(0.0348) (0.0967) (0.0371)

April -0.1770** -0.3466** -0.1361**

(0.0344) (0.0945) (0.0369)

May -0.2838** -0.4069** -0.2485**

(0.0355) (0.1004) (0.0378)

June -0.1663** -0.3593** -0.1217**

(0.0363) (0.1036) (0.0386)

July -0.2251** -0.5266** -0.1732**

(0.0358) (0.1059) (0.0378)

August -0.3607** -0.6881** -0.3126**

(0.0364) (0.1151) (0.0381)

September -0.2700** -0.4117** -0.2422**

(0.0358) (0.1200) (0.0374)

October -0.1326** 0.0065 -0.1333**

(0.0365) (0.1159) (0.0383)

November 0.6122** 0.6812** 0.6051**

(0.0361) (0.1052) (0.0382)

December 1.2038** 1.1363** 1.2153**

(0.0349) (0.1073) (0.0367)

Constant -4.8503** -0.5994 -5.3472**

(0.2957) (0.8309) (0.3189)

Observations 10,648 1,345 9,303

R-squared 0.38 0.40 0.38

Standard errors in parentheses

+ significant at 10%; * significant at 5%; ** significant at 1%


Table 3

Summary Statistics

Variable Mean Std. Dev.

Ln All Video Game Sales 0.407 0.632

Ln Intensely Violent Video Game Sales -1.900 1.037

Ln Not Intensely Violent Video Game Sales 0.781 0.340

Average GameSpot Score 7.634 0.435

Average Intensely Violent GameSpot Score 8.546 0.646

Average Not Intensely Violent GameSpot Score 7.506 0.468

Ln All Crimes 10.889 0.085

Ln Violent Crimes 9.967 0.083

Ln All Crimes on Campuses 7.463 0.421

Ln Violent Crimes on Campuses 6.663 0.506

Ln All Crimes Not on Campuses 10.852 0.091

Ln Violent Crimes Not on Campuses 9.925 0.091

Ln All Crimes Offender Aged 15-30 9.854 0.068

Ln Violent All Crimes Offender Aged 15-30 9.360 0.084

Ln All Crimes Offender Aged 35-50 9.040 0.082

Ln Violent All Crimes Offender Aged 35-50 8.603 0.095

Descriptive statistics of the 200 observations used in later tables.


Table 4

The Effects of Video Game Sales on the Log of both Violent and Non-Violent Crime

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

Ln Video Game Sales

Not Intensely Violent

-0.028 0.029 0.030 0.041 0.042 0.032 0.044

(0.60) (0.50) (0.44) (0.54) (0.52) (0.40) (0.55)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 1

-0.130+ -0.110 -0.090 -0.089 -0.099 -0.088

(1.92) (1.35) (1.03) (1.03) (1.15) (1.02)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 2

-0.131+ -0.098 -0.095 -0.044 -0.040

(1.71) (1.16) (1.13) (0.50) (0.46)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 3

-0.068 -0.067 -0.064 -0.075

(0.91) (0.88) (0.86) (0.90)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 4

0.010 0.042 0.029

(0.12) (0.53) (0.35)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 5

-0.125+ -0.126+

(1.73) (1.72)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 6



Ln Intensely Violent

Video Game Sales

-0.009 0.014 0.019 0.030 0.031 0.023 0.026

(0.44) (0.56) (0.64) (0.94) (0.94) (0.71) (0.81)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 1

-0.055+ -0.043 -0.029 -0.029 -0.034 -0.027

(1.77) (1.11) (0.70) (0.69) (0.83) (0.65)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 2

-0.063+ -0.044 -0.042 -0.021 -0.017

(1.72) (1.06) (1.02) (0.49) (0.39)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 3

-0.048 -0.047 -0.047 -0.051

(1.41) (1.27) (1.29) (1.22)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 4

0.001 0.011 0.006

(0.04) (0.29) (0.15)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 5

-0.036 -0.032

(1.10) (0.91)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 6



Sample includes 200 weekly observations from 2004-2008. Month dummy variables and a time trend were also

included but are not reported. Average GameSpot scores for intensely violent and not and for the current period

and eight lags are used as IVs. The Sargon statistic for over-identification always fails to reject the exogeneity of

the instrument set. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. + significant at 10%; * significant at 5%; **

significant at 1%.


Table 5

The Effects of Video Game Sales on the Log of Violent Crime

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

Ln Video Game Sales

Not Intensely Violent

-0.061 0.006 0.012 -0.001 0.001 -0.015 -0.006

(1.21) (0.09) (0.16) (0.02) (0.01) (0.17) (0.07)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 1

-0.154* -0.138 -0.109 -0.107 -0.114 -0.108

(2.04) (1.49) (1.14) (1.12) (1.22) (1.16)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 2

-0.147+ -0.138 -0.134 -0.099 -0.093

(1.70) (1.50) (1.46) (1.04) (0.98)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 3

0.001 0.003 0.009 -0.009

(0.01) (0.04) (0.11) (0.10)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 4

0.009 0.031 0.029

(0.11) (0.35) (0.31)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 5

-0.072 -0.078

(0.93) (0.99)

Ln VG Sales Not

Intensely Violent lag 6



Ln Intensely Violent

Video Game Sales

-0.024 0.001 0.003 0.007 0.009 0.000 0.003

(1.15) (0.04) (0.10) (0.20) (0.24) (0.01) (0.08)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 1

-0.060+ -0.050 -0.031 -0.030 -0.036 -0.033

(1.73) (1.14) (0.68) (0.66) (0.80) (0.72)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 2

-0.066 -0.062 -0.060 -0.044 -0.040

(1.61) (1.37) (1.32) (0.97) (0.87)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 3

-0.020 -0.017 -0.016 -0.025

(0.54) (0.42) (0.41) (0.54)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 4

-0.001 0.000 0.000

(0.02) (0.00) (0.00)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 5

0.011 -0.012

(0.30) (0.30)

Ln Intensely Violent

VG Sales lag 6



Sample includes 200 weekly observations from 2004-2008. Month dummy variables and a time trend were also

included but are not reported. Average GameSpot scores for intensely violent and not and for the current period

and eight lags are used as IVs. The Sargon statistic for over-identification always fails to reject the exogeneity of

the instrument set. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. + significant at 10%; * significant at 5%; **

significant at 1%.


Table 6

The Cumulative Effect of Video Games on Crimes

Aggregate Effect on All Crimes (from Table 4)

Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Coefs.

-0.028 -0.102 -0.213* -0.216* -0.203+ -0.257* -0.230+

(0.046) (0.062) (0.096) (0.105) (0.122) (0.124) (0.139)


Violent Coefs.

-0.009 -0.041 -0.088* -0.093* -0.088+ -0.104* -0.096+

(0.020) (0.027) (0.041) (0.044) (0.050) (0.050) (0.056)

Chi-Sq test of


0.42 2.70+ 4.75* 3.83* 2.40 4.07* 2.50

Aggregate Effect on Violent Crimes (from Table 5)


All Crimes

Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Coefs.

-0.061 -0.148* -0.272* -0.247* -0.227+ -0.260* -0.224

(0.050) (0.069) (0.109) (0.116) (0.134) (0.135) (0.148)


Violent Coefs.

-0.024 -0.061* -0.113* -0.107* -0.099+ -0.108* -0.095

(0.021) (0.030) (0.046) (0.048) (0.054) (0.055) (0.056)

Chi-Sq test of


1.36 4.44* 5.99* 4.10* 2.45 3.40* 1.95

For both the top and bottom panels, each column represents results from a separate instrumental variables

regression. Each row reports the sum of coefficients for a variable for different possible lag lengths. Not

reported are coefficients of month dummies and a time trend. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. +

significant at 10%; * significant at 5%; ** significant at 1%


Table 7

The Effect of Video Games on All Crimes by Offender Age

Aged 15-30 Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.028 -0.098 -0.182* -0.178+ -0.167 -0.218+ -0.214

(0.046) (0.061) (0.092) (0.100) (0.115) (0.117) (0.134)


Violent Games

-0.012 -0.043 -0.079* -0.081+ -0.077+ -0.093* -0.093+

(0.019) (0.026) (0.039) (0.042) (0.046) (0.047) (0.054)

Chi-Sq test of


0.32 2.31 3.56+ 2.62 1.66 3.04+ 2.18

Aged 35-50 Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.020 -0.089 -0.236* -0.210+ -0.214 -0.243+ -0.235

(0.049) (0.068) (0.112) (0.117) (0.136) (0.138) (0.157)


Violent Games

-0.014 -0.042 -0.103* -0.096* -0.098+ -0.105+ -0.102

(0.021) (0.029) (0.047) (0.049) (0.055) (0.056) (0.062)

Chi-Sq test of


0.05 1.37 4.01* 2.63 1.99 2.69 1.91

For both the top and bottom panels, each column represents results from a separate instrumental variables

regression. Each row reports the sum of coefficients for a variable for different possible lag lengths. Not reported

are coefficients of month dummies and a time trend. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. + significant at

10%; * significant at 5%; ** significant at 1%


Table 8

The Effect of Video Games on Violent Crimes by Offenders Age

Aged 15-30 Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.034+ -0.057* -0.090* -0.087* -0.100* -0.087+ -0.059

(0.019) (0.025) (0.038) (0.040) (0.048) (0.051) (0.057)


Violent Games

-0.010 -0.018+ -0.031+ -0.029+ -0.034+ -0.028 -0.017

(0.008) (0.011) (0.016) (0.017) (0.019) (0.021) (0.022)

Chi-Sq test of


4.32* 6.48** 6.84** 5.61* 5.11* 3.54+ 1.40

Aged 35-50 Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.023 -0.021 -0.028 -0.011 0.005 0.020 0.046

(0.016) (0.020) (0.028) (0.033) (0.040) (0.043) (0.048)


Violent Games

-0.008 -0.006 -0.009 -0.002 0.003 0.009 0.019

(0.007) (0.009) (0.012) (0.014) (0.016) (0.017) (0.019)

Chi-Sq test of


1.94 1.42 1.24 0.20 0.00 0.17 0.84

For both the top and bottom panels, each column represents results from a separate instrumental variables

regression. Each row reports the sum of coefficients for a variable for different possible lag lengths. Not reported

are coefficients of month dummies and a time trend. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. + significant at

10%; * significant at 5%; ** significant at 1%


Table 9

The Aggregate Effect of Video Games on All Crimes by Campus Location

Crimes on


Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.041 -0.434 -0.837* -1.126* -1.099+ -1.381* -0.976

(0.266) (0.308) (0.417) (0.486) (0.567) (0.600) (0.724)


Violent Games

0.018 -0.174 -0.340* -0.465* -0.458* -0.557* -0.399

(0.112) (0.133) (0.176) (0.203) (0.231) (0.242) (0.289)

Chi-Sq test of


0.13 1.97 4.00* 5.14* 3.40+ 5.05* 1.70

Crimes off


Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.024 -0.088+ -0.192* -0.187+ -0.175 -0.222+ -0.208

(0.045) (0.061) (0.095) (0.103) (0.120) (0.121) (0.137)


Violent Games

-0.008 -0.035 -0.080* -0.081+ -0.076 -0.091+ -0.087

(0.019) (0.026) (0.040) (0.043) (0.049) (0.049) (0.055)

Chi-Sq test of


0.30 2.04 3.95* 2.93+ 1.80 3.15+ 2.09

For both the top and bottom panels, each column represents results from a separate instrumental variables

regression. Each row reports the sum of coefficients for a variable for different possible lag lengths. Not

reported are coefficients of month dummies and a time trend. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. +

significant at 10%; * significant at 5%; ** significant at 1%


Table 10

The Effect of Video Games on Violent Crimes by Campus Location

Crimes on

Campus Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

0.048 -0.376 -0.758 -1.052+ -0.953 -1.265+ -0.810

(0.302) (0.353) (0.456) (0.550) (0.649) (0.688) (0.832)


Violent Games

0.039 -0.171 -0.327 -0.455+ -0.422 -0.529+ -0.349

(0.128) (0.152) (0.201) (0.230) (0.263) (0.278) (0.332)

Chi-Sq test of


0.00 0.93 2.31 3.27+ 1.81 3.06+ 0.82

Crimes off

Campus Number of Lags Included

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Not Intensely

Violent Games

-0.061 -0.136* -0.255* -0.219+ -0.200 -0.224 -0.202

(0.050) (0.069) (0.109) (0.116) (0.134) (0.137) (0.153)


Violent Games

-0.025 -0.056+ -0.106* -0.095+ -0.088 -0.093+ -0.086

(0.021) (0.030) (0.046) (0.048) (0.055) (0.055) (0.061)

Chi-Sq test of


1.32 3.74+ 5.02* 3.14+ 1.86 2.46 1.53

For both the top and bottom panels, each column represents results from a separate instrumental variables

regression. Each row reports the sum of coefficients for a variable for different possible lag lengths. Not

reported are coefficients of month dummies and a time trend. Absolute value of z-statistics in parentheses. +

significant at 10%; * significant at 5%; ** significant at 1%