Re: Internet causes loneliness

Nelson Minar (
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 10:13:24 -0400

I think it's interesting that folks here on FoRK have all felt the
need to criticize this study. I felt somewhat defensive when first
reading it myself - I also grew up in front of a terminal (in all
senses of "grow up"). But if a well designed study found a correlation
between net usage and unhappiness, well, that's interesting.

I haven't read the article yet either, so I can't comment much more
than that. I thought Amy Harmon's NYT article was very responsible and
interesting. It's worth taking a look at the study itself.

>CMU is also the place where the Rimm "Porn is Everywhere" study was
>done and was the basis of Time's Net Porn coverage.

I wouldn't blame CMU for Rimm. Some colleagues of mine who follow this
kind of research much more closely say the team that did the report
has an excellent reputation.

>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.

I'm not sure what blurbs you've seen, but Harmon's article is *very*
careful to never claim that correlation implies causation. I can only
assume that the researchers themselves get this right; at any rate,
it's certainly not fair to accuse the researchers of this mistake
without specific knowledge.

But hey, who cares about net-loneliness? The world's second biggest
superpower is about to fall into chaos.