January 10, 2013, 3:22 pm
After the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, pundits such as TV’s Dr. Phil and politicians like Mitt Romney stated emphatically that video games were one cause of the tragedy. Later, in the official investigation, it emerged that the shooter did not play violent games. This rather embarrassing lesson should serve as a warning about rushing to judgment and the need to remain cautious in making causal attributions in the wake of national tragedies. In the case of Virginia Tech, the scientific community generally remained responsible in not rushing to claim links between video games and the shooting.
Not so after the awful Sandy Hook event this past December. Granted, the murder of so many innocents is a grueling national horror like few others, and such events naturally cause people to act emotionally. But even though we know little yet about Adam Lanza’s media use, and despite an absence…