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Kenneth Ellman Reviews Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander


Kenneth Ellman Reviews Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander.
An Endless Debate with Terrible Consequences. December 15, 2019.

From Kenneth Ellman,, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860.
I have owned this book for many years and recently reading it again am reminded of the pervasive and dramatic effect of the technology of projected images using electronics. This of course is relatively recent technology and the effects upon human beings of such continuous use is not fully appreciated. This Mander book was and remains an excellent introduction to exploring the various commentary and ideas as to how television has impacted our civilization.
You do not have to agree with his conclusions to appreciate that the questions raised are significant and worthy of continuing study and investigation.

I like many believe that the use of Television to convey information is both deficient and injurious to those exposed to it. Whether for entertainment or academic pursuits Television does not interact with the human eye and brain as does the printed word or personal interaction with your fellow human beings. Yet Television serves for some as a significant substitute for reading and personal communication. Printed photographic images however displayed may explain, in part, this difference. For reasons not yet fully examined the human brain does not appear to process or retain the information conveyed by television in the same manner such is conveyed by the written word on paper or stone or such other solid material or in person with another individual. It is this neurological distinction more that the content of the message, the information, that I think is responsible for the different response of the Brain and Eye.

But my experience and beliefs are not sufficient to explore this question as the use and application of Television varies from transmitting images of space exploration to the teaching of academic classes over electronic medium such as the Internet, to that of mundane entertainment broadcasts in the hope that money can be made from advertisers during the watching by you and me.

If television is capable of definition it must be as the invention of electronics being used in a manner similar to images created by solid material such as paper or stone or wood, etc., or painting or engraving on varied materials or such other method that does not require energy to maintain after creation. Yet this definition also fails as what is projected electronically as images is also permanently retained in the form of video, CD or other storage devices. It is true that electronic storage is useless without energy to open it and other storage methods such as paper or stone, etc. require no energy just accessibility and eyesight or tactile sensation for Braille.

But the fundamental question is the effect upon the human brain of this technology and the social choices made to use it to convey information in a manner so different from the printed work. An observation can be made that reading letters and symbols into words and ideas as a language and communication assimilated by the user is participatory, under the control of the reader and retained differently by the brain from the projection of images through electronic means such as television. Television is not normally participatory or controlled by the user in the same manner. Reading is normally visual except for the blind where it become tactile. Electronic television is auditory and visual with images moving in a manner our brain is not likely to ever encounter in reality and impacts memory very differently. It is memory and retention that is most extraordinarily affected by electronic television and the reason why remembrance of information from viewing television is very different when compared and tested to that of reading the printed language.

When we read we take the representations of the letters and words and create in our mind thoughts which allow us to access the information of language. When we observe electronic television images the information is not normally conveyed by the printed word. Yet television can also simply convey the letters and words of language without sound or movement other than that controlled by the user. So is there a difference to the brain and eye in reading a book on a computer or electronic screen? Electronic Television in fictional representations of fast moving images is normally designed to be sensed as if actually occurring. The Eye and Brain see the images and hear the associated sounds as if information happening in reality yet at the same time the mind knows or should know, you are not there.

There are many questions that our experience with images and sounds conveyed by television should be examined and determined for the well being of our civilization. Ask yourself if this particular invention, television, and the way it is used, has not significantly effected our behavior and intellectual activity? Ask yourself if before you die would you regret the time your mind spent watching television rather than other pursuits? So many hours, lifetimes, for what?

So in this review I state that Jerry Mander in his Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television raises issues that should be addressed as to the effect of this technology upon us and what we can do to learn more how it interacts with our Neurology. It is an older book but remains very relevant to our contemporary experience. You should also read Endangered Minds by Jane M. Healy and the very many medical, scientific and psychological studies on television and human Neurology and intellectual functioning, including testing scores. When we read we take the representations of the letters and words and create in our mind thoughts which allow us to access the information of language. When we observe electronic television images it is significantly different from acquiring information from reading or in person communication with our fellow man. I am interested in this subject and solicit any communications regarding the Neurological and Psychological effect of television and electronic imaging.
Kenneth Ellman,, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860