Few Studies Exist on the Negative Effects of Television and Long Exposure to Artificial Red, Green and Blue Light

The symptoms of long exposure to red green and blue light emitted from TV are rarely studied, and, according to research by Jerry Mander, long exposure could be harmful.

| January/February 1979

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    Mander points out, in his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, there is very little research or knowledge on the effects of red, green and blue (RGB) light  on our bodies. RGB light is projected from TV screens, which means television is potentially harmful.
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    Jerry Mander, author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.  
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    Dr. John Ott, author of Health and Light, concluded that lethal cell changes develop in laboratory animals under different colored artificial light sources.

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What's the matter with our modern, technologically based society anyway? Why isn't it more satisfying? Why do so many of us now feel that some vague something hounds us, and diminishes us and makes us into something less than we should be? Most specifically of all, do we really use television — and so many other "benefits" and "tools" of our technological age — or does it use us? Jerry Mander speaks the unspeakable and asks the unaskable in a remarkable new book that is being completely serialized in this magazine. This is the third installment in the series.

An Excerpt from Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander: 

Argument Three: Effects of Television on the Human Being

Television technology produces neurophysiological responses in the people who watch it. It may create illness, it certainly produces confusion and submission to external imagery. Together, the effects of this technology amount to conditioning for autocratic control.

Anecdotal Reports: Sick, Crazy, Mesmerized

During the years I was preparing this book, occasional pieces of publicity appeared about it. With each exposure, mail would arrive in my home. From one article alone I received more than two hundred fifty letters. Most were passionate and troubled. It became clear that watching TV was an experience that an amazing number of people were eager to describe.

I also kept an informal record of the terms people used in ordinary conversation to describe how they felt about television. In all, I recorded about two thousand conversational and written descriptions.

While I make no claims about this amounting to any kind of bona fide scientific sampling, the phrases people chose had a definite consistency. To give you an idea, I'm going to list the fifteen phrases most frequently used.

If you could somehow drop all preconception of television and read this list as though people were describing some instrument you'd never seen yourself, I think the picture you would obtain is of a machine that invades, controls and deadens the people who view it. It is not unlike the alien-operated "influencing machine" of psychopathic fantasy.

  1. "I feel hypnotized when I watch television."
  2. "Television sucks my energy."
  3. "I feel like it's brainwashing me."
  4. "I feel like a vegetable when I'm stuck there at the tube."
  5. "Television spaces me out."
  6. "Television is an addiction and I'm an addict."
  7. "My kids look like zombies when they're watching."
  8. "TV is destroying my mind."
  9. "My kids walk around like they're in a dream because of it."
  10. "Television is making people stupid."
  11. "Television is turning my mind to mush."
  12. "If a television is on, I just can't keep my eyes off it."
  13. "I feel mesmerized by it."
  14. "TV is colonizing my brain."
  15. "How can I get my kids off it and back into life?"

At one point I heard my son Kai say: "I don't want to watch television as much as I do but I can't help it. It makes me watch it."

I don't mean to suggest that there weren't many favorable reports. Often the people who described themselves as "spaced out" liked that experience. They said it helped them forget about their otherwise too busy lives.

Many added the word "meditative"; others found it "relaxing," saying that it helped them "forget about the world." Some who used terms like "brainwashed" or "addicted" nonetheless felt that television provided them with good information or entertainment, although there was no one who felt television lived up to its "potential."



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