Re: Internet causes loneliness

Mike Masnick (
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 07:03:55 -0700

At 09:52 AM 8/31/98 -0400, Joseph M. Reagle Jr. wrote:
>CMU is also the place where the Rimm "Porn is Everywhere" study was done and
>was the basis of Time's Net Porn coverage. Also, I haven't seen it myself,
>but the little blurbs do nothing to assure the reader they are not fallying
>prey to a common causal fallacy. (The Net may not cause loneliness, rather
>people that are already lonely may turn to the Net.) Haven't seen the full
>report myself though...

Amazing. Received this email the exact same time as my psychologist (not
from CMU) sister sent me the following (I'd asked her about this separately):

>Hi there...
>Just me being your super-picky psychologist sister....I haven't read the
>actual Carnegie Mellon study (I could easily get a hold of it if you're the
>slightest bit interested), but since I've been hearing about it everywhere,
>I felt like commenting. My best understanding is that it's a correlational
>study -- people who use the internet more (in any form) happen to be more
>depressed on average. And, as any Psych 101 student knows, correlation
>does not equal causation. I'm not sure if the authors claim that internet
>use causes depression, but I like to think that claim wouldn't withstand
>professional scrutiny if stated as fact, and that it's probably suggested
>only as a possible explanation. It also seems quite reasonable to argue
>that depressed people seek out the internet more. Also, as I read in USA
>Today this morning while waiting for my tires to be rotated and my oil
>changed, one big complaint was that they didn't control for
>age....teenagers were included, and they spend much more time on the net,
>and are also more likely to be depressed overall, possibly accounting for
>the overall correlation. I did also see the reference to the possibility
>of Pittsburgh being a cause.

No matter, though. I'm sure this study will provide plenty of ammo to the
"Internet is evil" folks.