From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 14:50:02 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Modes of transmission"

    Received: by id PAA29123 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Thu, 17 Jan 2002 15:22:21 GMT
    Message-ID: <>
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: "''" <>
    Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 14:50:02 -0000
    X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    X-Filter-Info: UoS MailScan 0.1 [D 1]
    Precedence: bulk

    >>>Classic one being the well documented spikes that occur in
    >>>rightafter the suicide of some public person.>

            <<These have been discussed previously on the list. Showing a
    > correlation does not show a causal relationship,>>
            <Right. For a causal relation to be suspected the "caused" event
    > happen later in time, and the alternative of both being caused by some
    > unknown event must be ruled out or at least considered unlikely. I
    > consider it possible but unlikely that the spike in suicides following
    > media reports has a common relation to some unknown event. Do you have a
    > different opinion?>
            You're missing the point. You cannot make assumptions about causal
    relationships from correlative data. It's a simple as that. It doesn't
    matter whether it seems to you more possible, the correlative evidence does
    not support causal inferences. What you need to do is demonstrate that the
    post-media suicides have been directly caused by that media coverage.
    Otherwise, it is a specious association.

            The reason it is largely rejected by much of the media studies
    community is that it infers a level of media power of audiences that has
    been demonstrated by much other research to not exist. It suggests that is
    media coverage that made people go out and commit suicide (or in other
    Phillips' studies commit transport accidents, which also apparently rise
    after media reports), yet studies on a range of other behaviours- including
    notably, voting behaviour- have shown this kind of influence does not occur.
    Why some social phenomena appear to occur more frequently after media
    coverage is not known, but what is pretty widely accepted, in my field at
    any rate, is that it is not a product of direct media power.

            Indeed, it is the rejection of this kind of powerful media model,
    that has led to other models which are more sophisticated and more widely
    accepted today, such as theories like agenda-setting and cultivation theory
    (although these too have their problems, not least in their treatment of
    audiences as passive).

            <Can you suggest a better study?>

            What to show the same thing or to refute it? Try having a look at
    David Gauntlett's work on the problems with effects research. It is
    available on his website ( Or you could try his
    book 'Moving Experiences', or Martin Barker's 'Ill Effects', both of which
    are very good.


    The University of Stirling is a university established in Scotland by
    charter at Stirling, FK9 4LA.  Privileged/Confidential Information may
    be contained in this message.  If you are not the addressee indicated
    in this message (or responsible for delivery of the message to such
    person), you may not disclose, copy or deliver this message to anyone
    and any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is
    prohibited and may be unlawful.  In such case, you should destroy this
    message and kindly notify the sender by reply email.  Please advise
    immediately if you or your employer do not consent to Internet email
    for messages of this kind.  Opinions, conclusions and other
    information in this message that do not relate to the official
    business of the University of Stirling shall be understood as neither
    given nor endorsed by it.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jan 17 2002 - 15:31:09 GMT