We tend to under-estimate the power of television to change behavior in the real world. In South America the phenomenon of the telenovella has been quite well studied. Before the advent of the telenovella, women in Argentina (for example) would behave much as women in other countries; after a few years of telenovella, the norm was to behave like someone clinically insane: shouting, arm-waving, hyper-dramatic emotional highs and lows, suspicious of everything and every other woman within a 5-mile range, etc.

It’s one of the many reasons I’ve not owned a TV for more than 30 years, and tend to confine my viewing to factual programming (Netflix features great BBC series on the history of math, how life evolved on Earth, etc. and Youtube has the Stanford Continuing Education lecture series). The moment we come to believe, even unconsciously, that what we see in the productions of the entertainment industry is in any way normative is the day we lose our humanity.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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